Kenya

As the heart of East Africa, Kenya is a traveller’s nirvana with enormous wilderness expanses, golden beaches and a wealth of fascinating tribal customs. From untouched savannah plains to the extraordinary Rift Valley, Kenya is the home of the classic safari. The Masai and Samburu tribes live harmoniously, coexisting with the surrounding wildlife. With an impressive collection of 23 national parks, 28 national reserves, 6 marine and 4 national sanctuaries covering all categories of ecosystems, Kenya is a classic destination to be enjoyed by all.

When to Visit

The best time to travel to East Africa is during the dry season. East Africa has two dry seasons - December to Feruary/March and June to October. The annual migration of wildebeest and zebra herds takes place year round between the Serengeti (approx. November to June) and the Masai Mara (approx. July to October).

Highlights

MASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE The Masai Mara is one of the most popular reserves in Africa. From July to October the reserve serves as a playground for the moving herds in the Great Migration of over a million wildebeest and hundreds of thousands of zebras from the Serengeti.

AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK Celebrated for its big game, stunning Amboseli National Park features five key wildlife habitats and the visually stunning Lake Amboseli. Along with the park’s scenic beauty, big cats, including lions and cheetahs, are among its main draw cards.

LAKE NAKURU The most famous of the Rift Valley lakes, Lake Nakuru is a soda lake, famous for its superb array of birdlife including the travelling flocks of flamingo that ring the lake. It’s also host to Kenya’s largest population of white rhinos.

ABERDARE NATIONAL PARK With its mountainous terrain covered in thick tropical forests, Aberdare is home to a great diversity of fauna and flora including African elephants, lions, black leopard, and the Colobus and Sykes monkey.

MERU NATIONAL PARK Meru National Park, made famous by Elsa the lioness and George and Joy Adamson in Born Free, is emerging again as a popular safari destination. The park also houses a poacher-proof rhino sanctuary, for the protection of both black and white rhino.

OL PEJETA CONSERVANCY Situated in the foothills of Mount Kenya, the conservancy is home to the Big Five and the largest sanctuary in East Africa for the endangered black rhino. It also houses a sanctuary for rescued chimpanzees.

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Useful Information

Getting around

Charter flights are a great way to get around Kenya and avoid the country's notoriously bad roads; transfers from bush airstrips to lodges are conducted in 4X4 vehicles.Road transfers from airports and between major destinations tend to use mini buses as do scheduled safaris to popular destinations such as the Masai Mara. Sliding windows and a pop-up roof provide passengers on mini buses with ample viewing opportunities on game drives whereas safaris to more remote destinations and private conservancies use open-sided 4X4s.

Language

Officially English and Swahili (Kiswahili), but many other languages are spoken by various indigenous groups.

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Kenya, whilst vaccination against Meningitis should be considered. Vaccination against Typhoid should also be considered, particularly if travelling to areas with poor sanitation. Persons staying in Kenya for extended periods or frequent travellers should consider immunisation against Hepatitis B and Rabies (especially if working with animals). Vaccination against Yellow Fever is recommended, and certification of this may be required, especially at boarder crossings. Cholera is reported in Kenya, but vaccination is usually not recommended, as food and water precautions are more important. Kenya is considered a high risk country for Malaria and Dengue Fever is also present, as such insect avoidance measures and preventative medication may be necessary. Regardless of destination, all travellers should be up-to-date with their routine "background" vaccinations, including for Tetanus and Diphtheria (with a booster within the last 10 years), Whooping Cough, Polio (with a booster in adult life), Measles, Mumps and Rubella (two combination vaccinations through life), Chicken Pox and a recent annual Influenza vaccination. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Kenya should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. Medications that are legal in New Zealand may be illegal in other countries. 

Electricity

Electrical Socket: British Voltage: 220-240 volts (same as New Zealand) Source: Korjo Travel Products. Please view the Korjo adapter guide at www.korjo.com.au for further information on this matter.

Communications

Country Code for Kenya: +254 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz Emergency Services: 999 The emergency services may not always have English speaking staff. In this case, you should have a local call on your behalf or contact the New Zealand High Commission.

Shopping

Kenyan products are as diverse and unique as the country itself. There are traditional artefacts, fantastic jewellrey, beautiful carvings, the world's best coffee, precious stones, furniture, beautiful cloth, excellent local music, wonderful modern art and so much more to be found.Excellent, well stocked gift shops can be found in may hotels, lodges and camps throughout the country. But often real finds can be found a little further off the beaten track. For the dedicated bargain hunter, Kenya's markets are the place to be. Markets selling all kinds of local arts and crafts can be found all over the country. In Nairobi, there are large open air markets held each week.

Tipping

Tipping for good service is customary in Kenya although it is of course at your discretion - bear in mind that some of the larger hotels will add a service charge onto your bill. A 10% tip is customary in city restaurants and bars when a service charge is not included.

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

Customs

Kenyans are generally friendly and hospitable. Greetings are an important social interaction, and often include inquiries about health and family members. Visitors to a home are usually offered food or tea, and it is considered impolite to decline. Elderly people are treated with a great deal of respect and deference. When greeting someone with whom you have a personal relationship, the handshake is more prolonged than the one given to a casual acquaintance. Close female friends may hug and kiss once on each cheek instead of shaking hands. When greeting an elder or someone of higher status, grasp the right wrist with the left hand while shaking hands to demonstrate respect. Muslim men/women do not always shake hands with women/men. The most common greeting is “Jambo?” (“How are you?”), which is generally said immediately prior to the handshake. After the handshake it is the norm to ask questions about the health, their family, business and anything else you know about the person. To skip or rush this element in the greeting process is the height of poor manners. People are generally addressed by their academic, professional or honorific title followed by their surname. Once a personal relationship has developed, you may be able to address a person by their title and first name, first name alone, or nickname. Wait for the Kenyan to determine that your friendship has reached this level of intimacy. Women over the age of 21 are often addressed as “Mama” and men over the age of 35 are often addressed as “Mzee”. Children generally refer to adults as Aunt or Uncle, even if there is not a familial relationship.

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