The Republic of Kenya is found in East Africa. It lies across the equator at latitude of 4o north to 4o South and Longitude 34o east to 41o West and along the Indian Ocean. It borders Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the east, Tanzania to the south, Uganda and Lake Victoria to the west and Sudan to the northwest. Kenya is named after Mount Kenya - snow capped mountain, very significant landmark and the second highest Mountain.
Before 1920, Kenya was known as the British Colony Protectorate. The capital city of the country is Nairobi. Kenya has numerous National parks, wildlife reserves and privately owned wildlife sanctuaries that inhabit a diverse fauna and flora including natural wonders like the great wildebeests migration, millions of flamingos in the Great Rift Valley, the largest desert lake in the world to the north, the rain forests in the western part and waterfalls in central part of the country. These are some of the real magical attractions that leave the visitors speechless! And are "a must" visit for the nature lovers of the true African wilderness and pristine tropical beaches.
Kenya has an area of 225,961 square miles, half a million square kilometers. It is among the world's largest countries after Madagascar. The country's geographical contrast which is clearly depicted by its mountains, coastlines, landscapes and plateaus is a true reflection of its location and physical features. The terrain of the country gradually changes from the low-lying coastal plains to the fertile Kenyan highlands- bisected by the Great Rift Valley. The highest point of the country lies in Mount Kenya, which is 5,199 meters high.
Kenya has a tropical climate. The Climate varies along the coast to arid in the interior. It is usually hot and humid at the coast, while it is hot and dry in the north and northeast parts of the country. There are two rainfall seasons, long rains between March and May, and short rains in October and November. Although the temperature remains high throughout these months, the minimum is 6 degrees to 40 Celsius. The extreme temperatures are above 12,000 meters in the mountains and above 40 degrees Celsius in the deserts.
As a result of the varied and contrasting geographical and climatic setup, Kenya supports varied habitats that harbors over 1,090 birds species, over 126 large mammals, over 900 butterflies species, over 700 species fishes and in total over 25,000 species of plants and animal species.
Kenya is a cultural microcosm of the larger continent of Africa with more than 42 tribes and main tribes being the Maasai, Kikuyu, Meru, Kalenjin, Luyha, Luo, Kisii, Kamba, Swahili, Taita and Turkana. There are smaller with small population such as the El Molo, and the Gabbra tribes.
Kiswahili is the national language in Kenya, however, each tribal members of the 42 tribes speaks their own language, hence 'mother tongue' the language that was taught by their parents. English language is official and is taught in schools and widely spoken across the country especially in urban centers, wildlife lodges and large towns throughout the country.
Kenya has three major international airports; Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi Nairobi, Moi International Airport in Mombasa and Moi International Airport in Eldoret.
These airports service numerous international carriers including the Kenya national airline, Kenya Airways. Kenya possesses good connections to many destinations in Europe, Asia-Pacific region, USA and Africa. Entry by sea is also possible, and immigration should be processed at a port facility.
Other airports - airstrips - are normally used for domestic flights with light aircrafts. Airport codes mentioned refer to the international IATA code.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi (code: NBO)
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the 7th most frequented African airport. It is located 18 km south of Nairobi city, and a main cargo transport centre in east and central Africa. Nairobi is the business centre for East Africa.
There are three terminals, of which two are for international use. Also present are restaurants, bars, cyber cafes and a number of impressive duty-free shops. There are also foreign exchange bureaus and Automated teller machines ATM. You can obtain your tourist visa at this entry point on the spot for US$50 in cash.
Moi International Airport, Mombasa (code: MBA)
The second biggest of airports in Kenya, is located 10 km north-west of Mombasa and serves close to one million passengers annually.
It has three terminals, services such as duty-free shops, cafeterias, foreign exchange bureaus and ATMs. Visas are available on spot for US$50 in cash.
