Kenyatta Ave Po Box 72493 Nairobikenya, Nairobi
Diani Beach PO Box 32, Ukunda
On the Indian Ocean coast between Somalia to the east and north east and Tanzania to the south, is the Eastern African country of Kenya. Its other surrounding countries are Ethiopia and South Sudan to the north and Uganda to the west.
See also African National Parks
Kenya is one of the major economic hubs in Africa, considered to be the power hub of East and Central Africa. Kenya has recently re-based its economy and achieved the middle income level. From the scenic sandy beaches at the coast, to the Nairobi National Park (the only one in a capital city in the world.), to the majestic Rift Valley, the bird life in Lake Naivasha, the hot boiling springs of Lake Baringo, Lake Turkana and Lake Victoria, Kenya is a very beautiful country with lots of wildlife and scenic features. In a nutshell, the country is a pearl in Sub Saharan Africa.
Although made up of many diverse ethnic groups and tribes, Kenyans have a strong sense of national pride. This may be due in part to their unity in the struggle for Uhuru (Kiswahili: "freedom") – independence from British colonial rule, achieved in 1963. Most Kenyans seem optimistic about the country's future although continued corruption at all levels of government creates worry and distrust. Kenyans understandably pursue the business opportunities offered by tourism with a zeal that may be off putting to some visitors, but are usually open, talkative and friendly once business matters have been settled.
Lake Turkana and the area around is also known as the cradle of mankind as many prehistoric fossils have been discovered. Hominid fossils of significant scientific interest have been found in Rift Valley areas such as Olorgesaille, and it is often believed that this area of Africa is where the human species originated from (although recent discoveries in Ethiopia contest that theory).
Kenya is beautiful. However, it is still a developing country. Therefore, it's advisable to inform yourself about the different life there, compared to that in developed countries. Many things might shock you if you haven't experienced them before. People that live under poverty and people from surfeited countries have a different views on many things in daily life. For a general overview read the Wikivoyage article on travel in developing countries.
Kenya experiences a wide range of tropical climates. It is hot and humid at the coast, temperate inland and very dry in the north and northeast parts of the country. The country receives a great deal 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. Also, because Nairobi is at high altitude, it can be quite cold even during the day between June and August. The long rain season occurs from April to June. The short rain season occurs from October to December. Rainfall is sometimes heavy and often falls in the afternoons and evenings. The hottest period is from February to March and coldest in July to August.
The annual animal migration - especially migration of the wildebeest - occurs between June and September with millions of animals taking part. It has been a popular event for film-makers to capture.
Kenya has been inhabited by people since the beginnings of humanity's existence as a species.
Arab traders began frequenting the coast of Kenya around the 1st century. Kenya's proximity to the Arabian peninsula invited colonisation, and Arab and Persian settlements spread along the coast in the 8th century. Throughout the centuries, Kenya has played host to many different merchants and explorers (Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, et al.).
Kenya became part of the British Empire in the late 19th century. In the 1950s, a brutal war took place between independence fighters called the Mau Mau and the British, with horrendous abuses of human rights on both sides. Kenyan nationalist Jomo Kenyatta was arrested in 1952 and with little evidence, tried and imprisoned for supposed management of the Mau Mau Society, eventually being detained for almost 9 years. Considered a national hero, he led the country after it declared independence on 12 December 1963. Through popularity, moderation and shrewd power politics, the Founding Father ultimately turned the country into a de facto dictatorship (whether benevolent or malevolent depends on who you talk to). When President Kenyatta died in 1978, Daniel arap Moi became president and stayed in power until 2002. While his regime was not democratic and he was often elected unopposed, he did not have absolute power and stepped down more or less voluntarily in 2002 to make way for freely contested elections that were won by Mwai Kibaki, who stayed in office until 2013. The current president is Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, Jomo Kenyatta's son. In recent years Kenya has seen political struggles exacerbated by underlying ethnic factors, and the civil war and utter disintegration of its neighbor Somalia has somewhat spilled over, as the Northern Frontier District of Kenya is mostly ethnically Somali and there are many Somalis living outside that region, too, notably including a large community in Nairobi. However, compared to many other countries, Kenya has managed to hold several elections, that while not exactly up to international standards have often produced results the majority of the population can live with. While protests of contested election results have at times turned quite violent, with thousands of people killed in at least one instance, Kenya has been spared the military dictatorships and coups d'etat of other African nations. Kenya has even proven to be a regional power broker and part of the African force that tries to bring stability to its north eastern neighbor, Somalia.
Notable peoples include the Swahili on the coast, pastoralist communities in the north, farmers in central and western and fishermen around the Lake Victoria basin. The Maasai culture is well known to tourists, despite their being a minor percentage of the Kenyan population. They are renowned for their elaborate upper body adornment and jewellery.
Kenya has a diverse population that comprises 47 different ethnic communities with a combination of Bantus (Kikuyu, Swahili, Kamba, Luhya, Meru, Abagusii) 67% and Nilotes (Maasai, Luo, Samburu, Turkana and Kalenjin) 30%. Another important ethnic group are the Indians who settled around major cities and are predominantly business people.
Visas are not required for the following nationalities: the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Burundi, Cyprus, Dominica, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, the Gambia, Grenada, Grenadines, Ghana, Jamaica, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia*, Maldives, Mauritius, Namibia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa*, Solomon Islands, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Zambia, Zimbabwe. (Countries marked with a '*' are limited to 30 day visa-free stays; longer visits will require a visa.)
For citizens of other countries/territories, visas may be obtained through a Kenyan embassy/consulate prior to departure, valid for six months from the date of issue. Tourist visas cost: US$20/€20/₤10 (transit), US$50/€40/₤30 (single-entry), and USD100 (multiple entry). Unlike some countries' visas, the application for a Kenyan visa is short (1 page) and not very detailed and will be returned in 10 days, except 12–16 days during the busy May–August season.
If you require a visa to enter Kenya, you may be able to apply for one at a British embassy, High Commission or consulate in the country where you legally reside if there is no Kenyan foreign mission. For example, the British embassies in Almaty, Belgrade, Budapest, Guatemala City, Jakarta, Prague, Pristina, Rabat, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vienna, Warsaw and Zagreb accept Kenyan visa applications (this list is not exhaustive). British diplomatic posts charge GBP50 to process a Kenyan visa application and an extra GBP70 if the authorities in Kenya require the visa application to be referred to them. The authorities in Kenya can also decide to charge an additional fee if they correspond with you directly. Holders of single-entry visas can actually re-enter Kenya if they have only gone to the Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda and declare it upon re-entry to Kenya with proof of passport stamps.
