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Kenya

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Tribe Hotel
Tribe Hotel - dream vacation

The Village Market 9/418 Limuru Rd, Gigiri, Nairobi

Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa
Diani Reef Beach Resort & Spa - dream vacation

Diani Beach Road | PO Box 35, Ukunda

La Maison Royale Hotel
La Maison Royale Hotel - dream vacation

Mogotio Road, off. Muthithi Rd, Nairobi

Bordered by the Indian Ocean to the easer, the Eastern African country of Kenya is surrounded by Ethiopia and South Sudan to the north and Uganda to the west, Somalia to the north east and Tanzania to the south

Regions

Cities and major towns

Kenya has 3 major cities:

  • Nairobi — the cosmopolitan capital city and economic centre of Kenya and most vibrant the East African region.
  • Mombasa — historic port on the Indian Ocean seafront and probably Africa's longest continuously settled town.
  • Kisumu — the major city to the west, on the shore of Lake Victoria.

Major towns based on size and popularity as tourist destination include:

  • Lamu — main town of the Lamu Archipelago, renown internationally for its annual cultural festival.
  • Garissa — a predominantly Muslim town in the east close to Somalia
  • Lodwar — in the north on the main route to South Sudan with access to Lake Turkana
  • Malindi — the landing point of Vasco Da Gama in Kenya with a large Italian population
  • Meru — town near the base of Mount Kenya. It is the cross roads for travel to Nairobi
  • Nakuru — near lake Nakuru National Park and an extinct volcano (Menengai)

Other destinations

  • Aberdare National Park — a cool and cloudy national park with lots of large game, and over 250 species of bird recorded
  • Amboseli National Park — a swampy lowland Maasai park that is one of the best places anywhere in Africa to view large mammals, especially elephants
  • Lake Nakuru National Park — a stunning 400 species of bird have been recorded here including the largest flocks of flamingos anywhere on earth
  • Maasai Mara National Park — probably the most popular reserve in Kenya due to the high concentration of big cats
  • Mount Kenya National Park — challenging trekking on high peaks
  • Nairobi National Park — virtually in Nairobi and a great option to see large game for those on a tight schedule
  • Tsavo East National Park — major game park on the main road from Nairobi to Mombasa
  • Tsavo West National Park —
  • Sibiloi National Park
  • Mount Elgon National Park

See also African National Parks

Understand

Kenya is one of the major economic hubs in Africa, considered to be the power hub of East and Central Africa. Kenya has 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.

Climate

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.

History

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 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. Kenya's political struggles have been 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.

Culture

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.

People

Kenya has a diverse population that comprises 47 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.

Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Easter (Good Friday and Easter Monday)
  • Labour Day (May 1)
  • Madaraka Day (June 1)
  • Eid al-Fitr (variable) Islamic religious observances
  • Mashujaa Day (October 20)
  • Jamhuri Day (December 12)
  • Christmas (December 25)
  • Boxing Day (December 26)

Get in

Visa

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/UK?10 (transit), US$50/€40/?30 (single-entry), and US$100 (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.

  • Visas can now be obtained online beforehand through the Kenya Government eVisa portal.
  • Visas are also available for purchase on entry at international airports and borders for almost all nationalities.
  • Make sure you're in the correct line at the airport to avoid an additional wait. No photos are required, just cash for payment US$50 or £30.
  • Nationalities from the following countries are not eligible for visa on entry, and must apply beforehand:

Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cameroon, Iraq, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mali, North Korea, Senegal, Somalia, Syria, Palestine, Tajikistan.

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.

  • There is now also the East African 90-day (multiple entry) visa which is good for Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and costs US$100.

By plane

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) and international connections (e.g. to Dubai, London, Amsterdam, Mumbai). It's also a SkyTeam associate member.

Kenya has three international airports:

  • Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) in Nairobi. Approximately twenty minutes from the main business district.
  • Moi International Airport in Mombasa.
  • Eldoret International Airport (local flights and cargo only).

Jomo Kenyatta is the primary arrival point for visitors flying into Kenya. There are excellent flight connections provided by KQ to major tourist destinations such as MombasaKisumu and Malindi.

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., Lagos in Nigeria, Bamako in Mali, as well as direct flights to Bangkok and connections to Hong Kong and China.

By train

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 Ksh 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.

By car

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, GarissaIsiolo 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.

By bus

Regular bus services operate between:

Nairobi (Kenya) & Arusha (Tanzania); Nairobi (Kenya) & Kampala (Uganda); Mombasa (Kenya) & Dar es Salaam (Tanzania); Kisumu (Kenya) & Kampala (Uganda);

  • Modern coast express has buses from
  • Nairobi to Dar es Salaam. with a fare of Ksh3250.
  • Nairobi to Kampala. fare of Ksh2400. 4 times a day.
  • Nairobi to Jinja. fare of Ksh2000.
  • Nairobi to Kigali. fare of Ksh3700.
  • Nairobi to Arusha. fare of Ksh1100.
  • Nairobi to Moshi. fare of Ksh1300.
  • Nairobi to Mwanza. fare of Ksh1500.
  • Mombasa to Dar es Salaam. fare of Ksh1200.
  • Mombasa to Tanga. fare of Ksh800.
  • Kisuma to Kampala. fare of Ksh1500. 3 times a day

By boat

This is limited to Lake Victoria (e.g., Mwanza in Tanzania to Bukoba in Tanzania) and the coastal area (e.g., Mombasa-Zanzibar cruises).

Get around

By plane

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: MombasaMalindi, 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 MombasaMalindi, Lamu, KisumuEldoretUkunda (Diani). Plans to extend the service to the East African region are underway. A one-way flight to Mombasa from Nairobi will cost from Ksh 2950. You get 10 kg free hand luggage. Online Visa/Master card booking is best.

Airkenya flies from Wilson Airport Nairobi to MombasaMalindi, Lamu, Amboseli National Park, Maasai Mara, MeruNanyuki 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.

Jetlink flies from Nairobi to MombasaEldoret and Kisumu.

Most charter tourists fly directly to either of the coastal airports of Mombasa or Malindi.

By bus

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.

  • Guardian Coach

By matatu

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. Matatus used to be usually packed to well over capacity – up to 25 people in a 14-seater vehicle – but 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."

By train

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'.

By rental car

Most worldwide rental agencies have offices in NairobiMombasa 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, and Davina Cabs are usually very competitive and professional.

See

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 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 also is a great destination for beach holidays, with several located along the coastal regions and the city of Mombasa. Other coastal towns worth visiting include Lamu and Malindi.

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, MaralalBaragoi, Korr, Kargi, and South Horr.

