Read on for the nitty gritty about travelling in Kenya. Includes information on getting to Kenya, vaccination requirements, visas and all importantly the weather and when to go.
Kenya has international airports in Nairobi (Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta NBO) and Mombassa (Mombasa Moi International MBA) which are around 8 hours flying time from the UK. Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Air Kenya fly regular direct services to Nairobi. Return tickets usually range from £450 to £750 depending on when you are travelling. If you are willing to put up with the inconvenience then cheaper tickets can usually be purchased with a stop from Qatar Airways, Ethiopian and Emirates. Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta airport is a ½ hr 16km drive from Nairobi City Centre, but traffic is often very bad.
Kenya Bus Services (KBS), Akamba and Easy Coach offer good coach services between major destinations, whilst a vast network of local mutatus cover pretty much any other journey you may wish to take. The mutatus are very cheap and convenient, but the system can be hard to decode and they have a debatable safety record. The main roads are paved, but outside of the main arteries they tend to be in an abysmal state. There is a good internal flight network whose hub is at Nairobi Wilson Airport. The network mainly serves destinations on the coast and the main national parks. Flights tend to serve luxury safari goers and as such carry a hefty price tag and are often booked up well in advance. The only running train service connects Nairobi and Mombasa on the coast. Whilst some praise it, it has a bad reputation for comfort and timeliness. The easiest way to get around Kenya is with your tour operator. Most safaris and treks include transport in a minibus or 4wd vehicle.
Kenya is subject to 2 rainy seasons, and a busy peak tourist season, but in reality is a year round destination. Most people visit during the summer months of July and August, when the weather is dry and the Maasai Mara is teeming with the Wildebeest migration.
- July and August are peak season with Europeans and Americans making the most of their summer holidays, so expect crowds. However they also fall right after the long rains, so expect lots of lush green.
- September and October play host to the short rains. Rain tends to fall for only a couple of hours in the afternoon or morning, so you shouldn’t let it stop you.
- November, December, January, February and the first half of March are the dry season. Expect hot weather and quiet parks.
- Second half of March, April, May and June plays host to the long rains. During this period it tends to rain through the night and into the morning. It is usually possible to get a dry spell between 10am and 2pm for getting out on safari.
Visas are required for most nationalities (including UK citizens, Americans, Canadians, Austalians and Europeans) and are purchased on arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi for £20 (single entry).
Kenyan currency is the Kenyan Shilling. There are ATMs at the airport and in most major Cities.
Vaccinations normally recommended for a trip to Kenya are: diphtheria; tetanus; poliomyelitis; typhoid; hepatitis A; yellow fever. Vaccinations sometimes recommended are: meningococcal meningitis, hepatitis B, rabies, tuberculosis, and cholera. Malaria is present through most of the country and precautions are essential. Check with your doctor or nurse for suitable antimalarial tablets. A good website to check for travel health advice is http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations/africa/kenya.aspx
I have just posted a brief article on my blog about how to plug into Kenya's big "thing" at the momnet - check it out if you are coming to visit us.
Job Ballard 24th June 2011