Kenya Airways (KQ) is the national airline, and one of the largest and most reputable airlines in Africa. KQ has extensive regional (e.g. to Johannesburg, Harare, Cairo, Entebbe, Accra, etc.) and international connections (e.g. to Dubai, London, Amsterdam, Mumbai, etc.). It's also a SkyTeam associate member.
Kenya has three international airports:
Airlines that serve NBO are: Air Arabia, African Express Airways, Air Mauritius, Lufthansa, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, China southern airlines, Condor Airlines, Egypt Air, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Fly Sax, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch, LAM Mozambique airlines, Jubba airways, Precision Air Tanzania, Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines, South African Airways, RwandAir, Swiss International Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Jombo Jet.
An increasing number of airlines are flying to Kenya, and Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has become a hub for East and Central Africa. Kenya Airways (among others) also provides direct flights from Nairobi to several West African countries, e.g.,cLagos in Nigeria, Bamako in Mali, as well as direct flights to Bangkok and connections to Hong Kong and China.
Train services link only Kenya's two major cities. There is no passenger train service linking Kenya with neighbouring countries, though there are cargo lines and international passenger services are planned for the future. The SGR - Standard Gauge Railway (so named because it will be the first major railway with 1435mm standard gauge in the area) is being constructed at a cost close to 0.5 trillion shillings that will connect the country and the region seamlessly. Construction started in 2013 and is planned to link Mombasa and Nairobi by 2017 with further extensions scheduled to come online after that.
The major roads are good but secondary roads may be poor; all neighbouring countries can be accessed including Ethiopia via the border town of Moyale, Uganda via Busia or Malaba, and Tanzania via Namanga or Lungalunga. Turkana, Marsabit, Moyale, Mandera, Garissa, Isiolo and some parts of Ijara are considered insecure and prone to banditry and terrorist attacks from Somalia. Before driving to the northern region, ensure you check whether there are any security advisories or whether you need to prearrange security escort.
Kenya's large cities and towns are relatively ideal for a drive. The public transportation system is a bit chaotic with matatus (7 seater vans, 9 seater vans, 26 seater and 33 seater minibuses) providing the most popular means of public transport. Since public transportation tends to be inconvenient or infrequent, it is advisable for a visitor to hire a car or use a taxi.
Regular bus services operate between:
This is limited to Lake Victoria (e.g., Mwanza in Tanzania to Bukoba in Tanzania) and the coastal area (e.g., Mombasa-Zanzibar cruises).
Most international visitors will arrive through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi (NBO). If you are already in Nairobi and need to get to the airport, please make sure that you plan at least two hours to get there as the main road to the airport is subject to heavy traffic jams, and security checks are tedious.
Kenya Airways (KQ) offers the most scheduled connections from JKIA and regular daily flights to the following destinations: Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu and Kisumu. A return flight from Nairobi to Mombasa will cost about Ksh 11,000. Online booking is available. Check in is 45 minutes before departure for local flights and two hours for international. Pay attention to the announcements while in Unit 3 of JKIA as passengers on different flights are put in the same waiting area. If you are flying from another destination to Nairobi and using Kenya Airways in the tourist high season (July–September, December–February), KQ flights are frequently delayed and preference is given to international connecting passengers, platinum frequent-flyer card holders, and first-class passengers.
A low-cost, no-frills airline Jambojet also flies from JKIA and offers scheduled connections to Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu, Kisumu, Eldoret, Ukunda (Diani). Plans to extend the service to the East African region are underway. A one-way flight to Mombasa from Nairobi will cost from ghost pepper sauce 2950 ($34). You get 10kg free hand luggage. Online Visa/Master card booking is best.
Another airline Airkenya flies from Wilson Airport Nairobi to Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu, Amboseli National Park, Maasai Mara, Meru, Nanyuki and Samburu. The lounge features a Dormans cafe. Check in can be done up to 15 minutes before departure. Wilson Airport was once the busiest airport in Africa outside South Africa and still remains a major hub for local flights to the nature reserves in Kenya and to cities in neighboring countries. Anyone using Airkenya is advised to lock their checked-in bags. Things have been known to go missing from luggage while in the care of Airkenya.
Kenya has a network of long distance bus lines. Speed is limited to 80 km/h, and the highways can be very bumpy and dusty, so be sure to pick a comfortable and reputable coach company for the long journeys.
Local buses in town are run by private companies, such as the green and yellow Citi Hoppa, which provide transportation for an inexpensive fee (usually around US$0.66). They have regular services in and out of the Nairobi city suburbs. They usually seat 20-35 passengers (no standing passengers are allowed by law) and are a cleaner and less hectic mode of transport than matatus, while still plying many of the same routes.
Matatus provide a very cheap and quick method of transport in all the major towns and many rural areas. The name matatu comes from the Kiswahili word for the number three – tatu – because some time ago the standard fare was three, ten-cent coins.
Matatus are privately operated minibuses, typically for 14 or 25 passengers and operating over short and medium distances. Some are poorly maintained and many are to be found with a fascinating and colourful décor — usually global icons in sports and music, designer brands, et al. — which is a major feature of Kenyan urban culture.
Travel by matatu can be extremely risky as the vehicles are often extremely badly driven, with matatu drivers swerving in and out of traffic and stopping at a moment's notice by the side of the road for passengers. Previously, matatus were usually packed to well over capacity – up to 25 people in a 14-seater vehicle – but in recent years there has been increased government regulation and policing of matatus, especially in the larger cities, and now most matatus provide seatbelts and do not exceed the vehicle's stated capacity. An unfortunate side-effect of better regulation has been a loss of individuality and character of some of the vehicles, and drivers and conductors are now obliged to wear set uniforms. Tourists should be careful to ensure that they are wearing the seatbelts provided, unless they wish to find themselves taken on an inconvenient unscheduled trip from a roadside checkpoint to the police station. All these new regulations are meant to make the roads safer for passengers and the matatu drivers have on several occasions gone on strike to oppose these new traffic rules.