Do

  • Watch a wildlife migration. Go for a game drive in many parks and reserves found in the country. If you are on a tight schedule take a game drive in the Nairobi National Park found less than 20 minutes drive from Nairobi's CBD (Central Business District). Major attractions: big cats including lions and leopards, buffaloes, a variety of antelope species, baboons, monkeys among others.
  • If you prefer to spend some time in the urban social scene, you might consider attending music and cultural events such as Blankets and Wine which features various international and local artists performing live in a picnic-like setting for families and friends looking to enjoy African talent. The event happens once a month in Kenya's capital, Nairobi (first Sunday of every month).
  • Rift Valley Festival, which incorporates a camping experience with a sample of cultural and musical tastes from around the country and internationally.
  • Samosa Festival is an event which is set up to significantly integrate the Asian and African culture in the country, A significant percentage of the urban population is of Asian (Indian) ancestry and has existed since before independence. Their immigration was brought on by the construction of the railway.

This event features cuisine from both cultures, poetry and literature (spoken and written), music and games.

  • Maulid festival is a one-week event that can only be enjoyed in the Coastal region specifically in the ageless town of Lamu, which has the majority of the population of Muslim faith. It is the one event which everyone from the region looks forward.
  • The three major cities also have an array of night club that play both local and international music. Though the experience may be thrilling, it would be wise to visit in the company of a guide or a trusted local, as like any other country with a night life, night clubs also attract untrustworthy party-goers and "clubbers", but this shouldn't ruin your experience as night clubs are also great places to meet singles and new friends.

Talk

See also: Swahili phrasebook

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.

Buy

Money

The currency is the Kenyan shilling, denoted "Ksh" or by "/-" following the number (ISO code: KES). It can be divided into 100 cents.

  • Equity Bank ATMs take Visa/MasterCard/American Express/JCB cards.
  • MasterCard/Visa can be used at all Barclays Bank, CFC Stanbic, Kenya Commercial Bank, GT Bank, I & M Bank, Equity Bank and ECO Bank ATMs.

Shopping

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.

Eat

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.

Drink

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. 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 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.

Sleep

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.

Learn

There are many colleges offering secretarial and computer courses in the CBDs of Nairobi and Mombasa. There are also many universities, both public and private, and some participate in student exchange programs with international universities.

Work

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.

Stay safe

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, and MP3 players. 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.

Stay healthy

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, such places do not always have the highest sanitary conditions and stomach illnesses can result.

It is advisable to have travel and accident insurance.

Respect

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.

Connect

Internet

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 Ksh 0.50 per minute.

Mobile providers

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.

The Amateur Traveler talks to Gretchen about her two trips to Kenya. Gretchen's husband is a wildlife photographer and they both are birders. They went on a wildlife photography safari that emphasized bird watching and fell in love with Kenya.

Giraffe Manor is a small hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, where guests share the grounds with a herd of resident endangered Rothschild giraffes. The wild animals often visit guests in the morning and evening, poking their long necks through the windows in the hope of a treat, before retreating to their forest sanctuary

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I drop myself into cities and countries where I know no one on a regular basis. I enjoy the challenge and the freedom, but I also forget that this is a practice like any other, and may seem somewhat inaccessible at first. I want to demystify it.

The following suggestions stem from my years of solo traveling. I don’t necessarily follow them all for every trip, but one could, in theory. I believe each one has a deep potential to cushion the fall into unknown territory.

1. Reach out to friends and acquaintances.

A simple “Do I know anyone in _____?” on Facebook can yield unexpected results. This method has found me friends (and often couches) in otherwise totally anonymous destinations from Prague and Montenegro to Berlin, Sicily and more.

2. Mine for connections.

Social media is a multifaceted beast, but it really comes in handy for certain kinds of travel. Asking my Facebook friends (and sometimes blog followers), “Does anyone have any connections in ___?” in the past has found me a house to rent in Cape Town, a Shabbat dinner in Paris, a yoga teaching gig in Zanzibar and so much more. The more I travel, the more this network grows — exponentially, it would seem. Apps like travelstoke allow you to connect with locals willing to share info or even host travelers a la couchsurfing.

3. Be bold — ask questions.

Every piece of information we could possibly need is available on the ground. No need to read travel forums, or even look up directions (although by all means do both if it sets your mind at ease). Depending on where I am in the world, there are metro maps, info centers, or throngs of aggressive taxi drivers at every possible port of arrival. Barring that, the local person sitting next to me on the bus/plane/train/ferry is usually an excellent resource.

4. Get lost and like it.

I have developed an impressive habit of always going the wrong way first. If it’s straight, I go left. If it’s left, I go right. I then employ method #3, ad infinitum, to take the longest route possible to my intended destination (thank you, legs). Getting lost is a common consequence of going in blind; even if we don’t like it, we can bring our sense of humor along for the walk.

5. Set up a work trade.

While it is 100% possible (and yes, fun and exciting) to just go explore a new place and find your way upon arrival, I have often found more depth and connection through work exchanges. Websites like wwoofing, workaway and helpx are just a few of many platforms for finding interesting, short-term placements abroad. Working or volunteering is, in my experience, one of the most effective ways to integrate into a community and create my place in the formerly unfamiliar. It is also an incredibly practical resource for information.

6. Set up an Airbnb.

If, like me, you need to work while you wander (or, also like me, you don’t want to commit to too much socializing), but still want an entree into local community, Airbnb is unparalleled. Set your price, browse your options, and choose a host who seems interesting. I’m still in contact with several of my Airbnb hosts, and owe unique memories (like tasting the best chocolate gelato in the whole world) to them.

7. Keep up with hobbies.

I always carry two extra pairs of shoes with me: dance and climbing. Dancing tango in Kenya, salsa-ing in Berlin, and climbing in Cape Town, I’ve connected with people I never would have met otherwise. Same goes for surfing in Morocco and hiking in Spain. Those are my passions; follow yours, and you’ll find your people — anywhere.

8. Become a regular.

There is something uniquely grounding in being a regular customer (in a cafe, restaurant or even corner store) — in simply being recognized. When our default mode is anonymity, feeling seen, known, familiar offers a powerful sense of place. Especially when I have a few weeks or months somewhere, I find myself accumulating these “regular” spots. Though utterly departing from all known routine is a key — even necessary — element of travel for me, glimpses of familiarity within the unknown provide welcome — even necessary — moments of respite.

9. Let go of should’s.

I believe having a mile-long checklist of “must sees” and “must dos” limits potential for spontaneous discovery. I tend to get a decent amount of touristing in when I visit a new place, but I try not to force it. Excursions happen organically — often with new friends — when I genuinely want to do them, and not because I feel like I’ll be failing at travel if I don’t.

10. Cook.

My experience of travel altered hugely when I started to prepare a lot of my own meals (just as I used to when I lived in one place). Not all, of course, since tasting local cuisines is hands down the best part of traveling, but many. Wandering local markets, I’ve honed new language skills, felt rooted in my home-of-the-moment, and saved serious money. Choosing an Airbnb with a kitchen facilitates this, as does staying with friends. Cooking a beautiful meal has long been my favorite way to thank my hosts for their hospitality.

