GeographyLocated in the Heart of Africa, Kenya shares borders with Ethiopia in the north, Sudan in the Northwest, Uganda in the West and Tanzania in the south. The Indian Ocean lies to the East. The Rift Valley runs through the country north to south. There are four primary regions: The northern deserts, including Lake Turkana and the Laikipia Plateau. The southern savannah, including the Masai Mara and the Great Rift Valley. The coastal lowlands, including Mombasa and the Watamu National Marine Park. The highlands, including Nairobi and Mount Kenya.
LanguageEnglish is the official language, and is widely spoken in commercial areas. Kiswahili is the unofficial language, used throughout the country. In remote areas, the majority of people will only speak their tribal language.
Getting to KenyaKenya is well served by major international airlines, which fly into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (Nairobi) or Moi International Airport (Mombasa). Some Commonwealth citizens do not require visas. We strongly recommend you check with the nearest Kenya Embassy or Tourist Office to ensure you have the most up to date visa information. Yellow Fever and Cholera vaccinations are required only for visitors arriving from countries where these diseases are endemic. Check with your Embassy and/or local heath office for more details.
Leaving KenyaAn airport departure tax of US$40 per person, or its equivalent, is payable when leaving Kenya. This fee is often included in your international airfare, unless stated otherwise. Please check with your agent when purchasing your international tickets. A local departure tax of Kshs 200 (approx. US$3) per person, per flight, is payable for internal Kenyan flights.
ClimateKenya offers warm days with cool early mornings and evenings throughout most of the country. At altitude the temperatures are moderate. The Coast is often humid and tropical. There are two primary rainy seasons: the long rains roughly from April to June and the short rains during October and November.
ClothingInformal, lightweight clothing is recommended. Mornings and evenings can be cool at altitude, so bring a sweater or cardigan. A hat is highly recommended due to the sun. On the Kenya coast, ladies are expected to dress modestly in public.
CommunicationsTelephone, fax and some email services are available, though prone to difficulties. Most resorts, lodges and camps will have at least a radio link with their primary Kenyan offices. In the major cities and on the Coast, international direct dialing should be available, if a little costly.
Tipping In East AfricaIt has been customary since safaris began to consider tips for your driver/guide and support staff. However, tipping is a very personal subject and the decision to tip and how much to give is entirely yours. Unlike in the USA or most of Europe, tips in Kenya are considered a gift; they are not a part of wages or payment. They are considered a bonus and are not expected or required.
An average daily wage in East Africa is just over US$ 1.20. As such, giving a porter a tip of a dollar is very generous. Room or tent stewards would be delighted with a tip of between US$0.50 - US$ 1.00 per day.
In a restaurant, if service has not been added to the bill, then a tip of 10% is suitable, if you are satisfied with the service. In most safari camps and lodges, a service charge has been included in your accommodation rate, which is paid to the staff by the establishment.
In general, the only person who will expect a tip from you is your driver/guide, who would be very happy with a tip of around US$ 2- US$ 3 per couple per day. If you are camping rather than staying in a lodge, your camp cook would appreciate approximately US$ 10 per person for the entire trip. If you also have a camp assistant, then a tip of US$ 5 per person for the entire trip would be suitable.