Wilson Airport, Nairobi (code: WIL)
Located 5 kms south of Nairobi, It's an essential airstrip for domestic flights with light aircraft to other destinations including national parks like Masai Mara, Amboseli and Samburu. There are flights to Tanzania, Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Kisumu Airport (code: KIS)
The Kisumu Airport is Located in Nyanza in the far western part of Kenya and the third busiest of the Kenyan airports. The number of passengers has quickly increased and the Airport authorities are planning to expand and now have a terminal, cafeteria, bar and a VIP lounge. It's possible to fly from Kisumu Airport to other Kenyan airports and airstrips and national parks in Kenya.
Eldoret International Airport
The airport is located 16 km south of Eldoret town in the Kenyan North Rift. It was built purposely for transportation of export products like horticulture and flowers but it is increasingly being used for the western Kenya tourism circuit. Aiport services include a bureau de change, cafeteria; VIP lounge and car hire facilities. In 2005, it was voted Kenya’s cleanest airport.
Malindi Airport (code: MYD)
The airport is located 3 km's west of Malindi town on the Kenyan coast; it has 2 runways and a small terminal. It is being upgraded from domestic flights to international Airport to receive flights directly from other foreign airports.
Manda Airstrip (code: LAU)
Manda Airstrip is located at Manda Island near Lamu - a popular tourist destination. From the airstrip, you cross distance of 800 metres in the sea to Lamu Island by boat. It has 2 runways but no terminal.
Ukunda Airstrip (code: UKA)
Ukunda, another popular tourist destination at the coast, is found 30 kilometers south of Mombasa. It has one runway with small office buildings.
Other Kenya Airports / Airstrips
Many other destinations in Kenya, often in or near national parks and frequented by tourists, have airstrips. These airstrips are typically for light aircraft only. They include: Amboseli, Bamburi, Bungoma, Bura, Busia, Eliye Springs, Embu, Garba Tula, Garissa, Hola, Homa Bay, Isiolo, Kakamega, Kericho, Kilaguni, Kisii, Kitale, Kiwayu, Lewa Downs, Lodwar, Loitokitok, Lokichogio, Lakitaung, Loiyangalani, Mackinnon Road, Magadi, Makindu, Mandera, Maralal, Marsabit, Masai Mara, Meru, Moyale, Mtito Andei, Naivasha, Nakuru, Nanyuki, Narok, Nyeri, Samburu, Voi and Wajir.
The main border point with Uganda is Malaba town, while Busia is the other option when travelling through Kisumu to the west. Nairobi is connected to Kampala Ugandan capital through Malaba. Public Service Vehicles operate amongst major towns and cities on frequent schedules on this route. Border points between Tanzania and Kenya are Taveta, Namanga, Lunga Lunga and Isebania towns on a 24hrs service. Public transport is available at these border points. Sudan and Somalia, to the north and east are politically unstable and prohibited to travel over land. Ethiopia has border points at Moyale and Fort Banya but is closed regularly for security purposes. It is more advisable to take flights in and out of Kenya to the countries beyond its northern demarcation.
Water and Rail
Mombasa is Kenya's major sea port, from where to catch ships to Mauritius, the Seychelles and Zanzibar and possibly other International destinations. There boats to sail from Mombasa to Pemba and Zanzibar in Tanzania. It's always advisable to enquire for details and conditions of the places you intend to visit from the Local Authorities and Tour Operators. Ferries are available between Mombasa and the main land, services of Dhow hire are available in Malindi and Lamu.
Kenya is serviced by a single railway line that runs from Mombasa to Uganda via Nairobi and other major towns including Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu. There are also branches to Nanyuki and Kitale towns. Meanwhile, Most of the trains run overnight Mombasa-Nairobi, with the journey lasting between 13 and 14 hours.
Kenya has 63,800 km of highways network and 8,863 km of paved roads. Roads are generally in good condition, but have some deteriorated and some stretches are very unsafe. The A104 running from Mombasa to Malaba via Nairobi is a heavy truck route. Roads in the north and north-east are predominantly dirt roads and in the rainy season are only navigable by four-wheel drive vehicles. Your national driving license is accepted, with an English translation if necessary. Driving is on the left side of the road.