Situated on the eastern coast of Africa, set astride the Equator and bisected from North to South by the Great Rift Valley, Kenya covers a total area of 580,530 square kilometres, including 13,395 sq. km of inland water. Its Indian Ocean coastline stretches for 480 km.. Nairobi, the capital of the country, is a colourful striking city 500 km inl...
Situated on the eastern coast of Africa, set astride the Equator and bisected from North to South by the Great Rift Valley, Kenya covers a total area of 580,530 square kilometres, including 13,395 sq. km of inland water. Its Indian Ocean coastline stretches for 480 km.. Nairobi, the capital of the country, is a colourful striking city 500 km inland from Mombasa, the major port on the Indian Ocean. Official languages are Swahili and English.
With an estimated population of more than 30 million people, this country gained full independence on 12th December 1963 and was admitted to the United Nations four days later. In 1964, the country became a sovereign republic within the Commonwealth, with Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as its first president. He remained in office until his death in 1978 when President Daniel Arap Moi was elected leader of the Nation.
For the traveller Kenya is an enchanting country because few places in the world can better its varied touristic attractions. The overwhelming appeal of the wildlife sanctuaries, glorious beaches, breathtaking scenery in a vast and unspoilt land, an almost perfect climate, sophisticated accommodation and a hospitable happy people.
Kenya contains almost every known land form from true glacial ice to arid desert, mountain massifs to rich savannahs, large lakes and dense forest: Mount Kenya (5,199 m.) with its breathless snow capped peaks stands sentinel above rolling grassland plains and the fascinating semideserts are much further to the North; Lake Victoria, the first lake to be discovered and largest in Africa; Lake Turkana now known as the "Cradle of Mankind"; the Indian Ocean coast, a place of white sandy beaches, turquoise seas and archaeological antiquities...
Above all are the wildlife sanctuaries: the 25 National Parks, devoted to the absolute protection of the indigenous flora and fauna; the 29 National Reserves, where wildlife coexist from time immemorial in perfect harmony with the pastoral nomadic tribes ... These wild and lovely places vary in the abundance and variety of their animals, in scenery, in climate and altitude; from the famous savannah of Masai Mara to the ornithological paradise of Lake Nakuru.
Variations in altitude and terrain create contrasts in the climate: from the hot and humid coast to the fresh, sometimes frosty mornings of the central highlands and the dry burning heat of the northern desert; however, overall, it is seldom harsh, neither too hot nor too cold with long sun filled days.
In almost every part of Kenya there are hotels which hold their own with any in the world. Many, like the famous Treetops, the Norfolk in Nairobi and Mount Kenya Safari Club are internationally know. Some are architectural masterpieces, some are tented camps, true luxury in the bush. All have one common aim, to offer the best in comfort, quality and service in true safari style.
Just south of the Equator at an altitude of 1,675 m Nairobi enjoys an almost perfect, healthy climate: warm sunny cloudless days with the temperature seldom rising above 25 C and cooler nights.
This city, born in the spirit of adventure in the days of the early pioneers, less than 100 years ago, was then an insignificant jumble of tents and ox wagons beside the Uganda Railhead, which halted here 500 km inland from the coast to gather steam for the way ahead. The good climate and the abundance of water made it grow quickly, becoming one of the most important and vibrant cities of Africa, truly a Babel Tower of races and cultures with a population of almost 3 million colourful people from many nations.
A city of great contrast, strikingly modern with tall imposing buildings, yet reminders of the early days are there. Look for the Law Courts and Parliament Buildings; Railway Station and Museum, with its steam locomotives so emotive of a more romantic age; Jamia Mosque; the City Market with its arrays of tropical fruits and flowers; the famous Norfolk Hotel, linked with Kenya´s history since 1904; Kenyatta Conference Centre built in 1983; the National Museum, founded in 1910, with its unique collections so relevant to Kenya´s early history and the prehistory of mankind; the Karen Blixen Museum, outside the city, a memorial to a woman admired both for her writing and her spirit; the Bomas of Kenya, the nation´s cultural centre where it is possible to watch a vivid display of tribal dancing in a rural lovely setting ...