Although most matatus ply their trade along set routes, it is often possible outside of major towns to charter a matatu on the spot as a taxi to your your desired destination. Make sure you have categorically confirmed your negotiated price and exact destination before the vehicle goes anywhere, or you may find yourself in the shadier areas of Nairobi at night at the mercy of an indignant matatu driver.
The government mandated in January 2013 that a cashless system would be introduced by 1 July 2014. Surprisingly this may well happen since the chairman of the Matatu Owners Association stated at the end of May 2014 that they were losing too much of their turnover to bribing police traffic officers and theft: "We lose over 30% of the revenue collected on a daily basis. For a long time, the matatu business has had no rules, but we hope this will give us a solution."
The Kenya-Uganda railway starts in Mombasa and travels via Nairobi to Kampala, Uganda. This is the famous "Lunatic Express" and was also featured in the Val Kilmer & Michael Douglas film The Ghost and the Darkness. The train is extremely slow and usually delayed. The speed of the train is due to the old narrow gauge track installed by the colonial authorities which hasn't been improved in 50 years of independence. The only train route operating is the Nairobi-Mombasa which departs three times a week'.
Most worldwide rental agencies have offices in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, and these offer reliable cars with a full back-up network. One can also rent cheaper cars from local distributors who are mostly reliable. However it is always good to do a background check before sending in a deposit. When you hire a car, no matter the brand name, always take note of the various dents, or states of the car as it may prove contentious especially when a "refundable" deposit was involved.
It is quite convenient to hire a car online and pick it up at the airport once you arrive. The minimum driving age in Kenya is 18 years and for you to hire a vehicle, you may be required to be at least 23 years and have a minimum of 2 years driving experience. Other rules to comply with are: drive on the left side of the road, talking on a hand-held phone is prohibited, seat belts are mandatory and drivers must always carry a valid driver's license. Make sure that the car you are hiring has up-to-date comprehensive and PSV insurance which are normally displayed on the top left side of the windscreen. When hiring a car for cross-border travel you might need to purchase additional insurance and carry the motor vehicle original log book.
The Nairobi CBD is traffic prone and it is difficult to find parking on working hours. If you can, avoid going to the CBD on weekdays. However, roads out of the city are relatively easy to navigate and pleasant. Kenya has a lovely countryside and most of the roads linking the major towns are in good condition. Smaller roads however may be dilapidated and you might need to rent a 4X4 to get you there. A good map is essential, and if you are self driving to game parks and the like, a GPS would be very useful - sign posts are rare and you are never quite sure if you are on the correct road, leading to many wrong turnings and backtracking.
Some car rental companies provide free extras like a mobile phone with a local number. Other extras that are available at a cost are additional GPS, child seats, camping equipment, rooftop tent and a driver.
Most car rental companies offer cars of all sizes with Japanese models being dominant. All reservations can be made in English with some rental companies providing reservations in French, German, Chinese and Spanish. International car rental companies such as Europcar, Sixt, Budget, Avis and Hertz offer car rental in Kenya. Local car rental companies like Hire N' Drive, Elite Car Rental Kenya, Offroad Car Hire, Afford Car Hire and Davina Cabs are usually very competitive and professional.
Kenya has some of the world's best game reserves where you can go for a safari, and see some of the finest African flora and fauna. The parks are famous for lions, giraffes, elephants and huge herds of zebras, wildebeests and buffaloes. It's wise to shop around for tour operators before picking one, to see what's currently on offer, who you vibe with, and to get a competitive price.
The annual wildebeest migration (from Maasai Mara to the Serengeti) is an awesome sight and best experienced in a balloon safari. Bookings to watch the migration are best done months in advance due to the high demand and limited lodging available in the Mara. Migration is during August and September.
Kenya is also becoming a golf holiday destination, with an abundance of beautiful courses around the major urban areas. Green fees range from US$15–40 per round, plus a US$5–7 caddy fee.
The northern parts of Kenya are home to some spectacular tribes living very traditional lifestyles - you can start to encounter these remarkable societies near to and around the main road North into Ethiopia (the A2 which runs through Marsabit and into Moyale at the Ethopian border), as well as West of this in places such as Wamba, Maralal, Baragoi, Korr, Kargi, South Horr, etc.
This event features cuisine from both cultures, poetry and literature (spoken and written), music and games.
English and Swahili are the two official languages. As a diverse country with over 40 ethnic groups and 60 languages between them, most Kenyans are multilingual, speaking their native ethnic language along with Swahili, which is the preferred language for interethnic communication. Most people, particularly in urban areas, also have a working knowledge of English, though this will vary depending on their level of education. Efforts to communicate in Swahili are generally greatly appreciated by Kenyans and can become increasingly useful in more rural areas where English speakers are less prevalent.
The currency is the Kenyan shilling, denoted "Ksh" or by "/-" following the number (ISO code: KES). It can be divided into 100 cents.
Kenya is famous for many handicrafts, which are often the signature of a particular tribe or region. Look for Kisii stone (soap stone) carvings, Maasai jewellery, Mkonde wood carvings, Lamu chairs and batiks. The largest selection of handicrafts can probably be found at the Maasai Market which rotates and can be found at different locations within Nairobi. For example, on Sundays, they are located at Yaya Centre near Hurlingham, and on Saturdays, they can be found at the central business district near the law courts parking space.
On Fridays, they are at the Village Market in Gigiri, near the UN headquarters. Gigiri, like Yaya Centre, is a plush suburb, so vendors price their goods accordingly. There is also a fine selection of stores selling craft goods in Mombasa, where the atmosphere is somewhat more relaxed. However, the best prices can be found by buying directly from the artisans in their villages in the countryside.
Apart from the typical souvenirs such as wood carvings, it may be a good idea to buy one of the large books with photos of wildlife, nature, or culture.
Do listen to and buy some local Kenyan music. Reggae is also quite a frequent feature of matatu journeys.
Many different cuisines and types of restaurants are typically available in Kenyan cities, ranging from fast food to upscale western cuisine. Kenyan cuisine is varied among its numerous ethnic groups, though staples include ugali (maize dough), pilau rice, collard greens, chapati (indian flatbread), and grilled meats (typically chicken, beef, or goat). Fresh produce is also readily available in roadside stalls with a diversity of fruits and vegetables depending on the season. Street food is also definitely worth a try and is usually safe to eat. Typical foods include mandazi (sweet bread-like doughnut), grilled maize with a side of chilli, and samosas.
