Kenya

Kenya is one of the most curious countries in East Africa. It is a country of beautiful nature, with the highest mountain peaks on the continent, endless savannah and a sea coast. The people here are not like other nations, but they are all very open, friendly and independent. Welcome to Kenya, the country awaits you!

Kenya on the Map

Kenya on the map

Geographical location of Kenya

Kenya is a country in the equatorial part of East Africa. It lies in both the northern and southern hemispheres, and the equator divides the country roughly in half.

In the east it is washed by the Indian Ocean, in which there are several dozen islands belonging to Kenya. These are popular beach destinations. The total length of the coastline is 536 kilometres.

Kenya borders Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan to the north, Uganda to the west and Tanzania to the south. The total length of the land border is 3500 kilometres.

The country’s topography is very varied. The entire eastern part is flat, while the western part is covered with mountains and plateaus. This is where the famous East African Rift runs, a rift valley with steep slopes. The highest point in the country is Mount Kenya (5199 metres).

On the western border is Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake. In the north-west is another large lake, Lake Rudolph. It is the driest place in the country.

Several major rivers flow through Kenya, the longest of which is the Tana. It rises in the mountains and flows into the Indian Ocean.

The flora and fauna of Kenya is very rich. There are savannahs with huge herds of hoofed animals in the east and equatorial forests in the west.

Safety for Travelers in Kenya

Kenya is ranked 123rd in the World Peace Index, which takes into account peace of mind, attitudes towards tourists and many other factors. After all, tourists consider the country to be quite safe. But there are nuances.

The crime rate in Kenya is still quite high. And while pickpockets are not the most active of any African country, serious crime is a big problem.

In 2008, the country experienced mass riots, which in some places led to armed clashes. The reverberations are still felt in the country today. Street robberies and muggings are commonplace, and there is a risk of terrorist attacks. The situation is particularly tense in the north of the country, where there are still army checkpoints on the roads. But tourists are the least likely to go there. The situation in the south is better and calmer, although vigilance is still required.

Poachers, who are numerous here, should be mentioned separately. They can be encountered on safari, and such encounters are fraught with difficulty.

The road situation in Kenya is typical of African countries. There are rules, but they are reluctantly obeyed, and traffic in the big cities can be very congested.

Kenya has a high risk of infectious diseases, so tourists should make sure they are vaccinated against malaria, hepatitis, cholera and other tropical diseases. It is also important to remember that Kenya has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world. So do not forget about hygiene and sanitation.

Natural hazards also abound in Kenya. There are many dangerous animals – lions, leopards, hippos, crocodiles, elephants. There are many poisonous snakes and insects in the country. In the sea there are poisonous fish and jellyfish, sharp coral fragments and sharks.

Holidays in Kenya can be an unforgettable adventure, but only if you are careful and avoid risky travel.

Public Holidays

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Multi-ethnic Kenya is a secular country. However, religious holidays are widely observed and many are public holidays.

Christian holidays include Christmas and Easter. Muslim holidays include Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. The European New Year is also celebrated here, as well as memorable dates in the national history: the Days of the Republic, of Independence and of Heroes.

In addition, the country hosts many ethnographic holidays and festivals, often authentic for different tribes. Among the most important are the Mombasa Carnival in November and the Kenyan Music Festival in Nairobi in August. The Tribal Festival is also well known. It is held in May in the town of Loyangalani on the shores of Lake Turkana.

Rallies and off-road championships are popular in the country.

Activities in Kenya

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Kenya has long since established itself as a popular tourist destination. The country has paid a lot of attention to developing its infrastructure. As a result, there is plenty of entertainment for tourists in the country to suit all tastes.

1. Beach holidays. The country’s coastline is quite extensive. However, the best beaches are concentrated in the southern part of the country. These include the famous Diani Beach in Mombasa, which stretches for 17 kilometres. Other beaches include Nyali and Bamburi.

2. Windsurfing. Most of the country’s beaches are separated from the sea by a wall of coral reef. This is where the big waves break. These places are suitable for lovers of surfing and windsurfing, as tropical monsoons blow here most of the time.

3. Scuba diving. The abundance of coral reefs makes Kenya attractive to scuba diving enthusiasts. The local reefs are rich in marine life and the most popular spots are Wotamu Marine Park and Muren Reef.

4. Fishing. Fishing enthusiasts will find plenty to do in the country. There are many fishing clubs where you can hire a yacht, boat and instructor. Marlin, tuna, dorado and many other species are caught in local waters.

5. Horseback safaris. This type of trip is more expensive than a regular safari, but allows you to get much closer to the wonders of local nature. Particularly popular are horse safaris in Amboseli Park, where the Maasai tribes live.