11. Talk to strangers.

They’re not scary — usually. When they are creepy, it’s usually pretty clear to my intuition. Strangers are typically one of three things: treasure troves of insider information, friends you haven’t met yet, or an excellent story for later. Instructions for talking to strangers: eyes up, shoulders down, words out.

12. When all else fails, fail.

I have days — sometimes weeks — where my social self goes into hibernation, my patience drops to zero, and the challenge of the unknown shifts from exhilarating to tiresome. When that happens, I take time to write, read, call friends and family, and simply be. No one can be “on” all the time. This lifestyle of exploration and discovery has curves and cycles, just like any other. These moments of pause make the adventure all the richer.

May your journeys be—yours. More like this: Why traveling solo is better than traveling with friends

Photo by the author

When I first moved to Namibia I was a twenty-six-year-old in escape mode.

I was just on the heels of an eye-opening introduction into the world of corporate America. Moving to Africa as an African American was not just an opportunity for me to live abroad. It was a chance to escape the cubicles of white privilege that had soured my taste for working in America. By my mid-twenties, I had faced nepotism, favoritism, micro-aggressions and racism in the workplace. I wanted no more of it.

And so I moved to Namibia to teach English expecting to leave that world behind. I thought that living in Africa, swamped in blackness, would mean the end of the harsh realities I had faced in the U.S as a Black woman of color. My days of dealing with white privilege had come to an end, or so I thought.

It turned out that I had chosen one of the ‘whitest’ places in Africa to move to. Namibia was an African nation just two decades out of the throngs of apartheid. A white minority, the descendants of German colonialists, remained in Namibia. The group still held much of the country’s economic power. There was also a very racist undertone in their legacy. The residual effects of Namibia’s complicated history meant I would find no black paradise. It was challenging for me to look this reality in the eye — but it was impossible to ignore.

I once visited Namibia’s coastal town of Swakopmund. It is a very white town enveloped by world famous sand dunes. Swakopmund’s architecture is known for its very Germanesque imagery. Lavish beach homes line the city’s waterfronts. Yet, not far away lies an invisible line. It’s a demarcation that quarters off a sea of tin shacks — a black township.

Hailed as a premiere tourism destination on Namibia, I struggled to see what the appeal of what this heavily segregated Namibian community was. When you looked past it’s stunning topography, the stark racial divide could be seen everywhere.

How could I support such a blatantly racist environment, and on the African continent at that?

Just about all Swakopmund’s service workers were black and their management was white. One evening I dined at a restaurant with a black Peace Corps volunteer. As we walked in we were blatantly stared at by the white patrons. Our blackness was clearly not welcomed. This was a reoccurring theme throughout the various excursions my friend and I embarked upon in the town. I vowed to never return to Swakopmund unless absolutely necessary. How could I support such a blatantly racist environment, and on the African continent at that?

This quiet undercurrent of racism is not unique to Swakopmund. Around Namibia, there is hardly ever a time where a black person isn’t subjected to blatant racial profiling while shopping. Black shoppers being followed around by black security guards is a bizarre norm.

During my first years of living in Namibia, I found this practice to be extremely offensive and irritating. It was glaringly obvious that white shoppers were allowed to enjoy their shopping experiences independent of this constant hovering and in peace.

I finally stopped lashing out at security guards who followed me around in stores when I realized they were only doing their job. They were essentially being paid to follow those of us with brown complexions around the establishment to prevent theft. If the security guards didn’t comply they were at risk of losing their very low paying jobs — their livelihood.

On the opposite end, I noticed that while entering shops with white cashiers I was often greeted or followed around with a coldness that suggested I couldn’t possibly afford anything on their shelves. More often than not, white Namibian shopkeepers emitted an aura that suggested my tastes couldn’t possibly be for whatever they were selling.

My most disheartening experiences dealing with race in Namibia involve service from black Namibians themselves. There are days when I’m seated in a restaurant and I wait and wait for my order to be taken. White travelers or customers enter and receive bright welcoming smiles and speedy attention.

Given her youth, I’ve realized that Namibia deserves a grace period. Her jagged navigation through race and ethnicity are appropriate.

I begin the painful process of wondering if having another skin color would make the difference. It’s a peculiar headspace to have to accept that “your own” have deemed you as less than. Then I chat with other black travelers and they complain of the same issues in East and West Africa. I realize my feelings weren’t so off base.

I recently watched a video from 1990 where a young Barack Obama was visiting Kenya. He revealed his disappointment in seeing blacks having problems with being served timely in restaurants and having to deal with rude waiters. He noted how white travelers were given an easier time going through customs at the airport. It seems that this disease of white privilege in Africa is nothing new as it has continued to thrive.

Oddly enough I have come to accept Namibia and her racial imperfections. When I first arrived here in 2010 I would fiercely reject whatever bigotry and discrimination I encountered. I criticized how seemingly passive Namibians were in the face of prejudice. Six years later I find myself more and more in a state of observation. I have developed a cool indifference of my own.

I manage my life here in a way that minimizes my interaction with potential racists of Namibia. I expect and accept differing levels of service from black Namibians. Given her youth, I’ve realized that Namibia deserves a grace period. Her jagged navigation through race and ethnicity are appropriate. Four hundred years post-slavery, even African Americans are still fighting though the complexities of race in America. More like this: Traveling to Africa for the first time as an African American

Photo: Sam Hawley

Kilimanjaro almost killed me. The first time was no joke. Lessons were taught by the mighty Kilimanjaro on how not to mess with her without proper preparation and a healthy mindset. At the last hut, Kibo, was when I had to make the painful decision to turn around. At that point, the symptoms of altitude sickness had increased tremendously to the point I was experiencing symptoms of High Altitude Pulmonary Edemy (HAPE). It was heartbreaking to abort my plan to forge ahead because I was just a few hours away from the summit. However, surviving the ordeal taught me important lessons in dealing with high altitude trekking and ensuring a non-fatal ascent.

While many mountaineers aspire to trek up Kilimanjaro for very good reasons, one being the peak is part of the seven summits, it is prudent to keep in mind the dangers involved in climbing this non-technical trail. Your number one enemy in this case is the altitude, among other possible deterrents that are mentioned below.

Here are 13 ways to survive the dangers on the trails of Kilimanjaro and cross it off your bucket list for good:

1. Before even flying out to Kilimanjaro airport, learn about the symptoms of altitude mountain sickness (AMS) and the appropriate treatment.

The internet has extensive articles on the subject. You can dive into it as deeply as you’d like but at the very least, you should know the signs to look for to indicate whether your body is experiencing some negative effects from the altitude. However, only study the topic to the extent it gives you sufficient knowledge on the symptoms and treatment. I know some people who scare themselves off from reading too much about it. Although knowledge is certainly useful in this instance, on the other hand, make sure not to overdo it to a point you cause yourself unnecessary stress and anxiety. Your mental disposition is one of the key things for a successful ascent as discussed below. Hence, find a balance between knowing enough about AMS and knowing about it too much.

