1. Where is Kenya located?
Kenya lies across the equator on the east coast of the African continent. Neighboring countries are Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to east, Tanzania to south, Uganda to west and Sudan to north-west. The Indian Ocean lies on the southeastern border of the country. The country occupies an area of Sq Km 582,646 (the size of France).
2. Do I need a passport to travel to Kenya?
Yes, visitors require a passport to enter Kenya. Passports must have a sufficient number of unused pages for endorsements abroad and they must also be valid for at least six months past the projected stay in Kenya.
3. Is a Visa required for entry into Kenya?
Yes, visitors require a visa to enter Kenya. For details, please consult the Kenyan embassy or Consulate nearest to you. You can also apply for a visa at the point of entry. To download a visa application form, log onto: http://www.kenya-airways.com
4. How much does a visa cost?
$50 or £35 for a single entry visa
5. What vaccinations or medications should I get before my trip to Kenya?
A health certificate is not a requirement for travel to Kenya unless travelling from a Yellow fever zone. It is highly recommended that travelers to Kenya take precautions against Malaria. The best choice in vaccines for your trip depends on many individual factors, please consult your doctor on specific information regarding your health needs prior to departure.
6. Is it safe to travel in Kenya?
Kenya is no different from any other destination in the world. Common sense is all that is required. Avoid displaying expensive possessions; walking through unlit urban areas at night, and follow the guide's instructions in the bush. It is also recommended that you leave valuables and airline tickets in the hotel's safe.
- security issues
Yes, Kenya is a safe destination. However, we are host to over 300 foreign correspondents in East Africa. In most cases, regional stories filed from Nairobi give the impression that Kenya is on fire. Kenyans recognize the economic value of tourism to the country’s economy. Disturbances are infrequent and tourists are very rarely affected. Use common sense when travelling in Kenya or any other developing country.
- terrorism comes up
Terrorism is a global phenomenon that we in Kenya take very seriously. Since we have been hit twice, the Kenya Government, in collaboration with other governments has enhanced security at our airports, entry ports and in areas frequented by tourists. The Tourist Police Unit (TPU), - a special force formed to ensure the safety and security of tourists in the country has been revamped and bases established at the Coast Region, Nairobi, Shaba-Isiolo and Naivasha. Plans to establish more bases in other tourist attraction areas are under way.
7. What is the weather like in Kenya?
Kenya enjoys a mild tropical climate. The average annual temperature for the capital city, Nairobi (altitude 4,980 feet) is 77ºF maximum and 56ºF minimum. The coastal town of Mombasa (altitude 50 feet) is 86ºF maximum and 73ºF minimum.
There is plenty of sunshine all the year round and summer clothes are worn throughout the year. However, it is usually cool at night and early in the morning.
The long rains occur from April to June and short rains from October to December. The rainfall is sometimes heavy and when it does come it often falls in the afternoons and evenings. The hottest period is from February to March and coolest in July to August.
8. When does the famous animal migration take place?
The annual migration of wildlife between Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya takes place between July and October. The migration of almost two million wildebeest, zebras and other species is nature's greatest spectacle on earth.
9. When is the best time of year to visit Kenya?
Kenya is a great destination year round. The main tourist season is December to March, since the hot, dry weather at this time of year is generally considered to be the most pleasant. It's also when Kenya's bird life flocks to the Rift Valley lakes in the greatest numbers. June to September could be called the 'shoulder season' as the weather is still dry. The rains hit from March to May (and to a lesser extent from October to December). During these months things are much quieter - places tend to have rooms available and prices may decrease. The rains generally don't affect travelers' ability to get around because it usually rains in the evening while the days are dry.
10. What kind of clothes should I pack for my trip to Kenya?
Both temperatures and climate vary drastically from region to region and even throughout a single day. You should be prepared for hot, cold, wet and dusty conditions. Ultimately your packing should be dictated by the activities you are planning to undertake.
If you are traveling extensively throughout the country make sure that you bring suitable luggage. Suitcases and bags should be able to withstand plenty of handling.
If you are traveling by domestic/chartered flights within Kenya, remember that there are luggage weight restrictions, particularly on smaller aircraft. Check in advance with your Charter airline or Safari/Tour operator.
• A small daypack is ideal for carrying cameras, travel documents and basic everyday items.
• Casual, lightweight, and comfortable clothing is usually the best. For walking safaris or game viewing on foot clothing should be of neutral color, and white, bright or vividly patterned clothing avoided.
