The Honest Guide To Kenya Travel – 2014

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If you are planning a trip to Kenya, Read more:


Capital: Nairobi.

Currency: ( code: KES) is the currency of Kenya Shilling. 

Time Zone:  UTC+03:00 (Kenya is 8 hours ahead of New York; 7 hours ahead of Los Angeles).

Voltage: Main voltage in Kenya is 240V, Plug G ; If you plan on bringing any electrical equipment using 110volts to Kenya, you will need a voltage converter and plug adapter in order to use your appliances.

Driving: Keep right (opposite to UK).

Measurement: Kenya uses the Metric System (Kilometres and Kilograms) where 1 Mile = 1.6 Kilometres, 1 Pound = 0.45 Kilograms

The International Dialing Code: 254 is Country Code for Kenya. 

Dialing Kenya from Overseas: If you’re dialing Kenya from United States, start with 011 – US exit code, followed by 254 (Kenya's country code) and then, the phone number.

Dailing Overseas from Kenya:  If you're dailing United States from Kenya, start with 000 - Kenya exit code, followed by 1 and then the phone nubmer.

Mobile Networks:  Otange, Safaricom, Airtel, Yu (Essar Telecom Kenya).

National Sports: Football, Basketball, Cricket, Hockey, Rugby.

Languages: The national and official languages are English and Swahili Languages, spoken everywhere in Kenya.


Kenya Tourism Video

How To Travel Between Kenya And The United States

British Airways Flight Schedule*



 Departs New York  (JFK)

 Arrives Nairobi ((NBO)


 Flying Time

 British Airways 



 Daily flights available

 19 hours, 20minutes  (Overnight  flight, Stop Over at Heathrow Airport, London)


KLM Flight Schedule**


 Departs New York   (JFK)

 Arrives Nairobi (NBO)


 Flying Time






 Daily flights available

 Overnight flight) one  stop at Amsterdam.

18 hours 30minutes



United Airlines Flight Schedule



 New York  (JFK)

 ArrivesNairobi (NBO)


 Flying Time

 Air France



 Daily flights available

 19 hours 22 minutes.  Overnight flight)Makes  a stop at Atlanta for 1hour 44minutes and Amsterdam for 2 hours 10 minutes.


*Please note: The KLM, Air France and British Airways flight schedules for flights from the New York to Nairobi, Kenya was correct at the time of publishing (January 2014). Check with your travel or airline for the latest information and times regarding flights to Kenya.

You can refer to the Travelstart flight booking engine for the latest schedule and prices for flights between Kenya and the United States. You can also use the booking engine to get an idea of the cost of domestic flights in Kenya.

Airport Check-In Times

International check-in

International flight check-in depends on the airlines. However, most airlines check-in time for USA flights is 3 hours prior to departure, while other international flights check in at least two hours before flight departure. For domestic flights check-in, passengers are required to check in at least 90 minutes before flight departure. 


There are luggage weight restrictions that vary between points of departure and airlines but here are some of the approximate guidelines for your check in luggage. If you are taking a flight to Kenya from the United States of America, it is expected that you carry one piece of luggage that weighs not more 32 Kg for Business class, 23 Kg for economy class and you have to pay extra charges when you are carrying more than this kilogram.

Travel documents

United States Passport & Travel Visas


If you want to visit Kenya from United States, you will need a visa to travel to Kenya. You need a passport valid for a minimum of six months, ahead of your departure date. Your passport must have at least one blank page for visa imprint. 


Visa Requirements


  • Your passport which must be valid for at least six months. 
  • An Application form duly signed. Two Passport size photos, 2 inches. 
  • Visa Fees (Money order or cashier's cheque only payable to the Embassy of The Republic of Kenya)
  • Copy of your flight Itinerary
  • A self-addressed stamped return courier envelop for Express Mail, Fedex, Certified Mail with delivery confirmation. UPs, Metered Stamps and Regular mail envelopes are not acceptable. 
  • Visa Fees (Money order or cashier's cheque only payable to the Embassy of The Republic of Kenya); $100 for Multiple Entries ( Tourist/Visitor/Business Visas) and $50 for Single Entry ( Tourist/Visitor/Business Visas) .
  • Visas are usually valid for six months from the date of issue. 
  • If you are travelling with a pet, you must collect pet permit. 
  • Holders of Kenya visitor/business/tourist visas are not allowed to work, either paid or unpaid jobs. 
  • If you intend to start a business or trade in Kenya, you must apply for a special pass from the Director of Immigratiom Services in Nairobi. 