Throughout the country and specially in Nairobi shopping is an absorbing pastime. Look around first, there is so much on offer: wood carvings and traditional handcrafts; sensuous soapstone from Kisii; colorful sisal mats; "kiondos", the famous Kenya bags; "kangas" and "kikois", traditionally worn by women and these days used as tablecloths or beach wraps; batiks, as the silk ones printed by Heidi Lange or Robin Anderson ... Also two gem stones originate in this part of Africa: the blue Tanzanite and the vivid green Tsavorite.
Visitors to Nairobi will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the hotels in and around the city. All are well appointed with spacious rooms, most have swimming pools and the service is friendly and attentive. Most of the leading hotels offer gourmet, a la carte dining in sophisticated grill rooms. For visitors who wish to dine out the choice is appealing: the Tamarind, with superb seafood from the Indian Ocean; the Ibis Grill, in the Norfolk Hotel, an exceptional meal for a special occasion; the Carnivore, famous for its exotic game meats ...
Situated in the heart of the Great Rift Valley, with an area of 1,812 sq. km, limited to the East by the Talek river and Loita plains, Masai Mara, Kenya´s leading Game Reserve, lies on the border between Kenya and Tanzania and is the northern extension to the renowned Serengeti plain.
A reserve of breathless vistas, a panorama of vast rolling plains, hills and woodland groves, well watered by the Mara River, concentrating in its proximities permanent populations of wildlife: this is lion, leopard, cheetah and elephant country, with buffalo lurking in the forest and a superb abundance of plains game: zebras, Thompson and Grant gazelles, topis ... But all this richness is secondary to the Mara main attraction: the annual migration, which takes place between July and September. Over a million wildebeest, more than two hundred thousand zebra with their attendant predators cross the Mara River and spread across the plains in a seemingly endless procession.
With a total area of 368 sq. km, home for more than 450 different kinds of birds, Lake Nakuru is one of the finest ornithological sights in the world, famous haunt of thousand of flamingoes which feed on the algae in the 40 cm deep lake. This beautiful shallow alkaline lake, just south of Nakuru town, is surrounded by acacia woodland and rich savannah.
Superb example of conservation at work in the wild, it is now, with the assistance of the World Wildlife Foundation, providing sanctuary for Rothschild Giraffe, Black and White Rhino and Leopard who live in perfect harmony in this aquatic landscape. The edge of the lake is frequently a crimson ribbon of Greater and Lesser Flamingoes, while pelicans and other water birds swim and fish in majestic flotilla formation.
Few lakes have a more commanding or lovely setting than Lake Naivasha, the highest and purest of the Rift Valley lakes.
Ornithological paradise and home for hippopotamus it is surrounded by Mount Longonot, a extinct volcano of 2,777 m of altitude which shades the lake in misty blues and purples. At Hell´s Gate gorge with its steam jets, and Fischer´s Tower a pinnacle of soaring rock, game abounds and the rarest of Kenya´s birds of prey, the Lammergeyer nest.
SAMBURU, BUFFALO SPRINGS AND SHABA NATIONAL RESERVES
Rugged and remote, with the same faunal structure, these wildlife reserves, with a total area of 428 sq. km, lie just within the fascinating semi-desert Northern Frontier District of Kenya.
The tranquil Uaso Nyiro River, flowing through Shaba and Samburu, attract a wide number of rare wildlife and provides a natural habitat for crocodile. Long necked gerenuk, Grevy´s zebra and reticulated giraffe are species not found in the less arid areas to the south. Elephant seek solace and contentment in the shallow waters of this wide sauntering river, fringed with acacia, down palms and tamarind, which together with Buffalo Springs, support a large variety of african mammals, cheetah and leopard being particularly well represented. Doves and guinea fowl abound and the giant Martial Eagle perched on some high vantage point.
The past volcanic intensity of the area is demonstrated by the formidable lava flow at the southern end of Shaba (its name comes from a cone of volcanic rock).
