Before you go to Kenya

The Republic of Kenya is located on the equator in east Africa and spans an area of more than 582 000 square kilometres. It is bordered by the Indian Ocean and five countries: Uganda (west), Sudan (north-west), Ethiopia (north), Somalia (north-east) and Tanzania (south). Kenya is named after Mount Kenya, which is the second highest peak in Africa measuring 5 199 metres (17 057 feet). It is also home to Lake Victoria, second largest freshwater lake in the world, and is renowned for its safaris and wildlife reserves. The annual migration of millions of wildebeest and other herbivores, plus the predators that follow them, between the Masai Mara and Tanzania’s Serengeti is world famous, attracting many visitors.

INTERESTING FACTS
The flag is based on that of Kenya African National Union. The black symbolises the majority population, red – the blood shed during the freedom struggle, green – the natural wealth, and white which indicates peace. The black, red and white traditional Maasai shield and two spears symbolise the defence of freedom.

GOVERNMENT
Kenya's central government is structured through the Constitution which was established in 2010. Wielding all administrative and policy-making powers, the central government consists of three branches: Executive, Parliament and Judiciary. These branches enact the laws and policies that govern the country. Since the Kenya government restructured itself under a multi-party democracy, the country has experienced rising economic, political and social success.
President Kibaki of the National Rainbow Coalition party took office in December 2002 following general elections that ended the Kenyan African National Union party's 39-year reign. Pledging to generate economic growth, improve and expand education, combat corruption, address heath care issues and rewrite Kenya's Constitution under President Kibaki, the government has had remarkable success in improving the living conditions of citizens.

ECONOMY
Agriculture is the second-largest contributor to Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP), after the service sector. About half of the total agricultural output is non-marketed subsistence production, with 75% of the country’s workforce engaged in agriculture.
The natural resources are wildlife, soda ash and land. The agricultural sector that continues to dominate Kenya’s economy and products consists mainly of tea, coffee, sugarcane, horticultural products, corn, wheat, rice, sisal, pineapples, pyrethrum, dairy products, meat and meat products, hides and skins. Industries mainly include petroleum products, grain and sugar milling, cement, beer, soft drinks, textiles, vehicle assembly, paper and light manufacturing. The structure of the economy, in terms of contribution to the GDP is services at 59.5%; industry and commerce at 16.7% and agriculture at 23.8%.

CURRENCY
The official currency is the Kenya Shilling. The written abbreviation is either KSh or using /= after the amount (i.e. 500/=).

LANGUAGE
While Kiswahili and English are the official languages in Kenya, there are numerous indigenous languages as well.

TIME
Standard time in Kenya is 3 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time – (GMT) +3 hours all year round. Daylight saving is not observed.

CLIMATE
Kenya’s diverse geography means that temperature, rainfall and humidity vary widely, however, there are effectively four distinct zones:

  • The plateau of western Kenya has rainfall throughout the year, the highest volumes being in April and lowest in January. Temperatures range from a minimum of 14°C to a maximum of 36°C throughout the year.
  • The temperate Rift Valley and Central Highlands has rainfall in essentially two seasons – March to the beginning of June (the ‘long rains’) and October to the end of November (the ‘short rains’). Temperatures vary from 10°C to 28°C.
  • The semi-arid bushlands of northern and eastern Kenya have rainfall in the form of violent storms, with July being the driest month, and November the wettest. Temperatures vary from up to 40°C during the day to less than 20°C at night.
  • The consistently humid coast region has rainfall that is dependent on the monsoon which blows from the north-east from October to April and from the south-west for the rest of the year. Temperatures vary little during the year, ranging from 22°C to 30°C.

Temperature (ºF) These are the average lows and highs:

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

NBO

52/77

52/79

55/77

57/75

55/73

52/72

50/70

50/70

50/75

55/77

55/73

55/73

Average Rainfall (inches) – This varies according to the year and location:

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

NBO

1.8

2.0

4.0

8.1

6.3

1.8

0.7

1.0

1.0

2.1

4.3

3.2

NBO = Nairobi

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
The dates of certain public holidays referred to below may change from year to year. If a public holiday falls on a Sunday, Monday is declared a public holiday.
01 January New Year’s Day
Varies Idd il Fitr (celebrating the end of Ramadhan)
Varies Good Friday
Varies Easter Monday
01 May Labour Day
01 June Madaraka Day
10 October Moi Day
20 October Kenyatta Day
12 December Jamhuri (Independence) Day
25 December Christmas Day
26 December Boxing Day


USEFUL INFORMATION:

VISAS & ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Visas are the responsibility of the traveller. Some nationalities have to obtain visas prior to arrival in Kenya, some are able to obtain these on arrival at the port of entry and others do not require a visa. Visit the following website for additional information – note that Wilderness Safaris is not responsible for the content thereof: www.immigration.go.ke or www.kenya.org.za.
Entry:

  • A passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended departure date, together with onward travel documents, proof of accommodation and sufficient funds for the duration of your stay.
  • Sufficient blank visa pages (not endorsement pages) in your passport, with at least 2 consecutive/side by side blank pages.
  • International certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever.