Photo: Lisa

2. From knowing the symptoms follows knowing the treatment.

Diamox is one common medication that prevents and treats AMS.  Make sure to talk to your doctor regarding the appropriate usage in your case as the dosage can depend on each person’s medical history and condition. These days it is easy to obtain a prescription from your primary care physician, which most health insurance covers. No need to go to a travel doctor, which can be costly. While you’re at it, ask for antibiotics for stomach issues. You’re likely not going to need it but it doesn’t hurt to have it just in case. Another prescription drug which is used for treating HAPE is some form of steroid. You can ask your doctor about this particular medication and decide if it’s something you wish to bring with you as a treatment measure for HAPE. Typically, HAPE is treated by descending as soon as the initial symptoms appear. If you get to a point in which you’re prompted to use medication to treat HAPE, that usually means you’ve already gone much higher than you should have. This isn’t a smart way to trek given the risk of death resulting from HAPE.

3. Learn to listen to your body and be honest with yourself when it comes to your body’s condition.

Sure, you paid tons of money to conquer Kilimanjaro, but will you allow the mountain instead to conquer you? And leave you dead? No. Life is too precious to lose over a mountain. Let’s be honest. We love the idea of success. We’re obsessed with the the idea of conquering Kilimanjaro and crossing it from our bucket list of peaks to bag. But guess who’s the one who makes the call whether you go forward or not? No, not the ego. It’s your body. I witnessed runners run up the mountain like they’re jogging in the city. I’m not sure why they would do that but as days progressed, I realized it was their ego talking. The ego in their heads told them to go fast so they can be the first to arrive at the hut every night. Sure, they did get there first. But once they were above 12,000 feet, they realized the inevitable — your body needs to adapt to the altitude. Instead of listening to their bodies, they acted against their bodies’ natural state. Hence, I wasn’t surprised later on to find out that they didn’t make it to the summit.  Kilimanjaro is the kind of mountain that will punish you for being a speedy Gonzales. Keeping the ego in check will serve you better.

Photo: Kyle Taylor

4.How will the mountain reward you?

By going the opposite — “pole, pole,” which is Swahili for slowly, slowly. Every local says it, chants it, preaches it, and even yells it at those who refuse to listen. There’s a reason why. It’s the only style of hiking that will make you conquer Kilimanjaro. Practice the idea now so when you hear your guides say this, your tendency to go fast will be put on sleep mode by the time you start the trek. In our hiking lives, we are prone to wanting to go faster.  It’s just in our nature to work on our speed. In this case, you must throw that idea out the window. And trust me, it sounds easy but it’s actually hard. Your adrenaline is pumping. You see other hikers on the trail and like most people you don’t want to be that last one to arrive. To reverse that thinking is unnatural. Hence, I would emphasize one more time — practice your walk now at a lesser than normal speed. That way you would not have any difficulties adjusting when you’re on the actual trail. You’ll have one less thing to worry about.

5. Drink plenty of water.

Get into the habit of drinking even if you’re not thirsty. This is especially important when you are taking Diamox as this medication causes dehydration. You need to make sure you are drinking enough water. For altitude, sufficient water intake is also deemed to help. It’s a general rule in life that is definitely worth practicing on the trail, no matter which peak you’re bagging. Drink enough water. Always!

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

The highest mountain in Africa stands at 19,341ft (5,895m) near the Tanzanian border with Kenya. Ascents of the peak make use of several established camps on the mountain’s slopes, allowing climbers time to acclimate to the elevation.

Photo courtesy of Mountain Travel Sobek

6. Eat well on the trail.

 This is not so much of an issue given that most trekking operators feed you more than enough nutritious food, especially carbohydrates. Eat enough carbs but don’t overfeed yourself. Snacking on protein bars is a great way to supplement you with energy so make sure to bring trail bars with you because the town, Moshi, where you spend the night prior to the trek, is devoid of any nutritious trail snacks.

7. Get good rest and sleep.

 I cannot emphasize it enough how important this is.  Enough sleep every night is going to determine your body’s overall functioning the next day.  It’s the best means of preventing or treating any illness on the trail. Know that it is cold at night so make sure that you bring the right gear to give you enough warmth to allow you to have a restful sleep. Sleepless nights on the trail can certainly impact your chances of making it to the top. Likewise, rest is important during the hike each day. As noted above, you must listen to your body. If it tells you to stop and rest, then you do so. When it tells you it’s ready to move, then go.

Photo: americanrubier

8. Do the longest route possible to the summit of Kilimanjaro.

I made the mistake of doing the shortest route, Marangu, which takes you to the summit in 3-4 days. This is the only route that has huts and so no tenting needed. It might have been warmer at night time via Marangu but the ascent was suicidal given the elevation that you gain from 1860 meters to 5895 meters in 3-4 days. The success rate for summiting stands at less than 30% whereas the longest route via the newer trail, Northern Circuit, has a success rate of around 80% as it gives you 3-4 extra days to summit. Of course, the longer route would mean it’ll be more costly. One thing I learned from all this though is that climbing Kilimanjaro is such a major endeavor that you should do it properly the first time around. Otherwise, if you don’t summit, then you do it again which means you end up spending more money than if you did it right the first time.

9. Get medical and emergency evacuation coverage.

Considering the risk factors of climbing this peak, it’s a no brainer, really. Make sure you are covered by adequate insurance in case of medical emergencies. Luckily, in my case, the guide was able to arrange for porters to bring me down the mountain via a stretcher. In other cases, a more immediate evacuation may be necessary and require a helicopter rescue. It’s worth investing in having the appropriate medical insurance and emergency evacuation for these reasons. Also, do keep in mind only certain insurance companies offer medical and emergency evacuation for trekking that involves high altitude. Make sure to check that they cover the activity and the specific altitude as some only cover trekking up to a certain elevation.

10. Provide any relevant medical information to your guide.

It may not be altitude that gets you on the trail, but allergies of some kind. Make sure that you inform your guide or trek operator ahead of time if you have medical conditions that should be noted. This is not the time to be shy about it. Failure to disclose can cause you your own health, and perhaps, life so be honest and upfront. Trek operators are expected and required in most instances to ensure confidentiality of their client’s personal information so there’s no need to worry about others finding out.

Photo: truebacarlos

11. Work on your cardio and stay active.

Being fit may not keep altitude away from pestering you and causing you to experience symptoms but the fitter you are, the lesser issues you’ll have on the trail, besides the altitude, that is. After all, walking up from 1800 meters to over 5000 meters requires tremendous amount of cardio and fitness, and more so at high altitude.