With a magnificent background of jagged, purple mountains, a safari in these small gems in the wildlife wilderness, will provide some of the best and most colorful gameviewing in the country.
Mount Kenya, with its snow-capped peaks 5,199 m. high, is Kenya´s highest mountain and certainly one of the most beautiful mountains anywhere. Its slopes are covered with rich deciduous and bamboo forests and open high altitude moorland just below the glaciers and snowfields. Wildlife resident within the forest includes elephant, buffalo and even lion, with several species of antelope and other smaller animals.
Within a beautiful mountain range in the central highlands of Kenya is the Aberdares National Park, a fairy tale place of dense forest, misty moorlands and alpine plants where icy rivers plunge in glorious cascades and waterfalls.
The 766 sq. km of the area are rich in wildlife. The Salient stretching out towards the nearby town of Nyeri, was once an elephant migration route, not used today. These great animals remain within the park together with buffalo, a wide variety of antelope, giant forest hog, the elusive bongo, rhino, lions and hyenas. Tacazze and Malachite Sunbird, Mountain Buzzard and African Goshawk are found in this area where the birdlife is abundant and varied.
This seasonal swamp of 3,810 sq. km, is one of the finest areas in the country for big game photography, attracting a vast population of wildlife. The landscape, with its parched alkaline pan and strange mirages, is everywhere dominated by the glistening majestic snowcap of Mount Kilimanjaro, a extinct volcano of 5,894 m. known as the "roof of Africa".
This is Masai country, a proud nomadic people, who have lived in harmony with nature for centuries. Game viewing is an adventure in this park, with lion, cheetah and buffalo almost an assured sight and hosts of antelope, zebra and other small creatures of the wild. Bird life is abundant. But the most impressive inhabitants of this arid landscape are the elephants, moving in large columns in their daily peregrination to the water.
TSAVO NATIONAL PARK
Forming one of the world´s largest game parks is the combined area of Tsavo East and West National Parks, together with the adjoining private sanctuary of Taita. A model national park in layout, geophysical, animal and plant diversity, situated midway between Nairobi and Mombasa.
This starkly beautiful park suffered considerable deprivation both in physical damage and animal loss in the 1970´s, but this is now well past, and today the park is thriving once more. The many natural wonders in this harsh countryside include the fascinating Mzima Springs a marvelous eruption of underground crystal waters arising in the Chyulu Hills from Mount Kilimanjaro, reaching the surface to form clear pools, a heaven for a rich wildlife pageant.
The wildlife in this park includes herds of elephant and prides of lion. Less common species include fringed-eared oryx, klipspringer, striped hyena and caracal.
South of the park is a private sanctuary with lovely lakes and waterholes, which ensures an exciting variety of animals at all times of the year. Weaver birds and their fascinating nests are found throughout the park, as are Fisher´s starling, hornbills and parrots.
THE KENYA COAST
480 km of vast uninterrupted white sand beaches, fringed with palms, casuarinas, oleanders and brilliant bougainvillaea, washed by the incredible sparkling blue waters of an opal Indian Ocean, refreshed by gentle monsoon breezes, makes the Kenya coast one of the most idyllic resort areas anywhere in the world.
The tropical coastline of East Africa has been recognized by historians for a thousand years, from Ptolemy to the Turks, from the Arabs to the Portuguese who took Mombasa in the 16th Century. They stayed for over a century, building Fort Jesus, eventually being starved by the Arabs.
In the North and South coast stand some of Kenya´s finest hotels, nestling in cleared beach front areas, offering a very wide variety of watersports and activities.
The Kisite Marine Park, almost at the Tanzania border, an intriguing underwater world, can be reached from Shimoni or Wasini Island in a lovely dhow trip. In the North, Nyali, Bamburi, Shanzu and Kikambala are a paradise of sand and bright blue sea, with its calm unruffled water.
The second most important city of the country is the largest and most popular island on the Kenya coast.
