Kenya: Your Web Surf Safari
Known as the Cradle of Humanity for its links to early human life, Kenya conjures up images of water-bathing hippos, lions on the prowl, grassy plains, and khaki-clad photographers on safari. There’s no easier way to plan a trip to Kenya than by using the Web. With glossy travel magazines, guidebooks, tourism sites, and advice from fellow travelers at your fingertips, you can’t go wrong. We’ve sorted through the maze of information and collected comprehensive, accessible sites to take you from idea, to plan, to reality.
Whether you crave adventure or quiet relaxation, you’ll find it in this mesmerizing destination. On the Web, tourism sites and online travel guides reveal Kenya’s mix of grassland terrain, breathtaking wildlife, and gritty city life.
- Official tourism sites offer package vacation deals, for example a flight and a safari. Consider these options, as they may be less expensive than booking everything separately. Consider telephoning or e-mailing tourism offices for recommendations, as well.
- It may be less expensive to book your safari with a Kenyan company after you’ve arrived, but booking with a U.S. company before you go is less of a hassle. Guidebooks recommend setting up everything prior to your trip.
- Safaris carry romantic notions of old world explorers alone in the wild, but modern day safaris are a bit tamer. You’ll be in a vehicle with other travelers in a Kenyan national park or reserve, such as the Masai Mara Games Reserve or Amboseli National Park. Safaris can still be “hard work,” however, as National Geographic reports.
- Kenya boasts more than two dozen national parks and reserves, making it the most popular safari destination and the best bird-watching country in Africa. For a list of Kenya’s parks and reserves, as well as details of where to find species of wildlife and birdlife, visit Gorp.
For official tourism resources …
, official site of the Kenya Tourist Board, provides information on safaris and geographic features of the country like the coast and forests, as well as practical transportation and accommodation advice for each. Mold your journey with sections on culture and heritage, dining and cuisine, and parks and nature.
For travel guides …
encourages travelers not to treat Kenya as a “succession of tourist sights.” Take the planning reins using practical information (what to see, how to get there) along with subtly enticing descriptions of the land.
The New York Times
“Travel” section touts this intriguing Kenya Guide. Let the combination of dramatic photos and multimedia presentations, alongside news articles and captivating destination features, paint a rich picture of the country’s culture.
provides a no-nonsense guide to Kenya in this thorough site. Find detailed practical and cultural information divided into clearly labeled topics and subtopics. Be aware that links to recommended tours and safaris are included in some sections.
For cities and attractions that may be of interest …
content is created by real travelers. Consult the toolbar for separate sections covering “Experiences
,” and “Things To Do
” in Kenya. Get inspired to plan your itinerary using the photos and commentary in each section.
Kenya Travel Ideas
has a few grammatical errors but content is solid, with a personal and friendly tone. Look for safari recommendations, event descriptions, cultural details, and practical information for your trip.
reveals the country’s quirks in this colorful guide. Scroll down for “Kenya Features” and learn about authentic handicrafts and music groups.
is an affiliate of Condé Nast Traveler
that caters to the upper echelon with high-end restaurant and hotel recommendations. Regardless of your budget, you’ll benefit from archived feature articles, photos, and “See + Do
” advice. Read “Eating
” for a bit of cultural insight.
offers bicycle tours of several regions in Africa. Enter “Kenya
” into the search tool to find relevant tours. Cultural immersion and educational travel are emphasized, and all ages of “generally active” cyclists are welcome. Accommodation is included with tour packages.
For an inside look at safaris …
National Geographic Traveler
eschews the posh pushed by so many of its glossy counterparts, in favor of meaningful travel. Take a look at “Scenes from a Kenya Safari,” where the author traveled to the Rift Valley Province and befriended semi-nomadic relatives of the Masai. A photo/text slideshow gives the specifics in irresistible detail.
National Geographic Adventure
magazine sent a writer and photographer to Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, where they captured the lions of Kenya’s Tsavo region, and spent time with local Masai tribesmen. Get a glimpse of the people and wildlife that you may see on your own safari.
Start planning early. Organize your travel documents and vaccines and review general safety precautions to help your trip run smoothly. Learn as much as you can about the history and culture to ensure a more memorable and meaningful experience in Kenya.
- The U.S. Embassy in Kenya was bombed in 1998, and Nairobi remains an area affected by crime and the threat of terrorism. Be aware of government warnings, which are listed in Consular Information Sheets provided by the state department before you arrive. You’ll also learn of recent criminal activity and high-risk areas for terrorism and kidnappings, as well as exit and entry requirements.
- There is a high risk of catching malaria throughout Kenya. To protect yourself, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s section on “Malaria and Travelers.”
