Important Information about Kenya: The Guide
The Republic of Kenya, a founding member of the East African Community, is bordered on the east by the Indian Ocean; Tanzania and Mount Kilimanjaro to the South, Uganda and Lake Victoria to the West, South Sudan to the North-West, Ethiopia to the north and Somalia to the North East.
The 2014 census reported the population as 45 million people. Nairobi, the capital and largest city, lies on the equator. Geographically, Kenya is quite diverse; deserts to the north, sandy coastlines, freshwater lakes, savannah grasslands, and agricultural plantations. The Rift Valley that travels from North to South through central Kenya is the fruit basket of the region.
Kenya received independence in 1964, with Jomo Kenyatta as its first President. After Kenyatta’s death in 1978, Daniel Arap Moi took over as President. In 2003 Mwai Kabaki took over the Presidency. In 2007 the election resulted in nationwide violence; 1000 people were killed and 600,000 were displaced. A coalition government was formed in 2008. In 2013, Uhuru Kenyatta was elected President.
The leading export earner is the tourist industry. Kenya is considered to have the best wildlife and beach safaris in East Africa. The devotion to wildlife conservation and a concrete infrastructure has propelled Kenya to the front position in the regional tourism industry. There are many National Parks in Kenya, the major ones being, Masai Mara, Amboseli, and Tsavo (East and West). A full list of the National Parks are:
Aberdare National Park, Amboseli National Park, Arabuko Sokoke National Park, Hells Gate, and Mount Longonot National Parks, Kora National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park, Marsabit National Park, Meru National Park, Mount Kenya National Park, Mount Elgon National Park, Nairobi National Park, Ndere Island National Reserve, Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park, Ruma National Park, Saiwa Swamp National Park, Sibiloi National Park, Tsavo East National Park, Tsavo West National Park
The Masai Mara is the most popular and is definitely the most famous game reserve in Kenya, having over 140,000 visitors per year. The reserve lies approx 270 km west of Nairobi and covers an area of approximately 1,510 sq km, bordering the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
Starting any time from late July the wildebeest follows the rains and graze on the wide and open grasslands of what has become known as “the Mara”; this is commonly known as the Wildebeest Migration. Come November they start the homeward journey, back to the Serengeti.
The herd is over a million and a half in number; a large number of lions, hippos, crocodiles,s and vultures all of which prey on the weak and young migrating animals, can be seen following along with the herd. Other games to be found in the Masai Mara at any time of the year include; elephants, cheetahs, baboons, gazelles, giraffes, jackals, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, water buffalo, ostriches, and a large variety of antelope and birdlife species in the hundreds.
Kenya’s climate varies by location; generally, cool in the mornings and evenings and warm to hot during the day. The climate along the coast is quite tropical, with high temperatures during the days, and moderately warm at night. Nairobi has cooler temperatures and during the winter season (July and August) it can be quite cold in the evenings.
The western cities, such as Kisumu, can be quite hot during the afternoons, with some relief from the breezes off the lake. The far north of Kenya is also very arid and hot, with little rainfall at any time of the year. Officially, there are 7 rainy seasons in Kenya, and due to all the general climatic changes around the world, it is difficult to predict exactly when these are, but they are seasonal and last for 3 or 4 weeks at a time.
Technically, a visa is required prior to entry into Kenya; upon arrival at one of the International Airports in Kenya, or at a border post.
Countries whose nationals do not require visas to enter Kenya:
The Bahamas, Jamaica, Samoa, Barbados, Lesotho, Seychelles, Botswana, Malawi Singapore, Brunei, Darussalam, Mauritius, Sierra Leone, Cyprus, Maldives, Swaziland, Dominica, Namibia, Tanzania, Fiji Island, Naura, Tonga, Gambia, Nauru, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Papua, New Guinea, Tuvalu Grenadines, St. Lucia, Uganda, Ghana, Zimbabwe St. Vincent, and The Vanuatu, Zambia
Standard time zone: UTC/GMT +3 hours
The currency unit in Kenya is the Kenyan shilling (KES), comprising 100 cents (c). Coins are available in denominations of 5c, 10c, 50c, and 1, 5, 10, 20, and 40 shillings.
Bank notes (bills) are available in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 shillings.