Kenya, along with other African nations that are sub-Saharan, is home to a huge variety of animal life, many of which can be enjoyed on safari. Kenya has cashed in on the safari trade and safaris are found to fit most budgets and tastes from very basic camping style to five star resort styles. Kenya is home to the famed Maasai Mara reserve and natural area in the southwest, along the Tanzanian border, where visitors can see almost every typical African animal from cheetah, lion, zebra and elephant as well as enjoy visiting Maasai tribes to see how they live and to learn about their culture.
On top of this, Kenya has a large tourist infrastructure laid out throughout the country as well as some beautiful coastal regions. Overall Kenya is a wonderful country in which to dip your toe into the water regarding travel in Africa, especially considering many parts of Kenya are well placed to accept visitors of all budgets and walks of life. There are even a number of regions of Kenya where small village life is on display and you can really get into the thick of it with villagers, helping to carry water, talking to them or playing with kids. There are a number of beautiful golf courses that are catching the international eye and for any golf loving visitors, sneaking a round in at one of the country’s favourite sites is well worth it.
The temperature year round in Kenya is fairly temperate, meaning that many people will wear summer style clothes year round. In higher altitudes the temperatures can dip in the evenings and mornings, with July and August being the coldest months. The hottest months are February and March with the long rainy season being from April to June and the shorter season being from October to December. Most rains come in the evenings and night times, making daytimes ideal for exploring. The coastal areas of Kenya are hot and humid, the inland is temperate and it can be very dry in the north and north eastern parts.
For a truly unique and memorable experience though, visitors should time their visit to Kenya to coincide with the impressive animal migration, which occurs annually in June to September where millions of animals can be seen migrating to different feeding and breeding grounds and is an impressive sight to say the least. This along with the drier seasons along the coast making them prime for swimming means that Kenya has a little something for everyone, regardless of what it is you like to do and see.
Kenya is serviced by a number of airlines from around the world and is fortunate enough to have four international airports. A useful point of information is that even a single entry visa for Kenya for most nationalities will allow re-entry from Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda. They also cost only $50 for single entry, but if you’re planning to spend a long time in the area and come back through Kenya several times, the mutli-entry visa is good value at $100.
Shuttle services are available daily from Arusha in Tanzania and is considered the most reliable as well as safest option for visitors spending time in both countries. Train services are only primarily available to and from the major cities in Kenya such as Mombasa and Nairobi but buses are more frequent and travel through more remote areas that you may be interested in seeing.
Purchasing handicrafts is a great way to remember your trip to Kenya and haggling is expected. A good rule of thumb is that most roadside shops will have significantly inflated prices and you should never pay more than about half the price of that. Try starting out about 25% of the quoted price and work with that, but don’t go about 50% to keep yourself from paying too high a price.
Coffee in Kenya is one of the best in the world and there is some level of development surrounding this culture and you can easily find it in most cafes and restaurants. Kenyan beer is decent as far as beers go, and the food features both local cuisines as well as western influences including Dominos and KFC! If you want a truly unique experience, check out the Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi. You can try all sorts of exotic meats like ostrich and crocodile here.
In general you should ensure you pack for the season you are going in – wet weather gear for the rainy season and summery clothing for the drier months. It can be incredibly hot and if planning on going on safari, take bush appropriate clothing in case of any walking – ie: long trousers and hiking boots. Overall it’s a good idea to bring a lighter jacket for potentially cooler nights and mornings especially for along the coast where cooler winds can come without warning.
The area of Kenya has been inhabited by humans since the Lower Paleolithic period, over three million years ago but there have been more recent human expansions such as the Bantu expansion around the first millennium AD. Further to this, other tribal groups such as Afro-Asiatic groups had also come through this region, resulting in a real melting pot of different people from quite early antiquity.
Europeans and Arabs had a presence in Mobasa from the earlier modern period, but further exploration into Kenya’s interior regions only began in the 19th century. The British created the East Africa Protectorate in 1895 and from 1920 the region was referred to as the Kenya Colony.
Kenya has struggled with various political issues throughout the last fifty years. It was made an independent republic in 1964 when it was ruled as a de facto one party state by the Kenya African National Union, a co-operative ruling led by Jomo Kenyatta from 1963 to 1978, then Daniel Arap Moi from 1978 until 2002 but during the 1980s the communist way of oppression and torture had become too much and eventually the western world would no longer turn a blind eye and he was persuaded by the US Ambassador to eventually restore a multi-party system which he did and was subsequently elected twice, but not before political killings on all sides marred the election.