About Kenya

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Kenya:

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Quick Facts

Area:  224 080 sq miles
Capital City:  Nairobi
Government:  Semi-Presidential Republic  
President:  Mwai Kibaki
Prime Minister:  Raila Odinga
Languages:  English and Swahili
Location:  East Africa. Kenya is bordered by Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the northeast, Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, and Sudan to the northwest, with the Indian Ocean running along the southeast border. 
Population size:  43,500,000
Population density:  
174.1/sq mi
Telephone code:  +254 plus city code and phone number
Time difference:  GMT + 3 hours

Banks/ Foreign Exchange:

Mon to Fri 9:00am –14:00pm (16:30 in the major cities), Sat 9:00 – 11:00am. The airport banks are opened until midnight every day. Almost every bank now has an ATM, and they are increasingly being installed at petrol stations in cities and large towns.

Currency can be exchanged at the major banks, bureaux de change or authorised hotels. The banks at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Moi International Airport have 24-hour exchange services. The easiest currencies to exchange are US Dollars, Pounds Sterling and Euros.

Traveller’s cheques can be changed at banks, and are widely accepted. To avoid additional charges, travellers are advised to take traveller’s cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling. Banks in Mombasa and the coastal areas open and close half an hour earlier than the above times. Banks at the international airports are open 24 hours every day. Bureaux de Change are also available and are open beyond banking hours, as well as on Sundays.

Climate:

Temperature – average daily maximum (in Fahrenheit) / Rainfall – av. monthly (in millimeters).

Temperature Mombasa Rainfall
Mombasa
Temperature
Nairobi
Rainfall
Nairobi
Summer
December to March
90 34 77 66
Autumn
April to June
85 203 74 137
Winter
July to August
83 80 73 34
Spring
September to November
88 79 75 82

The country receives a great deal of sunshine all year round and summer clothes are worn throughout the year.  However, it is usually cool at night and early in the morning.Kenya is divided by the Equator and enjoys a tropical climate. It is hot and humid at the coast, temperate inland and very dry in the north and northeast parts of the country.

The long rain season is from April to June with the short rains occurring between October and December. Rainfall is sometimes heavy and often falls in the afternoons and evenings. The hottest period is from February to March and coldest in July to August.

The annual migration occurs between June and September and involves millions of animals – Wildebeest and Zebra being the most abundant.

Clothing:

Generally, casual comfortable clothing is suitable throughout the year.  The most practical items to pack are:

  • Khaki, green, beige and neutral colours
  • Long sleeved blouses/shirt for game drives as they offer protection from the sun and mosquitos
  • T-shirts
  • Shorts or a light skirt
  • Jeans or safari trousers for evenings and cooler days
  • For dinner, some hotels and country clubs require gentlemen to wear a jacket and tie and women to be suitably attired
  • Jacket or sweater is recommended for early morning and evening game drives
  • Swimwear and beach apparel
  • Hat, sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Other recommended items are: UV sunblock, sunglasses, hat, insect repellent, moisturising cream, flashlight, torch, binoculars and camera

Credit Cards/ Currency:

One Kenyan Shilling (symbol KSh) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of KSh1 000, 500, 200, 100 and 50. Coins are in denominations of KSh20, 10 and 5.

MasterCard and Visa are all widely accepted, American Express and Diners Club less so . Major hotels also accept payment by credit card, as do most safari companies, travel agencies and restaurants. Many banks have ATM’s, and in these can often be found at petrol stations in the cities. Traveller’s cheques can be changed in any bank, bear in mind they have varying commission charges.

Value Added Tax:

VAT at 16% is included in the price of most items and services. To get a VAT refund, foreigners must present receipts at the airport and carry purchased items with them or in their luggage. Fill out Form VAT 4, available at the airport refund office. Make sure that your receipts are original tax invoices, containing the vendor’s name and address, VAT registration number and the words tax invoice. Refunds are paid by check, which can be cashed immediately at an airport bank or refunded to your credit card with a small transaction fee. Visit the VAT refund desk in the departures hall before you go through check-in, and organise receipts as you travel. Officials will go through your receipts and randomly ask to view purchases.

Duty Free:

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
  • 1 litre of spirits or 2 litres of wine
  • Perfume and Eau de Toilette not exceeding 0.5 litre, of which not more than a quarter may be perfume

Prohibited Imports:

The import of fruit, plants, seeds, live animals, ammunition and imitation firearms is prohibited.

Prohibited Exports:

The export of gold, diamonds, wildlife skins and game trophies not obtained from the authorized Kenyan government department is also prohibited.

There is currently no limit n the amount of local and foreign currency that travellers can import into the country. On departure you may be required to declare sums larger than USD 500.