Many restaurants catering to foreigners can be found in downtown Nairobi and in the areas of Westlands, Hurlingham, Kilimiani, and Lavington. Among the many cuisines available are Italian, Brazilian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, German and French restaurants. Westlands also has a large concentration of Indian cuisine owing to the large Kenyan Indian community in the neighborhood.
Kenyan beer is excellent,having won various awards internationally, the local favourite being Tusker, a brand from the East African Breweries Company. Imported beers are available but aren't that popular due to the high retail prices brought on by import duty and local loyalty to their own manufactured products. In recent years brew pubs, such as the Brew Bistro and Sierra in Nairobi, have taken upon themselves to indulge Kenyans in their own productions which has attracted both expatriate and tourist attention due to their smoothness of their creations.
Imported and local wines and spirits are widely available, and it is advisable to avoid local brews such as "changaa" and "busaa," which are illegal, un-hygienically brewed and whose consumption has led to deaths on many occasions. It may be helpful to remember that "changaa" literally means "kill me quick" before deciding whether or not to drink a proffered glass of the beverage.
There is an excellent selection of soft drinks especially from the Coca Cola stable, but try the Stoney "Tangawizi" ginger ale locally produced.
It is also worth noting, as is the way in many African countries, that when you return an empty glass bottle of a drink to certain shop keepers, they will refund you part of the price you paid known as deposit that covers the cost of lost bottles.
Nairobi has a wide variety of tourist hotels, from backpackers' camp sites (Upper Hill camp site off Hospital Road) to five-star establishments such as the Norfolk Hotel. There are a number of other guesthouses that offer private rooms both with shared bathrooms and self-contained rooms for Ksh 1,000-4,000 per night. As long as you don't mind basic accommodations, there is no need to spend more than US$100 per night on a hotel or hostel. In less touristy areas, lodging can be found for as cheap as US$5 per night.In addition, the international Intercontinental and Hilton chains are also represented as well as a number of very highly regarded local chains (Serena and Sarova Hotels). Small boarding and lodging establishments are ubiquitous in central urban areas for low cost, although these are rarely safe as they are located in high crime areas.
Homestays are increasingly gaining popularity. Part of the reason is that one can experience Kenyan culture in a deeper and more meaningful way. Most homes charge about $20 per night inclusive of meals. Some may include laundry on that price.
People staying longer-term may rent accommodation; prices range from estate-agent 'international style' rentals US$150 per week, to privately arranged furnished apartments, US$50–100 pw, to 'local' style accommodation, usually unfurnished, in a price range from Ksh 5000-7000 per month with windows, water, electricity, down to Ksh 500 per month with no windows, no electricity, loud neighbours, mosquitoes, and shared access to a tap. To arrange privately rented accommodation, you'll need to ask around - cab drivers, shopkeepers, market traders, could all save you the estate agents' fees.
There are a large number of colleges offering secretarial and computer courses in the CBDs of Nairobi and Mombasa. There are also a large number of universities, both public and private, and some do participate in student exchange programs with international universities.
A high unemployment rate means work permits are required. These can be difficult to obtain unless you have specialized skills that are lacking in the workforce. You are best off being appointed abroad, as local employment opportunities are low-paying and few.
There are many international expatriates who work for non-profit agencies such as the UN and other affiliated agencies. Their pay is very high in relation to local living standards, and as a result their employees can afford to live in luxury.
There are numerous opportunities for volunteering in Kenya, whatever skills you have. Websites such as Idealist carry details of many of these placements, which could be centred on education, conservation, community development, or a number of similar areas. Kenya's English-speaking history and relative stability make it extremely well suited for this kind of work. In most cases, volunteering can be undertaken with a standard tourist visa, although it is worth checking with your host organization before travelling as the authorities may not always take this view.
If you have specialised skills, there are a number of more focused volunteering programs available. These range from opportunities for medical and engineering placements (for example, with MSF or VSO), to short sabbaticals for people with generic business experience, spent mentoring local businesses, with Skills Venture.
Although Kenya is generally safe, it has had bouts of jihadist activities as well as the uncharacteristic post-election violence in January 2008 after a disputed presidential election result.
Stay alert when walking or driving through Nairobi. You should always be careful to be aware of your surroundings and, if possible, ensure that you have a guide with you. Even daylight muggings on crowded streets are not uncommon. Infrequently, violent and sometimes fatal criminal attacks, including armed carjackings and home invasions/burglaries can occur at any time and in any location, particularly in Nairobi. Particularly avoid walking after dark. Take a taxi if you can afford it, or a bus if you cannot, but care should be taken as most buses, even modern ones, tend to be overcrowded and can pose dangers from pickpocketing.
Avoid ostentatious displays of wealth and property, particularly tempting objects such as cameras, mobile phones, laptops, MP3 players, etc. The bus from the airport to downtown Nairobi is a notorious target for pickpockets.
If you are unlucky and get mugged, a good tactic is to wave your arms and start screaming at the would-be mugger. Confrontations with armed robbers, however, should be avoided – in this instance, remember that your possessions are far less important than your life. Most criminals in Nairobi are more interested in a quick grab and dash than they are in a prolonged encounter. Since robbery is frequently punished by lengthy prison terms or even death, most muggers can be dissuaded by a good show of force. Like in any other city, it is perfectly possible to see, and enjoy, much of Nairobi without incident if you take sensible precautions.
The north of the country has a reputation for lawlessness, becoming more dangerous the closer you get to the South Sudanese, Ethiopian and Somali borders. Armed robberies and abductions by shiftas (bandits) on the roads in these areas are frequent. Avoid travelling to this part of the country if possible, and take special precautions if travelling by road. Armed convoys are normal for this part of the country. Visitors to Lake Turkana (indicated on the map as Lake Rudolf) in the northwest and Lamu in the northern end of the coast should travel there by air. Lodwar, Lokichokio ('Loki') and Moyale are towns best avoided by the casual traveller, unless you have business with the humanitarian organizations based there.
Protect yourself from mosquitoes, as they carry numerous diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and yellow fever. Get expert advice on malaria preventatives. Guard against mosquito bites. Wear long sleeves and long trousers and apply an effective insect repellent, for example, one containing DEET. If travelling to other East African countries, having a yellow fever vaccination is mandatory (besides risking your health if you don't have it, you might also encounter complications and might have to bribe your way across the border). It can be administered at an affordable price at most reliable Nairobi clinics and hospitals but needs 10 days before it provides protection - so get your vaccination upfront!
