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Safaris in Kenya

Safaris in Kenya have enchanted travellers for centuries with the allure of wildlife, spectacular scenery and exotic tribes. Kenya comprises of wildlife, culture and the cradle of mankind – a natural paradise and land of contrasts, with world famous national parks like the Masai Mara, Samburu, Amboseli, Tsavo and Mt Kenya.

Kenya’s wildlife regions are the magnet, which lure safari enthusiasts to East Africa, but the white sandy beaches and tropical palms of the Swahili coast is another good reason to choose this hospitable, friendly country as a vacation destination.

There are many different ways to experience Kenya.  Whether you want to view a pride of lions from a 4X4 safari vehicle, walk through herds of plains game, watch a herd of elephants from the comfortable veranda of your safari lodge, track game on horseback or search for birds in a thick rainforest, the possibilities are endless.

Full Country Name: Republic of Kenya
Area: 583,000 sq km
Population: 41.61 million (UN 2011)
Capital: Nairobi
Borders: Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda
Religion: Christian, Animist, Muslim
Time Zone: Standard time is three hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time
Languages: English and Swahili are the official languages and are taught in schools throughout the country.  However, there are many other tribal languages including Kikuyu, Luhia, Luo and Kikamba as well as many minor tribal languages
Country Dialling Code: +254

CLIMATE
The climate in Kenya varies due to the sharp variations in altitude from sea level to 5,100 metres.  Due to the proximity of the Equator, Kenya generally experiences a pleasant climate throughout the year with plenty of clear sunshine all the year round and although warm by day is often chilly at night.  The 'long rains' usually fall in the months of April and May.  The migration usually takes place after the long rains, when from late July to October the wildebeest migrate from Tanzania to find new grazing.  During the months of October and November, there are occasional scattered rains, the 'short rains', which freshen the atmosphere and vegetation and lay the dust.

CURRENCY & BANKS
The Kenyan currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KSH), which is divided up into 100 cents, and it is now permitted to take local currency into the country.

US Dollar notes printed before the year 2000 will not be accepted.  Barclay’s Bank in Kenya has implanted a new policy where they will no longer accept notes printed before 2000.  Clients who carry US Dollar notes printed before 2000 will be compelled to accept a rate of exchange lower than normal.

ELECTRICITY
In Kenya the general voltage is 240 and the frequency is 50 Hz.  The British three rectangular blade plugs are common.  Some lodges and camps only have power in the early mornings and evenings.  Batteries may be recharged in camps during the day but it is wise to double check with the camp manager.

As the sockets can vary a ‘Travellers Adaptor Set’ is recommended.  Voltage sometimes fluctuates and whilst power cuts are rare, they are not unknown.  It is useful to carry a torch.

HEALTH
Health requirements vary from country to country.  We recommend you speak to your local Travel Doctor for up-to-date information and advice.  The following information is to be used as a guide only.

Malaria: It is recommended that precautions against malaria are taken for travel to most regions in Africa.  We suggest you contact your doctor for advice on which prophylactic is recommended.

Yellow Fever: A Yellow Fever vaccination is required.  All travellers must carry proof that the Yellow Fever vaccine has been administered at least 10 days prior to travel.

ROAD TRAVEL
Kenya like most countries in Africa is a third world country.  Therefore please be aware that the infrastructure in certain areas is not up to the standard you would find at home.  Specifically some of the roads are often very rough and short journeys can take much longer than expected.  For example a journey from Nairobi to the Masai Mara which is 300 km’s takes 5-6 hours and from Lake Nakuru to Amboseli 6-7 hours.  Some days will be very long and bumpy due to Kenya’s road conditions.  The views and spectacular scenery encountered usually make the trip well worthwhile.

VISA INFORMATION
At the time of writing, a visa for Kenya is required for Australian Passport Holders.  The visa can be obtained on arrival at the airport or at border posts.

Kenya has enforced a ‘blank pages’ condition of entry".  This means that all those requiring a visa to enter Kenya must have at least two blank pages available in your passport upon arrival.  Failure to meet this requirement may result in an entry visa being refused.

Single Entry Visa: USD $50 per person on an Australian Passport (subject to change).

Multiple Entry Visa: Please note that if you are travelling within East Africa (Tanzania, Zanzibar or Uganda or Rwanda) you can request free re-entry into Kenya.  You will however be required to pay the normal visa charges for the other countries but may re-enter Kenya freely.

Transit Visa: USD $20 per person on an Foreign Passport.  Transit time in Kenya cannot exceed 24 hours (subject to change).

We hope that you will find this country Information on Kenya useful for reference when preparing for your holiday.  All the information above was correct at the time of writing and is to be used as a guide only.  Health, visa and other specific details should be double checked by your travel agent at the time of booking.

Located on the Equator in East Africa, Kenya offers a huge diversity of landscapes with game rich savannahs, National Parks and Game Reserves, timeless cultures and tribes unchanged by the 21st century, beautiful sandy beaches and coral reefs, deserts, rain forests and snow-capped mountains. Visitors have endless opportunities for adventure and discovery on safari and rest and relaxation on the tropical coast.

