Kenya has an embarrassment of natural riches; beautiful coastland, dramatic mountain ranges, epic rolling plains, rich and vibrant rainforest, arid desert and teeming coral reef – Kenya has it all. It is perhaps most famous for its spectacular safari, yet there is also a rich and varied tribal culture to explore and the Rift Valley has been home to some of the most exciting archaeological finds relating to man’s early ancestors.
There is also a dark side to Kenya, as Nairobi in particular has a troubled reputation. Though transitions from colony to democracy via protectorate and dictatorship have seemed outwardly peaceable, internal divisions remain. Corruption is estimated to have cost the Kenyan economy around $1bn in 2008. Tourists must be careful and vigilant when exploring certain urban areas.
It can take to time to build relationships and trust when doing business in Kenya, where honour and dignity are highly valued, so be prepared to be patient and take your time. There’s plenty to keep a visitor occupied – perhaps ballooning over the Masai Mara plains, or trekking along the glacial ridges of Mount Kenya, or even just relaxing on white sandy beaches. Kenya can captivate the imagination like few other places on earth and promises to be a truly unforgettable experience.
Most flights go to Nairobi, which has good transport links to the other Kenyan principalities. Moi International Airport near Mombasa takes mainly charter or domestic flights. Regular buses are available from Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
Buses are the most widely used method of transport; however Kenyan roads are poorly maintained and often dangerous, while hawkers and preachers on buses are common. Train, boat and domestic air travel is possible on some routes and offer safer and more peaceful alternatives.
Language(s): English and Swahili.
Time: UTC +3
Climate: Tropical. Hot all year round, rainy season April to June. Temperature: Max 33C (March), Min 20C (August), Rainfall: Max 310mm (May), Min 10mm (February)
Currency: Kenyan Shilling (KES)
Business etiquette: Suits are usually expected to be worn for meetings. Greetings are important and should not be rushed – take time for pleasantries. Lower eyes when meeting somebody of higher status or obviously older. Honour and dignity are important.
Tipping: Tipping is widely practiced. Examples: KES 20-30 per drinks round for barmen and KES 50-100 for waiters.
Duty free: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 1l of spirits or 2l of wine; 0.5l of perfume or eau de toilette.
Safety: There are high levels of crime in cities, particularly Nairobi. Exercise caution if travelling to Nairobi and steer clear of border regions with Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia.
Laws: Drug offences are severely punished. Six month jail sentence for selling, importing manufacturing or carrying plastic bags in Nairobi. Smoking in public, homosexual acts and distributing religious material without a license are all illegal.
Healthcare: Vaccinations required for diphtheria, hepatitis A, malaria, tetanus, typhoid and yellow fever. Health insurance is essential; tourist membership of flying doctor service available for healthcare in the wild.
Socket type: Type G