12. Know your blood type and carry a medical card with said information.

Let’s go back to basics. If you don’t know your blood type or have forgotten it, find out before your trek. If any injuries occur that would require blood transfusion, this is a critical piece of information that can save your life. It’s worth knowing that in some countries, certain blood types are rare to find. Hence, do your research beforehand. You can find out more about altitude and its impact on blood types and about organizations globally that can help with rare blood types via this article: High Altitudes Can Change Your Blood.

13. Finally, learn to let go of the pressures of making it to the top.

Those who do make it to the top of any high altitude peak are usually calm and deliberate in their efforts to be stress-free in their journey to the top. If it’s not the altitude that will stop you from summiting, then my next bet would be the mental challenge that is inherent in this endeavor. I know of people who were physically fine and could easily have trekked up to the top but didn’t because fear stopped them. Don’t fall into that trap. Don’t compete or succumb to the pressure of comparing your abilities with others. Don’t bother questioning who will make it or who won’t or canvassing among your peers who will be the first or last to make it. Seriously, just don’t. Their journey on this mountain or any mountain for that matter, is totally different from yours. Respect that and just focus on your own path. Preoccupying yourself about others’ abilities eats up energy that you can be using towards hiking up to the top and is merely a distraction that serves no purpose in your own unique journey. The healthier your mind is, the less ailment and stress you’ll experience on the trail. Meditate, nap or listen to music to relax you when you get to camp. While you take care of your physical body by eating and sleeping, your mind also requires the utmost attention while on a trek that is as strenuous as one that will take you to the highest point in Africa. Yes, so much pressure, indeed. But your best approach is to stay calm and focus on trekking up that peak, one step at a time. With all the above pointers, you’re ready to conquer Kilimanjaro. Either way, the mountain will always be there. You, on the other hand, have one life to contend with. Take care of it, and the peak will show itself to you sooner or later.

And remember, “Pole, pole!” More like this: 9 realities to consider before climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

The single story about Africa

Photo by Tanja Heffner

In her famous TED talk, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warned viewers of “The Danger of a Single Story.” She tells a poignant story of her experience living with her American college roommate in the United States to illustrate her point:

“My roommate had a single story of Africa. A single story of catastrophe. In this single story there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her, in any way. No possibility of feelings more complex than pity. No possibility of a connection as human equals.[…] If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa were from popular images, I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves, and waiting to be saved, by a kind, white foreigner… The single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

How can you make sure that you too don’t get trapped in a single story of Africa? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Understand the geography of the African continent.

Africa is bigger than the United States, China, India and all of Europe combined. And yet too often, a negative news story about simply one of Africa’s fifty-four countries ends up negatively affecting the whole continent. For example, a BBC article reported that when the Ebola epidemic hit Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, even countries in sub-Saharan Africa lost tourist revenue: advance bookings for 2015 in Tanzania were 50% lower. Tourists couldn’t understand that cities like Rome and Madrid were closer to the center of the of Ebola outbreak than Tanzania was. Instead they simply assumed that any country in Africa was automatically more dangerous.

2. Acknowledge the successes on the continent, instead of single-mindedly focusing on the negative.

It’s way too simplistic to focus only on the bad news coming out of Africa, particularly when there are plenty of things Africa does better than the States: According to data by the World Bank, Rwanda leads the world in female representation in their government (64% of their government officials are female. In the United States, that number is 18%). Unlike the United States, African countries offer paid maternal leave. Countries like the Central African Republic, Chad, Namibia all also have higher voter turnout rates than we do.

3. Read and watch Western portrayals of the Africa with a critical eye.

As Courtney Martin wrote, “single stories are born, not just from inadequately seeing real people (although that is sometimes the case), but inadequately writing real people — creating caricatures rather than characters.” This happens too often when Westerners attempt to portray African people in their art.

Check out this viral Youtube video made by an organization called Mama Hope, which points out the various stereotypes African men are tired of seeing in Hollywood movies. And check out Binyavanga Wainaina’s video instructing Westerners “How not to write about Africa”:

Keep these videos and idea in mind anytime you’re reading books or watching movies about the continent and its people.

4. Diversify your news sources.

In 2013, the #SomeoneTellCNN controversy in Kenya showed how Western new outlets reporting on Africa can often get the story wrong. Journalists get lazy and write pieces that don’t give the story the actual nuance (or even accuracy) it deserves.

To make sure you’re getting the full context of a story, check out news outlets that actually feature African journalists on the ground. Here are a few:

  • Africa is a Country — This was founded by Sean Jacobs in 2009 and aimed to “challenge the received wisdom about Africa from a left perspective, informed by his experiences of resistance movements to Apartheid.”
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  • Africa Check — This non-profit organization was created in 2012 to “promote accuracy in public debate and the media in Africa” and “raise the quality of information available to society across the continent.”
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  • Okay Africa — This website reports on African youth culture and art, and aims to fill “a much needed gap in representations of Africa by presenting a forward-thinking, nuanced view of Africa today.”
  • Man Drives Hours Every Day In Drought To Bring Water To Wild Animals

    Photo: Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua via The dodo

    WHEN PATRICK Kilonzo Mwalua reaches his destination with his water truck filled with 3,000 gallons of fresh water, animals are waiting for him.

    The buffalos, elephants, zebras, etc. recognize the sound of his engine and come to meet him. They are eager for Patrick to deliver the life-saving water he brings.

    Man Drives Hours Every Day In Drought To Bring Water To Wild Animals

    Photo: Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua via The dodo

    Man Drives Hours Every Day In Drought To Bring Water To Wild Animals

    Photo: Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua via The dodo

    Man Drives Hours Every Day In Drought To Bring Water To Wild Animals

    Photo: Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua via The dodo

    In Kenya’s Tsavo West National Park, the drought is so severe that animals needs the help of humans to survive. Thankfully, Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua is here to help them by driving many hours to filling up dry water holes several times a week.

    He refuses to let the animals he loves die of thirst when he knows he can help.

    Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua is passionate about animal conservation and runs a conservation project called Tsavo Volunteers. He also visits local schools to educate children about Kenya’s wildlife.

    Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua is now receiving the support of three American women who admire his dedication. One of them set up a gofundme page to help him carry on his water delivery service. The project has already collected $126,413, a sum that will greatly help the animals of Tsavo West National Park.

    Man Drives Hours Every Day In Drought To Bring Water To Wild Animals

    Photo: Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua via The dodo

    You can contribute to Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua’s fundraiser here to help him keep the animals alive. Every little helps.

