Kenya is a world-renowned African travel destination famous for its rich wildlife and stunning natural wonders. Kenya luxury and budget travel offers a chance to experience a wealth of cultural and natural wonders in this beautiful country.
Airports in Kenya include a range of international airports plus domestic airports for regional travel. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is located 15 km south of Nairobi; this airport is the largest in Kenya. Facilities include restaurants, bars, tax-free shops, currency exchange desk, and an ATM, which accepts foreign cards. Mombasa International Airport is situated 10km outside of Mombasa and is the country’s second largest airport. Facilities include tax-free shops, cafeterias, tourist visa facilities, currency exchange office and an ATM. Others are Kisumu and Eldoret International Airport.
AIRPORT DEPARTURE TAX
This is contemporarily included in the airfare and you need not worry about it unless specified.
WHERE WILL I DISEMBARK WHEN I ARRIVE TO NAIROBI?
When you arrive in Nairobi, Kenya, you will land at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (airport code NBO).
WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR OBTAINING A VISA FOR TRAVEL IN NAIROBI?
You can obtain your visa at the Immigration desk when you arrive at NBO. You will approach the Immigration desk before you reach the baggage claim. You will need to have two forms in hand, a completed visa application form and the arrivals card you will have received on your flight prior to landing. Additionally, you will need to present a current passport and cash to pay the visa fee (see below). Passports should be at least 6 months prior to the expiration date. You will be photographed and/or fingerprinted at the Immigration desk. Visa fees are as follows:
1. Single entry visa – US$50.00/£30/€40 – allows you to enter into Kenya once, and is valid for 3 months (Note: A single entry visa will allow re-entry to Kenya from any of the following East African countries: Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda)
2. Multiple entry visa – US$110.00/£60/€80 – allows entry multiple times into Kenya (not available at the airport)
3. Transit visa – US$20.00/£10/€15 – allows a short stop over (up to 3 days) in Kenya
Please note if you are paying in USD, bills printed before 2009 will NOT be accepted due to counterfeit concerns. This applies to any place in Kenya that you may wish to exchange your money or pay with USD. You will need to bring bills that are 2009 or newer. We recommend that you bring $100 and $50 bills. While bills of lesser value are accepted, you may not get the best exchange rate.
For more information please visit the Immigration Department website.
WHERE CAN I EXCHANGE CURRENCY?
You can exchange your money at the Bureau de Exchange located at NBO upon your arrival. You may have other opportunities to exchange money at a Forex Bureau, which can be found at various locations throughout Nairobi. However, it is not always guaranteed that you will have an opportunity to access a Forex Bureau throughout your travels. Therefore, it is recommended that you exchange your currency at Bureau de Exchange at NBO. You will usually get the best exchange rate at this location, as well.
You may also exchange your money at any bank in Nairobi. You will need to present your passport if you wish to exchange at the bank. Also, note that banks tend to be very busy at the end of the month when employees are paid, so expect longer lines and wait time during these times.
CAN I USE A CREDIT CARD?
Visa Cards may be used at most ATMs to withdraw money. However, please be aware of charges that may be attached to the transaction.
WHO WILL BE PICKING ME UP WHEN I ARRIVE?
After you collect your luggage at the baggage claim, you will pass through customs and a Boundless Africa Journeys representative will be holding a sign with the name of your group and the BAJ logo. You will be transported from NBO by 4×4 Land Cruiser to your next destination.
WHAT IS DRIVING LIKE?
Perhaps one of the most unpleasant aspects of Nairobi is the road congestion. Nairobi is a huge city and getting from one side to another can take hours due to traffic. Nairobi traffic is unpredictable, so it is always better to err on the side of expecting and planning for traffic delays. During the rainy season roads can get very muddy and are nearly impassable at times, particularly out in the bush. As a result, travel time can increase considerably when traversing the roads in a vehicle during the wet months.
WHAT IS THE CLIMATE LIKE IN KENYA?
The climate in Kenya can vary depending on which region you are visiting. The coast is generally hot and humid. The climate is more temperate further inland. The north and northeast regions of Kenya are very dry. The hottest months are January, February and early March, and the coldest months are July and August. Kenya’s wettest months are April – May and November. During the rainy season, heavy showers frequently occur in the afternoons and evenings. Ideal times to visit are between June and October, during dry season, in order to avoid heavy showers.
IS MALARIA AN ISSUE IN KENYA?
Due to the high elevation of Masai Mara and Nairobi, Malaria is very rare in these regions since mosquitoes do not live at those elevations. However, Malaria is prevalent in other regions of Kenya, so it is strongly recommended that you speak with your physician about taking Malaria prophylaxis before traveling.
ARE VACCINATIONS REQUIRED TO TRAVEL TO KENYA?