This old but vibrant gateway to Kenya is a mystical mixture of ancient and modern, with a cosmopolitan population blending Africa, Arabia and Asia. But not everyone realizes that this picturesque port is an island with two deep water harbors. Evocative of the east, graceful sailing dhows unchanged throughout the centuries, arrive on the monsoon winds, while ocean liners berth just around the headland. Fringing the dhow harbor is the Old Town, dominated by the ancient Portuguese Fort Jesus, a maze of narrows streets overshadowed by high ornamental balconies of quaint shuttered houses and vibrant open bazaars.
Historically, Malindi dates back to the 9th Century with Arab occupation from the 13th Century onwards.
A rich trading centre with the near East with Arabic influence for more than 500 years, Malindi is now a popular beach resort.
18kms south of the ancient town, surrounded by the Sokokwe Forest, is situated the lost City of Gedi whose inhabitants inexplicably vanished over 300 years ago.
Two marine national parks with wonderful underwater coral gardens and thousands of tropical fish, secluded curved bays with incredible beaches that defy description.
As one of the earliest Arab settlements along the coast, Lamu has preserved his architecture and a tempo reminiscent of the 18th Century. This swahili town, last remaining bastion of the Shirazi, the oldest of the cultures on this coast, is a delightful anachronism carrying on its daily life as it has for centuries.
There are beautiful beaches, a wonderful underwater world along the reefs in the Kiunga Marine National Park and two remote hideaways on Kiwayu and Manda for those who dream of deserted tropical islands in the sun.
Due to proximity of the coastal towns to Somali, there has been several cases of terrorist activities reported over time.
East Africa offers some of the finest natural attractions in the world, which combined with a network of the outstanding hotels and game lodges give visitors’ great value for money. In terms of the sights, sounds and smells of ageless Africa, East Africa can only be described in the superlative.
A simple safari in East Africa is inspiring and on it’s own merits, a grand affair. It needs no additions to justify the experience and qualify it as memorable. Having said that, the quality of experience could be improved tremendously or embellished a million times over to make it an indeed unique experience. There are unlimited, inexpensive and value added inclusions, virtually in every area that could achieve this effect. This is more so, for that special incentive trip, convention or congress.
These extras could start off as superior accommodations within the same unit (suites, villas, seas-facing, etc…) to sundowners and bush dinners or private gala dinner with a live band in performance. For instance, on international arrival, a band of traditional dancers, either at the Airport or on check-in at the Hotel might be an excellent jolt into the reality of Africa, where dancing and taking a moment to enjoy/join-in is not only the essence but a custom. In Nairobi, innumerable options could leave one entirely dazed - an out of Africa dinner at the Karen Blixen Museum has been severally acclaimed as a highlight to many a farewell diners. As rule of rule thumb, it is unusual when at least a lunch or dinner is not included at the famous game meat restaurant, The Carnivore.
On Safari, the options are unlimited – half a day’s treasure hunt if properly organised can create a great sense of purpose and team building for participants. An equator Ceremony at Mount Kenya is mind boggling and a must for the curious and those in quest of ‘an additional theory’ to take home. A sundowner, in the vast Africa open plains, maybe overlooking the great Mara/Serengeti Plains, might be a helpful insight to the sense of time and space, african style. A bush meal, especially dinner, is travel back in time, and nothing could get one as close to nature, the sounds of african jungle, the roar of a lion close by, the hyenas howling in the periphery….. Then the per excellence experience in the bush, limited to the Mara or Serengeti is an early morning hot-air balloon ride over the plains, forests and rivers of this expansive game area. Lions, Elephants, Buffaloes, Hippos, Crocodiles and prolific numbers of plains game are regularly seen, as are countless species of birds both in flight and atop their lofty perches in the trees. The flight lasts about an hour, with ample opportunities for photography and video filming from this unusual and often exciting perspective. After landing there is a traditional champagne toast, followed by a breakfast cooked on balloon burners in the middle of the rolling plains. Each passenger is presented with a certificate signed by the pilot to commemorate the flight.
On the East African Coast, the options are breathtaking and as plentiful, some of these towns have rich histories, going back to the 07th century. Compound this with the selection of sea food restaurants, dhow safaris/restaurants and the rich marine life/reserves! Plentiful to do and so little time!