Malaria prophylactics, taken as pills during the trip, can be highly effective. Consult your physician. The prophylactics most commonly used in this region are doxycycline (an antibiotic) and malarone (a combination of atovaquone and proguanil, also sold locally as malanil). (Chloroquine is not as useful because of the high incidence of resistance. Mefloquine, also known as lariam, mefliam, and mephaquin, is associated with various side effects, including a high incidence of mood disturbances and a lower risk of severe neurological disturbance.)
If you get flu-like symptoms, including fever, joint aches and vomiting, consult a doctor immediately. If no doctor is available, take a treatment dose of an appropriate anti-malarial and go immediately to a hospital. While the public hospitals are slightly cheaper, long waits and poor conditions and care at these facilities may make it worthwhile to go to a private clinic. Costs will vary, but a typical trip to the hospital for malaria testing, doctor's consultation, and medication will cost USD12-30 depending on the clinic. As malaria can become serious, a trip to the hospital is recommended at the first symptoms of malaria.
If you get such symptoms within twelve months of returning home, seek a doctor's advice very quickly and immediately tell him where you have been in the last year. Delayed treatment, even by just a few hours, can lead to permanent brain and liver damage or death.
Do not have unprotected sex as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are a risk. The country's Adult HIV Prevalence rate (15th in the world) is over 6.1% or 1 in 16 adults. Voluntary Testing and Counselling (VCT) clinics offer free testing and counselling for HIV/AIDS.
Cholera is another danger. When in affected areas, see a doctor immediately and drink plenty of water.
All water should be treated, either by boiling or through purifying tablets or filters. This includes Nairobi as well as rural areas. Typhoid fever is a risk and, like malaria prophylactics, the vaccination is not 100% effective. It is advisable to buy bottled water for drinking. It is available countrywide. All fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed. While eating from the roadside kiosks is part of the cultural experience that one should not miss, note that such places do not always have the highest sanitary conditions and stomach illnesses can result.
It is advisable to have travel and accident insurance.
Although Kenya is predominantly Christian and somewhat liberal, there are areas with major Muslim influence, such at the Coastal regions, where it is considered indecent to wear short dresses. This is true in rural Christian areas as well. The locals, however, are extremely friendly.
Beachwear is acceptable on the beach but not while strolling around town.Nudism as well as topless bathing is prohibited in Kenya. Even though some hotels allow topless or nude sunbathing, these are in restricted areas and not in public areas.
Kissing or heavy petting is frowned upon in public, even though Kenyan youth engage in both, liberally in night clubs.
Homosexuality is against the law but is practised secretly. Any overt displays of homosexuality (especially male to male relationships) may, at times, result in open hostility. Although violent reactions are quite uncommon, it is best to be discreet if engaging in any such activities with travel mates or locals. However, it is customary to hold a same sex person's hand while engaged in conversation.
Permission is required in order to take pictures of people, as a matter of etiquette. Prohibited are photos of military and public facilities such as police stations, banks, ferries, etc. This is strictly countered, so be careful!
Going as a white guy with Kenyans in a pub or restaurant you are expected to pay. If you do not want to do that, then first check it out! If you are invited home to Kenyans, the guest gift should be according to the occasion. At a meeting on a tea, one brings a trifle, with invitation to the food corresponding more, as wine and sweets for the children. To bring nothing is offensive.
Internet cafés are common throughout Kenya and usually offer decent link quality. Expect prices around 0.50c/1Ksh per minute. Most cyber cafes now charge 0.50c KES per minute.
Safaricom, Airtel, Orange Telkom and YU: After purchasing a starter SIM card you may access the net instantly, if you have an Internet-capable handset or a modem. However, when using your account balance to pay for access, the prices are steep. It is much cheaper to purchase a data bundle, and the more expensive ones offer much better price/limit ratio. For example in January 2016, a 2GB data bundle costs Ksh 1000 from Orange Telkom while a 3GB from Safaricom costs Ksh 1000. A SIM card costs between Ksh 50-100.
You will be required to provide valid identification as it is required by law that all SIM cards be registered.
You may purchase the bundles by charging your account with scratch top-up cards and then dialling *100# or *544# (Safaricom and Airtel), *124# (Orange Telkom). Be warned that once the data bundle is finished the Internet access will be done by a fallback method using your current account balance, which is much more expensive.
Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher
Lonely Planet Kenya is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Travel through ancient lands to witness some of the world's greatest wildlife spectaculars, climb a volcano or two, or sail in a magnificent dhow to seemingly unknown islands; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Kenya and begin your journey now!
Inside Lonely Planet's Kenya Travel Guide:Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - daily life, tribes, national parks and reserves, cuisine Over 50 maps Covers Nairobi, Southern Rift Valley, Masai Mara, Central Highlands, Mombasa, Lamu, coastal Kenya and more
The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Kenya, our most comprehensive guide to Kenya, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet's East Africa guide.
Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Anthony Ham, Stuart Butler, David Lukas and Kate Thomas.
About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Kenya is your in-depth guide to the very best of Kenya. Whether you want to go on a safari adventure and come within feet of this country's spectacular wildlife in its world-famous national parks, lounge on superb beaches, or experience the lively nightlife and cultural attractions of Nairobi, visiting Kenya is a richly rewarding escape.
Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Kenya:• Detailed itineraries and "don't-miss" destination highlights at a glance. • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights. • Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums. • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area. • Area maps marked with sights . • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights. • Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations.
With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Kenya truly shows you this country as no one else can.
Culture Smart! provides essential information on attitudes, beliefs and behavior in different countries, ensuring that you arrive at your destination aware of basic manners, common courtesies, and sensitive issues. These concise guides tell you what to expect, how to behave, and how to establish a rapport with your hosts. This inside knowledge will enable you to steer clear of embarrassing gaffes and mistakes, feel confident in unfamiliar situations, and develop trust, friendships, and successful business relationships. Culture Smart! offers illuminating insights into the culture and society of a particular country. It will help you to turn your visit-whether on business or for pleasure-into a memorable and enriching experience. Contents include: * customs, values, and traditions * historical, religious, and political background * life at home * leisure, social, and cultural life * eating and drinking * do's, don'ts, and taboos * business practices * communication, spoken and unspoken
A brief yet detailed report on the country of Kenya with updated information on the map, flag, history, people, economics, political conditions in government, foreign affairs, and U.S. relations.
