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Kenya is located on the equator in western Africa, bordering Tanzania to the south and Ethiopia to the north. Uganda lies to the west and the Indian Ocean to the east.
Almost 40 million people live in the Republic of Kenya, around 3 million of them in the capital Nairobi. The South and Southwest are more densely populated than the Highlands and Northeast.
The national currency in Kenya is the shilling, with 100 shillings equaling roughly one dollar. Local time is 8 hours ahead of ET Despite its high susceptibility to corruption, Kenya is considered a very safe travel destination and a pioneer for safaris.
US nationals need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months and a visa.
If you want to combine a stay in Kenya with a trip to Tanzania, you have to apply for a so-called multiple-entry visa. Since the end of 2015, visas are no longer issued at the Kenyan borders and at the airport.
The coastal regions on the Indian Ocean have a tropical climate, while the interior is subtropical. There are two rainy seasons in Kenya: The long rainy season lasts from March to May and the short one runs from November to December.
The dry season is best for safaris and animal watching because between the end of December and the beginning of March and from June to the end of October the large herds are looking for water and on the move. The chance for snapshots and encounters with wildlife increases considerably.
During the rainy season, the maximum temperature in Nairobi drops to around 70 degrees and the distances to the animals become longer. The coastal regions are much warmer than the highlands, so the rainy season there is felt to be very pleasant. Don't think of the rainy seasons as consistent rainfall, but rather as short, high-intensity rain showers every day. Then the air is all the clearer.
Between July and September, you have the opportunity to observe the so-called Big Migration - the largest animal migration on the planet. Millions of wildebeest, gazelle, and elephants then cross the border into Tanzania and the Mara River. An exact time cannot be predicted, the mass migration depends on several factors. For example, if it rains a lot, the migration is delayed because there is enough lush pastureland, but the rivers are still too deep to cross. The best time for a safari in Kenya!
Kenya is a former British colony and the English language is, therefore, the official language. The colloquial and everyday language of Kenyans is Kiswahili. If you want to take a rental car, be aware that there is left-hand traffic in Kenya.
Kenyans are generally extremely hospitable and an invitation to dinner will not be long in coming. It is customary for the guest to bring food or a gift.
Kenya is a classic safari destination and most tourists head to one of the national parks via Nairobi. The most important nature and wildlife parks in Kenya are:
Amboseli National Park
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
Lake Nakuru National Park
Meru National Park
Samburu National Reserve
Glamping in Kenya
With Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa is located in Kenya. The more than 16,400-foot high mountain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be climbed in January and February (southern route) and in August and September (northern route).
Kenya has true dream beaches and numerous beach resorts. A distinction is made between the north and south beaches, which are either north or south of Mombasa. The coast of Kenya is nearly 300 miles long and consists of coral reefs, sandy beaches, and palm groves.
Manda Bay: Lonely dream beach where you can fully enjoy nature
Diani Beach: Probably the most famous beach for a vacation in Kenya
Manda Beach: Beach with sunset views for romance in Kenya
Garoda Beach: Small, idyllic beach with little infrastructure
Mambrui Beach: Unspoiled beach that shimmers golden (there are hippos and flamingos nearby)
Nyali Beach: Lonely dream beach very close to the metropolis of Mombasa
Kenyatta Beach: The only beach in the Mombasa region completely without hotels
Msambweni Beach: Luxury beach and less hustle and bustle than the nearby Diani Beach
Our pirate tip: The Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park south of Mombasa is an Eldorado for snorkeling trips and diving.
There are hotels in the cities, and the savannah and the highlands belong to the lodges. The lodges are more than just accommodation, they mostly offer safaris and tours and employ trained staff. However, staying in even the simpler lodges is a costly pleasure.
Luxurious beach resorts and chic beach hotels can be found along the coast and especially near Mombasa.
Our pirate tip: If you travel to Kenya, you should not first look for accommodation. Much more important is the question of when you want to fly to Kenya. This in turn results in areas or nature parks in which there is also something going on at the time in question, for example in relation to deer crossing. Only then should you look for a suitable lodge within the respective area.
In Kenya, there is a nationwide increased risk of contracting malaria. However, preventive vaccination is not possible. Only suitable medicines can be taken with you. The tropical institutes carry out consultations in this regard.
Which and how many vaccinations are appropriate or even necessary in advance depends on the travel route. It is best to get advice from a tropical medicine specialist and plan enough time for the vaccination process. Many vaccinations have to be repeated to protect effectively. Hepatitis vaccinations are standard when traveling to Africa. Since there have recently been cases of polio in Kenya, this vaccination should also be boosted. Read more about required vaccinations here on the CDC's website
Travel through the interior of Kenya or to the national parks should be well prepared or booked through a local provider. The lodges and hotels are a good contact for this and provide jeeps and drivers for a fee.
Mombasa is connected to Nairobi and Uganda by rail, with overnight passenger trains. Kenya's rail network is currently being expanded and modernized. Public transport is served by shared taxis, which are filled with a surprising number of passengers.