Kenya Hotels and Resorts - The history of Kenya is very long and complex. From the "Cradle of Civilization" to present date, Kenya's long history has been both varied and fascinating. This section provides a comprehensive account of Kenya's history, divided into 11 sections..

Kenya Travel Guide :  

 

Kenya Travel Tips

 
Overview
Kenya served as an important mediator in brokering Sudan's north-south separation in February 2005; Kenya provides shelter to approximately a quarter of a million refugees including Ugandans who flee across the border periodically to seek protection from Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels; Kenya's administrative limits extend beyond the treaty border into the Sudan, creating the Ilemi triangle.

Founding president and liberation struggle icon Jomo KENYATTA led Kenya from independence until his death in 1978, when President Daniel Toroitich arap MOI took power in a constitutional succession. The country was a de facto one-party state from 1969 until 1982 when the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) made itself the sole legal party in Kenya. MOI acceded to internal and external pressure for political liberalization in late 1991.

The ethnically fractured opposition failed to dislodge KANU from power in elections in 1992 and 1997, which were marred by violence and fraud, but are viewed as having generally reflected the will of the Kenyan people. President MOI stepped down in December of 2002 following fair and peaceful elections. Mwai KIBAKI, running as the candidate of the multiethnic, united opposition group, the National Rainbow Coalition, defeated KANU candidate Uhuru KENYATTA and assumed the presidency following a campaign centered on an anticorruption platform.

Straddling the Equator on the east coast of Africa, Kenya is one of the most scenically diverse and beautiful countries on the continent, and home to the nomadic Masai and Samburu, the Kikuyu farmers and coastal Swahili tribal peoples. Kenya has two major cities, the high-altitude, colonial-built capital Nairobi, and the ancient Swahili trading port of Mombasa. But what really draws the tourists is the great outdoors. This is a place for sunbathing, hiking, climbing, diving or riding. Above all, it is a place for safaris.

The scenery is fabulous - from the indigo sea and white sand beaches to the grey-green rolling bushveld of Tsavo and Amboseli. The rippling golden grasslands of the Masai Mara contrast with the seismic scar of the Great Rift Valley and the desolate volcanic wastelands around northern Lake Turkana. And everywhere, the game-viewing is unsurpassed with elephants, lions, giraffe, rhino and a host of other animals joined by hundreds of species of glitter-winged birds.

However, Kenya is by no means perfect. Corruption riddles the land, the crime rate is high and malaria and AIDS are rife. But despite this, the people are friendly, and the tourist trade is supremely well organized and professional. For those in search of a little adventure, this can be an ideal holiday destination.

Social Conventions Western European habits prevail throughout Kenya as a result of British influences in the country. Kenyans are generally very friendly. Dress is informal, and casual lightweight clothes are accepted for all but the smartest social occasions.

Tipping This is not required. Most hotels include a 10 per cent service charge to the bill. If the service charge has not been included, a KSh20 tip is usual, although the amount is entirely at the visitor's discretion.

International travel:
Note Kenya shares with neighboring countries a high threat from terrorism. Previous attacks have been against civilian or visibly Western targets where foreigners have been present, as demonstrated by the bomb attacks on a hotel and an unsuccessful attempt to bring down a civilian airliner in Mombasa in November 2002. Muggings and armed attacks are prevalent, particularly in Nairobi and Mombasa.

Air
Kenya's national airline is Kenya Airways (KQ). Kenya is served by a large number of airlines from all over the world, particularly from Asia, Europe and the rest of Africa. These include British Airways and KLM.

Approximate flight times
From Nairobi to London is nine hours 30 minutes; to New York is 18 hours; to Los Angeles is 20 hours; to Singapore is 21 hours; and to Sydney is 25 hours.