• Strong footwear is advisable if you are planning to do any walking. For serious climbers and trekkers a good pair of hiking boots should be brought with you.
• Remember that the tropical/Equatorial sun is strong and burns quickly. Wide brimmed hats are preferable to baseball caps for sun protection.
• Both sunglasses and a good quality sunscreen (rated SPF15 or higher) should be used.
• In some areas, mostly coastal, it is considered inappropriate for women (and in some cases men) to wear shorts or short-sleeved shirts. It is always best to seek local advice.
• For some up-market lodges and nights out in Nairobi you may wish to bring some more formal evening wear. • Other recommended items for packing: bug spray, sunscreen, binoculars for game viewing, A small daypack is ideal for carrying cameras, travel documents and basic everyday items; camera & extra batteries, plenty of film, flashlight (for tented camps when the generator goes out at night).
11. What type of animals will I see in Kenya?
Kenya's wilderness areas are famous worldwide. Kenya represent far more than you would ever expect, protecting and showcasing a broad range of habitats and species. Some of the many animals that you may see may include the fabled “Big Five”: Elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino. Just a few other examples include: zebra, wildebeest, cheetah, giraffe, hippo, crocodile, monkey, gazelle, impala, and bird life. Take a beach safari on the coral-reef protect coast and you can also experience tropical fish, dolphins, sea turtles and more.
If you have a particular wildlife or birding interest, look for a Safari operator who can offer you specialized guiding and services to suit your needs.
12. How do I find a good tour operator?
We recommend working with your travel agent to find a quality tour operator that meets your budget and travel expectations.
Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO) official website www.katokenya.org lists all its members.
The Kenya Tourist Board official web site www.magicalkenya.com provides web site links to several tour operators in Kenya. Go to the "Travels & Tours" section to research these operators yourself.
13. What resources are available to help me plan my vacation in Kenya?
The Ministry of Tourism & Wildlife website: www.tourism.go.ke offers a lot of information about the destination.
The Kenya Tourist Board offers the following resources:
• Brochure with an overview of the country, destinations and various safari types
• Map of Kenya
• For information on Kenya Tourist Board offices abroad, go to: www.magicalkenya.com
14. Should I bring my children to Kenya? Is it safe for them?
Kenya is a terrific country for families and it is an amazing experience to share with children who are already enchanted with the idea of Africa and its wildlife. If you’re considering taking young children, however, you should ask yourself if both you and your child can deal with the adventure. For children under 5, Kenya is a mixture of fun – in the pool, on the beach, with other kids – and tedium – on a game drive, or in a restaurant. Consult your doctor about your health-related concerns related to bringing your child to Africa.
15. Is the food/water safe for me to consume?
Kenya is renown for its wonderful gastronomy and array of exotic and international cuisine. Keep to established hotels and restaurants for meals.
Drinking water from the tap is considered risky. Hotels and lodges usually furnish safe water in a thermos flask in guest rooms. Bottled mineral water is available in every hotel and supermarket.
16. What type of currency is used in Kenya?
The official currency is the Kenya Shilling. Visitors to Kenya can change foreign currency at banks or authorized hotels and Burex. Most international currencies are easy to exchange in Kenya. Travelers checks are widely accepted, and many hotels, travel agencies, safari companies and restaurants accept credit cards. Most Banks in Kenya are equipped to advance cash on major international credit cards. There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought into Kenya. Anyone wishing to take more than Kenya Shillings 500,000 out of the country will require written authorization from the Central Bank.
17. Do I have to pay a departure tax at the airport?
Like most international destinations, Kenya charges an airport departure tax for all international flights. The tax is $20, but is included in the airline ticket price. If it is not included, visitors may be required to pay the tax at the airport upon departure. Departure taxes can be paid in Kenya Shillings or U.S. Dollars.
18. Is tipping required in Kenya?
Most major hotels and restaurants include a service charge. Tipping is not obligatory and is entirely at your discretion. Porters at airports, hotels or lodges may be tipped a $1.00 per piece of baggage. A gratuity of 10% is customary at restaurants and bars where a service charge is not included.
Note that on safaris, tips are considered almost part of the pay. A tip for your guide of $2.00 to $5.00 per person per day is appropriate.