Although no vaccinations are required to travel to Kenya, it is recommended that you take note of the recommended vaccines and medicines listed on the CDC’s Kenya Health Information website. If your travels are taking you outside of Kenya to neighboring countries, it is particularly important to familiarize yourself with the CDC’s Health Information for each country you are planning to visit. Other countries may have different health concerns and requirements for entry.
IS IT SAFE TO DRINK THE WATER IN KENYA?
Bottled water is recommended for drinking throughout your trip. Avoid drinking tap water or adding ice to your drinks unless you are absolutely sure of its quality and that it has been properly filtered. Bottled water is available at most any café or restaurant you may wish to dine at during your travels throughout Kenya, as well as all of the accommodations where you will be staying during your visit.
IS IT SAFE TO EAT THE LOCAL FOOD IN KENYA?
It is advisable that you take precaution and wash any raw fruit or vegetables before eating them. This is mostly a concern with produce that you have purchased from street vendors, local markets, or grocery stores. Typically, eating the food that is served at your accommodations throughout your trip will not be an issue. Professional Kenyan chefs prepare the food you will be eating at each of your accommodations. All food is trucked in from Nairobi from high quality distributors and is stored and prepared in a safe manner.
HOW SHOULD I DRESS WHILE I’M VISITING KENYA?
While you are in Nairobi or at your safari accommodations you will only interact with locals accustomed to tourists so feel free to wear any reasonable daily clothes. However, if you venture out into the local villages, you will want to consider your dress. Locals understand western dress in tourists and any reasonably modest clothing is acceptable. As is usually the case, female dress is more sensitive than male dress. General rules are keep shorts long and loose and shirts modest. In Africa legs are the modesty issue. Males and females should try to cover their legs above the knee. For males, pants and any semi-knee length shorts are fine. For females, pants and capris are fine and if you wear shorts or skirts/dresses keep them around knee length or wear a wrap over them. Shirts should be modest and not skin tight, not very low cut, and should cover your abdomen. Normal t-shirts and blouses are fine as well as reasonably modest tank tops.
WHAT LANGUAGE IS SPOKEN IN KENYA?
The national language of Kenya is Swahili. However, English is the official language of the country and all business must be conducted in English. Therefore, English is well spoken in Kenya. Most people in the cities will speak and understand English well. You will likely encounter fewer people who speak English fluently in more rural areas. However, many people of a younger generation may speak English well since English is widely spoken in the classroom.
WHAT IS THE ETIQUETTE WHEN TAKING PHOTOS?
As a general rule, ask before you take a picture. In Nairobi be careful of openly taking pictures of the airports or police. Ask permission from the locals before you take pictures and consider giving something in exchange for the picture. Kenya is welcoming to tourists so it is generally not an issue if you are respectful.
SHOULD I EXPECT TO TIP WHEN I TRAVEL TO KENYA?
Tipping is common practice in Kenya. Most laborers make between 5-7 dollars a day, slightly higher in Nairobi. Tip accordingly but over tipping never hurts in a third world country. Generally, in Kenya a 10% tip is reasonable for services rendered.
WHAT SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT BARTERING?
Bartering is expected at all markets. How good a deal you get depends on how well you barter. No matter what story they give you, the shop owners will not sell to you at a price where they lose money. They will push as hard as they can to get as much as they can, so do not be afraid to push back. Also, do not be afraid to walk away from a deal. It is not offensive to stop and walk away even if you have started bartering. As long as you are friendly and respectful, it is all part of the game.
WHAT SAFETY CONCERNS SHOULD I BE AWARE OF WHILE VISITING KENYA?
Non-violent crime of opportunity is the problem in Kenya. As with any kind of traveling, be aware of your surroundings. Use extra precaution when using the ATMs and banks. Tourists are often assumed to be wealthy and can be a target. When approaching and leaving an ATM, be aware of your surroundings. Stow your money in a secure and discreet location. Prevention is the rule in Africa. With those considerations you should have no problem in Kenya. Kenya depends on the revenue from the millions of tourists that visit annually, so Kenya is very hospitable. The locals are warm and friendly to tourists. Although looking to make their living off of you, they are also genuinely interested in being friends and welcoming you to Kenya. Be friendly and your stay in Kenya will be enjoyable.
On your travels, you will come across a wide diversity of Kenya culture. Kenya’s culture is also rich and diverse with such a large number of tribal groups, and a mixture of traditions and influences. Kenya has a wide range of cuisine, from western dishes to local specialties. Seafood, East African sauces, groundnut soup, and a range of porridge-like bases are all popular dishes. Each tribe has very distinct dress and markings, notably the Masai tribes who have heavy jewelry and adorning on their upper bodies, and dark red robes worn with sandals. Music ranges from imported popular music, afro-fusion, and benga music to traditional folk songs. Drums and guitar play a standard role in most Kenyan music styles. Kenya is a popular location in many classics ranging from Out of Africa to The Constant Gardener, and local films are growing in popularity, as is local television.
