Kenya, a land of breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and vibrant cultures, beckons travellers with its allure. From the iconic savannahs of the Maasai Mara to the stunning shores of the Indian Ocean, Kenya offers a tapestry of experiences that captivate the adventurous spirit. Embark on a journey to this East African gem and discover its wonders that leave an indelible mark on the soul.
Situated on the eastern coast of Africa, Kenya shares borders with Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, South Sudan to the northwest, Ethiopia to the north, and Somalia to the northeast. Its capital, Nairobi, serves as a bustling hub for both business and tourism, while Mombasa, along the coast, welcomes visitors to its sandy beaches and historical charm.
What type of traveller will enjoy Kenya
Kenya caters to a wide range of travellers, from nature enthusiasts seeking safari adventures to culture seekers exploring traditional tribal villages. Whether you’re a wildlife lover, an adventure junkie craving adrenaline-pumping activities, or a sun seeker yearning for idyllic beach retreats, Kenya offers something for everyone.
Kenya’s approach to sustainability
Kenya is committed to sustainable tourism practices aimed at preserving its natural wonders and supporting local communities. Many lodges and tour operators prioritize eco-friendly initiatives, such as responsible wildlife viewing, conservation efforts, and community-based tourism projects. Travellers can engage in responsible tourism by choosing operators with eco-certifications and participating in conservation activities.
How to travel to and around Kenya
Travelling to Kenya from Australia typically involves connecting flights via major international airports such as Sydney or Melbourne via Asia or the Middle East to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO). The national airline is Kenya Airways (KQ). Qantas will fly direct from Sydney to Johannesburg (JNB) with connecting flights up to Kenya. There are plans for Ethiopian Airlines to fly direct flights from Australia to Bole Addis Ababa International Airport (ADD) later in 2024 which will help with air connectivity.
Within Kenya, travellers can explore by domestic flights, private transfers, or organized tours, depending on their preferences and destinations.
Top experiences in Kenya
It is hard to limit the experiences to have in Kenya as it is so diverse. We have narrowed it down to the top 10 experiences that can’t be missed.
Maasai Mara National Reserve: Renowned for its spectacular wildlife sightings, Maasai Mara offers the quintessential African safari experience. Witness the annual Great Migration, where millions of wildebeest, zebras, and other herbivores cross the Mara River in search of greener pastures. Marvel at the Big Five – lions, elephants, buffaloes, leopards, and rhinos – as they roam freely across the savannah, creating unforgettable moments for visitors.
Amboseli National Park: Set against the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, Amboseli National Park is a photographer’s paradise. Capture iconic images of elephants roaming beneath the towering snow-capped mountain, creating stunning vistas that epitomize the beauty of the African wilderness. Embark on guided nature walks or cultural visits to Maasai villages for a deeper understanding of the park’s rich biodiversity and cultural heritage.
Mount Kenya National Park: Home to the second-highest peak in Africa, Mount Kenya National Park offers adventure seekers a chance to conquer its snow-capped summit and explore its diverse ecosystems. Trek through lush montane forests, alpine moorlands, and pristine glaciers, encountering unique flora and fauna along the way. Whether scaling the peaks or indulging in scenic hikes, Mount Kenya promises awe-inspiring landscapes and unforgettable experiences.
Tsavo National Park: As one of Kenya’s largest national parks, Tsavo captivates visitors with its vast wilderness and diverse wildlife populations. Embark on game drives through its expansive savannahs, spotting iconic species such as lions, elephants, giraffes, and cheetahs. Explore the park’s rugged terrain, punctuated by volcanic cones, lava flows, and ancient baobab trees, revealing the raw beauty of Africa’s untamed landscapes.
Lamu Island: Step back in time and immerse yourself in the tranquil charm of Lamu Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its rich Swahili culture and pristine beaches. Explore the labyrinthine streets of Lamu Town, where donkeys meander through narrow alleys lined with centuries-old stone houses and ornate wooden doors. Relax on secluded beaches, indulge in fresh seafood delicacies, and experience the timeless allure of island life.
Lake Nakuru National Park: Nestled amidst the Great Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru National Park beckons birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts with its diverse avian and mammalian species. Marvel at the sight of thousands of flamingos flocking to the shores of Lake Nakuru, creating a vibrant pink hue against the backdrop of the lake’s shimmering waters. Encounter endangered black and white rhinos, Rothschild’s giraffes, and elusive leopards on exhilarating game drives through the park’s varied landscapes.