Holiday Visa:

  • One visa application form per applicant properly completed and signed.
  • Original passport.
  • Two recent passport photographs in colour, front view and with a plain/light background.
  • Return ticket/onward ticket.
  • US$ 50.00 at Kenyan port of entry, if applicable and subject to change.

VACCINATIONS & MALARIA
The following vaccination is compulsory:

  • Yellow Fever – you will need the relevant certificate as proof to enter Kenya. In addition, most countries will require proof of this on your return home from Kenya. Please be aware that it takes 10 days for the vaccination to be deemed effective.
  • Vaccines commonly recommended for travellers to Africa include:
  • Tetanus
  • Diphtheria
  • Polio
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies
  • Meningitis

Malaria is prevalent in coastal and low lying areas – below 1 800 metres above sea level.

PAYMENTS
The Kenya shilling (KSh) comes in denominations of KSh1000, 500, 200, 100, 50 and 20, and coins of KSh 20, 10 and 5. Visitors to Kenya should change foreign currency at banks, Bureaux de Change or authorised hotels, while the easiest currencies to exchange are US Dollars, GBP sterling and Euro. Although the Kenya shilling often fluctuates, it is always much lower in value when compared to other major currencies.
Travellers Cheques are generally widely accepted. High commission charges are common, and bureaus that charge no commission will often give a rate substantially below the cash rate for cheques. Charges vary widely, from 1% to 3% per transaction to flat fees of up to US$ 15.00.
Segera Retreat accepts US Dollars, GBP Sterling and Euro as payment for curios, drinks, gratuities, etc.

CREDIT CARDS
Credit Cards are accepted in all major hotels and establishments, with the most recognised being MasterCard, Visa and American Express. However, you will need some cash to hand because smaller shops will only accept cash.
ATM machines are available 24 hours a day at all major banks – ATM debit cards are accepted at Kenya's ATMs. Please remember that you will incur a small international transaction fee when you use your debit/credit card.

BANKS
Banks are widely available and operate Monday to Friday, 09:00 – 15:00, with some branches open on Saturdays, 09:00 – 11:00. Kenya's banks are closed on weekends and during public holidays.

SHOPPING
Shopping in Kenya is dominated by souvenir sellers. Handmade items may be purchased at market stalls, roadside stands and from street peddlers. Tourists are easily identified and a walk down the street can attract the attention of groups of salesmen. Be prepared for a strong sales pitch, offering bargain prices on handcrafts. Prices are initially determined based on what these sellers believe you will pay, however, can generally be bargained down. Chances are that you will get a fair price and the vendor will still walk away with a good profit. Do not be intimidated by the number of peddlers offering similar goods, or you may end up with more souvenirs than you can easily carry home. If quality is an issue you may want to make your purchases at some of the more established shops in the larger cities, however, be prepared to pay higher prices.
Nairobi has an endless variety of places to shop. The City Market, on Muindi Mbingu Street, is a good source of inexpensive souvenirs. Bargains may be found at street stalls on many of the major thoroughfares, with local traders offering an assortment of goods. Major streets in Mombasa have numerous souvenir shops and galleries, trader stalls are abundant on Moi Avenue and Nyerere Street.

VALUE ADDED TAX (VAT)
Goods and services in the Republic of Kenya are priced to include value added tax (VAT) of 16%.

EXCESS LUGGAGE
Due to the nature of the safari and the aircraft, guests are limited to 20 kg (44 lb) including carry on. Luggage must be in the form of a soft bag, i.e. no wheels/frame/rigid structures, dimensions 40 x 40 x 80 cm (16 x 16 x 31 inches), and able to physically fit into a light aircraft storage space.
Wilderness and staff will not accept responsibility for luggage kept in any offices/hotel on behalf of our guests. Guests must ensure that they are in possession of full travel insurance including luggage cover.

DRESS CODE
Although there are no strict dress codes, note that the coastal areas are predominantly Muslim in tradition. Dress conservatively away from the tourist resorts and hotels.

ELECTRICAL
In the major cities, all electrical appliances run on 220/240V with 3-prong square sockets. While some adapters may be supplied, it is advisable that you carry your own.