The Republic of Kenya covers an area of 582,644 square kilometres and shares a common border with Ethiopia to the north, Sudan to the north west, Uganda to the west,Tanzania to the South , and Somalia to the East.
The country sits astride the Equator and is bisected from north to South by the Great Rift Valley, a natural phenomenon that runs through most of the length of Africa . Kenya is a land of great physical contrasts divided into roughly five ecological zones. To the north and north east, the country ranges from semi arid to desert. About two thirds of the country is in this zone, whose most important feature is Lake Turkana on whose shores at Koobi Kora.
Archeological excavations have unearthed man’s earliest ancestors leading to Kenya’s claim as the “Cradle of Mankind”. Lake Turkana is also reputed to contain the highest concentration of crocodiles- over ten thousand in a single habitat. Close to Turkana are the National Parks of Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba. It was at Shaba that the Joy and George Adamson’s famous rehabilitation work with lions was done and where the award winning movie “Born Free” was filmed. Together with Meru National Park, the above form part of Kenya’s Northern Tourist Circuit.
Kenya’s Coastal belt stretches nearly five hundred kilometres from the Tanzania border to the south, to Kiwayu on the Somali boarder to the north. All along this coastal stretch are located Kenya’s famous beach resorts including Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest city, which is not only a world renown tourist resort but also a thriving port city serving as a sea outlet to its landlocked neighbours in Central Africa. Other equally famous coastal resort areas are Shimoni, Diani and Tiwi on the South Coast and Watamu, Malindi, and Lamu on the north Coast to mention a few.
Together they offer the visitors some of the finest beaches to be found anywhere in the world.
A third geographical cum tourist zone covers the Central Highlands in which lies the Aberdares National Reserve and Mt Kenya National Park. Many different species of game are found in these parks as well as a large variety of fascinating plants. In this park, sitting astride the equator, is found the snow covered Mt Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa, after Mt Kilimanjaro. At The park is also famous for the Tree Lodges, among them Treetops, the first tree hotel in the whole of Africa, which is historically famous as the lodge in which Queen Elizabeth of Britain ascended to the throne while holidaying in Kenya, following the death in 1952, of her father, King George VI.
Between the coastal zone and the Central Highlands lie the Nyika Plateau, a large low rainfall area best known as the Savannah, which supports the bulk of Kenya’s wildlife.
Finally, there is the Western zone dominated by the fertile agricultural lands west of the Rift Valley which produces the bulk of Kenya food as well as major cashcrops such as Tea produced in the Highlands of Kericho. From these highlands the land slopes steeply down to the lake basin dominated by Lake Victoria, the second largest freshwater lake in the world which forms a natural boundary between Kenya and her neighbours, Uganda to the west, and Tanzania to the south and south west.
Because of the great diversity of the geographical zones, Kenya ‘s climate also vary a great deal from place to place. Because of its high altitude, Nairobi is cool and has a pleasant weather throughout the year. The north and north east is very hot and dry. The Coast is hot and humid.The Central Highlands is mostly cool in the day and sometimes very chilly in the evening. The west is mainly sunny in the morning with afternoon rains and thunderstorms. Mot of the year, however Kenya is sunny but not too hot. September is an ideal time to visit. The parks are dry, the weather is pleasant and the animals are plentiful. September is also the beginning of the “yearly migration” in Maasai Mara, a natural phenomenon that is as unique as it is wonderful to experience.
Kenya is made up of nearly fifty ethnic communities each with its own distinct culture. The majority of people are of the Bantu stock, followed by the Nilotes who mainly live along the shores of Lake Victoria . To the north and north east live people of Cushitic origin. Kenya’s different ethnic groups with their rich and varied cultures are captured in expressive dance, song and traditional art and craft and no visit to Kenya is ever complete without shopping for at least one item of the many handicrafts that you will find displayed everywhere you travel.
Among the cultures most visitors find the Maasai / Samburu traditional lifestyles to be particularly colourful
USEFUL TRAVEL INFORMATION
Visitors to Kenya require a valid passport and visa to enter Kenya. Visas cost USD 50 for a single entry and can be issued on arrival, although there is often a bit of delay in getting the visas processed. If you live in a country in which Kenya has an Embassy, it may be faster to have your visa processed before arrival.
