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Holidays in Kenya

Understanding Kenya

Although one of Africa's more powerful economies, Kenya is still a developing country, and so certain aspects of the country's society and infrastructure may come as a shock to some visitors from developed countries who are unfamiliar with the poverty and poor quality of life experienced by many Kenyans HIV AIDS has recently caused some major sociological upheaval, and orphans to the disease can be found all across the country

Although made up of many diverse ethnic groups and tribes, Kenyans have strong sense of national pride which may be due in part to unity in the struggle for Uhuru Kiswahili: "freedom" – independence from British colonial rule, achieved in 1963 Most Kenyans seem optimistic about the country's future Kenyans understandably pursue the business opportunities offered by tourism with a zeal that may be off putting to some visitors, but are usually open, talkative and friendly once business matters have been settled

Although foreign visitors are now a common sight in many parts of the country, there still exist vast areas off the beaten track where a white or yellow face will attract cries of "Mzungu! Mzungu!" Kiswahili: "white person" from local children Visitors to these areas should think especially carefully about the long term effects of their visit on the local community, and should for example avoid giving out sweets or money without restraint – merely playing with children, or talking to and helping villagers will yield far better results than merely giving out handouts

Hominid fossils of significant scientific interest have found in the Rift Valley area, and it is often believed that this area of Africa is where the human species originated from

Climate

Kenya has a tropical climate It is hot and humid at the coast, temperate inland and very dry in the north and northeast parts of the country The country receives a great deal of sunshine all the year round and summer clothes are worn throughout the year However, it is usually cool at night and early in the morning The long rain season occurs from April to June The short rain season occurs from October to December The rainfall is sometimes heavy and often falls in the afternoons and evenings The hottest period is from February to March and coldest in July to August

The annual animal migration - especially migration of the wildebeest - occurs between June and September with millions of animals taking part It has been a popular event for filmmakers to capture Kenya is currently facing its worst drought in decades with many crops and much livestock destroyed


Talking in Kenya

English and Swahili are the two official languages You can get by with English in the larger cities, and when dealing with those connected to the tourism industry as well as the well-educated upper class, but outside of that a few words of Swahili go a long way

Tribal languages, such as Maa spoken by the Maasai, are commonplace in more remote areas You will still usually be able to find a local who can speak Swahili — although in such areas a guide will be indispensable Sheng a slang of English, Kiswahili and local languages is spoken mostly by urban youths

What to see in Kenya

Kenya has some of the world's best game reserves where you can see some of the finest African flora and fauna The parks are famous for lions, giraffes, elephants and huge herds of zebras, wildebeests and buffalos It's wise to shop around for tour operators before picking one, to see what's currently on offer, who you vibe with, and to get a competitive price

The annual wildebeest migration from Maasai Mara to the Serengeti is an awesome sight and best experienced in a balloon safari Bookings to watch the migration are best done months in advance due to the high demand and limited lodging available in the Mara Migration is during August and September

Kenya also is a great destination for beach holidays, with several located along the coastal regions and the city of Mombasa

Kenya is also becoming a golf holiday destination, with an abundance of beautiful courses around the major urban areas Green fees range from US$15-40 per round, plus a US$5-7 caddy fee

What to do in Kenya

  • Watch a wildlife migration

Buying stuff in Kenya

Kenya is famous for many handicrafts, which are often the signature of a particular tribe or region Look for Kisii stone soap stone carvings, Maasai jewelry, Mkonde wood carvings, Lamu chairs and batiks The largest selection of handicrafts can probably be found at the Maasai Market which rotates and can be found at different locations within Nairobi For example, on Sundays, they are at Yaya Centre near hurlingham and on Saturdays they can be found at the Central business district near the law courts parking space On Fridays they are at the Village Market in Gigiri, near the UN headquarters Gigiri, just like Yaya Centre, is a plush suburb, so vendors price their goods accordingly There is also a fine selection of stores selling craft goods in Mombasa, where the atmosphere is somewhat more relaxed However, the best prices can be found by buying direct from the artisans in their villages in the countryside

Apart from the typical souvenirs such as wood carvings, it may be a good idea to buy one of the large books with photos of wildlife, nature, or culture

Do listen to and buy some local Kenyan music Reggae is also quite a frequent feature of matatu journeys

The currency is the Kenyan Shilling KES, which can be divided into 100 cents As of January 2010, 1 USD = 7595 KES, 1 EUR = 10727 KES, and 1 GBP = 12378 KES

Food and eating in Kenya

Nairobi has some of the finest eating establishments in Africa Many different cuisines and types of restaurants are available, from fast food to fancy Many five-star hotels have attached fine restaurants, which are expensive but worth it Many restaurants can be found downtown and in the areas of Westlands and Hurlingham Among the many cuisines available are Indian, Brazilian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, German and French restaurants Fast food restaurants, mostly by South African chains Steers, Nandos, are common in the larger urban areas

Drinking in Kenya

Kenyan beer is decent There is one major brewer whose flagship brand is Tusker Lager Also try the Tusker Malt Lager Another good lager beer is White Cap Lager Imported beers are available in supermarkets and better hotels, but the prices are usually high But imported Tanzanian beer like Kilimanjaro and Safari tend to be cheaper than even Tusker In local bars, do not expect to pay more than around 150 Ksh for a bottle; anything more is a tourist rip-off

