One of the most exciting places to tour in Africa is Kenya. The country is home to exceptional wildlife and parks. If you are planning to take a tour through Kenya, then you’ve come to the right place.
Just by understanding their national motto (HARAMBEE meaning ‘let us all pull together), you will appreciate the hospitability within the country. The citizens are quite friendly and welcoming to visitors.
The local, national language is Swahili. Well, you don’t have to worry about understanding their native tongue. That is because English is the primary medium of communication despite having Swahili as the National Language. Majority of the Kenyan students and tour guides have a pretty good command of English.
Though having a word or two phrases in Swahili can come in handy. ‘Jambo’ pronounced as ‘ja-m-bo’ is a polite way of saying hello. That will get you through any trouble in case you can’t find your way. Other terms include;
· ASANTE (a-s-ant-i) is a polite way of saying thank you.
· POLEPOLE (po-l-e po-l-e) is a term you will get to hear a lot. It translates to ‘slowly slowly’ which means doing things at a moderate pace. Everything is ‘polepole’.
All in all, here are a few facts that will help you get the best out of your Safari to Kenya.
What is the best time to purchase tickets and visit Kenya?
In Kenya, the equator happens to cut across the country. That means the county experiences a tropical climatic condition. Here is a summary of the climatic conditions in Kenya;
· January to March; Hot months
· April to June; Long Rains
· June to August; Cold Months
· November to December; Short Rains
The Short Rains means that it doesn’t or rarely rains the whole day. For that reason, the short rains period is the best time to visit Kenya. Along the coastline, there is a hot and humid climate throughout the year. On the other hand, the northern part of Kenya is mainly dry.
There are desert-like conditions along Lake Magadi. All in all, most places in Kenya have temperatures between 22 to 33 degrees Celsius. During cold months, temperatures in the Mount Kenya region can drop up to 10 degrees Celsius.
Do I need any vaccination before visiting Kenya?
Yes, you will need to get vaccinated before heading to Kenya. Some of the vaccinations you need include; Typhoid, Hepatitis A and B, Cholera, Yellow Fever, Rabies, Meningitis and Influenza.
The Top tourist attractions in Kenya
1. National Museum in Nairobi
If you want to understand Kenya’s people and culture, then head on to the National Museum. The museum was started back in 1920 while the location was identified in 1929. This place solely focusses in interpreting the rich heritage of Kenya. More to that, the museum offers a place where visitors can stop and sample the country’s heritage both for educational purposes or leisure.
The national museum is open throughout the year and is found just within the CBD of Nairobi City (Capital City of Kenya). That being said, Kenya is the best place to take your entire family.
2. Nairobi National Park
Nairobi National Park is a unique ecosystem since it is the only protected area that is very close to the Capital city. That means you will get to enjoy the beauty of nature just a few kilometres from the Nairobi (about 7 kilometres).
More to that, the Park is home to Black rhino, leopard, lion, giraffe, buffaloes, hyena, cheetah, wildebeests, and over 400 different species of birds. The park is a fantastic place to spend your holiday.
Additionally, Nairobi National park also features Ivory burning site monument, an orphanage, Nairobi Safari (Safari means to travel) walk and walking trails at the hippo pool. With all that adventure, I’m sure you will have a fantastic experience at this place.
3. Karura Forest
The karura forest is found in the capital city, Nairobi. The woods are under the protection of Kenya Forest Service. If you are looking for a cool place to relax then head on to the Forest as you go site seeing.
Secret Gem Locations
If you are looking for a place where you can get some of the local crafts and souvenirs, then take a tour of the Maasai market. Kenya is known for the Maasai culture. This group of people have managed to stick to their lifestyle to date. You can easily find them wearing their traditional clothes and practising their culture.
The Maasai market offers tourists and locals souvenirs from the Maasai culture as well as other well-designed crafts from the local customs. The market is open every Saturday. From necklaces, wooden cravings to great fabrics and sisal bags, you will not lack something to take home.
Top places you can visit with your entire family in Kenya
1. Mamba Village
Mamba village is the best place to take your kids. The site is a sanctuary for crocodiles and is located about 12 kilometres south of Nairobi city. More to that, the farmhouses ostrich. The best time to take a tour of the place is when the crocodiles are feeding. You will get the chance to see this enormous beast grasp and tear meat thrown to them.
Don’t worry; the experience is completely safe. There is a massive fence between the tourists and the crocodiles and from time memorial, there have been no cases of attacks on the tourists by the animals. More to that, there is a space just before the fence hence there’s more distance between the tourists and the crocodiles.
2. Lake Nakuru National Park
Lake Nakuru is famous for having a flock of flamingoes. The park was first established in1961, and since then it has been home to diverse wildlife which includes; Lions, warthogs, pythons as well as white rhinos.
Malindi is a coastal town popular with European Visitors. Thanks to its rich trading history, the area is rich in culture and cuisines. A glimpse of the Watamu Beach or a dive into the coral reefs and you will instantly fall in love with the place. However, be cautious if your kids don’t know how to swim.
More to that, the town is also rich in Swahili history. Get the chance to visit Vasco Da Gama pillar which is one of the oldest in Africa.
4. The Great Rift Valley
By far, this is my most favourite place to tour. The sudden drop of land will blow off your mind. If you are a first-timer, the view will warm its way into your heart. I guarantee you, this place will make your trip to Kenya worthwhile.
More to that, the government was able to construct fantastic curio shops on the slopes of the Rift Valley. The curio shops offer souvenirs that have been locally made by the Maasai and other Kenyan tribes. The escarpment is found just as you leave Nairobi heading to either Nakuru or Maasi Mara. Make sure to stop at the escarpments and take in that great view as you shop for souvenirs to take home.