    H/T: The dodo

    More like this: The time to stop wildlife extinction in Africa is now. Here are five ways to take action
    My daughter isn't really into travel

    Photo: Allef Vinicius

    I’m a travel writer and editor and all-around wanderlust junkie. I guess I had always assumed that any kids of mine would turn out the same. While my 14-year-old daughter Stella looks to be heading down the backpacker/travel writer path and will probably put my extensive travels to shame one day, my 16-year-old daughter just isn’t that into it. She would rather hit up Lollapalooza than Laos, would rather check out the shopping mall than the Sahara. It confuses me, it annoys me, but here’s how I have learned to deal:

    Just because she has other priorities now doesn’t mean they won’t change.

    People change, that’s a given. Just because she isn’t interested in travel right now doesn’t mean that something won’t spark it for her later. Maybe it will be a boyfriend who invites her on a romantic surf trip to Uruguay. Maybe it will be accompanying her best friend on a rowdy road trip to Buenos Aires. Maybe it will be her dream job offer that happens to take her to Thailand.

    It’s passion that I want to see her have. It doesn’t necessarily matter for what.

    Travel makes me feel alive. It makes me feel like I am growing and learning. It makes me feel both independent and it makes me feel like I have community. I want my daughter to feel all of these things, and maybe she will because of her love of horse riding, or maybe because of a fashion business she starts. If she really knows what it feels like to be passionate about something, does it really matter if it didn’t come because of travel?

    My travels are an example for her regardless.

    She doesn’t have to accompany me on trips or even understand my love of travel, but what I hope she at least sees is a mom who is in love with life. A mom who has abundant curiosity and follows it. A mom who wants to question and be questioned while interacting with foreign cultures. A mom who takes risks, who throws herself into the unknown, and who trusts that everything on the road will work out to be one grand adventure no matter what.

    Travel does not have to be somewhere far away or exotic.

    I tend to think that travel doesn’t ‘count’ unless it’s a 38-hour plane ride away or in a place where I don’t speak a word of the language. I had to realize that while my daughter would probably not get excited about a girl trip to Rio, she could enjoy a weekend together at a spa in a cute little mountain town nearby (with good shopping). For her, being away from home was travel. In the end, we were spending time together in a new place, so that had to be considered a win-win.

    She helps me to clarify exactly what I love about travel.

    “You’re going to Kenya? Why the heck would you want to go there?”, “Why do you want to go hiking? Don’t you see enough trees from our back yard?” This type of constant questioning forces me to share exactly what it is about the adventure that excites me, what I hope to do, see, and learn there.

    One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through parenting is to embrace and celebrate each child’s individuality. I’m not here to make a little mini-me. As long as my travels inspire her in some way (even if it’s not to actually travel), and she fosters passion within her towards something that makes her glad to be alive, I’ve learned to be good with the fact that she couldn’t care less about travel. More like this: We're a family that hosts travelers from all over the world. Here's how many bad experiences we've had.

    Photo: huweijie07170

    Experienced independent travelers have the entire world as their playground, feeling completely at ease with visiting new destinations and meeting new folk. These are the people who can walk into a bar alone and by last orders, have a new crew of friends. This kind of character is on the rare side and if you are new to solo travel or have any degree of anxiety about it, you are not alone. We’ve pulled together a few destinations that are perfect for your first trip, along with some handy tips.

    Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

    1. Lombok and the Gili Islands, Indonesia

     Villa Atas, Selong BelanakPejanggik, IndonesiaGreat and affordable Villa in southern Lombok on Selong Belanak beach. Great Place that sleeps 6 comfortably or more if you want to squeeze. Fantastic staff, and just a short walk from the beautiful beach. Great for a long weekend getaway from Jakarta. Just 25 minutes from airport. As easy to get to as Anywhere in Bali. Small beach break decent for newbie surfers. More info villaataslombok.com

    Lombok is popular with independent travelers, especially those who want to surf, snorkel or dive. Gili Trawangan, Gili T, as it is called for short, has no motorized vehicles operating on it; you get around by bike, horse, carriage, or by foot. You can walk the entire island in about two hours.

     Mount RinjaniSembalun Lawang, IndonesiaThis is by far the most difficult thing I have ever done. It’s a 3 day trek, and you reach summit (3726 m) early morning on the 2nd day. The views of the crater lake and active volcano are absolutely incredible and truly take your breath way. The sunsets and sunrises are incredible. But be careful, this mountain is not well maintained and there is no such thing as a trail. #extreme #hiking #camping

    Solo travel tip: Reach out to friends and acquaintances.

    A simple “Do I know anyone in _____?” on Facebook can yield unexpected results. This method can find friends (and often couches) in otherwise totally anonymous destinations.

    2. Jordan

     Ajloun CastleAjloun, JordanReally cool castle overlooking the city and some beatiful rolling hills.

    You’ll find it impossible to go anywhere in Jordan without experiencing some of its famous hospitality. The huge Nabatean and Roman archaeological site of Petra really does live up to the hype, and will appeal to people who love rugged, natural beauty and hiking, as well as to history buffs. Lawrence of Arabia described the mountains and orange/pink sands of Wadi Rum as “vast, echoing and God-like”; Jerash is one of the best-preserved Roman cities in the world, and the Dead Sea one of the strangest natural wonders.

     Amman CitadelAmman, JordanAmazing city views up here! Loved hearing the call to prayer while the sun went down. #myjordanjourney

    Solo travel tip: Cook.

    Your experience of travel will be altered hugely when you start to prepare a lot of your own meals. Not all, of course, since tasting local cuisines is hands down the best part of traveling, but many. Wandering local markets, you can improve language skills, feel rooted in your home-of-the-moment, and saved serious money. Choosing an Airbnb with a kitchen facilitates this, as does staying with friends.

    3. Edinburgh, Scotland

     The Royal MileEdinburgh, United KingdomMain city center street in Edinburgh full of pubs, cafes, small shops, etc. Beautiful, historic buildings line the street as it leads up to Edinburgh Castle. Do not miss! #free #history #walking #architecture #citycenter

    Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, has the reputation of being — not only one of the most beautiful cities in the world — but one of the friendliest. Personally, I’d recommend skipping air bnb, in this instance, and booking a hostel. Edinburgh, “The Burgh”, as locals call it, is a great place to meet people from all over the world. Book a hostel, join a pub crawl and make a heap load of new pals.

     Arthur’s SeatEdinburgh, United KingdomGreat views of Edinburgh from the top of Arthurs Seat. A pretty easy well groomed path up that maybe takes around an hour to get up. #views #hiking

    Solo travel tip: Mine for connections.

    Social media is a multifaceted beast, but it really comes in handy for certain kinds of travel. Ask Facebook friends, “Does anyone have any connections in ___?”. The more you travel, the more your network grows — exponentially, it would seem. Apps like travelstoke allow you to connect with locals willing to share info or even host travelers a la couchsurfing.

    4. Guatemala

     arco de santa catalinaAntigua Guatemala, GuatemalaTwo antigueñas in #ArcodeSantaCatalina #Antigua

    If you’re looking for the best places to travel alone in Central and South America, don’t overlook Guatemala and its ancient Maya ruins. It’s an inexpensive place to travel, which means you could stay for a while to learn Spanish or even volunteer.