Electrical Current:

220/240 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are UK-type square three-pin

Health Concerns:

Inoculation against Yellow Fever and Cholera are not mandatory but recommended. However, should you be visiting Zambia and Tanzania on your itinerary, you will be required to have a Yellow Fever vaccination. You will be required to produce your vaccination certificate on arrival in the country a well as on your entry into Kenya. Whether staying overnight in Zambia / Tanzania or merely passing through, the vaccination is required. These vaccinations should normally be done at least 10 days prior to entering the country. You will be denied entry into Zambia / Tanzania and Kenya without the certification proving your vaccination. Anyone entering Kenya from or via a yellow fever infected area must however be in possession of a valid International Certificate of Vaccination against yellow fever.

It is imperative that visitors obtain malaria prophylactics before entering Kenya.  When purchasing these, please tell your doctor or pharmacist that you intend visiting Kenya.  It is important to note that the Kenyan authorities have banned the use of chloroquine combinations as prophylaxis, and instead recommend the use of either mefloquine (Lariam/Mefliam) or doxycycline. Start your course at least one week before entering Kenya and continue taking the pills for six weeks after leaving the country. If you suffer from side effects, try taking your malaria prophylactics at night, after dinner as this usually minimises the effect of the symptoms.

Precautionary measures that you can take to prevent contact with mosquitoes include:  insect repellant, covering up at sundown, sleeping under a mosquito net and wearing clothes that cover the arms and legs in the evenings.

Metal Hips, Pins, Knee replacements, Pacemakers, etc.

Please be aware that if any guests travelling with us have had a knee or hip replacement (usually metal) or have pins, pacemakers, etc., they may set off security alarms at airports which can prevent them from being allowed to board. Our recommendation is that they travel with a doctor’s card / letter stating this information, to show security officials to ensure there are no delays, especially at our regional airports

Holidays: 2018

Date Weekday Holiday Name Holiday Type
Jan 1 Monday New Year’s Day Public holiday
Mar 20 Tuesday March equinox Season
Mar 30 Friday Good Friday Public holiday
Apr 1 Sunday Easter Sunday Observance
Apr 2 Monday Easter Monday Public holiday
May 1 Tuesday Labour Day/May Day Public holiday
May 13 Sunday Mother’s Day Observance
Jun 1 Friday Madaraka Day Public holiday
Jun 16 Saturday Eid al-Fitr Public holiday
Jun 21 Thursday June Solstice Season
Aug 22 Wednesday Idd ul Adha Public holiday
Sep 23 Sunday September equinox Season
Oct 20 Saturday Mashujaa Day Public holiday
Dec 12 Wednesday Jamhuri Day Public holiday
Dec 21 Friday December Solstice Season
Dec 24 Monday Christmas Eve Observance
Dec 25 Tuesday Christmas Day Public holiday
Dec 26 Wednesday Boxing Day Public holiday
Dec 31 Monday New Year’s Eve Observance

Passport/ Visa Requirements:

International visitors require a valid passport together with onward travel documents. Please ensure that you have all the necessary visas prior to departure (unless available on entry). Neither Trans Africa Safaris, their staff, their agents nor their operators can be held liable for any error.

Visas are not the responsibility of Trans Africa Safaris.  Please check with your nearest Kenyan Consulate for up-to-date information.  It is the responsibility of all visitors to Kenya to obtain all necessary visas in advance. Citizens of most Commonwealth countries do not require a visa.  Citizens from all other countries do require a visa. Single entry visas are valid for 3 months. No multiple entry visas are available, but tourists crossing borders to Tanzania and Uganda and returning to Kenya may use valid visas without applying for a new one.

If you request Trans Africa Safaris to check on visa information for you, we will do so and give you the status which is current at that time.  Trans Africa Safaris cannot be held responsible if the visa situation changes after we have provided the information.  We suggest you check at the time of booking and again one month prior to clients’ departure from home country.

Passports: The situation regarding blank pages in passports, for visits to Southern / East Africa, changes regularly.

  • Passports must be valid for 6 months after your departure from Southern / East Africa
  • For your visit to Kenya: 2 blank VISA pages
  • Please note pages headed “Endorsements, Observations” etc are not VISA pages.

Without compliance to the above you could be denied entry.

Photography:

A good SLR (single lens reflex) or digital SLR camera with telephoto zoom lens is recommended for photography of birds and animals, as is colour reversal film (slides) if using film as this will give better quality pictures than regular film. A big memory card / abundant film and spare batteries as recommended as these are often not available at the bush camps/lodges.

Recommended Reading:

  • Kenya: The Bradt Travel Guide / Claire Foottit, 2004
  • Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania / Dale Zimmerman, Donald Turner, David Pearson –
    Field Guide 1999
  • Planting the Trees of Kenya, The Story of Wangari Maathai, Claire A. Nivola, Biography /
    Memoir 2008
  • Kenya Safari Companion Alain Pons Natural History 2007
  • Born Wild by Tony Fitzjohn
  • In the Dust of Kilimanjaro by David Western
  • Coming of Age with Elephants by Joyce Pool
  • The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals by Richard Estes
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