- Kenya has two rainy seasons: one in November, and one from late March into early May. Roads are usually blocked during these periods. If you’re planning a safari, go during the dry season to see more animals; they’ll be gathered together wherever there’s a source of water.
For health and safety advice …
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
provide health information for travelers to Kenya. Find general safety and security advice to follow when traveling abroad, as well as specific travel notices in effect and diseases to watch out for in East Africa.
The World Health Organization’s
“Country Health Profiles” reveal socioeconomic and health-related statistics for all African countries. Select Kenya from the map or chart to download a full report. Among the key figures are rates of literacy, life expectancy, and fertility.
For official documents and travel requirements …
The U.S. Department of State’s
“International Travel” page, led by the Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, helps quell your passport and visa worries. Place your mouse on the “Tips for Traveling Abroad” link to find tips for planning your trip, traveling with children, and dealing with emergencies abroad.
The Embassy of Kenya
, located in Washington D.C., provides general country information and tourism ideas. Find passport and visa requirements, and link to consulates in New York and Los Angeles.
For history and culture …
presents “The Story of Africa,” a radio series detailing the history of the continent from an African perspective. Learn how kingdoms rose and fell, and how regions developed unique characteristics. Also discover the role of religion in African life.
offers a profile of Kenya, including information about the country’s media and political leaders. In the “Overview,” learn how ethnic diversity has led to violence and political unrest. Scroll down for links to English newspapers, and see the right-hand sidebar for BBC news stories on Kenya.
presents “Africa: Explore the Regions,” with a section on the savanna stretching between Kenya and Tanzania. Learn about the area’s people, and don’t miss the fascinating “series profile
” of a Tanzanian woman. Take a look at the “eco info
” section for various maps of climatic features, as well as links to regional eco-organizations.
provides a chronology of key events in Kenya from the year 600 to present. Begin with the coastal Arab settlements and the “Cradle of Humanity” concept and proceed to the 2007 Kenya Airways crash in Cameroon.
If you’re departing from the United States, you’ll be flying into Nairobi or Mombasa. The Web is full of flight search tools that make finding a good deal much less intimidating. And the good news is you don’t have to be a travel agent to figure out these sites.
- Guidebook writers know the ins and outs of international transport. Consult Rough Guides for the scoop on flights to Kenya—it’s the most practical way to get there. Learn the best time of year to go, and find out about different ticket types from expert guidebook writers who’ve traveled extensively in the country
- iExplore offers Kenya Travel Tips. Find out about taxi service from Nairobi’s main airports, and learn how to arrive in Kenya via water, rail, or road transport from other locations in Africa.
For flight search tools …
calls itself the “traveler’s search engine,” and seeks out your best fare from numerous travel Web sites and airlines. Fall for the special features, such as “SmartSort,” an at-a-glance look at departure/arrival time, carrier, and number of stopovers. Also sign up for “fare alerts,” which notify you of any price changes.
makes it easy to find the best possible deal on a flight. This sleek search engine consults 176 sites, including airlines, and then displays all results fitting your travel specifications. A tutorial is available for new users
. Take a look at “mobideals
” on the site or subscribe via RSS feed
. Don’t miss the “Activity Tags” on the lower right of the homepage to find travel deals on locations and activities of interest (for example, trekking, Latin America, or spas).
compiles prices from several discount airfare sites in two steps: enter your travel dates and destination, then click on any site’s icon to see fares. Compare, find the best deal, and book online.
For an individual airline …
flies within and beyond the country, and maintains a clear, easy-to-use planning and booking tool. Sign up for “Flying Blue,” a frequent flier program in conjunction with Air France, offering discounted fares.
Kenya offers an eclectic mix of hotels, lodges, and camps, many of which bring you up close and personal with wildlife. We’ve found sites to help you sort through the options, including accommodation search tools and specialty tourism companies.
- In Kenya, nature can be luxurious. Take Joy’s Camp, for example. The 10-tent property was spotlighted by Condé Nast Traveller in “The Hot List 2007,” a worldwide compendium of the best new hotels and restaurants. Joy’s Camp features glamorous rooms that open onto verandahs and is located near a swamp and spring, often attracting wild animals.
- Camping puts you up close and personal with Kenya’s incredible wildlife, and is a less expensive option. Overland tour companies, such as African Trails, keep costs low and take you off the beaten path.
- If you want to go it alone, you’ll find campsites at most reserves and parks in Kenya where you can pitch your own tent. MagicalKenya.com offers Kenya camping advice on the site’s accommodation page.
For search tools …
is a site for traveler-submitted stories and photos, as well as practical resources like hotel reviews, and a search engine for accommodation. Find many reviews that are quite lengthy and give a thorough idea of what to expect from a stay.
provides hotel listings for numerous destinations within Kenya, along with photos, traveler reviews, and online booking. Note that the new “Compare Rates” tool seems to be unfinished, and that some hotels lack reviews and/or photos.