Nairobi

Nairobi, originally little more than a watering hole for Masai tribes, became a substantial town by 1900 due to the building of the Mombasa to Uganda railway. In 1905 it succeeded Mombasa as the capital of the British protectorate. Today it is the largest city between Cairo and Johannesburg.

Definitely a highlight of Nairobi is its crowded markets and trading areas, where bartering is definitely recommended. Sightseeing options includes the Giraffe Centre, Daphne Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage, the National Museum, Snake Museum and National Archives. Just outside the metropolis is the country’s most accessible natural wonder, Nairobi National Park.

Masai Mara Game Reserve

When it comes to game viewing, there is nowhere in Africa richer in wildlife or more eventful in encounters than the Mara. A pristine wilderness of haunting beauty, it promises its visitors a profusion of wildlife, prolific bird life and the unprecedented opportunity of catching up with all the members of the “Big Five” in one morning.

As to scenery, the 1,800 sq kms of this veteran reserve offer the classic mix of African imagery; golden grasslands, lilac-misted hills, meandering river, acres of thorn-bush and undulating wilderness.

Amboseli National Park

The Park lies below the most famous symbol of Africa - Mount Kilimanjaro 5,895 metres the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. The surrounding area is flat, covered by savannah and acacia scrub and the animals stand in silhouette against this towering majestic giant, its snow-clad peak floating in the stark blue African sky.

This park is especially well known for its large herds of elephants and its birdlife. Other game frequently seen include buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, gazelle, Masai giraffe, lion and cheetah.

Tsavo East & West National Parks

Both Tsavo East and West are ideal for those who enjoy solitude and a chance to explore wilderness without encountering other people. Lodges and camps tend to be remote and accessible by long drives or air transfer. Of the two Parks, Tsavo East is the more remote and less visited.

The relative proximity of Tsavo East to the coast makes it an ideal safari destination for those staying on the coast, or wishing to combine a safari and beach holiday. Many coast based visitors combine a safari to Tsavo with visits to the Shimba Hills and Taita game sanctuaries, Amboseli National Park, or Chyulu Hills.

Samburu National Reserve

Rugged and remote, Samburu National Reserve lies within the fascinating semi-desert area of Kenya's Northern Frontier District. The Reserve is physically dramatic with the great Ololokwe table mountain in the background. The central feature of the reserve is the winding and looping Ewaso Nyiro River. On either side of the river, a green ribbon presents a gallery of forest acacia, doum palm and Tamarind, which act as host to a multitude of birdlife.

Some of Kenya's rarer species like the long-necked gerenuk, Grevy's zebra, reticulated giraffe, beisa Oryx and blue-shanked Somali ostrich can be seen here.

Lake Nakuru National Park

Situated between Lakes Naivasha and Baringo, beneath the high cliffs of the Eastern Rift, lies Lake Nakuru. This is a shallow soda lake surrounded by yellow-barked acacia woodland and grasslands, rocky cliffs and hillsides covered with the unusual giant Euphorbia trees. Lake Nakuru is world famous as the home of myriad flocks of greater and lesser flamingos that frequently form a stunning pink ribbon along the edges of the lake.

Over 400 species of birdlife have been recorded at the lake, making this yet another of Kenya's major ornithological sites. In addition to the birdlife, the park is home to herds of buffalo, waterbuck, impala, Rothschild giraffe, and leopard. A defined area of the park has now been designated a rhino sanctuary making Nakuru the best park in Kenya for seeing Rhino.

Mombasa

Mombasa is an island connected to the mainland by bridges and ferries. The town overlooks a wide harbour, where commercial shipping mingles with traditional sailing dhows. The true heart of Mombasa is found in the exotic old town, among the narrow winding streets and Arab architecture. The streets are alive with the bright colours of the traditional coastal khanga and kikoy, the all-purpose wrap around cloth worn by both men and women.

At the waters edge is Fort Jesus, an imposing fort that stands watch over the harbour. The high gun turrets, battlements and underground passages of this 16th Century Fort were the centre of a historic struggle for control of the Kenya coast between the Portuguese army and the Shirazi Arabs. This war was waged around Mombasa over hundreds of years and countless battles, and the Fort stands as a testament to this tumultuous past.

Migration

The biggest annual event in Kenya is the migration, where huge herds of wildebeest head from Tanzania’s Serengeti National park into Kenya’s Masai Mara in search of greener pastures. Entering Kenya in late July/August each year, more than 2 million of these animals migrate across the Mara River into Kenya accompanied by zebras, antelopes, gazelles and lions. In October/November the animals return to the short grass plains. The highlight of the migration is watching the animals crossing the Mara River in Kenya.

The Masai People

As its name would suggest the Masai Mara is the home of the fabled Masai people. Often strikingly tall and slender, swathed in brilliant red cloth 'Shukas', strung with beads and metal jewellery, the young men (Moran) favour long, plaited, ochre-daubed hairstyles and have a formidable reputation for glamour, prowess and ferocity. Traditionally the Masai live off the milk and blood of their beloved cattle and believe that all the world's cattle are theirs by God-given right. Their nomadic and pastoral lifestyle, though historically based on the pursuit of the migratory wildlife, is slowly changing.