Cotton T shirts and trousers or shorts or regular safari wear which is easy to maintain, is most appropriate. In addition a hat to protect one self against the hot sun is recommended. Evening wear is smart casual. In the highlands you will require a light sweater or warm clothing as the evenings can be chilly. In general you can wear anything you are comfortable with PROVIDED you respect local cultures which tend to frown on very short or very tight clothes particularly when worn by ladies.
On the beach, you may wear any normal beach wear, which can be a one piece or two piece swimming costume but NUDE bathing is NOT ALLOWED. Most hotels do not permit the wearing of swimming costumes in the dining hall area.
All visitors to take are strongly advised to take anti Malarial tablets which should start about two weeks before departure and continue for two weeks after departure. It is also recommended that visitors drink bottled water throughout their stay. All visitors to Kenya are reminded that HIV/AIDS is a matter of great concern in Kenya and they should therefore be extremely careful.
Personal effects, travel aids like cameras, binoculars, films etc are allowed free of charge. Also small quantities of alcoholic beverages, perfumes, cigarettes are allowed into the country duty free.
However, heavy and expensive equipment including those for medical purposes or use in hospitals are dutiable are require customs clearance ahead of time if tax is to be waived.
IN THE PARKS
Visitors are encouraged to enjoyed our wildlife parks including the Marine Parks. While in the parks visitors should keep to regular park roads and not wander into unmarked paths. At no time should visitors alight from their vehicles while INSIDE the park boundaries. Some of the lodges are outside the park boundaries and visitors may take walks accompanied with knowledgeable guides within the vicinity of the lodge.
You may bring as much currency as you wish to Kenya and you make take out any amount out of the country. However if you wish to take out more than Kshs 500,000 /=, you will need permission from the Central Bank of Kenya.
Kenya’s national currency is the shilling (Kshs) which comes in units of 5 shillings, 10 shillings and 20 shillings (coin only), and notes of 50 shillings, 100 shillings, 200 shillings, 500 shillings and 1,000 shillings. (One German Mark is roughly equivalent to 35 Kshs.)
In the city: 9.00 a.m –3.00 p.m Mondays to Fridays
9.00 a.m – 11.00 a.m on the first and last Saturday of the month.
Main Airports: Banks are open for 24 hours
In addition there are many foreign exchange bureaux which also change money throughout the week. Hotels also offer money changing facilities but the rates are lower than those available at Banks or the Exchange Bureaus.
PROBLEM WITH STREET FAMILIES
It is NOT advisable to give money to street people as it only encourages more people to come to the streets. In recent years because of an increase in the incidence of poverty there has been a dramatic rise in the number of street people. If you wish to donate to wards the plight of the deserving needy cases it is preferable to donate to established homes which take care of such people.<;/p>
Most lodges, hotels and restaurants include tips in the form of a service charge in their bills so it is not altogether necessary to offer a tip except where you feel exceptional service has been given deserving a tip at a personal level. For meals most visitors offer waiters between 50-100/= per table
served. Tour drivers are tipped according to the kind of service they have provided and their knowledge of the parks. Many visitors offer between Kshs 50-100/- per day on tour although or a block amount of a reasonable amount usually Kshs 500-2000/= for the whole tour depending on duration.
Sockets are three pin into supply outlets of 220/240 volts. Adaptors are available in most hotels at an extra charge so it may be cheaper to bring your own adaptor if necessary.
Travelling on safari or in remote or secluded tourist spots may involve certain risks such as those associated with sudden illnesses in areas without sophisticated medical facilities or fast means of evacuation. All visitors are therefore strongly advised to take out adequate insurance cover against most travel and health risks.
Visitors are advised to keep their valuables in the hotels and lodges almost all of which have safes in the rooms or safe deposit boxes at the receptions. Valuables include extra cash, travelers cheques, airline tickets and passports as well as gold or diamond jewellery.
You may freely walk in the streets, but visitors are advised to avoid wearing expensive jewellery and they should keep to the main roads. In the evening visitors should avoid walking in dark alleys especially if they are alone. It is recommended that visitors walk together in groups or at least in a pair.
Please note Kenya has a good police force and many of the streets have a police booth within easy reach in addition to the main police stations should you need such assistance. Otherwise all hotels and designated tourist areas are generally safe.
For more information please contact us