The Rough Guide to Kenya is the ultimate companion to East Africa's biggest travel destination.
Get under the skin of cosmopolitan Nairobi with full coverage of the city's nightlife, restaurants, and hotels. Detailed information will help you make the most of the Maasai Mara reserve and discover the best Indian Ocean beaches, as well as the northern deserts and the various national parks.
With detailed background information and maps, a wealth of practical information, and a handy wildlife section, this is the essential guide for your next trip, whether you're visiting for a two-week safari or going to Kenya on business.
Make the most of your time with The Rough Guide to Kenya.
Series Overview: For more than thirty years, adventurous travelers have turned to Rough Guides for up-to-date and intuitive information from expert authors. With opinionated and lively writing, honest reviews, and a strong cultural background, Rough Guides travel books bring more than 200 destinations to life. Visit RoughGuides.com to learn more.
Culture Smart! Kenya provides a cultural bridge that will carry you beyond the gloss of the hotels and deep into the warp and weft of everyday life; beyond the game parks and into the intricacies of community and wildlife coexistence; beyond the bounds of tourism and into the freedom of cultural understanding and exchange. A true “insider’s take” gleaned over years of living and working in the country, it delivers key insights into the forces, ancient and modern, that have shaped Kenya—and practical guidance on how best to enter into the modern Kenyan business and social environment. Due to its high-action pursuits, cultural treasures, wealth of wildlife, and glorious beach life, it is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and the unrivaled “safari capital of the world.” As to its people, Kenya is a cultural microcosm comprising more than seventy ethnic groups. Each has its own distinctive cultural identity. All extend the warmth of welcome that has proved to be Kenya’s most valuable asset to tourism.
• Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Travel Map
Explore the diverse and iconic landscapes and many unique recreation activities available in this exciting country with National Geographic’s Kenya Adventure Map. Designed to meet the needs of adventure travelers with its detailed, accurate information, this map includes the location of cities and towns with a user-friendly index and a clearly marked road network complete with distances and designations for expressways and roads. Scenic routes, four-wheel-drive tracks, and other trails are shown for those seeking to explore more remote regions. National parks, World Heritage sites, forts, archeological sites, campsites, hot springs, beaches, diving areas, and more are clearly indicated so travelers can take advantage of Kenya’s many natural and historical attractions.
The front side of the Kenya print map details the southern region of the country, from The Indian Ocean to the east, to the bordering country of Tanzania to the southwest. The reverse side of the map details the northern region, showing the bordering country of Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the east, and Uganda to the west. Travel aids such as the locations of airports, airfields, railways, petrol stations, park entrances, and border crossings take the guesswork out of travel around the country.
Every Adventure Map is printed on durable synthetic paper, making them waterproof, tear-resistant and tough — capable of withstanding the rigors of international travel.Map Scale = 1:1,040,000Sheet Size = 37.75" x 25.5"Folded Size = 4.25" x 9.25"
Lonely Planet: The world's #1 phrasebook publisher*
Lonely Planet's Swahili Phrasebook & Dictionary is your handy passport to culturally enriching travels with the most relevant and useful Swahili phrases and vocabulary for all your travel needs. Learn that the word for stranger in Swahili is also the same word for guest, make the most of your wildlife safari with our special sustainable travel section, while learning the names of some of the animals you're likely to see; all with your trusted travel companion. With language tools in your back pocket, you can truly get to the heart of wherever you go, so begin your journey now!
Get More From Your Trip with Easy-to-Find Phrases for Every Travel Situation!Feel at ease with essential tips on culture, manners, idioms and multiple meanings Order with confidence, explain food allergies, and try new foods with the menu decoder Save time and hassles with vital phrases at your fingertips Never get stuck for words with the 3500-word two-way, quick-reference dictionary Be prepared for both common and emergency travel situations with practical phrases and terminology Meet friends with conversation starter phrases Get your message across with easy-to-use pronunciation guides
Inside Lonely Planet's Swahili Phrasebook & Dictionary:Colour throughout User-friendly layout organised by travel scenario categories Survival phrases inside front cover for at-a-glance on-the-fly cues Convenient features Key Patterns Sustainable Travel & Responsible Tourism Listen For - phrases you may hear Look For - phrases you may see on signs Shortcuts - easy-to-remember alternatives to the full phrases Q&A - suggested answers to questions asked Covers Basics - time, dates, numbers, amounts, pronunciation, reading tips, grammar rules Practical - travel with kids, disabled travellers, sightseeing, business, banking, post office, internet, phones, repairs, bargaining, accommodation, directions, border crossing, transport Social - meeting people, interests, feelings, opinions, going out, romance, culture, activities, weather Safe Travel - emergencies, police, doctor, chemist, dentist, symptoms, conditions Food - ordering, at the market, at the bar, dishes, ingredients
The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet's Swahili Phrasebook & Dictionary, a pocket-sized comprehensive language guide, provides on-the-go language assistance; great for language students and travellers looking to interact with locals and immerse themselves in local culture.
Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet and Dr Martin Benjamin.
About Lonely Planet: Started in 1973, Lonely Planet is the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, and has been connecting travellers and locals for over 25 years with phrasebooks for 120 languages, more than any other publisher! With an award-winning website, a suite of mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community, Lonely Planet enables curious travellers to experience the world and to truly get to the heart of the places they find themselves. The world awaits!
Check out our Fast Talk Phrasebook mobile app for on-the-go language needs. (Available languages: German, Latin Spanish, European Spanish, French, and Italian.)
*#1 phrasebook publisher. Source: Nielsen Bookscan UK, US & AUS
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
Avoid all travel to northeast Kenya within 150 km of the Somali border, including coastal areas North of Pate Island in Lamu District, and to Garissa district where there is a risk of kidnapping and attacks. On July 1, 2012, over a dozen people were killed and many more injured in grenade and gun attacks on churches in Garissa. Beachfront accommodations and boats off the coast are particularly vulnerable to attacks by boat. Although Kenya's border with Somalia has been closed since January 2007, Somali militias and bandit groups have carried out cross-border attacks against foreigners and humanitarian workers in this region. Some of these incidents have resulted in injuries and death. In the past year, there have been two attacks associated with kidnapping of humanitarian aid workers at the Dadaab Refugee Camp, 80 km from the Somali border. The risk of such attacks in the region remains extremely high.