We could not exhaust the possibilities here, contact us for comprehensive list of activities…everything is truly possible and the results could be enriching to no end.
SPECIAL INTEREST SAFARIS
Kenya and Tanzania offers unlimited opportunities to enrich a visit to the country with visits to establishments of special interest and meetings with professionals in a particular field. There is a whole range of subjects which may be encompassed in a purpose built itinerary.
Kenya and Tanzania have a predominantly agriculture economy, with agriculture, horticulture, livestock, forestry and fishing accounting for a sizeable percentage of the Gross Domestic Product. Most important cash crops are coffee and tea grown in the cool fertile uplands.
Archaeologically, East Africa is of world-wide interest being the discovery site for some extremely important excavations and findings.
The coastline of Kenya and Tanzania bears the remains of the many foreign peoples who have passed through its shores in the last 1000 years of history - Chinese, Persians, Arabs, Portuguese...; traders and invaders who have left a fascinating collection of coastal antiquities.
For lovers of geology and gemology, a safari combined with opportunities of meeting local enthusiasts and visits to areas of mineralogical interest can be an exciting experience. The volcanic eruptions that have taken place have created fascinating structures of earth variations.
Tropical fruits such as pineapples, paw paws, bananas, mangoes, cashews and macademias are all grown in Kenya and Tanzania for home consumption and export. In the farming centre of Nakuru, it is possible to visit a pyrethrum factory (Kenya produces almost 80% of the total world production). In addition, this area is ideally suited to ranching with fine herds of beef cattle as is Naivasha and Nanyuki, with Boran, Sahiwal, Charolais and Hereford breeds.
There are four championship golf courses in and around Nairobi and nearly 30 courses throughout Kenya and Tanzania, all in beautiful settings. The Kenya Open (handicap 3 or under) attracts world golfing stars during the months of February and March and the Kenya Amateur Championships (handicap seven of less) in November.
For deep sea fishing fans, between the months of October and March there are opportunities of landing record marlin, mako shark and sailfish as well as a plethora of game fish including kingfish, bonito, felusi and black runner along the coastline. During this period regular competitions are held in which overseas visitors are encouraged to participate.
If there is a perfect climate in the world, surely it is in East Africa with cool mornings and warm middays. Although it can be hot and sticky by the sea, inland the air is dry and even at midday the temperatures are equitable. Due to the proximity to the equator, sunrise occurs daily between 06.00hrs and 06.30hrs while sunset takes place 12 hours later. It can get quite chilly in the early morning and evening hence visitors should pack a sweater. Each time of year has its special attractions. There are two main rainy seasons - usually mid-April to the end of May and November to mid-December. Even during the rains, the weather can be pleasant with rain occurring in the early morning and late in the afternoon or evening.
Visitors must be in possession of valid visa on arrival. The regulations vary dependent on nationality and country of origin and should be checked with the nearest tourist office or diplomatic mission.
HEALTH REGULATIONS AND MEDICAL ADVICE
Inoculation centres in the country of origin will provide updated information and advice on health regulations and recommendations.
As Kenya & Tanzania enjoy a healthy, invigorating climate, visitors need feel no concern for their general health during their stay. However, malaria is endemic in certain areas and anti-malaria medication should be taken according to prescription recommendations. Visitor requiring special medication should pack sufficient supplies in their hand luggage. Chemist shops are well stocked, but the same generic medication may not be readily available. Tap water is considered safe in Nairobi. On safari, rooms are provided with flasks of filtered and purified water. Mineral water is readily available.
CUSTOMS AND EXIT REGULATIONS
Personal effects, film and cameras may be imported temporarily free of duty. However professional video equipment, tape recorders, radios, musical instruments and souvenirs from other countries may require a customs bond to ensure re-exportation. Firearms need a special permit which must be obtained in advance.
Baggage is normally inspected by customs officials on arrival and departure.
Please strictly adhere to baggage limitations as advised by the airline as excess baggage charges can be quite expensive.