It is a good idea to learn a few Kenya local phrases. We have few tips to help you learn how to talk to Kenyan locals you may meet on your travels. As one of the official languages, Swahili is widely spoken by many Kenyans and Tanzanians. Knowing a few easy to learn Swahili phrases will see you in good stead on your travels. Greetings are very simple, and usually start with ‘Jambo!’, which means ‘hello’. Handshakes are then given, and your new friend will ask after your health, work, travels, and family – you will then ask after his family and health. Other useful phrases include ‘Tafadhali nipatie…’, which means ‘Can I please have. ‘, and ‘Tafadhali’ which means ‘please’, ‘Unajua kizungu?’ which means ‘Do you speak English’ and ‘Pole’, which is pronounced ‘polly’ and means ‘sorry’. Some other phrases to learn include the Maa (Maasai) phrases such as ‘Ashe!’, which means ‘Thank you!’, ‘Lo murrani! Supa!’ when greeting a man, and ‘Na kitok! Takuengya!’ when greeting a woman. ‘Sere!’ is also important, and means ‘goodbye’.
Kenya plant life varies depending on the region in which plants grow. Eco-regions in Kenya range from coastal regions, to mangroves, tropical forest, woodlands, savannas, and mountain areas, and Kenya’s abundant and beautiful plant life reflects these diverse areas, with a range of beautiful plants to be seen across the country’s diverse habitats.
There are many different tribes making up Kenya’s people. We give you a chance to meet many different tribal groups and explore their cultures. The largest group in the country is the Kikuyu group. Kikuyu is the anglicized version of the proper name and pronunciation of Gĩkũyũ although they refer to themselves as the Agĩkũyũ people. This group is found in the central highlands. The Luhya are the second largest group of the population. They live in the highlands of Western Kenya, between Lake Victoria to the south, the Nandi Escarpment to the East, Uganda to the West and Mt. Elgon to the north. The Luo are the third largest ethnic group and are traditional fishermen, and live in the western parts of Kenya. The Luo and the Kikuyu inherited the bulk of political power in the first years of Kenya’s independence in 1963.Other tribes include a small percentage of Maasai, as well as small groups of Swahili, Samburu and other tribes.
There are three main types of Kenya religion. We will give you a chance to experience Kenya’s religious groups and customs first-hand. Like many colonized countries, Kenya’s primary religion is Christianity. The largest following in the country is Protestant, which includes a number of different denominations including the Anglican Church of Kenya, and the Presbyterian, Reformed, Baptist, and Pentecostal churches. There is also a strong Catholic following in Kenya, with numerous churches to be found across the country. Islamic faiths account for about 10% of the population, with the most common faith being Sunni Muslims. The northeastern parts of Kenya have the largest Muslim inhabitants. Traditional religions include ancestral beliefs and animism, and many of the population follow these beliefs alongside other religions like Christianity or Islam. Other religious groups include a small Baha’í population, which is very involved in community projects and is growing in number in recent years.
Kenya wildlife is as diverse and abundant as its diverse habitats, and a large number of game, including Africa’s famous Big 5 (lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo, and leopard) can be found among other game. From the low-lying plains and savannas to the coastal areas and mountains, game can be found throughout the country.
Kenya birdlife is abundant, with well over a thousand species to be seen across the country’s rich and varied ecosystems. From coastal birds and huge flocks of flamingos, to vast and colorful forest species, the range of species is extremely diverse. Bird watchers are sure to have the travel experience of a lifetime in Kenya’s bird-rich regions, and binoculars are highly recommended when travelling through the country’s parks and reserves to spot birds along the way.
Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya do not require any special mountaineering skills but due to high altitude, acclimatization and fitness are handy. Recommended kit [climbing gear] can be hired from most operators
WHEN TO GO
Many nature lovers and outdoor fans debate about the best to visit Kenya – which seasons offer the best travel opportunities? Due to its equatorial climate, with consistent seasons, Kenya is ideal to visit most of the year – each season offers its own beauty and benefits. The main tourist seasons run from December to February, during the hot dry season, and from July to August, just after the rains. The hot dry season offers some of the best wildlife viewing, as game is much easier to spot and wildlife tends to gather near waterholes. The Annual Wildebeest Migration runs from June to September, and the weather during this time is a bit cooler, but still dry. The Masai Mara is flooded with wildebeest during this time, as they make their way across from the Serengeti in Tanzania. Rainy season runs from March to June, with a lighter rainy season from October to December. The scenery is spectacular – especially from March to October.