When to Travel

Kenya’s climate varies from tropical weather along the Coast to cool temperatures in the Western parts of the country, lying along the Equator, the weather is mostly favourable all year round with the rainy season between March and June and the hottest seasons between January and March. 

The best time to travel to Kenya

This depends mostly on what you want to achieve, every season has a lot of offers for you according to regions. Kenya is always full of exciting events no tourist would want to miss, such as;

  • The best time to visit the Mara is between July and October, during the Great Migration although the Mara has excellent game all year round.
  • The best time to plan a Safari when it comes to the National Parks is around the cooler dry season between July and October or the hotter season between December and March. 
  • The Kenyan Coast enjoys humid weather all year round; the cool months being July and August tend to be ideal for many as it can get quite hot between December and March. 

With the diverse ecology Kenya has, there are many advantages travelling during off peak season and it’s always possible to find a great place to go no matter what time of the year you want to travel.

Where to Travel in Kenya

There are about 58 cities and towns in Kenya but the country has 3 major cities, with Nairobi being its capital and largest city. With close to 70 different ethnic tribes, English and Swahili still remain the official languages in Kenya though regional tribal languages abound.  Sheng- a mixture of English and Swahili is a lingua more popular with the younger generation. Although it has experienced its share of internal and external strife, Kenya has in recent years been moving toward a more stable, multi-party political system making it a regional commercial hub in Southeast and Central Africa. Kenya is active in several sports among them cricket, football, rallying and rugby, but the one sport, that the country has dominance in all over the world, is long distance running.


Nairobi: Nairobi is a fast paced city with high-end shopping malls to international hotels and home to the United Nations headquarters as well as top notch clubs and restaurants. The traffic can get cumbersome with crammed buses and people always in a hurry walking along the streets. The nightlife in Nairobi is very lively and diverse. Being a cosmopolitan city, the food and culture has a sort of Western influence to it. With various amazing restaurants offering all kinds of cuisines from Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Ethiopian and Kenyan foods, your taste buds will be spoilt for choice. One popular restaurant with many is the Carnivore restaurant where you can get to indulge in all kinds of wild meat while you dance the night away.



Kisumu: Kisumu, one of the major cities in Kenya, situated along Lake Victoria, one of Africa’s largest and second largest fresh water lakes in the world. Kisumu is famous for its delicious tilapia fish, National Parks and bird sanctuaries, with breathtaking sunsets as well. It’s a chaotic city in terms of traffic and taxis all around, but ironically a very peaceful city for some relaxation. With a lively nightlife as well, one can never be bored in this beautiful city.



Mombasa: One of the major cities in Kenya as well, located on the Coastal part of Kenya; Mombasa has an abundance of white pristine beaches with clear waters of the Indian Ocean lapping gently on the sand, coral reefs and Marine parks in Watamu and Kisite that will give you a closer look at the sea wildlife. A city rich in history as well, a visit to the Gedi Ruins and Fort Jesus is a must. Although food and culture here have a very strong Arabic influence, and half of the population are Muslims. With humid weather all year round, Mombasa is an ideal destination for a romantic getaway or a soul searching experience as the sand curls up in your toes, while lying in a hammock overlooking the turquoise blue Indian Ocean with a cold drink to quench your thirst in the ever sunny city of Mombasa. It’s an ideal holiday destination for many with famous celebrities across the world known to own private resorts and homes here. Mombasa caters for any kind of budget and is bound to make your holiday a memorable one. 