For Africa-based companies …
, based in Nairobi, is a travel agency specializing in Africa travel. Find accommodation at luxury and discount hotels
organized by country. Browse safari packages including lodge stays on the homepage; choose from family, women’s, luxury, and more.
specializes in travel to south and eastern Africa, including safaris in Kenya. Learn about various safaris, including self-drive and walking options. Find plenty of links to recommended resorts and lodges, along with scenery details and road conditions for each journey.
For ecotourism …
unites communities with tourist boards and conservationists in hopes of developing sustainable tourism. Find a list of eco-rated Kenya resorts that meet certain environmental and social/cultural standards. Read more about eco-ratings in the “FAQs
links you to environmentally and socially conscious tourism opportunities. Browse listings of holidays and safaris provided by companies committed to supporting local people and ecosystems. Click photo icons to read detailed info about each package, find reviews, and book online. Get a free Rough Guide when you book.
For budget accommodation …
caters to backpackers on budgets with content that is thorough and professional. Find hostels in seven Kenyan cities with photos and detailed descriptions of amenities. Read traveler comments and professional reviews, and book online.
Adjusting to transportation in foreign countries may be a bit unsettling, but the Web can ease your transition. Online travel guides, booking agents, and search engines help you plan and prepare before you arrive.
- It’s relatively inexpensive and convenient to fly within Kenya, and you’ll find service from several cities to parks and reserves. Book far in advance for the best prices.
- Reliable trains run between Mombasa, Nairobi, and Kisumu, but you won’t find an official site for Kenya railways. Booking must be performed through another company. Try East Africa Shuttles & Safaris.
- Mini buses called Matatus are a common way to get around, but safety may be an issue. World Press Review’s Web site has an article that provides further insight.
- To learn what it’s like on a Kenyan train, referred to as “The Lunatic Railway,” look no further than the BBC. Its article may also help you navigate the country.
For flights …
provides service between several cities in the country, including Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu. Try the planning and booking tool, and sign up for “Flying Blue,” a frequent flier program in conjunction with Air France, offering discounted fares.
Kenya Airports Authority
has information about each of the country’s airports, as well as updates of flight arrivals and departures.
For trains and rental cars …
The Man in Seat Sixty-One
provides a straightforward guide to train travel in Kenya. Look for timetables and fares, as well as recent traveler reports and photos for a closer look. See the “How to buy tickets
” section for links to booking sites.
East Africa Shuttles & Safaris
provides online booking for train travel between Nairobi and Mombasa. Book at least one week in advance for this overnight, coastal journey. There is a second route between Nairobi and Kisumu
. This company also offers special deals when you book a safari.
, a travel agency based in Nairobi, offers rental cars for a variety of interests, including city driving, off-road safari, and group transport. Consult the chart for vehicle details and daily rate. You can pick up a car either in Nairobi, Mombasa, or Kisumu.
For maps …
“World Atlas” has an interactive map of Kenya that also provides a clear view of bordering countries. Click to zoom in for a close-up look at cities surrounding Nairobi.
For honest evaluation of destinations, accommodations, and travel experiences, look no further than the Web. Blogs and forums are full of valuable advice and insight to consider before you go.
- Try a blog search engine like Technorati or BlogPulse to search for blogs on specific topics, such as “Kenya cuisine.”
- Try to read profiles of bloggers and forum posters before accepting their advice. Look for previous posts, as well.
For forums …
Thorn Tree Travel Forum is organized by country, making it easy to find travelers who’ve been to Kenya. Replies are typically thorough and detailed. Read posts that discuss a good variety of topics: finding a family-friendly hotel, trekking companies, and transportation from the airport, for example.
For travelogues …
publishes travel essays submitted by published authors and anthology editors. In this piece, “Nairobi by Degrees,” Lori Hein travels to the summit of a high-rise building, with a janitor/father-of-two as her guide, offering a poignant slice of Kenya city life.
For blogs …
is the blog of Ory Okolloh, a native of Kenya, a graduate of Harvard Law School, who is currently working for an entrepreneur development company in South Africa. Read her blog about Kenya, with recent posts on pop culture and politics. Scroll down the right side to her blogroll for a long list of Kenya-focused blogs.
Bluelist gives travelers (and Lonely Planet authors) a chance to play journalist by creating lists of recommended travel experiences. The popular guidebook publisher also has Lonely Planet Post Cards
, which offer essential, insightful traveler tips, such as when the Masai market is held and what to expect from restrooms on the road.
encourages you to share travel experiences. Their “Kenya Travel Journals” offer intriguing entries and photographs, and are rated for usefulness. Read carefully, as some contain descriptions of hotels, safari packages, and thoughtful commentary.
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