     Pacaya volcanoEscuintla, GuatemalaWhy hiking the Pacaya Volcano is one of the ultimate hikes in the world! This active volcano 20 minutes outside of Guatemala city can be hiked round trip in 3-4 hours depending on if you take a jeep up the first half of the hike. Once you reach the petrified lava flow at the base of the volcano, you will surprisingly come across the tiny “Lava Store” where artisans Fernando and David make jewelry out of petrified lava and coconut shells. This world famous store is dangerously perched at the base of Pacaya. Since the store opened in 2010, it has been “relocated” almost a dozen times due to the volcanic activity and lava flows taking it out. From there, it is about an hour hike straight up uneven shifting rocks to the mouth of the crater. You have to be careful, since the volcano is spewing noxious gases and could erupt at any time, but the beauty and views from over 8,000 feet high of the nearby volcanoes and potential danger of this hike has voted it one of the top 20 best hikes in the world by National Geographic.

    Solo travel tip: Get lost and like it.

    Getting lost is a common consequence of going in blind; even if we don’t like it, we can bring our sense of humor along for the walk and discover off the radar spots.

    5. Cuba

     Centro HabanaLa Habana, Cuba#streetlife #havana #cuba

    Now is the time to visit Cuba. “The country has changed more in the last five years than in all its history,” Cubans say, as foreigners enjoy home stays, five-star hotels spring up in Havana, tour buses queue in formerly off-the-grid towns, airports expand, and culinary traditions widen. And it’s about to change even more, not only because of the growth in tourism since US/Cuba relations were liberalized, but because that liberalization could be threatened under a Trump administration.

     Hotel Los JazminesViñales, CubaIf you find yourself in the tobacco capital of Cuba, the rooms in this hotel just outside of town offer amazing views of the surrounding countryside. #cuba #vinales #pool

    Solo travel tip: Be bold — ask questions.

    Every piece of information we could possibly need is available on the ground. No need to read travel forums, or even look up directions (although by all means do both if it sets your mind at ease). Depending on where you are in the world, there are metro maps, info centers, or throngs of aggressive taxi drivers at every possible port of arrival. Barring that, the local person sitting next to you on the bus/plane/train/ferry is usually an excellent resource.

    6. Kenya

     The David Sheldrick Wildlife TrustNairobi, KenyaBaby elephants! I could hardly contain my excitement when they all came barreling down the hill to the daily feeding area. These baby elephants are all saved, nourished and put back into the wild. You can watch the feeding an hour daily at 11, so be on time or early to make sure you get a spot. All proceeds go to help the elephants.

    Tourism accounts for the largest share of the country’s foreign earnings as thousands of visitors arrive to see up to a quarter of a million wildebeest make their annual migration between Kenya and its southern neighbor, Tanzania. You can easily join a big group or arrange for a guide to take you out into the wilderness alone.

     Masai Mara National ReserveNairobi, KenyaAbout 5hrs drive from Nairobi, the Masai Mara has incredible biodiversity. Did a 4 day safari and saw lions, elephants, hippos, rhinos, cheetah, giraffe and so much more. While hiring a tour company from the city is “easier”, you’ll save money by going to villages near the park entrance and hiring a local Masai to take you in. They’re also allowed to drive where others can’t b/c it’s their native land. Makes for all around more culture and adventure #kenya #safari #masaimara #lions

    Solo travel tip: Talk to strangers.

    They’re not scary — usually. When they are creepy, it’s usually pretty clear to my intuition. Strangers are typically one of three things: treasure troves of insider information, friends you haven’t met yet, or an excellent story for later. Instructions for talking to strangers: eyes up, shoulders down, words out.

    7. Barcelona, Spain

     Plaça de CatalunyaBarcelona, SpainOne of the city’s most famous landmarks, this plaça is cool to hang out at when there’s less people. There’s always a million pigeons, so you’ll inevitably kick a few. From here, you can take the air bus to the airport or the metro to go outside of Barcelona. On one side of the plaza is Fnac, a big store for books, electronics and other fun things. #free #statue

    Visit southern Spain anytime of the year. The skies are usually clear, winters are short and mild, summers are hot but bearable. Barcelona was designed for pedestrian pleasure. Its iconic Ramblas and paseos have wide sidewalks and medians dotted with benches and shady trees — perfect for leisurely strolling, people watching, and window shopping. You can also escape the hustle and bustle by heading out to one of the city beaches on the super easy-to-use public transport. In the evening you can avoid eating alone in a stuffy restaurant by doing as the Spanish do: grazing on tapas in one of the city’s cool bars.

     AlbaicínBarcelona, SpainThis neighborhood has heavy Moorish influences, written all over its narrow, cobblestone streets and quiet hangout spaces by running water. The area is tranquil and neighbors know each other. It gives off a sense of community and old time charm. Get lost in the streets (trust me, you will even if it’s not by choice) and take some photos during siesta time – you’ll be the only one around. #free #history

    Solo travel tip: Let go of “should’s”.

    Often mile-long checklist of “must sees” and “must dos” limits potential for spontaneous discovery. Excursions can happen organically — often with new friends.

    8. South Island, New Zealand

     Milford SoundQueenstown, New ZealandDay tours leave from Queenstown stopping in the unearthly rainforests of fiordlands national park on the way to Milford sound (Piopiotahi in Mauri). #fullon #lordoftherings #8thwonder

    Whatever you’re into, chances are you can find it in New Zealand — dramatic coastal cliffs, alpine lakes and peaks, surfable beaches, active volcanoes and geothermal features, lush rainforest and old-growth forest, walkable glaciers, underground caverns…it’s all here. But what really sets New Zealand apart is the fact that all of the above is in such close proximity, and is so easily accessible. You can go surf to summit in a single day, drive from snowy mountain passes to temperate rainforest. What that means is you get to pack an incredible amount of adventure into every trip.

     Shotover Canyon Swing & Canyon FoxQueenstown, New ZealandWelcome to the highest commercial cliff jump in the most extreme adventure capital of the world (AKA, welcome to what nightmares are made of). I opted to do the canyon swing over bungee jumping since you can customize your experience by going off in various different ways — my first round was by being pushed off a slide, second round was hanging upside down and crying with no shame. #extreme

    Solo travel tip: Set up an Airbnb.

    Set your price, browse your options, and choose a host who seems interesting. I’m still in contact with several of my Airbnb hosts, and owe unique memories (like tasting the best chocolate gelato in the whole world) to them.

    9. Kathmandu, Nepal

     Boudhanath StupaKathmandu, NepalAt 6pm, many residents come to walk around the Stupa three times. But magical at any time of day.

    If you’re an experienced altitude trekker, the Annapurna circuit can be tackled independently, but it’s wise to hire a porter or set out with an organised group.