Samburu National Reserve: Discover the rugged beauty of northern Kenya in Samburu National Reserve, a pristine wilderness teeming with unique wildlife species adapted to its arid environment. Encounter the Samburu Special Five – Grevy’s zebras, Somali ostriches, reticulated giraffes, Beisa oryxes, and gerenuks – alongside iconic predators such as lions, leopards, and cheetahs. Immerse yourself in Samburu culture with cultural visits to local communities, where traditional dances and rituals offer insight into the region’s rich heritage.
Nairobi National Park: Just a stone’s throw away from Kenya’s bustling capital, Nairobi National Park offers a tranquil oasis where wildlife roams against a backdrop of city skyscrapers. Embark on game drives through the park’s grassy plains, encountering a variety of species, including lions, giraffes, zebras, and rhinos. Visit the Nairobi Animal Orphanage and Giraffe Centre to learn about conservation efforts and get up close to rescued animals, making it a perfect day trip for families and wildlife enthusiasts alike.
Diani Beach: Escape to the pristine shores of Diani Beach, a tropical paradise nestled along Kenya’s south coast. Sink your toes into soft white sands, swim in crystal-clear turquoise waters, and soak up the sun beneath swaying palm trees. From thrilling water sports such as snorkelling and kite surfing to leisurely beachcombing and sunset cruises, Diani Beach offers endless opportunities for relaxation and adventure in a picture-perfect setting.
Great Rift Valley: Journey into the heart of Africa’s geological wonders with a visit to the Great Rift Valley, a vast rift system stretching across Kenya’s landscape. Explore scenic viewpoints overlooking dramatic escarpments, ancient volcanic craters, and freshwater lakes, including Lake Naivasha and Lake Elementaita. Embark on guided hikes, birdwatching expeditions, and boat safaris to discover the valley’s rich biodiversity and cultural heritage, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Banking and Currency
The official currency of Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KES). ATMs are readily available in major cities and tourist areas, allowing travellers to withdraw cash conveniently. Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and larger establishments, but it’s advisable to carry some cash for smaller purchases and transactions.
Tipping is customary in Kenya to show appreciation for good service. In restaurants, a tip of around 10% of the total bill is generally considered appropriate if the service is satisfactory. Safari guides, trackers, and lodge staff often rely on tips as part of their income. It is recommended to tip guides and trackers around USD 10-15 per person per day and lodge staff around USD 5-10 per person per day, depending on the level of service and personal satisfaction. However, please note that tipping is discretionary, and clients should feel free to adjust amounts based on their own experience and satisfaction.
Visa and Entry Requirements for Australian Passport Holders
Australian passport holders travelling to Kenya require a valid passport with at least six months of validity beyond the intended departure date. Australian passport holders require a visa to enter Kenya. Tourist visas can be obtained online in advance or upon arrival at Kenyan airports and border crossings. However, it is essential to check the latest visa requirements and regulations with the nearest Kenyan embassy or consulate before departure, as entry requirements can change. More information on visas can be found here.
Electricity and Power Sockets
Kenya uses Type G power sockets, with a standard voltage of 240V and a frequency of 50Hz. Travellers from Australia may need plug adapters to use their electronic devices, so it’s advisable to carry universal adapters for convenience. It is advisable to carry a universal travel adapter to ensure compatibility with various socket types.
Medical Advice and Vaccinations
Vaccinations for diseases such as yellow fever, hepatitis A and B and typhoid are required for travellers to Kenya. It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or travel clinic at least six to eight weeks before departure to receive necessary vaccinations and health advice. Malaria is present in Kenya, so anti-malarial medication is strongly recommended.
Language Spoken and Use of English
English and Swahili are the official languages of Kenya, with English widely spoken in tourist areas, hotels, and businesses. Travellers can comfortably communicate in English, although learning a few basic Swahili phrases can enhance cultural interactions and experiences.
Customs and Cultural Awareness
Travellers to Kenya should be aware of local customs and etiquette. Dress modestly, especially when visiting rural areas or religious sites. Respect local traditions and customs, such as removing shoes before entering someone’s home and asking permission before taking photographs of people.
Top Tips for travelling in Kenya
- Stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun, especially on safari outings or beach excursions.
- Pack lightweight, neutral-coloured clothing for safaris to blend in with the surroundings and avoid attracting insects.
- Practice responsible wildlife viewing by following park regulations and maintaining a safe distance from animals.
- Embrace the laid-back pace of life in Kenya and allow flexibility in your itinerary to savour unexpected encounters and experiences.
- Engage with local communities and support sustainable tourism initiatives to contribute positively to Kenya’s conservation efforts and economic development.
- Embark on an unforgettable journey to Kenya and immerse yourself in its rich tapestry of nature, culture, and adventure. From the sweeping savannahs to the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, Kenya invites travellers to discover the magic of Africa in all its splendour.