Kenya is one of those destinations that instantly brings to mind the classic Africa landscapes: beady eyes, and shaggy manes, padding across the khaki desert in search of the latest Canon zoom lens.
We’ve been satisfying travellers’ curiosity for travelling in Kenya for over 30 years, so when I put the call out for expert travel tips for travelling to East Africa’s I was swarmed with great ideas.
Coming up, are twenty two of the very best, from Victoria Two (STA Travel Reading), David Woodward (STA Travel Leicester), Mark Reynolds (STA Travel Belfast) and Daniel Painter (STA Travel Portsmouth).
If you’re interested in wildlife, then Kenya is the ideal place to visit. On paper, the National Parks are quite close together, but don’t be fooled — the landscapes are quite different, and as a result, the types of animals and birds that you see in each of them varies tremendously.
If you’re a traveller who seeks out amazing experiences, you’ll be right at home in Kenya.
10 practical tips for travelling in Kenya
1. Some of the camp sites that you stay on are quite basic, but staying in the middle of nowhere with no one else around makes up for it. If camping’s not your style, then the comfort trips stay in some amazing hotels.
2. Avoid choosing to get your visa on arrival — the queues can be incredible! Instead, consider getting your visa before you go.
3. Avoid walking around Nairobi, especially at night. Instead, get a taxi, as it’s much safer. Nairobi isn’t nicknamed “Nairobbery” for nothing.
4. Look out for the Big Five: Lion, Leopard, Cape Buffalo, Elephant and Rhino, but also look out for zebras and giraffes.
5. Be prepared to haggle in the shops, their prices start high, but don’t be put off — there are some really unique arts and crafts available in Kenya.
6. Don’t cheer when giraffes are mating, it really puts them off!
7. You will never regret making an effort to put your Tusker (beer) on ice.
8. Airport transfers come in seriously handy.
9. Konyagi Rum is the local ice breaker, panty dropper, social lubricant and hangover giverer, all rolled into one — be careful!
10. Most of the people in Kenya live on really limited means, but they are also some of the happiest people I have ever met. Make an effort, and be rewarded with a warm experience.
7 more pieces of advice for touring Kenya
1. The drivers on the safaris have incredible knowledge, and almost always manage to find the best wildlife — one day we saw all of the Big Five within an hour!
2. Visit the Samburu village — it’s really interesting, and well worth it. Definitely choose this place over the Masai village, who can be really pushy with their sales of local souvenirs.
3. Do a trip! There’s no better way of travelling within Kenya; public transport isn’t a good option, unless you have plenty of time (and will power). One of the best, is the Kenya Camping Safari.
4. Don’t miss Lake Nakuru; the amount of bird life is incredible, but you’re also likely to spot rhino and zebra.
5. The Masai Mara is amazing, and well worth the effort! Depending on the time of year, you’ll see more animals here than any of the other parks.
6. As amazing as they are, there is so much more to Kenya than just the National Parks. Consider the beaches around Mombasa, for the perfect Indian Ocean getaway.
7. Remember that the shorter trips tend to be full service camping — this does work out more expensive, but as you don’t need to set up your camp every day, you get more time in the parks; which is the whole reason to be there.
5 vital packing tips for travelling to Kenya
1. This should come as no surprise, but it’s well worth investing in a good camera before your trip. Speak to an expert about a decent zoom lens; but be prepared, these can come at a hefty price, so start budgeting early.
2. If you have space in your backpack, pack a few pens to take with you to give to the local kids in the villages that you visit.
3. Bring a nice cushion to sit on, the roads can be bumpy in places, and you’re likely to spend a fair amount of time travelling by road.
4. It can get nippy in the evenings, regardless of daytime temperatures, so remember to pack some warm clothing. It’s best to take plenty of layers, instead of big chunky items.
5. Prepare to get dusty! Roads are improving in Kenya, but be prepared to travel on a lot of dust tracks. That killer tan you come back with, will probably wash off with your first shower!