A detailed Kenya travel guide to help you prepare adequately for your trip.
Kenya is located in East Africa with a coastline on the Indian Ocean. It is known for its vast wildlife, including the Big 5 animals like lions, leopards, buffalo, elephants, and rhinos. Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, is one of Africa’s largest and most modern cities. It is also the only city in the world with a national park.
Kenya is a popular tourist destination for safaris and beach holidays. It has many tourist destinations, including the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Mount Kilimanjaro, Tsavo National Park, and Mombasa Island. It is also home to scenic white sandy beaches that stretch from Lamu to Diani.
Kenya Travel Guide: Requirements and Considerations
Here are some requirements and considerations when traveling to Kenya:
- Passport Validity: 6 months from the date you arrive
- Blank passport pages: 2 blank pages in your passport on arrival
- Visas: You must obtain an e-visa before departing from your country. If you need a multiple-entry visa, apply well in advance of travel.
- Work Permits: You must have a work permit to work in Kenya. The work permit must be applied for before coming to Kenya to work. Apply for a work permit here.
- Currency restrictions for entry: Non-residents may import foreign and local currencies without restrictions, but amounts exceeding US $10,000 must be declared. Residents may import up to KES 500,000 and must declare if currencies exceed US $10,000.
- Currency restrictions for exit: Maximum 100,000 Kenyan Shillings
- Health and Vaccinations: Yellow fever vaccination is mandatory for visitors traveling from or transiting countries with Yellow fever endemic. Visit TravelHealthPro to see if you need a yellow fever certificate. You must also present proof that you have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or must show a negative COVID-19 PCR test performed within 72 hours before departure.
- Language: The official languages of Kenya are English and Swahili, but over 60 indigenous languages are spoken in the country
- Electricity: The voltage is 240 V, and the frequency is 50 Hz. The power sockets are of type G.
Kenya Travel Guide: Getting Around
Kenya is one of the most developed countries in Africa. Its good transport network makes it easy to move around within the cities and counties.
If you’re traveling between cities or towns like Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Malindi, Lamu, and Eldoret, flying could be the easiest way to get around. Alternatively, you can use buses or shuttles. You can also rent a car or hire a private taxi.
The standard gauge railway (SGR) offers a more convenient and scenic route if you’re traveling between Mombasa and Nairobi. The journey takes about 5-6 hours, and you can enjoy amazing views of the Kenyan landscape from your seat. The train terminus in Mombasa and Nairobi are modern, with all the amenities you would expect from a railway station.
In the cities and towns, you can use Uber, taxis, matatus (minibusses), or tuk-tuks (motorized rickshaws) which are often easily accessible.
Kenya Travel Guide: What to See and Do in Kenya
There are plenty of things to see and do in Kenya. Here are some ideas:
Visit Nairobi National Park
Nairobi National Park is the only national park in the world located within a city. It is home to endangered rhinos, lions, cheetahs, hyenas, leopards, giraffes, and many other animals. The park has open grasslands and acacia bushes and is a great place to see wildlife without traveling to the countryside.
Take a Safari in Maasai Mara
Your trip to Kenya won’t be complete without visiting the Maasai Mara. The Maasai Mara is where the greatest animal show on the planet happens – the wildebeest migration. Every year, more than 1.5 million wildebeest and zebra migrate in an endless cycle of life, death, and renewal. It is a spectacle like no other and is recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. At the Maasai Mara, you can also go on a hot air balloon safari, a walking safari, or a traditional jeep safari.
Visit Mombasa Island
Mombasa is hands down the most popular tourist destination in Kenya. Located on the Indian Ocean, it’s a city full of culture and history that you won’t want to miss. Its beach resorts, amazing restaurants, and vibrant nightlife make it the perfect place to relax and have fun. It is also home to famous historical sites such as Fort Jesus.
Lamu Island Lamu is known for its narrow cobbled streets, fascinating structures, and stunning beaches. It’s a great place to explore and soak up the atmosphere. This beautiful island has remained unchanged for centuries and is the only place in Kenya where cars, motorcycles, and bicycles are barred. This means you’ll walk, hop on a donkey, or pull-kart. How amazing is that for a change?
Hell’s Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate National Park is a beautiful national park in the Rift Valley of Kenya. It is known for its geothermal activity, like hot springs, geysers, etc., and diverse wildlife. The animators of the Lion King Movie traveled to the Hell’s Gate National Park for inspiration. But perhaps the well-kept secret is there are no lions or predators in the park, which is why it’s one of the few parks in Africa where visitors can walk or cycle. Hell’s Gate National Park has dramatic scenery, with cliffs, gorges, and basalt columns, and is home to zebras, giraffes, antelopes, warthogs, and hundreds of bird species.
Amboseli National Park
Amboseli is a small national park located at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. It is known for its vast herds of elephants and spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro. Nature lovers can explore the park’s wetland areas, savannah, woodlands, swamps, and springs. They can also visit the Maasai community to learn about their unique culture and traditions.