International airports
Nairobi (NBO) (Jomo Kenyatta International) is 16km (10 miles) southeast of the city. A Kenyan Bus Services bus and a Kenyan Airways bus leave every 20 minutes (travel time - 40 minutes). Taxis are readily available, but the fare should be established before getting into the vehicle (travel time - 15 minutes). The state-controlled Kenacto taxis work on a fixed rate as do the British-style black cabs, and Dial a Cab, which are legally required to charge per kilometer. Airport facilities include an outgoing duty free shop, hotel reservation, bank/bureau de change, post office, restaurant/bar and car hire.
Mombasa (MBA) (Moi International) is 13km (8 miles) west of the city. There is a regular bus service by Kenya Airways to their city center office in Mombasa (travel time - 20 minutes). Taxis are also available. Fares should be negotiated in advance. State-controlled Kenacto taxis and British-style black cabs work on a fixed rate. Airport facilities include an outgoing duty-free shop, bank, restaurant/bar, tourist information and car hire (Avis, City Car Hire and Hertz).

Note Immigration procedures in Kenyan airports are likely to be extremely slow, so it is advisable to arrive early. Departure tax
None.

Sea/Lake
Short-distance ships sail between Mombasa, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Zanzibar. Passenger and cruise lines that run to Kenya are Barwil Shipping Company, Inchcape Shipping Company and Seaforth Shipping Company. The ports in the Lake Victoria passenger service include Homa Bay, Mfangano and Port Victoria/Kisumu. The ferries in Lake Victoria connect Kisumu in Kenya to Mwanza, Musoma and Bukoba in Tanzania. Fares are paid for in the currency of the port of embarkation. It is also possible to get ferries from Mombasa to Pemba and Zanzibar in Tanzania, and also to Chiamboni in Somalia. Enquire locally for details.

Rail
train services operate between Voi and Moshi (Tanzania) and between Nairobi and Kampala (Uganda). travelers should check beforehand as these rail services may be subject to disruption. For more information contact Kenya Railways, PO Box 30121, Nairobi (tel: (20) 221 211; fax: (20) 340 049).

Road
The main crossing points from Tanzania are at Lunga Lunga and Namanga, with smaller posts at Isebania and Taveta. Some direct coach services operate. From Uganda there are crossing points at Buisa and Malaba. Note that at Malaba, the Kenyan and Ugandan customs posts are about 1km (0.6 miles) apart and no transport between them is available. For all road frontier crossings, it is advisable to contact the Kenya AA, PO Box 40087, Embakasi, Nairobi (tel: (20) 825 060-6; fax: (20) 825 068/119) prior to departure from the country of origin for up-to-date information concerning insurance requirements and conditions.

The following goods may be imported into Kenya by passengers over 16 years of age without incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 225g of tobacco; one bottle of alcoholic beverages; 568 ml of perfume.

Note
Firearms and ammunition require a police permit. Pets require a good health certificate, a rabies certificate and an import permit.

Prohibited items
The import of fruit, plants, seeds, children's toys and imitation firearms. The export of gold, diamonds and wildlife skins or game trophies not obtained from the authorized Kenyan government department is also prohibited. Internal travel:
Air Kenya Airways operates an extensive network of flights, which includes scheduled services to Eldoret, Kisumu (on the shore of Lake Victoria), Lamu Island, Lockichogio, Malindi and Mombasa. Air Kenya offers scheduled flights from Nairobi to Amboseli, Kiwayu, Lamu, Malindi, Masai Mara, Mombasa, Nanyuki and Samburu. Air Kenya also operates into all of Kenya's game parks. Regional Air also operates from Nairobi. There are also private airlines operating light aircraft to small airstrips. Planes can be chartered and are useful for transport into game parks. Departure tax
None.

Sea
Local ferries run between Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu. For details, contact local authorities and tour operators. It is also possible to hire a traditional Kenyan sailing boat (dhow) in Lamu, Malindi and Mombasa. This is a very basic form of sea travel which requires travelers to take their own food and drinking water.

Rail
Kenya Railways Corporation runs passenger trains between Mombasa and Nairobi; trains generally leave in the evening and arrive the following morning after a journey of around 13 to 14 hours. There are also branches connecting Taveta and Kisumu to the passenger network. There is a daily train in each direction on the Nairobi-Kisumu route, and also an overnight service (travel time - approximately 14 hours). trains are sometimes delayed, but most of the rolling stock is modern and comfortable, and most trains have restaurant cars. There are three classes: first class is excellent, with two-berth compartments, wardrobe, etc; second class is more basic but comfortable; third is basic. The dining-car service on the Nairobi-Mombasa route is very highly regarded. Sleeping compartments should be booked in advance. Sexes are separated in first and second class. Children under three years of age travel free. Children between three and 15 years of age pay half fare. For further information contact Kenya Railways (see address in travel - International section).

