flag Kenya Kenya: Travelling

In this page: Entry Requirements | Organising Your Trip | Visiting | Living Conditions | Eating | Paying | Speaking | Useful Resources

 

Entry Requirements

Passport and Visa Service
Embassy of Kenya in Paris
For Further Information
Embassies Abroad
 
Check IATA Travel Website for visa requirements and health advices.
 

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Organising Your Trip

Means of Transport Recommended in Town

Recommendation
Shared taxis, called matatu, are commonly used by the locals as a handy, cheap and comfortable means of transport. The bus is quite impractical in the city during rush hours. Taxis are mainly found near major hotels, restaurants and cinemas. You should make sure that the taxi has a valid license and a driving permit. It is also possible to rent a car (drivers between 23-70 years of age).
Maps of Urban Networks
Kenya Road Board
Kenya Urban Roads Authority

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Transportation From Airport to City Centre:


Airport

Distance

Taxi

Bus

Train

Car Rental
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (Nairobi) 18 km, 20 to 25 min from the city centre Yes Yes No Yes
Moi International Airport (Mombasa) 8 km Yes Yes No Yes

Means of Transport Recommended in the Rest of the Country

Recommendation
There are many safe and efficient domestic flights operating between major cities, including Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Malindi and Kakamega. Flights to smaller cities and parks are also available. Intercity buses are convenient, cheap and frequent. There are also luxury cars (coaches), which are very comfortable and offer reasonable rates. The rail network is in poor condition and the service is uneven, therefore the train is not a recommended mode of transport. A single line runs across the country from east to west, from Mombasa to Kisumu.
Rail Companies
Kenya Railways Corporation

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Airlines

Name Type Domestic Flights International Flights
Kenya Airways Traditional Yes Yes
Air Kenya Express Traditional Yes No
Fly540 Low Cost Yes Yes
Safari Link Traditional Yes No
Mombasa Air Safari Traditional Yes No

You Can Consult The EU Air Safety List. Look Also at the rating of the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

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Travelling By Yourself

Recommendation
In terms of road safety, Kenya is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. It is strongly advised not to drive at night. It is possible to rent a car, but make sure you know the terrain well. Domestic and international flights must be confirmed 72 hours before departure because overbooking is common.
Road Maps
Kenya Road Board
Maps of the world Kenya
Ezilon
Find an Itinerary
Bing Maps

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Visiting

Different Forms of Tourism

Historical
Most historical sites and monuments are to be found on the coast. Fort Jesus is one of the most impressive historical sites of the 16th century and was built by Giovanni Battista Cairati to protect the port of Mombasa from foreign invasion.

Kenya has numerous archaeological sites. The fossils of Koobi Fora, near Lake Turkana, made a greater contribution to paleontology than any other African site.
Cultural
Kenya has a rich cultural heritage. Six sites are classified as part of the World Heritage: the Fort Jesus in Mombasa; the ancient Swahili town of Lamu; the Mijikenda Kaya Sacred Forest; the Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley; the Lake Turkana National Park and the Mount Kenya Natural Forest.

Kenya also has a rich musical tradition: each ethnic group has a particular style, while their musical traditions share the use of ngoma drum. Maasai warrior dances are particularly spectacular. There is also modern music inherited from the musical cultures of the Great Lakes (benga) and the coasts, influenced by the Swahili culture and using Indian percussions, polyphonic singing, string instruments and taarab.
Nature
Kenya is a true paradise for nature lovers. The term "safari", now commonly used, means "journey" in Swahili. The landscapes are very diverse, ranging from deserts to snow-capped mountains, from forests to plains, and from freshwater lakes to the coral reef. The Masai Mara National Reserve has recently been declared the eighth wonder of the world. There are 19 national parks and reserves, competing with each other in terms of wildlife and beautiful scenery. The Mount Kenya National Park and the Forest Reserve have been put on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The Amboseli National Park is one of the best spots in the world for observing wildlife, while Lake Nakuru National Park is famous for its flamingos, giraffes and black rhinos. The Kenya Lake System, which consists of Lakes Bogoria, Nakuru and Elementaita, also has unmissable, spectacular scenery.
Religious
The spiritual life of Kenyans is rich and diverse. The country has many temples, mosques, churches, cathedrals and synagogues. Examples include the Mandhry and Basheikh mosques in Mombasa, the 14th-century Pwani Mosque in Lamu and the magnificent Riyadha Mosque, the 16th-century Portuguese chapel in Malindi, the Cistercian monastery of Our Lady of Victoria Abbey in Kipkelion, the All Saints Cathedral located behind the Uhuru Park and the Jain temple in Mombasa.
Thermal
Kenya has many hot springs and geysers. The hot springs of Lake Bogoria, located in the Bogoria National Reserve, are the best known and most impressive. This site has more than 200 sources and geysers. There are about sixty springs and six geysers in Loburu. Further south, Chemerkeu has forty springs and four geysers. The sources of Lake Magadi are found in the Rift Valley region.
Beach
The coast of Kenya is lined with beaches with white sand and turquoise waters. Among them, the Malindi National Park is ideal for snorkeling, surfing and other water activities, or the Diani, Nyali, Bamburi beaches around Mombasa. Gazi Beach, Lamu island and Vipingo beach are ideal destinations for travelers seeking privacy.
Winter Sports
No
Outdoor Activities
In addition to safaris, Kenya offers a wide range of outdoor activities. For lovers of rafting and kayaking, Kenya has beautiful rivers, including Tana, Mathioya and Athi. Two fishing areas are particularly renowned: the Pemba Channel for marlin and Malindipour for swordfish. Trout fishing is practiced on the heights of the Aberdares and on Mount Kenya. There are opportunities for hiking and mountaineering on the mountain ranges: Mt Kenya, Aberdares, Matthews Range, Cherangani Hills, Hells Gate and Chyulu Hills. There is fowl, partridge, quail and duck hunting or horseback riding in the highlands as well as in Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi. The coast has many spots for water sports (water boarding, surfing, wind surfing, snorkeling), especially in Malindi. Football and walking are particularly popular and golf, cricket, tennis, squash etc. are also available.
Shopping
In addition to the modern shopping centers in Nairobi, markets offer a wide selection of local handicrafts: almost anywhere you can find Massai pearl bracelets and necklaces, Swahili silver jewelry, Pokot decorated gourds, Akamba wood carvings, Kisii soapstone sculptures, the kiondos (tote bags made of sisal fiber), batiks, kikois and kangas (East African sarongs), cotton fabrics, Arabic handicrafts and gems.