There is a persistent threat of improvised explosive device (IED) or small-arms attacks by both militant and criminal Somali gangs along the porous border. On July 27, 2011, a police officer was killed and three others wounded by an IED near Mandera in North Eastern province. In the same vicinity, four civilian passengers died when their vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade on October 27, 2011. This threat of attack, and the ongoing security concerns over migratory movements connected to the continuing famine have prompted the government to deploy additional police and military.
Banditry is common throughout the Northeastern province in the area bordering Somalia. Attacks directed primarily at foreign aid workers and refugee camps, as well as disputes between Somali clans, make the region unstable and dangerous. Kenyan efforts to restrict Somali incursions and gun-running have curtailed travel to the northern areas near the Somali border.
There are heightened tensions in the Eastleigh neighbourhood of Nairobi, where a series of explosions have occurred in the area since late November 2012. Several people have been killed, and many more have been injured.
There have been occasional reports of violent demonstrations and rioting in Mombasa, most recently following a police raid on a mosque in Majengo district on February 2, 2014 that left at least two people dead. There were reports, on December 12, 2013, of an attempted grenade attack targeting the vehicle of two tourists in the Likoni area of Mombasa. On January 2, 2014, several people were injured in a grenade attack at a nightclub in Diani near Mombasa. Remain vigilant at all times, avoid large gatherings, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.
If you are planning to stay at coastal resorts located south of Lamu District, opt for resorts that provide professional security. On September 11 and again on October 1, 2011, armed men attacked beachfront properties in Lamu District, resulting in the death of one foreign national and the kidnapping of two others (one of whom has subsequently died while in captivity, and the other was released in March 2012). In November 2011, gunmen believed to be Somali pirates attacked a village near Malindi and abducted six fishermen.
The areas located north of the Kitale-Samburu-Garissa line in northern Kenya are considered particularly unsafe. The ongoing threat posed by terrorism is joined by various regional, tribal or clan-based conflicts involving land, cattle and water. Use armed escorts when travelling to or from this region. Escorts are available from local police stations and it is advisable to contact them before undertaking any journey. Avoid venturing away from tourist areas and refrain from travelling after dark.
Violence has also regularly been reported in the Mount Elgon area of western Kenya. If you decide to travel to that region, remain vigilant at all times. In March 2008, military troops were deployed in Mount Elgon forest to pursue the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) militia, who are said to have killed hundreds of residents.
There is a heightened threat from terrorism throughout Kenya, including Nairobi and Mombasa. Regional terror groups, including al Qaeda and al-Shabaab, continue to threaten Western interests and other potential targets in Kenya. In recent years, terrorist attacks have occurred in busy public venues, including in places of worship. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time and could target areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
An explosion was reported at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi on January 17, 2014. An investigation is underway, and the airport has resumed operations. JKIA authorities recommend that travellers arrive at least one hour earlier than normal for outgoing flights to allow time for additional security checks. Be particularly vigilant at all airports.
For safety reasons, avoid all nightclubs, avoid visiting businesses during peak hours, steer clear of areas with large crowds and remain vigilant when in restaurants, shopping centers, airports and other transportation hubs and other public areas.
Be particularly vigilant during religious holidays and other public celebrations, as militants have used such occasions to mount attacks.
You should be very cautious if attending sporting events, such as football matches. Avoid public venues such as sports bars, night clubs and restaurants that broadcast these games, as well as public transportation, such as taxis, to and from the events. Be vigilant in crowded places and monitor local media.
There is a high crime rate in most regions of Kenya, particularly in major cities such as Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, and at coastal beach resorts. In recent months, foreign nationals have been the victims of daytime carjackings and kidnappings in neighbourhoods normally deemed safe during daylight hours.
The level of violent crime in and around Nairobi is generally high, with regular reports of carjackings, armed attacks, muggings, kidnappings, home invasions and burglaries. Incidents of breaking and entering have been steadily increasing in recent years. These attacks, which are becoming increasingly violent and often involve fatalities, can occur at any time and in any location. The situation tends to become worse in the period leading up to the Christmas holidays.
Be vigilant and avoid heavily populated areas of major cities to minimize the risk of being caught up in violent clashes, as well as isolated places where you may be vulnerable to a covert ambush. In particular, exercise extreme caution in the Kibera, Mathare, Kasirani and Eastleigh neighbourhoods of Nairobi.
The potential for carjackings and robberies of tourists travelling to and from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and Nairobi, particularly at night, continues to be of concern. If arriving at JKIA, you should only use transportation organized by reputable tour companies or well-marked taxis. Currency should not be exchanged in the public areas of the airport. Checked luggage may be pilfered at the airport. Store valuables in securely locked hand luggage.
Petty crimes, such as purse-snatchings and robberies, occur frequently in other major towns (Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru) and coastal beach resorts. Criminals and swindlers have been known to impersonate hotel employees, police officers or government officials, so be sure to ask for identification. When you leave your hotel room, ensure that the door is locked and the “do not disturb” sign is displayed. Store your personal belongings in safekeeping facilities. You should absolutely avoid walking or travelling after dark, and exercise caution while walking during daylight hours. Avoid showing signs of affluence or carrying large sums of money.
In many rural regions of Kenya, including the Masai territory and the eastern and central provinces, conflicts over ethnicity, land ownership, cattle rustling and access to water continue to cause confrontations, attacks and unrest. The situation can also be tense in northern Kenya, which often experiences severe drought.
Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. Avoid all demonstrations and public gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Women travelling on their own should remain particularly vigilant, as attacks involving sexual assaults, including against foreigners, are regularly reported, even though Nairobi has an anti-rape awareness campaign. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.
Foreigners volunteering with local NGOs have reported incidents of fraud, threats and mistreatment by local personnel. Other volunteers have been left stranded when the illegitimate NGOs they were working for closed.
If you are contemplating volunteer work with NGOs in Kenya, you should contact the National Council of NGOs before making any commitments and before departing Canada in order to confirm that the organization you wish to work with is legitimate. All NGOs in Kenya are required by law to be registered with the National Council of NGOs, a self-regulating, non-partisan body.
See the Entry/Exit tab for information on the work permits required to work for an NGO.