6. Jeep safaris. A more familiar type of active holiday. This safari allows you to get as close as possible to the most dangerous animals and take colourful pictures. It can be one day or several days.

7. Balloon Safari. Another way of travelling in local national parks. It allows you to experience the life of the savannah inhabitants from above, without fear of predators.

8. Trekking, hiking. This is mainly for the physically fit, as it involves climbing high mountains and crossing rough terrain. One of the most popular routes is the ascent of Mount Kenya.

9. Speleotourism. Another option for an active holiday in the country, where there are many interesting caves. A popular route is to visit the caves of the Elgon volcano on the border with Uganda, where elephants come to eat mineral salts.

10. Archaeological sites. Kenya was once one of the centres of the Swahili state and there are picturesque ancient ruins. The ruins of the medieval town of Gedi, near the resort town of Malindi, are popular with tourists.

11. Shopping. Local bazaars are very popular with visitors to the Republic, where the most amazing works of aboriginal art are sold. The largest bazaar is in the capital, Nairobi.

What You Need to Know About Kenya

If you are planning to visit this country, here are some of the most important things to know:

Language

The official languages are English and Swahili. English is the language of inter-ethnic communication and government institutions. It is also the language of instruction in schools. However, the majority of the population speaks Swahili. There are also about 40 local dialects in the country.

Population

The country currently has a population of just under 48 million. The urban population is 29 per cent. The majority of the population lives in the southern and western regions of the country.

The ethnic composition of the population is very diverse. Representatives of dozens of African tribes live in the country. The most numerous are the Kikuyu, Luhya, Luo, Kalenjin and Kamba. Together, these tribes make up 72% of the country’s population. In the south of Kenya live the Maasai, one of the most exotic tribes in Africa.

  • To find out more about the people of Kenya, what makes them tick and how Kenya is lived in, read this article.

Currency

The national currency is the Kenyan shilling, which is divided into 100 cents.

There are 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 shilling notes in circulation. and coins of 50 cents, 1, 5, 10, 20 and 40 shillings.

Most payments in the country are made in shillings, but dollars are accepted in large shopping centres and markets, but the exchange rate is very unfavourable. Currency can be exchanged in hotels or banks on presentation of a passport.

The approximate exchange rate is 145 shillings to 1 dollar.

Religion

The majority of the population is officially Christian. This religion is practised by 82% of the population. Among Christians, Catholicism and Pentecostalism are the most common.

About 9% of the population also practise pagan African cults. Muslims make up about 7% of the population.

Climate

Despite its equatorial location, Kenya’s climate is not equatorial. The Indian Ocean coast has a sub-equatorial climate with little variation in average temperatures throughout the year. The mountainous western regions have a tropical climate, sometimes with very little rainfall.

Average temperatures on the coast are +27-+30 degrees centigrade. The highlands are slightly cooler: +22-+25 degrees Celsius. There are still glaciers on the tops of the highest mountains.

Summer and winter are considered the dry seasons in Kenya. This is when the eastern monsoon blows, bringing little rainfall. In spring, the rainy season lasts from March to May.

Sea Water Temperature

The average seawater temperature off the coast of Kenya varies little from year to year and is always suitable for swimming. Even in the local winter, the water off the coast remains very warm, but the high season is late summer and early autumn.

  • Water temperature in winter, December-January: +23 to 24 degrees Celsius.
  • Spring water temperature, March-May: +23 to 25 degrees Celsius.
  • Water temperature in summer, June-July: +25 to +26 degrees. The hottest water is in July.
  • Water temperature in autumn, September-November: from +25 degrees in early autumn to +24 degrees in November.

Natural Disasters

The main natural disaster that can threaten tourists in Kenya is flooding. Heavy rains are common in all East African countries between March and May. Kenya is not spared. Almost every year there are serious disasters that cause human casualties. In the spring of 2023, for example, floods killed 16 people in different parts of the country.

Kenya’s coast is well protected from strong storms and tsunamis by coral reefs and numerous islands. As a result, even the catastrophic 2004 tsunami did not cause significant damage to the Republic. Only one person died as a result.

Forest fires are possible in Kenya during the dry season. They occur regularly in national parks, but are quickly brought under control by emergency services. In 2022, a fire destroyed 600 hectares of forest in Aberdare Park, but there was no danger to tourists.

Although Kenya lies on the African Rift Zone, an active area of the earth’s crust, earthquakes are very rare. The last major earthquake was a hundred years ago, in 1928.

There are no active volcanoes in the country, although Mount Kenya and its neighbour Mount Kilimanjaro are ancient dormant volcanoes. However, the likelihood of them erupting is currently close to zero.

The overall risk of natural disasters in the country is considered low.

  • Read about the most devastating disasters in Kenya’s history in this article.

