Kenya

 Balloon in Kenya  Masai woman

Why Kenya?                                                                      Click here to view video

From the vivid aquamarine shades of the Indian Ocean to the enchanting lakes fringed pink by flamingos on the Rift Valley floor, Kenya is a startlingly beautiful land.  Famed for its striking wildlife bounding across the acacia-studded savannah of game parks, such as Amboseli, the Masai Mara, Samburu and Tsavo, Kenya is a safari-fanatic's dream; vast national parks and reserves encompass one-tenth of Kenya's surface, spanning desert, grasslands and dense mountain forest.

Kenya's human population is equally as fascinating: around 40 different ethnic groups live in Kenya, including the Kikuyu, the Luo and the proud and beautiful red-clad Masai, who still lead a semi-nomadic lifestyle of cattle-herding along the southern border.  On the balmy Swahili coast, African and Asian culture blends together, the result of a tradition of ocean-going commerce which stretches back for centuries. Even today, romantic dhows (sailing boats) still ply these waters.

  • When should I travel?
Throughout the country, the hottest months are December to March. The coastal areas are tropical, with particularly high humidity in April and May, but tempered by monsoon winds. The lowlands are hot but mainly dry, while the highlands are more temperate with four seasons. Nairobi has a very pleasant climate throughout the year due to its altitude. Near Lake Victoria, the temperatures are much higher and rainfall can be heavy.

  • Is it safe to travel and are there places to avoid?
While Kenya is a comparatively safe African destination, there are still plenty of pitfalls for the unwary or inexperienced traveller, from everyday irritations to more serious threats. A little street sense goes a long way here, and getting the latest local information is essential wherever you intend to travel.

  • What money should I take?
The currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KES). MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted; American Express and Diners Club less so. Major hotels now also accept payment by credit card, as do major restaurants. Almost every bank now has an ATM, and they are increasingly being installed at petrol stations. Travellers cheques can be changed at banks, and are widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling.

  • What language will they understand?
Kiswahili is the national language and English is the official language. The terms Swahili and Kiswahili are used interchangeably, though the term Swahili normally refers to the people while Kiswahili refers to the language. There are over 42 ethnic languages spoken, including Kikuyu and Luo.

  • How about my health?
Health insurance is essential, and should include medical repatriation. There are excellent medical facilities in Nairobi and Mombasa, but they are of a varying standard in the rest of the country. Bottled water is available and is advised during your stay.

  • Public Holidays

2012

January 01 New Year's Day
April 06 Good Friday
April 09 Easter Monday
May 01 Labour Day
June 01 Madaraka Day
August 19 Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
October 10 Moi Day
October 20 Kenyatta Day
October 26 Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
December 12 Independence Day
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 Boxing Day

2013
January 01 New Year's Day
March 29 Good Friday
April 01 Easter Monday
May 01 Labour Day
June 01 Madaraka Day
August 08 Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
October 15 Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice)
October 20 Mashujaa Day
December 12 Independence Day
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 Boxing Day

  • Do I need a visa?
South African passport holders do not require a visa for Kenya for a stay of up to 30 days.

  • Will I need any innoculations before I depart?
Travellers require a Yellow Fever certificate when travelling to Kenya.