Kenya National Park
Mount Kenya is the highest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest mountain in Africa. The mountain’s highest peaks are Point Lenana at 4,985, Nelion at 5,188 m, and Batian at 5,199 m. The park offers breathtaking scenery and pristine wilderness with lakes, glaciers, tarns, forests, mineral springs, and rare animal species. While at the park, visitors can enjoy mountain climbing, game viewing, bird watching, cave exploration, and camping.
Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru national park has beautiful scenery with attractions such as Lake Nakuru, a vast salt lake home to a large population of flamingos. The park also contains extensive grasslands, forests, steep rocky escarpments, and hills that serve as game-watching viewpoints. Located in the Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru National Park is close to Naivasha National Park and the famous Hell’s Gate National Park.
Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and is a popular tourist destination. Kenya shares the lake with Uganda and Tanzania.
Kenya Travel Guide: What is the Best Time to Visit Kenya?
The best time to visit Kenya will vary depending on your individual preferences and goals. Some people may prefer to travel during the temperate, dry season between June and September when the weather is mild, and the skies are typically clear. This is also a popular time for wildlife viewing, especially since it coincides with the great wildebeest migration.
Others may prefer to visit during the wet season, between October and May, when the country is lush and green. This is an excellent time for bird watching, as many migratory birds can be seen during this time. Remember that the wet season can bring heavy rains, so it’s essential to be prepared for wet weather.
Kenya Travel Guide: Where to Stay in Kenya
A wide range of accommodation options is available in Kenya, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury safari lodges.
Many hostels and guesthouses are available nationwide for those on a budget. These typically cost between $5-10 per night for a bed in a dorm room.
For those who are looking for a more comfortable stay, there are many hotels and resorts available. Prices for these vary depending on the location and amenities but typically start around $30 per night.
For those looking for an upscale experience, there are many luxury lodges and hotels located in national parks, reserves, and cities in Kenya. These lodges can cost upwards of $100 to $500 per night but typically include all meals and transportation.
Kenya Travel Guide: What to Pack for Kenya
If you’re traveling to Mombasa, which is the coastal region of Kenya, be sure to read the complete guide on what to pack when traveling to Mombasa. You can also check out the safari essentials.
Here’s a quick list of things you should pack when traveling to Kenya:
- Comfortable walking shoes: You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so comfortable shoes are a must.
- Lightweight, breathable clothing: The weather can be hot and humid, so n lightweight clothing is key.
- Clothing in neutral colors if you’re planning on a safari.
- Jackets and sweaters for early morning and late afternoon game drive
- Sunscreen and sunglasses: Be sure to pack sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
- Bug spray: Bug spray is necessary, as mosquitoes can carry malaria.
- First-aid kit: A first-aid kit is always a good idea when traveling to a new country.
- A camera: Kenya is a beautiful country with many photo opportunities.
- Binoculars: If you’re planning on going on a safari, binoculars are a must.
- Travel insurance: Travel insurance is always a good idea when traveling to a new country.
- Clothes in khaki, green, beige, and neutral colors.
Kenya Travel Guide: What to Eat in Kenya
Kenya is home to various cuisines, from traditional Kenyan dishes to international fair.
Some popular Kenyan dishes include:
- Ugali: Ugali is a cornmeal porridge staple of the Kenyan diet. It is typically served with stew or curry.
- Pilau: Pilau is a rice dish commonly served at weddings and special occasions. It is typically made with chicken or beef.
- Mandazi: Mandazi are fried bread balls often eaten for breakfast or as a snack.
- Kenyan coffee: Kenyan coffee is known for its rich, bold flavor.
- Chai tea: Chai tea is a popular drink in Kenya and is often made with milk, tea leaves, and spices.
- Irio: Irio is a mashed potato dish commonly served with stew or curry.
- Githeri: Githeri is a bean and corn dish often eaten for breakfast or as a side dish.
- Nyama Choma: Nyama Choma is grilled meat often served with ugali or rice.
For those looking for more international fare, many restaurants serve dishes from around the world. Italian, Chinese, Indian, and Thai food can all be found in Kenya.
Tips for Traveling to Kenya
Contrary to some unpopular opinions, Kenya is a relatively safe country to travel to. However, as with any new place, there are always some safety concerns to be aware of. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe while traveling in Kenya:
- Avoid walking around alone at night: It’s always best to travel in groups or with a local guide when exploring a new place.
- Be aware of your surroundings: As with any new place, it’s essential to be mindful of your surroundings and not leave your belongings unguarded in busy areas.
- Carry cash: Many places in Kenya only accept cash, so it’s a good idea to have some on hand.
- Monitor local media for breaking events, and be prepared to adjust your plans.
- Always carry a copy of your passport and visa (if applicable). Keep original documents in a secure location.
- Live like the locals: Eat where they eat and use public transportation whenever possible. This will save you loads of cash, and you’ll get the most authentic experience.
- Have fun, and enjoy your trip! Kenya is a beautiful country with so much to offer.
Kenya is an amazing country with something for everyone—from wildlife enthusiasts to cultural vultures. With its stunning landscapes and friendly people, Kenya will leave a lasting impression on all who visit. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!