19. Will I be able to use my electrical equipment in Kenya?
The electricity supply in Kenya is 220/240 volts AC, 50HZ. Plugs are 3 point square. If you are planning to bring a video camera charger or any other electrical device, please bring voltage and plug adaptors where appropriate. Major hotels usually provide hair dryers, irons and other electrical amenities upon request.
20. What languages are spoken in Kenya?
English is the “language of communication” in Kenya. It is widely spoken in hotels, restaurants and visitor establishments.
Swahili is Kenya’s national language. A little Swahili goes a long way in Kenya. It is worth learning a little, and most Kenyans are thrilled to hear visitors attempt to use any Swahili at all. For example, “Jambo” means hello and is often the first word learned by visitors to Kenya. Additional translations can be found in the Kenya Tourist Board’s Web site www.magicalkenya.com or most travel guides.
21. What type of activities are available in Kenya?
Kenya is where you can experience a different safari every day. The country offers an endless array of activities for travelers: Here are just a few:
• Wildlife spotting by 4-wheel drive, horseback, camel, walking, night drives, hot-air balloon, and mountain biking to name just a few.
• Bird watching - (Kenya holds the world record for the most birds seen in one country in one day). Or visit famous Lake Nakuru to see up to 2 million pink flamingos on one lake!
• Golfing at any of the 32 18-hole courses.
• Beach - Kenya has 300 miles of coral reef protected beaches. Some activities include SCUBA certification, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, swimming in coral reef protected waters, sailing, deep sea fishing, sunbathing on white sand beaches and more.
• Shopping - beadwork, woodcarving, basketry, and pottery are among the traditional handicrafts.
• Hiking, trekking & rock climbing at a variety of altitudes -- as easy or challenging as you want them to be.
• Cultural safari - Arrange a visit or home-stay with one of Kenya's 42 cultures.
• Eco-tourism safari. Kenyan Conservationist Wangari Maathai was awarded the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, making us the leading eco-tourist destination.
• Agro safari – Kenya is the worlds’ largest exporter of cut flowers, tea and pyrethrum. A quick tour of the farms can be arranged.
22. What kind of accommodation is available in Kenya?
There is just as much variety in the types of accommodations in Kenya as in its terrain. The sheer scale and breadth of our accommodation will come as a pleasant surprise to those not familiar with what Kenya has to offer. The spectrum runs the gamut from five-star hotels, to exclusive lodges and bush homes, to budget camping and all-inclusive beach resorts. We recommend working with your travel agent to find a quality tour operator that meets your budget and travel expectations.
23. What if I get sick?
There are very good private hospitals in Kenya with facilities comparable to those in other parts of the world. Some of these boast five star hotel facilities. The flying Doctor Service operates immediate help and evacuation services from the remotest part of the country to the nearest hospital, perhaps even faster than you might get through the traffic to your local hospital at home. The facility is available for a small membership fee and can be organized by your tour operator.
OTHER POSSIBLE QUESTIONS
1. What role does tourism play in the Kenyan economy?
The tourism sector in Kenya has continued to play an important role in the country’s economic development through its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP – 12.5%), foreign exchange earnings (KSHS. 49Billion), employment (Informal: 3.7Million, Formal: 175,000) and poverty reduction, becoming the leading foreign exchange earner.
In the last three years, visitor arrivals to Kenya have almost doubled. In 2005, we received 1,670,429 tourists compared to 1,358,134 in 2004 – a 23% increase over 2004.
2. Kenya is known as a BEACH and SAFARI destination. Are there new products being developed to compliment these core products?
The Ministry of Tourism & Wildlife is diversifying the product offering by developing new products and tourist circuits in areas that are not visited by tourists. So far, four new tourist circuits have been opened in Western Kenya, North Rift, Mt. Kenya and Tana River.
3. How is Kenya open to individual tourists? How good are the streets, the infrastructure? Is it possible to rent a car and drive through the country only with a map and guide? Is it safe?
It is possible to rent a car and a guide but we recommend you use reputable companies that are members of Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO). We have embarked on a beautification programme that will see our streets clearly lit and labeled.
4. What message can you give the people of our country to encourage them to visit Kenya regarding the price structure of the tourism product?
A tradition that binds all Kenyans is that of welcoming visitors into our homes. Our language Swahili is the only one in the world that does not have the word for “Stranger”. In Kenya, Everyone is a “Mgeni” – visitor. I strongly urge you to come and see for yourself. You certainly won’t be disappointed by the superb standard of our accommodation, the amazing quality of our cuisine and the warmth of our welcome.