Major Attractions

From world famous national parks, to the cool highlands of the Rift Valley, to the Coastal beaches by the Indian Ocean Kenya offers you a variety of destinations to choose from all year round.  Despite the Capital city crammed with buses, loud minivans blaring loud music, people on the streets, long hours in traffic and concrete jungles, it is home to Nairobi National Park, a unique park within the city! With major attractions such as the Black Rhinoceros, diverse birdlife, large predators-lions leopards, buffalos, zebras and wildebeest, the Nairobi National park is an ideal getaway just a few kilometres away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Mount Kenya: Mount Kenya rises above a magnificent landscape of forested hills, patchwork farms and wooden savannas, rising to 5,199 meters above sea level, is the tallest mountain in Kenya and the second largest in Africa. Located in Central Kenya, not only would you get to enjoy the mountain climbing experiences, but a visit to the Mount Kenya National Park offers an amazing array of wildlife ranging from elephants to bushbucks. The breathtaking landscape has a magnetic appeal to it and an amazing location for birdwatchers as well.

Maasai Mara Game ReserveThe first thing that comes to mind when planning a safari to Kenya for many is the Maasai Mara. Home to all the Big Five among many other animals, Maasai Mara is a favourite for many as it boasts of one of the Seventh Wonders of The World- the Great Wildebeest Migration as you get to see the Wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti in neighbouring to Tanzania to the Mara in search of food and water. Or enjoy a hot air balloon ride with a panoramic view of the vast game reserve as the sun sets on the horizon, and get to wine and dine in the various luxurious lodges inside the Mara while you enjoy the wild experience the Mara has to offer. 

The Great Rift Valley: A natural property of outstanding beauty that runs through Kenya from north to south, it contains a chain of volcanoes, lakes and hills with scenic landscapes and highlands that takes one breath away. An ideal tourist haven with major attractions from game parks to lakes such as Lake Nakuru, home to beautiful flamingos and Lake Bogoria famous for its geysers which can erupt up to 5 meters high! Lake Turkana, one of the world’s largest permanent desert lakes, that has such amazing attractions one needs to visit it because words just can’t describe how beautiful this place is. Its home to Mount Longonot that’s easier to climb compared to Mount Kenya for the adventurous kind. Hells Gate National Park is never a dull moment, you can get to explore the awesome gorges that inspired such movies as the Lion King and Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider, go hiking or camping in this amazing park just a few hours away from Nairobi. The cool weather in Nyahururu is home to Thompson Falls, lovely waterfalls with the mist caressing your skin as the waves come crashing down. The Great Rift Valley will leave you spoilt for choice! 

Amboseli National ParkThe second most popular park in Kenya after the Mara, also known as the “Land of the giants” is home to the world’s largest animals, The African Elephants as they leisurely graze along the plains while Mount Kilimanjaro serves as a backdrop on the horizon. The view of Mount Kilimajaro is absolutely spectacular in Amboseli especially at dawn when the clouds have lifted; it gives the park an oasis stark of beauty.  Some kilometres away is home to the East and West Tsavo National Park, the park is popular with the famous man eating lions of Tsavo that inspired the movie The Ghost and The Darkness, as well as the rest of the Big Five; Elephants, Leopards and Buffaloes. With different species of birds to marvel at, it’s also an ideal spot for bird watchers.


Getting Around

With fairly developed roads especially around the major cities, getting by Kenya is not as hectic as it was before, though it can get quite irritating while travelling by bus or car as many roads are being constructed. Despite the lack in excellent roads, Kenya has three major International Airports that offer excellent services. Jomo Kenyatta International airport in Nairobi, Kisumu International Airport and Mombasa International Airport that offer daily scheduled flights to various destinations in Kenya as well as around the world. 
Kenya is popular with minivans also known as Matatus, which are always driven recklessly, with loud music blaring, one, feels like they are in a moving disco. They never obey traffic rules and are best avoided if possible. They might be a lot cheaper than taxis, but for a tourist in Kenya, they can be quite confusing.

Hiring a car in Kenya is quite easy as one can get one from the airport or from the major hotels around the country. If you fancy a self drive road trip, it can get quite confusing, because while driving in Kenya you always have to keep left. While driving around Kenya, always make sure your doors and windows are locked especially while in Nairobi and never leave any of your valuables visible in the car. It’s always advisable to hire cars from reliable companies. Travelstart offers the best car hire service in Kenya, with different types of cars that you might need, ranging from SUVs, Mini Vans and of course, Limo service. Hire a car with Travelstart today. 

