Kenya Travel Information
The incredible diversity of landscapes, cultures, wildlife and activities mean endless opportunities for visitors to Kenya. Kenya offers a diverse range of environments all within relatively close proximity to one another, and has an excellent domestic travel infrastructure. Kenya’s rich diversity of wildlife means that no two experiences in the wild are ever the same. Visitors to Kenya can experience and see completely different things.
In a single trip to Kenya, you can visit tropical forests, beautiful beaches, and deserts, climb mountains and explore the wild. In Kenya, it is possible to plan a safari that blends adventure and relaxation, luxury and natural simplicity, social experiences and solitude.
In Kenya, you can experience a different safari every day.
Getting to Kenya
Nairobi is a major African hub with numerous African and international airlines connecting Kenya to the world. By African standards, flights between Kenya and the rest of Africa or further afield are common and relatively cheap, and flying is by far the most convenient way to get to Kenya.
What to do in Kenya
- Budget and Family Tours
- Camel riding safaris
- Helicopter safaris
- Horse riding safaris
- Mountain climbing
- Photographic safaris
- Walking safaris
When to go:
Low Season (Mar–May)
Long rains mean accommodation is much quieter and prices are low. Wildlife is harder to spot, some tracks are impassable and mosquitoes are rife.
Shoulder (Nov & Dec)
Short rains fall in October and November, but travel is still possible. Prices at most lodges and parks drop on 1 November, but advance reservations are still required.
High Season (Jul-Oct, Jan & Feb)
Wildebeest in the Mara from mid-July to October. January and February offer hot, dry weather good for wildlife watching. Sky-high lodge prices, especially July to October. Book coastal accommodation in advance.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport: East Africa’s major flight hub is located 13km / 8mi outside Nairobi and is the gateway to the Masai Mara, Amboseli, Mombasa and Kenya’s beaches as well as Zanzibar and Tanzania. There are also good connections from here to Uganda, Rwanda and the Seychelles.
Wilson Airport: a regional airport about 90 minutes by road from Jomo Kenyatta, Wilson is the hub for almost all of Kenya’s internal flights and serves its fly-in safari locations. Ensure you have time between your international flight and domestic flight to make the transfer between the two airports.
Moi Mombasa International Airport: located about 10km / 6.2mi northwest of the town itself, Mombasa’s airport is the gateway to the Kenyan coast.
Chartered flights are a great way to get around Kenya and avoid the country’s often dirt roads; transfers from airstrips to lodges are conducted in 4X4 vehicles.
Road transfers from airports and between major destinations tend to use mini buses as do scheduled safaris to popular destinations such as the Masai Mara. Sliding windows and a pop-up roof provide passengers on mini buses with ample viewing opportunities on game drives whereas safaris to more remote destinations and private conservancies use open-sided 4X4s.
While Kenya can be quite a safe destination, there are still plenty of pitfalls for the unwary or inexperienced traveller, from everyday irritations to more serious threats. A little street sense goes a long way here, and getting the latest local information is essential wherever you intend to travel.
Although hotels give you room keys, it is recommended that you carry a padlock for your backpack or suitcase as an extra deterrent. Furthermore, don’t invite trouble by leaving valuables, cash or important documents lying around your room or in an unlocked bag.
Up market hotels will have safes (either in the room or at reception) where you can keep your money and passport (and sometimes even your laptop), so it’s advised that you take advantage of them. It’s usually best not to carry any valuables on the street, but when your budget accommodation is a bit rough around the edges, you may want to consider hiding your valuables on your person and carrying them at all times. Of course, use discretion, as muggings do happen in large towns and cities. Sadly, theft is perhaps the number-one complaint of travellers in Kenya, so it can’t hurt to take a few extra precautions.
Travel Insurance Policy:
Getting a travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is a very sensible precaution.
Visa & Passport Requirements:
Visas are required by most visitors to Kenya including British, American, Canadian, European, Australian and New Zealand passport holders. Citizens from some smaller Commonwealth countries are exempt.
Visas are valid for three months from the date of entry and can be purchased upon arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Visitors can pay for their visas in local currency and they must possess a passport that is valid until six months after the initial date of travel.
If you plan on travelling onwards from Kenya, visas for other East African countries such as Tanzania and Uganda can generally be obtained in Nairobi for around US$50 each.
Money & Spending:
Kenya’s national currency is the Kenyan Shilling and although foreign currencies such as US Dollars are widely accepted (and indeed the currency required for activities like hot-air balloon safaris) we’d recommend using local currency to pay for bar bills, souvenirs and meals not included in your itinerary.
Please note that due to the number of fake notes in circulation, no US Dollar bills printed before 2003 are accepted in Kenya and, in fact, your safest bet is to carry notes printed after 2006.
Banking facilities and ATMs are found throughout Kenya’s major travel destinations and all major credit cards are widely accepted, in particular MasterCard, Visa and American Express.
Banking hours are from 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 11am on the first and last Saturday of the month for most banks.
Tipping for good service is customary in Kenya although it is of course at your discretion – bear in mind that some of the larger hotels will add a service charge onto your bill. A 10% tip is customary in city restaurants and bars when a service charge is not included.
For in-depth tipping guidelines, enquire with one of our Africa Safari Experts – they’d be happy to share their knowledge with you.