The quintessential African safari destination, Kenya continues to draw wildlife enthusiasts keen to spot game on the wide open plains. One of Africa’s success stories, the country has had its troubles but remains an extraordinary mix of traditional tribal culture, dramatic landscape and wildlife haven. Coupled with this are glorious white sand beaches, the dramatic Rift Valley and the arid highlands, giving you a diverse, utterly infectious destination.
It is advised to avoid travelling within 60km of the Somali border and to avoid costal areas within 150km of the Kenya and Somalia border including the Lamu area. Please visit fco.gov.uk
What to see
Kenya is home to some of the world’s great game parks, and wildlife enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice when it comes to spotting the Big Five or a wealth of smaller fauna, birdlife and other beasties.
Dominated by Mount Kilimanjaro looming across the border in Tanzania, the park is home to large herds of elephants and buffalo as well as big cats.
One of the iconic wildlife destinations, the Mara is justifiably famous for its herds of gazelle, zebra and giraffe. Lion, cheetah and leopard prey on the plains’ game, whilst elephant and hippo can be spotted close to water. The park is also host to the annual wildebeest migration. For a bird’s eye view, take a balloon flight over the savannah.
One of the largest parks in Africa, Tsavo is split into East and West sections, the latter being more commonly visited. The East is home to herds of elephants, which roam the arid landscape amidst baobab trees, whilst the West is known for the hippos and crocodiles that inhabit the crystal clear pools here.
Rugged and less regularly visited, with forests along the banks of the river, is home to giraffe, zebra buffalo and gerenuk as well as big cats.
Is also home to some spectacular beaches, with white sand fringing the warm Indian Ocean.
Is the main town, its medieval streets providing a labyrinth to explore and its markets a sensory overload of sights and smells. The island of
Is similarly lost in time whilst the marine park Watamu lies between the two and has exceptional snorkelling. South of Mombasa are a further host of beautiful beaches.
Top experiences / sites of particular interest
The only national park established for the protection of flamingos, which congregate on the water in vast numbers. The park is also home to rare black rhino.
Aberdare National Park
Part of the Aberdare Mountain range, the park is lush and thickly forested, providing a home for the elusive bongo, forest antelope and other creatures as well as leopard and rhino.
Africa’s second highest summit and a spectacular mountain, Mount Kenya boasts two technical climbing peaks and a third, lower trekkers’ peak, with all the drama and ruggedness of nearby Kilimanjaro but without the crowds.
When to go
Weather & Seasons: There are two rainy seasons: March to May and October to December, although the latter to a lesser extent. Coastal areas remain hot and humid all year round. Inland, higher regions are cooler and more temperate. In general though, January and February are always hot and dry.
Important Dates and Festivals:To take in one of the many festivals or major events, head to Nairobi in July for Uhondo Africa , a food festival; in August for the Cultural Music Festival, and the autumn for Carnival. Mombasa also hosts an autumn Carnival, whilst Lamu is home to a May festival that includes dhow racing, watersports and feasting.
Getting there / around
Flights:There are international airports in Nairobi (NBO), 13km from the city centre, and Mombasa (MBA), also 13km from the centre.An extensive network of internal flights makes this the quickest way to get around.
Rail: Alternatively the train between Nairobi and Mombasa is considered one of the great scenic rail journeys.
Road: Car hire is available although the road network is not for the faint-hearted.Buses, matatus (minivans) and share taxis are the best way to get around town.
Overall Country Guides:Country guides from Rough Guides and Dorling Kindersley provide excellent coverage as does the Footprint Handbook.
Nature Guides: Wildlife enthusiasts should look out for the Helm guide to Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania.
MapsOverall Country Maps: Mairdumont and Freytag & Berndtprovide comprehensive coverage, whilst a range of national park maps are available from the Kenya Survey Department.
Kenya - Serengeti
Elspeth Huxley’s account of living amidst the Kikuyu, The Flame Trees of Thika, paints a portrait of the settler community.
Ngugi wa Thiongo provides an African voice – his novels Grain of Wheat, Petals of Blood and Wizard of the Crow are all worth seeking out.
Chow down on nyama choma (roast meats), washed down with ice cold Tusker beer.
Sight & Sound
Music: Catch the music of Okatch Biggy or Dola Kabarry, whose upbeat benga rhythms encapsulate the nation.
Film: Watch the film adaptation of John Le Carre’s Constant Gardener or Sydney Pollack’s Out of Africa, based on the book by Isak Dinesen.
Swahili and English. Language Books:Take the Lonely Planet Swahiliphrasebook in order to learn how to say ‘Jambo’.
Kenyan Shilling (Ksh), worth 100 cents.
UK/US citizens require a visa.
Vaccinations for cholera, diphtheria, hep A, hep B, meningitis, polio, rabies, typhoid and yellow fever should be considered. Malaria is also present.
Safety, FO travel advice
Generally safe, although there is a higher crime rate in the capital, which earned it the nickname ‘Nairobbery’. By taking basic precautions, being streetwise, not walking at night and avoiding border regions where there is an increased risk of bandits, you should be safe.
It is currently not advised to travel within 60km of the Kenya-Somalia border. It is advised to avoid travel to coastal areas due to a threat of kidnapping.
Useful Telephone Numbers
Kenyan country representatives can be found
in the UK at45 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AS. Tel:- 020 7636 2371
and in the US at2249 R St, NW, Washington DC 20008. Tel:- 202 387 6101.
There is a tourist board
in the UK at1 London Bridge Walk, London, SE1 2SX. Tel:- 020 7367 0900
and in the US at6442 City West Parkway, Minneapolis.
For more information visit www.kenyahighcomission.com, www.magicalkenya.com or www.visit-kenya.com.
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