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Living Conditions

Health and Safety

Health Precautions
A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever may be required. In coastal areas and near lakes, precautions must be taken against malaria. Measles, polio and rabies are common. The country has also been hit by epidemics of cholera, dengue and chikungunya fevers. It is strongly advised to wash or peel fruits and vegetables before consumption. Finally, it is recommended to drink water from a capped bottle or boiled water.
International Hospitals
There are adequate medical services in Nairobi, and to a lesser extent in Mombasa. It is advisable to bring treatment for malaria.
For Further Information on Sanitary Conditions
Kenya Profile, World Health Organisation
Info on Kenya, Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States.
Ministry of Health
For Further Information on Safety Conditions
Canadian Foreign Office
Bureau of Consular Affairs, Department of State of the United States
 

Emergency Numbers

Police 122 or 999
Emergency, Firefighters 999
 

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Time Difference and Climate

Time and Time Difference
It is %T:%M %A In Nairobi (GMT+3)
Summer Time Period
None
 

Map of the Time Zone

Time zone

Type of Climate
Kenya, which lies on the equator, has different climatic regions, which vary according to the altitude and the alternation of the monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean. Generally, the dry season lasts from December or mid-December to March, and from July to October. There is a 'long rainy season' from April to June, and another 'short' one in November, sometimes until mid-December.

On the coast, the climate is tropical. In the Highlands, the days are warm and sunny with low humidity and temperatures varying according to altitude. Arctic temperatures may be felt on top of Mount Kenya. In the Lake Victoria region, the humidity is high and there is virtually no dry season (though there are fewer rains in January-February). In the desert regions of the northeast, the heat is dry and scorching throughout most of the year (some showers in April-May).

For Further Information
Kenya Meteorological Service
 

Average Annual Temperatures and Rainfall

Climate

 

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Eating

Food Specialties
Nyama choma ('grilled meat') has become the Kenyan national dish. Originally, it was just pieces of barbecued goat meat served with Matoke (maize and plantains).

Karanga: stew

Mishakiki: skewers

Ugali: a sort of porridge made of crushed corn, very firm and bland; this is the preferred food throughout the country. Kenyans eat it mixed with vegetables and sauce.

Kuku wakupaka: Lamu-style chicken with coconut milk.

Irio Kikuyu: very popular dish made ​​of peas, potatoes, corn, and sometimes green bananas. When these ingredients are mushed, the dish is usually called mukimo.

Mandaazis: tasty donuts, best eaten fresh in the morning.

Githeri: corn and beans.

Sukuma: delicious Kenyan spinach

Ostrich, crocodile and camel meats can be consumed legally. On the coast, you can enjoy fish and seafood (shark, swordfish and grilled barracuda, lobster and crab). Ears of roasted corn, fried yams, sambusas (samosas) or Indian cuisine are also available in Kenya.
Drinks
Many drinks are available: tropical fruit juices; chilled coconut milk (maduf); very coarse local tea which is always served with boiled milk, and the same goes for local coffee; light lagers which are very popular in Kenya (Tusker, Pilsner, White Cap), mnazi, palm wine and white wine.
Dietary Restrictions
Taboos vary according to the religion practiced. The Muslim minority consumes neither pork nor alcohol. Jainism disciples do not eat any animal products.

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Paying

Domestic Currency
Kenyan Shilling
ISO Code
KES
To Obtain Domestic Currency
You can get Kenyan shillings in exchange offices, banks, hotels and lodges. However, the latter option offers much favourable rates than exchange offices. There are also many ATMs, even in small towns. Exchanging currency on the black market is risky.
Possible Means of Payment
Most payments are made in cash. However, in Kenya, like most East African countries, payment via cellphone (mobile banking) has considerably developped these past years.The U.S. Dollar is still the most commonly used currency. It is of course possible to use Kenyan shillings, except when paying for the entrance to national parks.

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Speaking

Official Language
English, Kiswahili
Other Languages Spoken
Numerous indigenous languages
Business Language
English
Getting Some Knowledge
To learn the basics of English, go to Talking English or ESL. To learn the basics of Swahili, try the BBC or glcom.com.
Free Translation Tools
Word Reference : Translation
Linguee : Translation

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Latest Update: November 2022