Kenya General Information
About 76 percent of Kenya’s population is Christian, with Protestants outnumbering Roman Catholics. Muslims make up about 7 percent of the population. The remainder of Kenya’s people are mainly followers of traditional African religions. There are also a small number of Hindus and Sikhs.
Kenya’s official languages are English and Swahili; both are widely used for communication between members of different ethnic groups. Nearly all of the African ethnic groups in Kenya also have their own languages, making for considerable linguistic diversity within the country. Many Kenyans thus speak three languages: the language of their particular ethnic group, Swahili, and English.
Area (sq. km):
582,650 square meters
When To Travel
It is difficult to generalise about Kenya’s climate due to the contrasting geographical zones. Along the coastal belt, the climate is fairly hot and humid all year round. In the far north, temperatures can range from 40ºc during the day to 20ºc at night. The central part of the country and the Rift Valley enjoy a temperate climate, with two rainy seasons – the ‘long’ rains in April/May and the ‘short’ rains from November to mid-December. However, even in the central region the temperature can vary considerably between Nairobi and Masai Mara. It can often be quite cool in Nairobi when it is hot in the Rift Valley, so take a pullover. In general, August to October is the driest period.
When planning a trip to Kenya, there are several factors to take into account, it all depends on what you are going there for. If you are looking for bird-life, January and February is the time to go to see large concentrations of bird life. The wildlife tends to head to the waterholes and rivers and the grasses are low, making spotting easier, however, this does coincide with the peak period, so you may not be the only one at the animal spotting. Things tend to quiet down from the end of March to May, this is the rainy season, where bright, sunny days are interspersed with tropical afternoon rains, some years the rains may not even come. In June it starts to get busy again and July and August are considered peak periods due to the dry season, when spotting animals is made easier due to the low grass.
Useful Travel Facts
The main international airport in Kenya is Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) about 15kms outside of Nairobi. Wilson Airport is Nairobi's domestic airport and several large towns and national parks also have airstrips.
The international dialling code for Kenya is +254. Telephone calls, especially international ones, can be expensive when made from a hotel. We suggest you check the price first. If you have a mobile phone it should be a relatively simple procedure to arrange ‘global roaming’ with your service provider; however, charges are generally very high so be sure to check this option thoroughly. You should also check with your service provider to see if your mobile phone is compatible with the networks used in Africa. Alternatively local sim cards and pay-as-you-go credits are easily obtainable. Phone calls made from public telephone offices are generally your cheapest option.
The electricity supply in Africa is rated at 220 volts/50 cycles, and appliances requiring 240 volts will work normally. If you bring electrical appliances you should also bring an international adaptor. Round three pin plugs are the most common types in Africa. Kenya has a G-type three-pin rectangular blade plug. This plug is also used in Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Food in Kenya is fairly basic. The most common of meals served are stews and curries using meat and vegetables such as potatoes and served with rice. Down the coastal areas of Kenya there is a strong Indian influence and you will find the food has the many flavors found in Indian food such as coconuts and Indian spices.
Kenya has a very good internal air network that supports 3 different airlines. There are numerous bus lines and a few railway lines that are still in working order. The main mode of travel and one of the cheapest is by matatu, and taxi. A matatu is used mostly by locals and is a service that runs from town to town. The vehicle is anything from an old car to a new mini bus. The vehicle does not leave until they are full so you may have to wait. This mode of transport is not the most reliable or the safest. It is recommended that if a plane is available then take this mode as a first preference.
Traditional artefacts are not highly valued in Kenya, although varieties of wood and clay sculpture are produced for the tourist trade. The Masai are also well known for the sale of colourful red Masai blankets and beaded jewellery.
Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders currently require a visa for Kenya. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent.
Kenya visas are easily obtained at the airport or border crossing at a cost of US$50 for most nationalities based on single entry. For some nationalities a single entry Kenya visa allows the person to enter Kenya more than once provided travel is only between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda within a 30-day period.
EAST AFRICA TOURIST VISA:
Effective 1 January, 2014, The East Africa Tourist Visa will allow travel between Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda with the same multiple entry visa. The visa can be issued at any of the diplomatic representations of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, at the immigration offices of the respective countries, or on line where applicable. The East Africa Tourist Visa is multiple entry visa and is be valid for 90 days.
For those beginning their trip in Rwanda, you can apply through the Rwanda Online Visa Application System. Under "Type of Visa" select "East Africa Tourist Visa." For more information contact your local Rwanda embassy.
For those beginning their trip in Kenya, you can find information on the visa application process on the consular section of your local Kenya embassy's website.
For those beginning their trip in Uganda, you can find information on the visa application process on the consular section of your local Uganda embassy's website.
The visa costs US$100.
Useful Words & Phrases
100: Mia or mia moja
Do you speak English?: Unasema Kiingereza?
How are you?: Hujambo?
How many/much?: Ni bei gani?
Thank you: Asante
Water: Maji (ya moto)
East Africa-Lonely Planet
Going Down River Road-Meja Mwangi
Out Of Africa-Karen Blixen
Night Of The Lions - Kuki Gullimann
African Nights - Kuki Gullimann