Hotels & Accommodation 

With many of the major cities around the country willing to accommodate any kind of budget one has, getting by is not as hard as there are various options to cater for your entertainment, accommodation, transport and daily needs which varies from city to city.
Tipping: Although tipping is customary especially in restaurants and hotels, it is not mandatory, but is always a sign of gratitude and appreciation depending on the services rendered.

Safe Travel in Kenya

Health Risks

Being a tropical country, some areas of the country might be prone to Malaria, its best to make sure you get an anti-malaria and yellow fever injection before planning your safari. Condoms and contraceptive pills can be purchased in various pharmacies around as well. Avoid drinking tap water, and always buy treated or bottled water to avoid getting typhoid as tap water is not so safe to drink.
Staying Safe

While safety in Kenya hasn’t been so good lately, with a few terrorist attacks that have rocked the country in the past year, many might wonder how safe it is to travel to Kenya at the moment. Security measures have been heightened by the government in the past few months and all visitors are advised to be vigilant at all times. The crime rate in Nairobi is relatively high and caution is advised while walking in the streets of Nairobi. 

Traveling on a Budget

Exchange rate in Kenya is favourable to every American traveller. However, if you want to travel to Kenya on budget, there are inexpensive facilities available for visitors. If you are going on safari, you are advised to make safari bookings when you arrive at Kenya. There are many retailers selling safari at the airport, you can barter prices with them to get a reasonable price for a safari. There are budget hotels, low-cost restaurants for food and drinks, cheap transportation to take you round the city. 
 Latest Exchange Rates: 1 United States Dollar = 86, 5000KES (January, 2014 subject to change)

Travel Tips

American tourists in Kenya should always: ensure that you;

  • Always carry your passport with you.
  • Avoid walking in isolated areas.
  • Keep your valuables and jewellery safe at all times and avoid wearing them when necessary.
  • In case of a health emergency, try going to a private hospital and not a public one.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and never leave your luggage unattended.
  • Always use sunscreen with a higher SPF as the African sun can be quite harsh on the skin.
  • Practice safe sex and avoid having one night stands or picking lovers from the clubs.
  • Look after your drink and never leave it unattended at the bar while you dash to the restroom.


Public Holidays and Special Days in Kenya

  • New Year’s Day -  Wednesday, January 01, 2014
  • Good Friday - Friday, April 18, 2014
  • Easter Monday - Monday, April 21, 2014
  • Labour Day - Thursday, May 01, 2014
  • Madaraka Day - Sunday, June 01, 2014
  • Moi Day - Friday, October 10, 2014
  • Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan) - Monday, July 28, 2014
  • Mashujaa Day 2014 (Kenyatta Day or Heroes Day) - Monday, October 20, 2014
  • Feast of the Sacrifice - Sunday, October 05, 2014
  • Independence Day Kenya - Friday, December 12, 2014
  • Christmas Day - Thursday, December 25, 2014
  • Boxing Day - Friday, December 26, 2014


With various shopping malls, restaurants and malls that offer free Wireless services, it is easy to access the internet and communicate with your loved ones back home.
It is not advisable to use your mobile network from the United States to call or send text messages because it is cost effective. It is much cheaper to buy a local sim card instead of using your line which can become quite expensive, fortunately sim cards and cheap phones are available almost everywhere and very easy to get.  

About Travelstart

Travelstart was founded by an online travel entrepreneur Stephan Ekbergh in Sweden in 1999. It became an internet global travel market leader within a short span of time in Northern Europe. Today, it has its headquarters in Cape Town, South Africa. Travelstart has fast become Africa’s leading online travel agency, hotel and car rental bookings and one stop shop for flight, the online offering service is supported by  skilled and experienced customer service team and  travel agents that deal with custom holiday packages as well as over-the-phone enquiries. Currently, Travelstart has its operations in Nigeria, Egypt, Turkey, Tanzania, Namibia, Kenya, Turkey where it trades as Geziko and South Africa.

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