Destination Information Kenya

Your stay abroad in Kenya

Country information

Kenya

The countless national parks in Kenya are home to an outstanding and frequently untouched natural landscape, and are perfect for an adventure. In addition to wild animals, unfamiliar plant life and delicious food, you will also find a completely new and entrancing culture.



Geography

Geography of Kenya

Kenya straddles the equator in eastern Africa and covers 582,646 km². Kenya borders Ethiopia and Sudan to the north, Somalia to the east, and Tanzania to the south. Kenya’s coastline meets the Indian Ocean to the south-east, while Uganda is the country’s neighbour to the west. The capital of Kenya is Nairobi.

A lightly undulating plateau runs through the north and east of Kenya, with isolated mountains. Central Kenya is dominated by the Kenyan Highlands, which ranges between 300 and 1500 m above sea level. The Rift Valley runs north to south across the central highlands. This valley runs from Lake Turkana in the north to Tanzania in the south, with other lakes, like Lake Boringo, Lake Bogaria and Lake Nukuru, in-between. There are volcanic mountain ranges on both sides of the Rift Valley. The glacial peak of Mount Kenya is located in the south-west. At 5,199 m, Mount Kenya is the highest peak in the country and the second highest peak on the African continent behind Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

The central highlands continued to the west of the valley until the land falls away into Lake Victoria. The north and north-west of the country are covered by a flat plateau. Kenya’s eastern coast is shaped by reefs, islands and inlets, and has long stretches of white sandy beaches.

Geomorphology/Geology

Kenya's geomorphology is mainly influenced by the East African Rift. The diverging processes in the continental rift zone formed a trench that is still broadening about 6 to 7 mm per year and thereby dividing the African Plate into the Somali and the Nubian Plate. In Kenya the width of the East African Rift Valley varies between 70 and 300 km and many active and less active volcanoes were formed in this region. One of those volcanoes is Mount Kenya which is the highest mountain in Kenya, whereas the coast is the lowest point with 0 meters above sea level. The longest rivers of the country are Tana, Sabki and Kerio.


Flora & fauna

Flora and Fauna in Kenya

The landscape of Kenya is highly diverse which also brings along a great biodiversity. Broad grasslands take turns with rainforests in higher, rainier regions and coastal forests with palms, teak or even mangroves. While the tropical climate along the coast also enables fruit trees like mango- and citrus trees to grow, in the dry climate of the savanna resistant plants like baobab trees or acacias are especially successful.

The savanna is also home to lions, zebras and buffalos but also to larger mammals like giraffes, rhinoceros, hippotamuses and elephants. Especially the so called “red elephants” that use the red soil of the Taita Hills to dust themselves, are widely known. Throughout the country it is possible to spot baboons, crocodiles and different birds like ostriches, vultures, herons, pelicans and also eagles.


Climate in Kenya

Climate in Kenya is mainly influenced by its location near the equator. In southern, lower regions near Lake Victoria and the coast, the climate is hot and humid with an average annually temperature of 26°C. The Northwest of Kenya is generally the driest region of the country and with temperatures mostly around 40°C also one of the hottest. In contrast to that, the average temperature in higher regions is usually around 17°C. In the rainy seasons from October to December and also from April to June, up to 1,800 mm of rain may fall in those higher regions and along the coast.


Social geography

Social Geography

Population

Kenya has round about 45 million inhabitants with a density of population with 51 inhabitants per km². About one third of the population that consists of over 40 ethnic groups lives in cities. Bantus and Niotes are the biggest ethnic groups that speak their own language and also ethnic minorities like Cushitics and Arabs have their own culture and speak another language in their community. As a consequence of the colonialization, several Europeans came to Kenya as well. Together with immigrants from China, Arabia and India they form a foreign-rooted ethnic community.

Language

As mentioned before, there are several ethnic groups with over 40 local languages. Nevertheless Kenya's official languages are English as well as Kishwahili.

Economy

Even though Kenya's economy is one of the strongest ones in east Africa, about half its inhabitants still live below the poverty line. Most important for the country's economy are fishing and forestry but also tea, coffee and cut flowers are important export goods.

Political situation and safety

Kenya is a presidential republic. For safety meanings, political demonstrations as well as journeys to the northeastern region near Somalia should be avoided. Moreover the danger of terroristic attacks by the Somali terror organization Al-Shabaab is given.

Religion

About 83% of Kenya's inhabitants are Christian, but also Muslims and indigenous minorities with their own religion live in the country.


Tipps

Travel Tipps and Trivia

Time zone

MESZ +01:00

There is no daylight saving.

Currency

In Kenya the Kenyan shilling is used (1KES= 100 cent). For the current exchange rates see www.währungsrechner.de.

Units

Kenya uses metric units but also the terms miles and feet are broadly used.

Electricity

The electricity standard in Kenya is the same than in Germany with 220/240 volt and 50 hertz alternating voltage. Nevertheless you should bring an adapter as they use different plugs.

Transportation

The easiest and most common way to get around in Kenya is the Matatu, a collective taxi with several set destinations. Regularly a ride in one of those taxis is very crowded but also quite reasonable. Another possibility is to take a Tuc-Tuc ride through town. These motorized tricycles that originate from India are reliable and also reasonable. A more modern alternative is the Pici Pici, a motorcycle taxi that transports up to two customers at once. Similar to that, also bicycles are used as taxis (Boda Boda) and they are probably the cheapest means of transportation, even though they are more commonly used for short rides.

National holidays

  • January 1: New Year's Day
  • May 1: Labour Day
  • June 1: Madaraka Day
  • October 20: Mashujaa Day
  • December 12: Jamhuri Day (Independence Day)
  • December 25: Christmas Day
  • December 26: Boxing Day
  • Movable holidays: Good Friday, Easter Monday, Ramadan

Dos and Don’ts

Do

  • Be aware that Kenyan people sometimes do not mind traffic lights.
  • Be prepared for delays as punctuality is not very common in Kenya.
  • Visit a Maasai Market.
  • Try some local, grilled food like Nyama Choma.

Don't

  • Do not turn down a food offer as it is considered to be rude.
  • Before you take a ride, do not forget to negotiate the price.
  • Do not carry large amounts of money in your wallet.
  • Do not smoke on the streets of Nairobi as it is restricted there.

Highlights Must-see places in Kenya

Our top recommendations for you

Highlights

Highlights

Kenya's countryside is simply beautiful and offers numerous highlights for your trip. If you want to explore the local biodiversity and are looking forward to spot many different species, you should consider a trip to the Masai Mara National Reserve in southwestern Kenya. In the vicinity of Nairobi you can visit Lake Nakuru with its surrounding Nationalpark to see flamingos in great numbers. Due to a lack of drainage the lake is alkaline and provides an important source of food to the colorful animals. Beautiful beaches like the 10 km long white Diani beach south of Mombasa invite visitors to relax, recover and to try several water sports along the coast. In the end, also a trip to the Amboseli Nationalpark on the border to Tanzania in the southwest on Kenya should be considered. Here you can see elephants in a stunning landscape and with the impressing Kilimandscharo in the background.

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