Kenya has the best of the natural wonders and amazing mountain ranges, wildlife parks, city life, and idyllic beaches.
There are over 50 national parks in the country. Here are our top 5 picks:
The site of one of the most coveted wildlife viewing areas, it is located along the border of Tanzania and covers 1,510 square kilometers (580 square miles). The reserve is an ancestral home for the Maasai people and is the largest national game reserve in Narok. It is also home to several cultural sites and centers. The popular game drives that occur there are designed to take you close to the wildlife. This area is also part of the annual wildebeest migration, where the animals cross the Mara River from the Serengeti.
Elephants crossing the grassland plains across this “Land of Giants” as it is commonly referred to make this reserve a must-see destination in Kenya. Covering 244 square miles, this area is named for the Maasai word meaning “salty dust,” originating from Mount Kilimanjaro, once an active volcano. In addition to elephants, there are also 600 species of birds that reside here.
Situated on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro river, this lesser-known park boasts unique wildlife not found in other parks, such as Grevy’s Zebra, Reticulated Giraffe, Kudu, Somali Ostriches, the Beisa Oryx, and Gerenuk. This is also a place to spot wild dogs and over 450 species of birds. It is also home to the Samburu cultural tour, where one can learn about the Samburu people.
Famous for the pink flamingos that dot Lake Nakuru, this national park is a popular tourist attraction. Nakuru, which means “dust” or “dusty place” in the Maasai language, is also known to attract bird lovers who flock to see the 400+ bird species that reside here. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Mount Kenya and
Aberdare National Parks
From lions and wild African dogs to sightings of rare bongo antelopes and black leopards,the Aberdare National Park features great wildlife viewing, as well as spectacular views of Kenya’s highest mountain, Mt. Kenya, at 17,057 feet. Located in the southwestern part of Kenya, the park covers 767 square kilometers (296 square miles) and also features grand waterfalls.
Beyond the national parks, Kenya also boasts over 300 miles of Indian Ocean coastline, complete with pristine beaches and protective coral reefs. Enjoy dolphin sightings? The coastal towns near Mombasa and Malindi are prime viewing spots to see dolphins playing in the Indian Ocean.
There are also 38 golf courses and Lake Victoria, the world’s largest tropical lake.
If one wants to enjoy a little city life, Nairobi (which is the Maasai word for ‘cool waters’) is a great destination and features Nairobi National Park. The city also has many historic monuments to visit.
Kenya Country Information
Language: Swahili is the national language and English is the official language. There are over 42 ethnic languages spoken, including Kikuyu and Luo.
Religion: Mostly traditional but there is a sizeable Christian population (both Catholic and Protestant) and a small Muslim community.
Time: GMT + 3.
Electricity: 220/240 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are UK-type square three-pin. Bayonet-type light sockets exist in Kenya.
Telephone: Country code: 254 (followed by 20 for Nairobi, 41 for Mombasa and 51 for Nakuru). International calls can sometimes be made direct or operator-assisted by dialing 0196. Public telephones work with coins or with phone cards (which may be purchased from post offices or from international call services in major towns); coin-operated phone booths are painted red, card-operated booths are painted blue. Major hotels also offer an international phone service, but they usually charge up to 100% more. In larger towns, private telecommunication centers offer international services. For local calls, it is useful to have plenty of small change available.
Mobile Telephone: Roaming agreements exist with international mobile phone companies. The main network providers are Celtel (website: www.celtel.com), which has extensive coverage in the south west and around the coast and Mombasa, and Safari com (website: www.safaricom.co.ke), with coverage in from Mombasa to Nairobi and in the southeast.
Internet: There are internet cafes in major cities and hotels.
Weather: The weather in Kenya varies by location due to the land mass and diverse geography. The East Africa region generally enjoys a favorable temperate climate year-round. Coastal regions, including Mombasa enjoy tropical weather marked by higher temperatures and humidity. The average temperatures range from 70 to 90ºF. Most of the game parks are located in semi-arid bush-land. Here, the rainfall is spread evenly through the 12 months and temperatures averaging between 86 and 104ºF.
Kenya Visa Information: US/Canada/UK/Australia — Passport valid for at least six months required. Visa may be purchased on arrival at the airport.
Single entry visa is $50 per person, payable in cash (no credit cards). Visas may also be obtained in advance through a visa service. We recommend CIBT.
Nairobi (NBO) (Jomo Kenyatta International) is 16km (10 miles) southeast of the city.
Mombasa (MBA) (Moi International) is 13km (8 miles) west of the city.
The following goods may be imported into Kenya by passengers over 16 years of age without incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 1l of spirits or 2l of wine; perfume and toilet water not exceeding in all 0.5l of which not more than a quarter may be perfume. Firearms and ammunition require a police permit. Pets require a good health certificate, a rabies certificate and an import permit. The import of fruit, plants, seeds, children’s toys and imitation firearms. The export of gold, diamonds and wildlife skins or game trophies not obtained from the authorized Kenyan government department is also prohibited.
Yellow Fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travelers over one year of age arriving from infected areas; those countries formerly classified as endemic zones are considered to be still infected by the Kenyan authorities. A shot is NOT required for visitors from US/Canada/UK/EU direct.
Cholera: Following WHO guidelines issued in 1973, a cholera vaccination certificate is no longer a condition of entry to Kenya. Up-to-date advice should be sought before deciding whether these precautions should include vaccination, as medical opinion is divided over its effectiveness.
Typhoid & Polio: Immunization against typhoid and poliomyelitis is recommended but not required for entry.
Malaria: Risk exists throughout the year in the whole country. There is usually less risk in Nairobi and in the highlands (above 2500m/8200ft) of the Central, Eastern Nyanza, Rift Valley and Western Provinces. Mefloquine, doxycycline or malarone are the recommended prophylaxis.
HIV/AIDS: There is a risk of contracting AIDS if the necessary precautions are not taken. It is advisable to take a kit of sterilized syringe needles for any possible injections needed, as well as drip needles for emergencies.
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