The escarpment view is entirely safe since there is a small wall that guards you against falling off.
5. Hell’s Gate National Park
Don’t let the name fool you. This is one magical area. If you are looking for a place to set up camp, I recommend you check out this Park. Located near Lake Naivasha, the park has a variety of different fun activities both you and your family can enjoy. From bicycle riding to hiking expeditions, you won’t lack something to bond with your family.
Places to unpack
· The Boma Nairobi; the hotel is a perfect pre or post safari base with a spa and health club to add to the flavour. More to that the hotel is very close to the capital city.
Deluxe room with three guests extra at 28,773 (288USD) Kenya shillings per night
· Hemingways Nairobi; with this hotel, you will have the perfect view of Ngong Hills. The hotel features personal butler service, colonial elegance and a pampering spa.
Deluxe room goes for 42,908 kenya shillings (430USD) per night
· Fairmont The Norfolk; is one of the luxury hotels that will instantly warm its way into your heart. The hotel is a walking distance from the National Museum of Kenya and is surrounded by many restaurants as well as shops. More to that, it is only 10 minutes away from Wilson Airport and about 16 minutes from the international airport.
Deluxe twin rooms go for 24, 729 Kenya shillings (247USD) per night
· Kenya Comfort Hotel; 7,042 Kenya shillings (74USD) per night
· Progressive Park hotel; 7,800 Kenya shillings (78 USD) per night
· Hotel central park; 4,947 Kenya shillings (49) per night
Foods to try out in Kenya
If you’ve never heard of ‘Nyama Choma’, then here is your chance to try it. Kenya’s most treasured food is Nyama Choma and Ugali which is mainly roasted meat and African cornmeal. This delicacy is mouth watering so make sure to get a taste of it.
Convenient transport systems in Kenya
Uber; this is the most convenient means just in case you get lost within the Capital city. However, it is restricted to major cities in Kenya, that is, Mombasa, Nairobi and Kisumu.
Matatu Experience; The most frequently used means of transport in Kenya is the matatu. The matatu system is usually crowded. However, the system is only restricted to certain stages. The matatu system carries 11 to 14 passenger per trip. From one pick up station to the next. The price for 20 kilometres is 10 USD for instance.
The difference between the price is that, if you use the local matatu routes, you have to know the exact pick-up stage. Sometimes if you want to go to a given park, you may have to take more than one matatu. On the other hand, if you take the bus tours through a safari agency, it will take you to your exact destination and back.
Tour guides; these are companies that reserve your hotels, transport and the entire trip. Take a look at some of the Kenyan tour guides.
1. Reserve a space in of the local travel agencies in Kenya. That way, you won’t get lost, and at the same time, you will manage to make the most out of your trip.
2. Check in at a hotel that’s closer to the airport. That is because there is a lot of traffic congestion.
3. If you have the extra money, you can use local helicopter systems in Kenya. The helicopter system in Kenya is a new and improved means of transport in the country. From private launch pad in Karen to take-offs into the contrasting and beautiful city of Nairobi. You can also experience some of the Game parks in the Great rift valley, for example, Maasai Mara game reserve. The flight charge is 280 USD for 60 minutes per person. Get a booking from one of the Kenya safari travel agencies for this treat, and I’m sure you will love it.
What not to do while in Kenya
1. Don’t buy items from endangered species
This is one of the biggest crimes in the country. Try not to buy anything made from ivory since you might get arrested.
2. Don’t purchase items with foreign money
When changing your currency, do it in reputable places like the malls or your hotel. Using your foreign currency will only make you a target for theft.
3. Don’t ask anyone their tribe
In Kenya, tribalism is a big issue, therefore, asking around about someone’s tribe might land you in trouble. Let the locals tell you their tribe. All in all, the Maasai are pretty easy to note by their outfits while some may not wear their traditional garments. All the same, don’t ask their tribe.
4. Don’t take pictures without the consent of the local
If you are planning to take a documentary about the local tribes, kindly ask first. If you don’t, they might consider it as rude.
5. Don’t buy local foodstuffs from local vendors
Only stick to the diet in your hotels. Just in case you see something appetising, ask your tour guide first.
A way to get along with the Locals
If you want to get along with the local people easily, learn a bit of Swahili. A polite way of asking if they understand English (Tafadhali, unaelewa Kizungu?) for instance, will help you make a better connection with them.
Additionally, if you start talking to any local in English, you sound like you are rapping and you’ll hear most locals say ‘ unaongea na mapuma’ meaning ‘you are speaking through your nose’. That is because US English is too fast for any local to grasp even if they understand English. Try toning your normal speed a little but not too much.
I hope with the above details; you now have the chance to pack your bags comfortably and travel to Kenya.
Please note that, if in case you decide to visit any of the parks, make sure you don’t walk out of your car without the permission of your tour guide. Unless you want to be lunch for the game animals. Also, try not to wander off in the city. It is quite big and getting lost can be easy.
With that in mind, take your bags and let’s meet at the Heart of East Africa. One of the most favourite proverbs in Kenya is ‘Hakuna Matata’ which means ‘No worries’. The phrase is used whenever you are too stressed about life, and you need to relax.
Fun Fact; Did you know that Barack Obama (Former President of the USA) and Lupita Nyong’o (an Actor in the Black Panther Movie) are both Kenyan? Well, now you know.
Ever heard of L-Jay Maasai? He is a well-known Maasai singer. More to that, he sings gospel music in his local Maasai Language while wearing his cultural maasai garmets. If you are into learning a few maasai dances, then his music will be the best one for you.
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