Political System

Kenya is a presidential republic. The President is the head of the executive. He appoints the Prime Minister, who heads the country’s government. The legislature is represented by the unicameral National Assembly.

Administratively, the country is divided into 47 counties.

The capital city is Nairobi.

Major Cities and Resorts

Nairobi is the country’s capital and home to more than 4 million people. It is a city of contrasts, with a rich centre and huge slums on the outskirts. Tourists are attracted by the museums, parks and architectural landmarks. There are many luxury hotels in the city.

Mombasa is the second most populous city in Kenya. It is home to 1.2 million people. It was founded in the XI century. There are many mosques, Christian cathedrals and Hindu temples. Close to the city is Diani Beach, which has been voted the best beach in Africa.

Malindi is a town in the south-east of the country on the bay of the same name. It was founded in the XIII century. The Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama sailed here, and a monument has been erected over the bay to commemorate the event. More than 100 thousand people live in the city. It is a popular holiday destination for tourists from Italy.

Lamu is a resort town on the island of the same name in the Indian Ocean. It was founded in 1370 and is now home to 25 thousand people. It is a popular destination for tourists seeking solitude. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Symbols of Kenya

Massai shield and spear – a symbol of freedom and independence, the fight for their rights.

Mount Kenya – the symbol of the country, its highest peak, even on the national emblem.

Lion – a symbol of courage and the national animal, the beauty and pride of the country’s nature.

Rooster – according to local belief, a white rooster symbolises a happy life.

Coffee – one of the mainstays of the country’s agriculture, coffee is popular around the world.

Tea is another product that is widely imported from Kenya. Several varieties are grown, including the unique purple tea.

Travel and Transport to Kenya

Access to the country is almost exclusively by air. Kenya has four international airports. The largest are Jomo Kenyatta Airport in the capital and Mombasa Airport, known as Moi.

The capital’s airport handles up to 6 million passengers a year and connects the country to the rest of the world. Only North and South America do not have direct flights from here. Mombasa Airport handles about 2 million passengers a year. Visitors from Germany, Poland, Italy and many African countries fly into this major city of the Republic.

Residents of neighbouring countries can get to Kenya via the highways that link the republic with Tanzania, Ethiopia and South Sudan, but this route is not available to European tourists.

How Much Money to Take with You in Kenya

The cost of a holiday in Kenya may surprise you. In this beautiful country, tourists usually go on safari or beach holidays.

A safari is a fascinating journey through local national parks. It does not involve killing animals. The cost of such a tour starts from 1,500 US dollars for two people for 6 to 7 days. Airfares and visas (if required) are paid for separately.

Also popular in Kenya are beach holidays. It costs around $3500-4500 for two people to stay in a five or four star hotel for a week. This is the price of a flight and is on an all-inclusive basis.

Kenya is relatively close to Europe. For tourists from the EU, flights will be cheap. Flying from Paris to Nairobi will cost starting from $500.

Once in the country, tourists can expect to spend the following:

  • Food: Food prices here are low and even if food is not part of the tour price, it will not be a major expense. For example, it will cost an average of $2-5 for breakfast in a local café. A lunch in a medium sized restaurant will cost you around $25. A cup of cappuccino costs $2.
  • Accommodation: The average price of a double room in a local hotel is around 90 US dollars. You can expect to pay around $250 for a luxury suite on the beach in Mombasa. A room can cost as little as $35 in a two-star hotel.
  • Attractions: If you are staying in a hotel, beach services are free, except for extra services such as diving. Visits to parks and museums are subject to a charge. To visit the National Museum in Nairobi, for example, costs $20 to enter. A safari, and nature is still the main attraction in Kenya, will cost 300-500 dollars for 3 days.
  • Souvenirs: The main souvenirs tourists bring back from Kenya are exotic products made by local craftsmen: drums and masks, fabrics with African patterns, traditional crockery and Kalebasa. They also bring local fruit, coffee and tea. The cost of souvenirs is individual and can vary considerably.
  • Transport: You can get around the cities by bus or taxi. A ticket for public transport costs 50 cents. Getting into a taxi costs $3 and then $1.2 per kilometre. Intercity travel is done by special buses, and there are train connections in many directions. A train ticket from Nairobi to Mombasa costs between $22 and $42.

Thus, taking into account the reserve for unforeseen expenses, a holiday in Kenya for two people will cost from 2000 to 4000 thousand dollars for 7 days, taking into account the flight. And of course the maximum amount of the holiday can be much higher.

Please note

If you have already visited Kenya, please share your impressions in the comments. Please write a few words about what you liked most, what moments you will always remember and what you would recommend to other tourists. Your recommendations will be greatly appreciated!

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