AIRPORT DEPARTURE TAX
A local airport service charge is payable on departure for domestic flights.
There is no restriction to the amount of foreign currency a visitor may import provided that it is exchanged through authorized dealers only. It is essential to retain a receipt for each transaction in order to re-exchange the local currency on departure. Foreign currency as the U.S. dollar or British pound (in cash or travellers cheque) are the most widely accepted. Well known credit cards are also widely accepted in Kenya & Tanzania It is a legal offence to deface local currency.
Banking hours are from 09.00hrs to 14.00hrs Monday to Friday. Most Hotels and Lodges change money outside these hours.
Normal precautions as in any other destination worldwide should be taken. Keep a close watch on handbags, wallets and cameras when walking in crowded places and avoid walking at night (take a taxi). Place all valuables in safety deposit boxes at hotels and lodges and only carry small amounts of cash. Wear as little jewellery as possible, if any, and never leave valuables on show in an unattended car or tour bus. Taking photographs at airports, near military installations, of policemen, the President, the national flag, the State House, state lodges, soldiers, prisons and prisoners etc., is prohibited. Before photographing local people, permission should be obtained and a fixed price agreed. Seek the assistance of your driver/guide in this matter.
Driving is on the left for all countries.
Safari clothing should be casual and comfortable. Cotton slacks and shirts, with skirts and culottes for ladies and a light sweater or jacket, during the day. Evening wear in game lodges and safari camps can be very casual. In the more sophisticated clubs and hotels gentlemen will be required to wear a jacket, while ladies should dress rather more formally. At high altitudes, where early mornings and evenings can be very chilly, warm sweaters, socks and comfortable shoes are recommended. Pack suntan lotion, swimwear (to be reserved for the beach and pool only) and a small first aid kit. Local customs and modesty should be respected.
Most hotels, game lodges and safari camps offer a 24-hour inexpensive laundry service.
Voltage in East Africa is 240volts/50 cycles AC, British standard generally through three-pin square plugs. Some lodges and camps have power only in the early mornings and evenings and, in some, video charging facilities are centralized.
We strongly recommend that luggage is limited to one piece per person. A small overnight bag is essential. All city hotels provide secure storage for left luggage. On all itineraries where journeys by light aircraft are involved the baggage allowance is 15kgs per person. At Treetops and The Ark only one small overnight bag per person is permitted, secure storage is provided at the Outspan Hotel and Aberdare Country Club.
There is no shortage of the more usual film throughout Kenya, however it is expensive and visitors are advised to bring plentiful supplies, especially where specialist film is concerned. As a general guide, double the amount of film normally needed in other areas. In Tanzania films may not be available. For wildlife photography a 35mm single reflex camera, with telephoto lens of 200mm to 300mm is recommended. Larger lenses which require a tripod, or double reflex cameras are generally impractical. An ultra violet filter, waterproof dust cover and spare batteries are essential. A pair of good quality binoculars for each person will be a great asset.
The standard check-out time is 10.00hrs hence rooms may not normally be ready for occupancy until 12.00hrs. Should an early arrival be anticipated, please reserve rooms from the preceding night. Day rooms up to 18.00hrs are usually available.
MOUNT KENYA AND KILIMANJARO
No special mountaineering skills are necessary for climbing either mountain but due to the high altitudes attained, the climbs should not be undertaken unless climbers are fit and well-exercised. Climbers should have a physical check-up and start a fitness training programme at least a month before the safari. In Kenya and Tanzania a limited amount of equipment is available from the base hotels. Recommended kit lists can be provided on request.
QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE
Bank Hours 9.00-14.00hrs 8.30-15.00hrs
Mon to Fri Mon to Fri
Currency Kenya Shillings (Ksh) Tanzania Shillings (Tsh)
Major Credit Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa Visa
Travellers Cheque Most denominations U.S. dollars and sterling pound
Tipping 10% at restaurants 10% at restaurants
Time Difference GMT + 3hrs GMT + 3hrs
Shopping 9.00-17.30hrs 8.30-17.00hrs
Mon to Sat Mon to Sat