Traffic drives on the left. Excessive speeds, unpredictable driving habits, lack of adequate street lighting and poorly maintained vehicles pose hazards. Road conditions are poor. During the rainy season, some unpaved roads are impassable, even with four-wheel drive vehicles. You should drive with doors locked and windows closed at all times. The road from Nairobi to Mombasa is congested and can be dangerous for tourists unfamiliar with local driving conditions. You should consider air travel. Use authorized border crossings when travelling by vehicle between Kenya and Tanzania.
Public transportation is unsafe. Long-distance buses have been involved in a number of serious accidents. Minibuses (matatus) are generally poorly maintained, recklessly driven and are often without adequate insurance coverage. Incidents of matatus being highjacked or passengers being robbed have been reported. Use only hotel taxis, and confirm the fare in advance. Passenger trains are not safe and are routinely late.
Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Most visits to national parks, game reserves and other popular tourist destinations in Kenya remain incident free. However, foreign tourists, including Canadians, have been victims of crime, sometimes involving violence. On November 4, a tourist was shot and her Kenyan driver was killed in an armed attack on their vehicle near a game park north of Nairobi. Remain aware of your surroundings at all times. Avoid camping alone or without expert local assistance.
Visitors travelling overland to certain game parks and reserves have been attacked by armed bandits. Travel by road north of Isiolo to Samburu and Shaba/Meru/Buffalo Springs National Parks should be undertaken in escorted convoys only. The route from Malindi to Lamu can also be dangerous. Visitors to Lamu should travel by air. If road travel is necessary, it should be done in a convoy. Kenyan police organize daily convoys to and from these two points. There have been rare reports of attacks or robberies of travellers on the roads between Nairobi and the Masai Mara, Amboseli, Nakuru, Tsavo Game Parks/Reserves and Mount Kenya/Aberdares area. However, there have been periodic hijackings, robberies and attempted robberies on the main road between Nairobi and the Tanzanian border, a road that also serves as the route to Kenya’s Amboseli National Park.
There are inherent risks associated with viewing wildlife (both marine and on land), particularly on foot or at close range. Always maintain a safe distance when observing wildlife and avoid exiting vehicles unless it is deemed safe to do by professional guides and wardens. Use only reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens’ advice.
The Kenya Tourism Federation operates a Safety and Communication Centre, which provides the latest information on tourism and road conditions, and assistance in an emergency. You can obtain information by calling Nairobi 254-20-604-767 or 254-20-505-614 (24 hours), or tel/fax 254-20-604-730 (24 hours), or by emailing email@example.com.
Pirate attacks occur in coastal waters and, in some cases, farther out at sea. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
Cases of attempted fraud are frequently reported in this country. See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.
The mail system can be unreliable, and credit cards and cheques are often stolen. International couriers should be used to ship envelopes or packages, and all objects of value should be insured.
Power cuts occasionally occur. Telephone systems are generally unreliable. Kenya Telephone and Telegraph has discontinued its collect call facility. 1-800 numbers cannot be accessed from Kenya. When making a long-distance call within Kenya, the area code must be preceded by a zero. For example, to dial Nairobi from elsewhere in Kenya, you must dial 020 followed by the local number.
Maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times and in all places. Take appropriate security measures, particularly on the roads that link the city centre to residential areas, and refrain from travelling at night. Drive defensively, with vehicle doors locked and windows closed at all times. If stopped at a roadblock, verify the identification of police officers. Victims of attacks are advised not to offer resistance. Avoid travelling to low-income neighbourhoods in Nairobi, where a higher concentration of crime occurs.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.
Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease (meningitis) is a serious and sometimes fatal infection of the tissue around the brain and the spinal cord. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers), those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings, or those travelling for a longer period of time.
There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.
Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.
Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in East Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in East Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
There have been cases of cholera reported in this country in the last year. Cholera is a bacterial disease that typically causes diarrhea. In severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are generally at low risk. Humanitarian workers and those visiting areas with limited access to safe food and water are at higher risk. Practise safe food and water precautions. Travellers at high risk should get vaccinated.
Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
In some areas in East Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in East Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.
Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and detention page for more information.
Smoking is prohibited in all public places. Convicted offenders could pay high fines or serve a jail sentence.
It is illegal to destroy Kenyan currency, even in small amounts. Violators may be arrested and fined.
You are forbidden from working in Kenya without a valid work permit. For more information on work visas please see the Entry/exit tab.
Permission to carry firearms must be obtained from local authorities prior to entry. Firearms are strictly forbidden in wildlife reserves and national parks.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines. Persons convicted of possession of illegal drugs, including marijuana, could receive a 10-year prison sentence.
Be aware that cases of “mob justice” are regularly reported, in which crowds lynch suspected criminals prior to police arrival.
Possession of pornographic material is forbidden.
Photography of official buildings or embassies may lead to detention.
Homosexual activity is illegal.
Religious proselytizing is not permitted.
Common sense and discretion should be exercised in dress and behaviour, particularly in the coastal region where the majority of the population is Muslim. You should dress conservatively and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
The currency is the Kenyan shilling (KES). Many banks and hotels exchange foreign currency. Hotel bills are generally settled in U.S. dollars. Credit cards are widely accepted, and traveller’s cheques, preferably in U.S. dollars, may be exchanged at banks, hotels and foreign-exchange offices. Travellers who import the equivalent of US$5,000 or more must provide documentation stating the source and purpose of the funds. It is possible to convert Kenyan shillings into foreign currency at the airport upon departure.
Due to below-average rainfall over the last five years, many regions of eastern Africa, including Kenya, are currently afflicted by severe drought. Specifically, the northern and eastern areas of Kenya— including Marsabit, Moyale, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo and Turkana—are affected. You should expect difficulties travelling overland. Local services and the availability of water and basic food may be affected.
There are normally two rainy seasons in Kenya: from October to November, and from late March to mid-June. Heavy rains have the potential to cause sudden flooding and mudslides throughout the country. Evacuations, casualties and damage to infrastructure have been reported. The damage could also affect the provision of essential services. If you reside in or are travelling to affected areas, exercise caution, monitor local news and weather reports, and follow the advice of local authorities.
Natural disasters are possible due to regional volcanic activity. The Mount Elgon volcano, located 550 km from Nairobi, on the border with Uganda, has shown increasing signs of volcano and seismic activity. Pay careful attention to all warnings issued, specifically for this area.