Imported and local wines and spirits are widely available, and it is advisable to avoid local brews such as "changaa" and "busaa," which are illegal, unhygenically brewed and whose consumption has led to deaths on many occasions

There is an excellent selection of soft drinks especially from the Coca Cola stable, but try the Tangawizi brand of ginger ale

Accommodation in Kenya

Nairobi has a wide variety of tourist hotels, from backpackers' campsites Upper Hill Campsite off Hospital Road to five-star establishments such as the Norfolk Hotel There are a number of other guesthouses that offer private rooms both with shared bathrooms and self-contained rooms for between 1,000/- and 4,000/- per night As long as you don't mind basic accommodations, there is no need to spend more than $100US per night on a hotel or hostel In less touristy areas, lodging can be found for as cheap as $5USD per night Be wary of bed bugs, though - it may be advisable to purchase insect spray and bring along your own sheet if you plan to travel very cheaply In addition, the international Intercontinental and Hilton chains are also represented as well as a number of very highly regarded local chainsSerena and Sarova Hotels Small boarding and lodging establishments are ubiquitous in downtown urban areas for low cost, although these are rarely safe as they are located in high crime areas

Homestays are increasingly gaining popularity Part of the reason is that one is able to experience Kenyan culture in a deeper and more meaningful way Most homes charge about $20 per night inclusive of meals Some may include laundry on that price

People staying longer-term may rent accommodation; prices range from estate-agent 'international style' rentals at $150+ pw, to privately arranged furnished apartments, from $50-$100 pw, to 'local' style accommodation, usually unfurnished, in a price range from ksh5-7000 per month with windows, water, electricity, down to ksh500 per month with no windows, no electricity, loud neighbours, mosquitoes, shared access to a tap To arrange privately rented accommodation, you'll need to ask around - cab drivers, shopkeepers, market traders, could all save you the estate agents' fees

Working in Kenya

A high unemployment rate means work permits are required These can be difficult to obtain unless you have specialized skills that are lacking in the workforce You are best off being appointed abroad, as local employment opportunities are low-paying and few

There is a large number of international expatriates who work for non-profit agencies such as the UN and other affiliated agencies Their pay is very high in relation to local living standards, and as a result their employees can afford to live in luxury

There are numerous opportunities for volunteering in Kenya, whatever skills you have Websites such as Idealist carry details of many of these placements, which could be centered on education, conservation, community development, or a number of similar areas Kenya's English-speaking history and relative stability despite recent events following the disputed 2007 elections make it extremely well suited for this kind of work In most cases, volunteering can be undertaken with a standard tourist visa, although it is worth checking with your host organization before travelling as the authorities may not always take this view

If you have specialised skills, there are a number of more focused volunteering programs available These range from opportunities for medical and engineering placements for example, with MSF or VSO, to short sabbaticals for people with generic business experience, spent mentoring local businesses, with Skills Venture

Cities in Kenya

ahero  baringo  bomet  bondo  bungoma  busia  butere  chepareria  chuka  eldama ravine  eldoret  embu  garissa  gazi  gilgil  gilgil  homa bay  isiolo  kabarnet  kajiado  kakamega  kandara  kangema  kangundo  kapenguria  kapsabet  karuri  kendu bay  kericho  keroka  kerugoya  kiambu  kijabe  kikuyu  kilifi  kinango  kipini  kisii  kisumu  kitale  kitui  konza  kwale  lamu  limuru  litein  lodwar  londiani  luanda  machakos  magadi  makueni  makuyu  malaba  malakisi  malindi  mandera  maragua  maralal  mariakani  marsabit  maua  meru  migori  molo  mombasa  moyale  muhoroni  mumias  mwingi  nairobi  naivasha  nakuru  namanga  nambale  nandi hills  nandi  nanyuki  narok  naro moru  ngong  nyahururu  nyeri  ogembo  othaya  oyugis  port victoria  rongai  ruiru  rumuruti  sagana  sawasawa  shimoni  siaya  sirisia  sotik  takaungu  taveta  thika  voi  wajir  webuye  witu  wote  wundanyi  yala  

What do you think about Kenya?

How expensive is Kenya?
(1 KES = 0.01 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant318.5 KES
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)1.98 KES
McDonalds meal558 KES
Local beer (0.5 draft)196.14 KES
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 228 KES
Cappuccino194.07 KES
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)65.79 KES
Water (0.33 bottle)49.15 KES
Milk (1l)102.12 KES
Fresh bread (500g)57.44 KES
White Rice (1kg)140 KES
Eggs (12) 159.73 KES
Local Cheese (1kg) 994.56 KES
Chicken Breast (1kg) 605.08 KES
Apples (1kg) 248.66 KES
Oranges (1kg) 267.89 KES
Tomato (1kg) 107.04 KES
Potato (1kg) 90.38 KES
Lettuce (1 head) 51.56 KES
Water (1.5l)83.31 KES
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 830.25 KES
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)118.76 KES
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 197.18 KES
Cigarettes166.05 KES
One way local bus ticket50 KES
Monthly pass for bus2.82 KES
Taxi start331.2 KES
Taxi 1km220.4 KES
Taxi 1hour waiting442 KES
Gasoline (1 liter) 110.55 KES
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 700.7 KES
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 25.48 KES
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 16.83 KES
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 81.77 KES
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 62.81 KES
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