Road
traffic drives on the left. All major roads are paved and many of the others have been improved, particularly in the southwest, although vast areas of the north still suffer from very poor communications. Care should be taken when leaving trunk roads as the surfaces of the lesser roads vary greatly in quality, particularly during the rainy season. There are petrol stations on most highways. The Kilifi Bridge linking Mombasa to Malindi has opened, serving as an alternative to the Kilifi ferry, and easing traffic flows to the northern circuit. Bus: City buses operate in Nairobi and Mombasa at reasonable prices. Peak hours should be avoided as buses get very crowded. Fares are paid to the conductor. There is a network of regular buses and shared minibuses (Matatu); the fares do not vary greatly, but buses tend to be the safer method of transport. All bus companies are privately run. In some towns the different bus services and the matatu share the same terminus. Taxi: Kenya is very well served by long-distance taxis, carrying up to seven passengers. The best services are between the capital and Mombasa and Nakuru. Taxis and minibuses are a convenient method of travel on the coast. Car hire: Self-drive and chauffeur-driven cars may be hired from a number of travel agents in Malindi, Mombasa and Nairobi. This can be expensive, and rates - particularly the mileage charges - can vary a good deal. Most companies insist that only 4-wheel-drive vehicles should be rented. Tours and safaris: Many tour companies in Nairobi offer package arrangements for visits to the game parks and other attractions. Before booking it is very important to know exactly what the all-in price provides. For further information contact Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO), PO Box 48461, 00100 Nairobi (tel: (20) 713 348 or 713 386;. Documentation: Visitors bringing in vehicles with registration other than Ugandan or Tanzanian must obtain an 'International Circulation Permit' from the Licensing Officer in Nairobi. This will be issued free of charge on production of a permit of customs duty receipt and a certificate of insurance. A full British driving license is valid, otherwise an International Driving Permit is required. For further details, apply to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles in Nairobi.

Urban
Bus: Nairobi and Mombasa have efficient bus systems. Single tickets are sold (by conductors), but monthly bus passes are also available from the Kenya Bus Offices in the city center. There are also unregulated Matatu, 12- to 25-seat light pick-ups and minibuses. These are often severely overloaded and badly driven and therefore should be used with caution. Taxi: Dial a Cab, Jatco and Kenatco run fleets of taxis and these are usually very reliable. The older yellow-band taxis do not have meters, so fares should be agreed in advance. A 10 per cent tip is expected. Taxis cannot be hailed in the street.

travel times
The following chart gives approximate travel times (in hours and minutes) from Nairobi to other major cities/towns in Kenya.

  Air Road Rail
Kisumu 1.05 7.00 14.00
Malindi 0.45 8.00 -
Mombasa 1.00 6.00 14.00
Lamu 1.30 13.00* -
Diani 1.30 7.00 -
Nakuru 0.30 3.00 5.00
Eldoret 1.15 7.00 9.00
Masai Mara 0.30 5.00 -
Amboseli 0.30 3.00 -

Note:
Travel to Lamu by road is not recommended.

Geography
Kenya shares borders with Ethiopia in the north, Sudan in the northwest, Uganda in the west, Tanzania in the south and Somalia in the northeast. To the east lies the Indian Ocean. The country is divided into four regions: the arid deserts of the north; the savannah lands of the south; the fertile lowlands along the coast and around the shores of Lake Victoria; and highlands in the west, where the capital Nairobi is situated. Northwest of Nairobi runs the Rift Valley, containing the town of Nakuru and Aberdare National Park, overlooked by Mount Kenya (5200m/17,000ft), which also has a national park. In the far northwest is Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolph). Kenya is a multicultural society; in the north live Somalis and the nomadic Hamitic peoples (Rendille, Samburu and Turkana), in the south and eastern lowlands are Kamba and Masai and the Luo live around Lake Victoria. The largest group is the Kikuyu who live in the central highlands and have traditionally been dominant in commerce and politics, although this is now changing. There are many other smaller groups and although Kenya emphasises nationalism, tribal and cultural identity is a factor. A small European settler population remains in the highlands, involved in farming and commerce.
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