Travel Tips for Kenya

Some things to keep in mind when traveling to Kenya...

Location

 Kenya straddles the equator on the eastern coast of Africa; covering an area of about 226,500sq. miles of which 4131sq. miles consists of water bodies. It lies on the Equator and is bisected lengthwise by the Great Rift Valley, which runs from Jordan in the north to Mozambique in the south.

Climate

The variations in altitude and terrain in Kenya create sharp contrasts in climate. The coast (Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu) is hot and often humid.

Mornings and evening in the central highlands (around Mount Kenya) can be cool, verging on cold, during Kenya’s winter (July – August), while in the north and northeast (close to the Sudanese border) the days are dry and very hot.

As it is on the equator, day and night are almost equal in Kenya the whole year around; sunrise is 6 – 6.30 a.m. and sun downs 6.30 – 7 pm. Even though the climate is beginning during the day, it is wise to use a pullover in the evenings since temperatures drop considerably at night.

Over most of the country there are two major rainy seasons. The short rains normally occur from late October to November and the long rains from the late March to early June. July and August are the coolest months; November to February are the hottest.  

 

Entry Requirements

Ensure that your passport is valid through your return date home. For US and Canadian citizens a single Entry Visa (valid for three months from date of issue) will cost US$50. You can purchase this upon arrival in Kenya.

Language

 Kiswahili is the lingua franca while English is the official language. In addition, most Kenyan tribes have their own language.

Health

We recommend you see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine prior to your departure. Advise the health care provider what countries you are visiting. In addition to up to date routine vaccinations, the following vaccinations and immunizations are needed: typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, polio, rabies and malaria.

Several of these vaccines require more than one dose, or take time to become effective. It is always best to seek advice on immunization well in advance, if possible around 6 weeks before departure.

Currency & Exchange, Credit Cards, and Banking

The official currency is the Kenya Shilling. Visitors to Kenya should change foreign currency at banks, bureau de change or authorized hotels. US Dollars and Sterling Pounds are most acceptable and will cause the least delay. Traveler’s cheques are widely accepted as are most major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express).

Banks are open from 0900hrs to 1500hrs Monday to Friday.  Some branches open on Saturdays from 0900hrs to 1100hrs. Many banks are now equipped with 24 hour ATM machines. The bank branches at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (Nairobi) and Moi International Airport (Mombasa) both run 24 hour Forex services.

Electricity

Electricity in Kenya is 230V and frequency is 50Hz. The socket/plug type is Type G, which looks like this:

Culture

Kenya has a melting pot of different nationalities, tribes and ethnic groups, making it tolerant, accepting and colourful country. It currently has a population of 38 million people (based on 2009 Census count), which include over 40 tribal groups.

Jet Lag

Westbound flights appear to be the worst for jet lag but many people report feelings of jet lag with any long haul flights. To prevent feeling the worse for wear when you arrive at your destination try the following tips: Be well rested before boarding your flight, drink plenty of fluids and cut back on the alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, try to exercise by stretching in your seat or strolling the isle. One of the best tips is to try to set your body clock to your destination’s time while in flight. Waiting until you land can leave you literally in the wrong time zone.

What to Pack
  • First-Aid Kit with insect repellent, malaria prophylaxis, bandages, diarrhea medication, etc.

  • Sun block, moisturizing lotion, lip balm and a hat

  • Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots

  • Swimsuits

  • Binoculars

  • Battery-operated or conventional razors if visiting remote areas

  • Flashlight

  • Emergency numbers and contacts

  • A good camera