     Hillary Suspension BridgeNamche, NepalDon’t look down! From the Hillary Suspension Bridge on the trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp. #hiking #nepal

    Solo travel tip: Keep up with hobbies.

    Dancing tango, salsa-ing, climbing, you’ll connect with people you’d have never met otherwise.

    10. NYC, United States

     Manhattan Pier 11 / Wall St.New York, United StatesThe greatest city on the world deserves the best view to see it! 1000 ft With no doors and your feet dangling out the side?

    Xo #NYC #manhattan

    NYC is probably the #1 place in the world for solo travelers. Infact, I’d actually recommend going alone over visiting with friends. It’s challenging, exciting and a wild adventure, enjoy!

     Canal Street NYCNew York, United StatesBest of NYC street art: Garcia Lorca mural directly off of Canal Street heading west from Little Italy #street-art #free #gallery #history

    Solo travel tip: Become a regular.

    There is something uniquely grounding in being a regular customer (in a cafe, restaurant or even corner store) — in simply being recognized. When our default mode is anonymity, feeling seen, known, familiar offers a powerful sense of place. Especially when I have a few weeks or months somewhere, I find myself accumulating these “regular” spots. Though utterly departing from all known routine is a key — even necessary — element of travel for me, glimpses of familiarity within the unknown provide welcome — even necessary — moments of respite.

    11. Santiago, Chile

     NOI VitacuraVitacura, ChileGreat rooftop bar with a view.

    The typical tourist route of Santiago includes walking or taking the funicular up Cerro San Cristobal, the Virgin-topped hill that overlooks the city, a spin through some of the museums such as the PreColumbian art museum for traditionalists, or the Colo-Colo soccer museum for lovers of that sport. The city’s easy access to both mountains and beach make it a great starting off point, and those headed further north to the desert or further south to Patagonia, or to one of a couple of easily-accessed wine valleys close to Santiago, often spend a couple of days here on their way. Don’t be shy. Chileans are very welcoming. Be brave and introduce yourself to locals, they will relish the opportunity to practice their English.

     Valle del yesoSan José de Maipo, Chile#extreme #snow #camping #hiking

    KENYA Country Studies: A brief, comprehensive study of Kenya

    CIA

    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.

    Lonely Planet Kenya (Travel Guide)

    Lonely Planet

    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.

    Kenya (National Geographic Adventure Map)

    National Geographic Maps - Adventure

    • 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"

    DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Kenya (DK Eyewitness Travel Guides)

    DK

    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.

    Kenya - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

    Jane Barsby

    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.

    Fodor's The Complete Guide to African Safaris: with South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda & the Seychelles (Full-color Travel Guide)

    Fodor's Travel Guides

    Written by locals, Fodor's travel guides have been offering expert advice for all tastes and budgets for 80 years. Fodor’s correspondents highlight the best of Africa, including Kenya's Masai Mara, South Africa's Kruger National Park, and Botswana's Kwando Reserve. Our local experts vet every recommendation to ensure you make the most of your time, whether it’s your first safari or your fifth.This travel guide includes:· Dozens of full-color maps · Hundreds of hotel and restaurant recommendations, with Fodor's Choice designating our top picks· In-depth breakout features on The Namibia Dunes, African music and dance, and Victoria Falls· Coverage of Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, Botswana, Namibia, Victoria Falls, and The SeychellesPlanning to focus on South Africa? Check out Fodor's travel guide to South Africa.

    The Rough Guide to Kenya

    Rough Guides

    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.

    East Africa Birds: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species in Kenya, Tanzania & Uganda (A Pocket Naturalist Guide)

    James Kavanagh

    East Africa is home to nearly 1,400 species of birds, making it one of the premier international destinations for birdwatchers. Nature lovers visiting the region’s forests, wetlands, marshes, deserts and coastlines will find a variety of unique birds including snake-eating eagles, elegant flamingos and the world’s largest bird, the ostrich. This beautifully illustrated guide highlights over 140 familiar and unique species and includes a map featuring prominent bird-viewing areas. Laminated for durability, this lightweight, pocket-sized folding guide is an excellent source of portable information and ideal for field use on safari. Made in the USA.

    Exercise a high degree of caution; see also regional advisories.

    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.

    Northeastern Kenya near the Somali border (see Advisory)

    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.

    Eastleigh neighbourhood of Nairobi (see Advisory)

    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. 

    Coastal areas

    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.

    Northern Kenya

    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.

    Western Kenya

    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.

    Terrorism

    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.

    Crime

    There is a high crime rate in most regions of Kenya, particularly in major cities such as NairobiMombasa 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

    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’s safety

    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.

    Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

    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.

    Road travel

    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

    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.

    The ferry service that connected Mombasa with Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania is no longer running.

    Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

    National parks, safaris and reserves

    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.

    Tourist facilities are widely available in Nairobi, on the coast, in game parks and in wildlife reserves, but are non-existent in the regions bordering Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia.

    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.

    You can seek advice from the High Commission of Canada in Nairobi for information on tour companies operating in Kenya.

    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 safetour@wananchi.com.

    Piracy

    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.

    Fraud

    Cases of attempted fraud are frequently reported in this country.  See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.

    General security information

    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.

    Monitor local developments and remain in regular contact with the High Commission of Canada in Nairobi.

    Health

    Related Travel Health Notices
    Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
    Vaccines

    Routine Vaccines

    Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

    Vaccines to Consider

    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

    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

    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.

    Influenza

    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

    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.
     

    Meningitis

    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.

    Polio

    There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.

    Rabies

    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

    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 Vaccination

    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.
    Risk
    • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
    Country Entry Requirement*
    • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
    Recommendation
    • Vaccination may be recommended depending on your itinerary.
    • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
    • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
    Food/Water

    Food and Water-borne Diseases

    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!

    Cholera

    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

    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.

    Travellers' diarrhea
    • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
    • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
    • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

    Insects

    Insects and Illness

    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 feverWest Nile virus and yellow fever.

    Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

    Dengue fever
    • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
    • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
    • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.

    Malaria

    Malaria

    • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
    • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
    • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
    • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

    Animals

    Animals and Illness

    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.


    Person-to-Person

    Person-to-Person Infections

    Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

    Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

    HIV

    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

    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.


    Medical services and facilities

    Medical services and facilities

    Good medical facilities are available in Nairobi, but health care standards in other parts of the country may vary.

    Health tip

    Trekkers may experience acute mountain sickness (AMS) at high altitudes. AMS can be deadly. Carry travel and health insurance that includes provisions for helicopter rescue, medical evacuation, and treatment for accidental injury and medical emergencies.

    Keep in Mind...

    The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

    Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

    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.

    Culture

    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.

    Money

    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.

    Climate

    Drought

    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.

    Rainy seasons

    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.

    Volcanoes

    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.