FAQs - Kenya Travel
Visiting Kenya in 2017There are currently plenty of good options for camps and lodges in Kenya. With relatively low visitor numbers because of the security fears that persist among the mass-market, you can look forward to quieter parks and camps and even more attentive service.
Safety and Security in KenyaWhile thousands of tourists visit Kenya each year without incident, ASTA members and others interested in attending the 2017 ASTA Destination Expo are advised to carefully review and consider the most recent U.S. State Department alerts and warnings concerning travel to Kenya. As ASTA is not in a position to guarantee the safety of any particular destination, evaluating this information and that available from other reliable sources is indispensable in making an educated decision that is appropriate for the traveler given his or her own risk tolerance.
While all reasonable steps are being taken to maximize the safety and security of ADE attendees at ASTA-sponsored events in Kenya, the ultimate responsibility rests with the individual. Travelers should heed all warnings to avoid high-risk areas and keep informed of new developments by following local reports prior to and during their time in Kenya. To that end, ASTA suggests that all U.S. citizens and nationals enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service which provides the enrollee with local safety and security information while abroad and assists embassy personnel in contacting the traveler in the event of an emergency.
Finally, ASTA strongly recommends that all ADE attendees purchase travel insurance to protect against prospective financial losses resulting from a medical emergency or other unforeseen event which renders it necessary or advisable to cancel or modify their travel plans unexpectedly?
Travel InsuranceTwo words: get some! A travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems is a very sensible precaution plus it gives you peace of mind. Though you are most likely covered by your company's policy, we are recommending that you get an additional protection for this specific trip. ASTA has partnered with Medjet to offer protection against an unexpected major medical emergency.
MedjetAssist is a comprehensive air-medical transport membership program which can arrange to get you back to your home-country hospital of choice if you should suffer a serious medical emergency and become hospitalized while traveling. A Medjet membership gives you more freedom of choice, flexibility, and control over where you can choose to receive your healthcare than other options, so it supplements and enhances the medical coverage provided by travel insurance and platinum card coverage, which often have limitations and restrictions of which you may not be aware. See more details.
Visas and VaccinationsPlease see our Visas and Vaccinations information page.
Kenya Weather and ClimateThere’s no simple ‘best time to visit Kenya’ as good conditions vary across the country, and one person’s ideal weather will be another’s disappointment. Having said that, most visitors will find something positive about the weather through most of the year. Whatever the ambient temperature in the shade, when the sun is out – which is a good deal of the time, and often from dawn until dusk for weeks on end – it is always fierce: you’re on the equator, and you’ll know all about it if you forget your sunscreen.
The average temperature in Nairobi in February is somewhat warm at 65°F. Afternoons can be hot with average high temperatures reaching 78.8°F. Overnight temperatures are generally quite mild with an average low of 52°F.As for your time during ASTA ADE:
February: With the long dry season well established, the grass grazed down and wildlife gathering close to water points, this is still a good time for a safari and good water clarity makes for excellent diving conditions.
If you extend your time into March you can expect:
March: Hot, increasingly humid weather – with good diving and snorkelling conditions at the start of the month – gives way to rains and lower rates.
Staying Warm on SafariOne of the biggest surprises for most first-time visitors to Kenya is the experience of a chilly game drive on safari, especially early in the morning. If you remember your school geography, you’ll know that for every 328 feet you climb from sea level, you can reckon on a drop in temperature of 30 degrees.
When you’re on safari in higher-altitude areas – the Maasai Mara, Laikipia and the Samburu reserves – you should be prepared with layers of clothing for your early morning game drive, the end of the afternoon game drive and for night drives if they are available. You need to take account of the wind chill in open vehicles, too, which can make if feel like 40°F or below, especially if you’re driving at 18 miles per hour or more. Some people take gloves, and it’s certainly not a bad idea. If you’re on safari at the somewhat lower altitudes of Meru, Tsavo East, Tsavo West or Amboseli national parks, you’ll find temperatures are a little higher – just enough to make a fleece about the only warm clothing you’ll need at the cooler times of day.
Sea ConditionsIf you plan to do any diving or snorkelling while on the coast, you’ll find sea conditions vary through the year, with the most reliable months for good water clarity falling between October and March, and especially January and February. Sea temperatures are consistently high throughout the year, ranging from 70°F in July to 80°F in March.
Power and PlugsThe voltage of 240V in Kenya differs slightly form the UK (230 V), but that is no problem. In Kenya the power sockets used are of type G.
Getting ThereInternational flights arrive at Jomo Kenyatta Airport, about 20 minutes drive from central Nairobi. It’s now possible to purchase your visa in advance online for most nationalities, but you can also buy it on arrival if necessary. Check out the links above for more information.
Cultural HighlightsKenya’s cultural heritage is particularly vibrant. There are a huge range of tribes here: from the colorful, beautifully adorned Maasai warriors in the south to the bejeweled Samburu tribesmen in the north, to name just two. Village visits can be arranged to meet the tribes and see traditional ways of life. In the Marsabit region, take a trip to the Singing Wells. Locals take their cattle there everyday and sing as they form a human chain to scoop water from the well to the trough. In Nairobi, visit the Nairobi National Museum to see the early human fossils, and check out the Maasai Market to pick up some local Kenyan handicrafts.
Kenyans are a friendly people with an excellent sense of humor. Tourism is a huge part of the country's income—as such, tourists are made to feel very welcome here.
Local languages spoken are English and Swahili. Phrases you'll hear include jambo (hello), habari? (how are you?), asante sana (thank you very much), and karibu (welcome). Learning a few Swahili words is highly recommended—even though English is widely spoken, it always delights locals to hear visitors having a go.
The local currency is the Kenyan shilling. It's usually easiest to get cash on arrival in Kenya as there are plenty of cash machines in Nairobi and a couple at Jomo Kenyatta airport. Credit cards are widely accepted in Nairobi, but if you're heading out of town, take some cash.
Kenya has a colorful and varied food scene, with influences from across the globe—including spicy dishes brought over by the Indian community, pineapples and chilis from Brazil brought by the Portuguese, and European vegetables and fruits. That’s without mentioning traditional Kenyan foods: staples such as ugali (like rice, but made from maize flour), sukuma wiki (a leafy green vegetable that’s a little tougher than spinach), and beans are the most commonly eaten foods in Kenya. Nairobi has a surprising array of excellent restaurants offering everything from Thai food, to gourmet burgers, to stone-baked pizzas.