Covering an area of 580 367 square kilometres, Kenya spans the equator and is bordered by Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania. Its 550 kilometre coastline to the east is lapped by the warm Indian Ocean, with its highest point being Mount Kenya (5 199m).
One of Kenya's most spectacular geological features is the Great Rift Valley, which passes through the country - an approximately 6 000 kilometre fracture in the crust of the earth running in a series of valleys from Syria to Mozambique. Kenya shares the dramatic and well-known Kilimanjaro with its neighbour Tanzania.
Kenya's biodiversity is fascinating. Endless savannah plains and scorched deserts are interrupted by snow-capped mountains, cool highlands and equatorial forests. The scenic coastline possesses the atmosphere of a paradise island and is sprinkled with colourful coral reefs.
The highland areas of Central Kenya - including the Laikipia Plateau - provide fertile ground for farming, making Kenya one of the most agriculturally productive countries in Africa; this area is considered the fertile breadbasket of the Kenyan people. Four rivers, of which one is perennial, flow through the area making for an even more compelling locale for animals and people alike.
Annually, the country plays host to the remarkable phenomenon of the wildebeest migration, the largest single movement of herd animals on the planet. The open savannah grasslands also teem with plains game and roaming predators year-round. These diverse habitats offer endless opportunities for adventures, new discoveries and relaxation.
Being on the Equator Kenya has a year round tourist season, it also has two rainy seasons; the long rains (April to June) and short rains (October to December). The Summer is in February and March and strangely winter is in July and August as the sun approaches the equinox.
The traditional time for going on safari is from January to March, before the rains start but you can usually get around at all times of year. The Great Migration generally comes to the Mara from the Serengeti between July and October depending on rains.
Kenya’s diverse geography means that temperature, rainfall and humidity vary widely, however, there are effectively four distinct zones:
The plateau of western Kenya has rainfall throughout the year, the highest volumes being in April and lowest in January. Temperatures range from a minimum of 14°C to a maximum of 36°C throughout the year.
The temperate Rift Valley and Central Highlands has rainfall in essentially two seasons – March to the beginning of June (the ‘long rains’) and October to the end of November (the ‘short rains’). Temperatures vary from 10°C to 28°C.
The semi-arid bushlands of northern and eastern Kenya have rainfall in the form of violent storms, with July being the driest month, and November the wettest. Temperatures vary from up to 40°C during the day to less than 20°C at night.
The consistently humid coast region has rainfall that is dependent on the monsoon which blows from the north-east from October to April and from the south-west for the rest of the year. Temperatures vary little during the year, ranging from 22°C to 30°C.
In so many ways the iconic African country, rich in lore and legend, Kenya sits literally astride the equator and its vibrant array of cultures and ethnicities is echoed in a wide diversity of natural habitats and the different species they support. From the distinctive grassy plains of the Masai Mara, to white sand Indian Ocean beaches, forested highlands, acacia strewn plateaux, towering Mount Kenya, the waters of Lake Victoria and the arid landscapes of the north, the country plays host to an almost unrivalled array of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The enormous wildebeest herds of the Mara, so well-known across the world, are a small part of the faunal riches of a country that has always been associated with Africa's wild and untamed savannah.
Some 8% of Kenya's land is under legislative conservation in the form of national parks and reserves, including the famous Amboseli, Tsavo and Aberdare National Parks and the Masai Mara National Reserve, to name but a few. However, many of such parks are not fenced and so wildlife move in and out of these areas freely.
Kenya's central highland area, the Laikipia Plateau (where Wilderness is to be found), is a conservancy area of 9 500 square kilometres, and a major component of the Ewaso Ecosystem. Laikipia supports the second highest density of wildlife in Kenya and is the only area in the country where wildlife populations and habitat are on the increase. The area is one of Africa's - and the world's - most exciting safari and wildlife tourism destinations in a setting dominated by the iconic backdrop of Mount Kenya.
Wildlife in Laikipia is diverse and numerous. It is home to lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and black rhino. The Ewaso Ecosystem is home to 7 000 elephant, Kenya's second largest herd. It also supports important populations of endangered species, including black rhino, some 2 000 Grevy's zebra (70% of the world's population), a similar number of the remaining global population of reticulated giraffe, Kenya's only viable population of the endangered patas monkey, and the country's only viable population of Lelwel's hartebeest, as well as one of the few expanding populations of African wild dog.
220-240 volts is used throughout Kenya and three, square pin plug points are the norm (adaptors are not required for visitors from the United Kingdom). If you have a video or digital camera, make sure your battery charger is of the same voltage (Americas 110 – 120V).
Kenya has access to international roaming (GSM compatible) although many areas have poor or no reception.
Kenya is GMT + 3 (2 hours ahead of continental Europe).
With Kenya being located in the Tropics you may encounter all manner of local wildlife (insects, reptiles, small mammals, rodents, cockroaches). Lights attract bugs so don’t leave your lights on when you leave your room. Mosquitoes are best dealt with by using mosquito repellent, long baggy clothing in the evenings and sleeping under a mosquito net. Regarding medication in malarial areas please follow the advice of your local health practitioner and the World Health organisation.
Please ensure that your passport, air tickets and money (cash and travellers cheques) are securely stored in your room safe. Do not leave jewellery, mobile phones, cameras or any other valuables in your room or in public areas.
In terms of your physical safety if you are on an organised safari then risks are minimal, if you are guiding yourself stay away from the northern part of the country and ask for local advice before heading off. The big cities are renowned for their petty theft and muggings so keep jewellery and cameras concealed.
Tipping of guides and hotel personnel is not compulsory, but always welcomed. Aside from the guides and drivers you may wish to tip anyone who works in service; waiters in bars and restaurants, porters and room cleaners.
Most of the developing world is exposed to similar dangers while driving; poor roads, un-roadworthy vehicles, unlicensed drivers, unfenced wild and domestic animals and many pedestrians walking on road verges without pavements. Drive slowly, with caution, in daylight if you can help it and always wear your seat belts.
These are merely guidelines please follow the advice of your local health practitioner and the World Health organisation.
Malaria is found in all of Kenya’s major tourism areas with even occasionally in the Highlands Nairobi. Mosquitoes, malarial and otherwise, are best dealt with by using mosquito repellent, long baggy clothing in the evenings and sleeping under a mosquito net.
A Yellow fever certificate is required if arriving within 6 days after leaving or transiting countries with infected areas. Exempt: Children under 1 year, those not leaving the airport whilst in transit and those entering Kenya not having left an airport during transit in affected countries.
Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Poliomyelitis, Rabies, Tuberculosis & Cholera.
All travellers need a valid passport (usually valid for 6 months after your trip), with sufficient pages for entry and exit stamps (usually at least two). For each entry into Kenya you will require a visa (so you will need two if you pop over to an Indian Ocean Island for a few days).
If you are not a citizen of the countries listed below you must obtain a visa in advance from the Kenyan Embassy, High Commission or Consulate in the country where you reside.
Nationals of the following countries do not need a Kenya visa (up to 90 days):
Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Botswana, Brunei-Darussalam, Cyprus, Dominica, Ethiopia, Fiji Islands, Gambia, The, Ghana, Grenada, Jamaica, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Mauritius, Namibia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, St Lucia, St Vincent & The Grenadines, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Malaysia and South African nationals visiting for more than 30 days require visa.