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Kenya Adventure Travel Guide

Place

Kenya

Location

Kenya is an equatorial country in East Africa that borders on Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania, and has a coast on the Indian Ocean.

Major Cities

The largest cities in Kenya are the capital Nairobi, and the port city of Mombasa.

Climate and Geography

Kenya is a large country of extraordinary geographical and ecological diversity. At 580,367 km2, Kenya straddles the equator, has shoreline on the Indian Ocean in the east and Lake Victoria in the west, and is home to the second tallest mountain in Africa, Mount Kenya, as well as the famous Maasai Mara and Tsavo National Parks. The eastern part of the country is comprised of low-lying plains and hills, which rise into the central highlands (with many peaks over or near 5000 m). The central highlands are divided by the Great Rift Valley, which crosses western Kenya from North to South.

Kenya’s ecology is too diverse to be described briefly, but some highlights include: the Kakamega Forest, which, located in the west of the country, is one of the last remnants of the ancient Guinea-Congolian Rainforest that used to span Africa; Maasai Mara National Park, where one can find all of the ‘Big Five’ (lions, leopards, African elephants, African buffalo, and Black Rhinoceros), as well as hippopotami, Nile crocodiles, leopards, hyenas, jackals, wildebeest, Thomson’s gazelles, zebras, antelopes, and Masai giraffes; and Mount Kenya, the second tallest mountain in Africa with a height of 5199 m.

Kenya’s geographic diversity creates climactic diversity. The highest temperature of the day at high altitudes in Kenya is about the same as the lowest temperature at the lowest altitudes. The difference between the low and high temperature of a day is usually about 12 °C, and the average temperature year round fluctuates between 24 and 28 °C. The temperature in Kenya only varies seasonally by just 4 °C, with winter being the hottest season, and summer the coolest.

Description

Tourism is the largest contributor to the service sector in Kenya, which comprises 63% of the country’s GDP. Attracted by the wildlife and geography, travelers come from around the world come to Kenya, the largest numbers coming from Germany and the United Kingdom.

Although the majority of tourists visit the coast, in Kenya safaris are by far the most common adventure travel activity. With over 40 national parks and wildlife preserves there is no shortage of options. The most popular places for safaris include: Maasai Mara National Park, Tsavo National Park (East and West), Ambroseli National Park, and Samburu National Reserve.

Although the majority of people visit Kenya to see nature and wildlife, there is a variety of other adventure sporting activities to add some excitement to the natural beauty. Kenya’s 536 km coastline offers opportunities for surfing, windsurfing, kiteboarding, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, and ocean kayaking. Kenya’s central mountain range has many that rise to around 5000 m, so trekking, climbing, abseiling, paragliding, and hang gliding there are all epic. The Tana River is a popular destination for whitewater rafting and kayaking.

Activities

  • Scuba diving (wreck, reef, shark)
  • Snorkeling
  • Surfing (all levels)
  • Sailing
  • Kitesurfing
  • Windsurfing
  • Parasailing
  • Paragliding
  • Hang gliding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Kayaking (river, lake, and sea)
  • Hiking/trekking (all levels)
  • Mountain climbing (all levels)
  • Abseiling
  • Bungee jumping
  • Mountain Biking (novice to expert)
  • Horseback Riding

On a Budget?

  • Prices in Kenya vary greatly by location. In the cheapest areas, beds can be found for around $5 USD per night. Two of the lower-priced hostels in Nairobi are the Book Bush House & Camp and the YHA Kenya.
    You can find more information about Kenya hostels here.
  • In rural areas homestays, which can be found for around $20 USD per night for room and board, are great way to experience local culture and keep your expenses down. For long-term visitors furnished apartments are good option; they can be found for $50 – $150 per month.
  • If you stick to local restaurants and groceries Kenya is an inexpensive place to eat. Cheap local restaurants in rural areas will serve meals for $1 USD or even cheaper. In the cities expect to pay a little more. Local markets are also a great place to purchase fresh produce local products.

Travel Insurance

I like to use World Nomads. It’s not too expensive and signing up is fast and straightforward. They also have pretty good coverage for sports equipment like surf and snowboards, but it varies depending on your country of origin, so be sure double check. You can get a free quote on their website.

Photos

 

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Images (in order) courtesy of frederic.salein, Ai@ce, PhotoBobil, 5lab, Ai@ce, Ai@ce, chris.murphy, Bitterjug, Tambako the Jaguar, anoldent, Zoom Zoom, meaduva, and alaina.buzas on Flickr.

Suggested Reading

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One Response to Kenya Adventure Travel Guide

  1. zina April 11, 2011 at 6:50 am #

    Coming from Botswana i must say that Kenya safaris seem to be much cheaper than the typical Botswana safari.

    I still haven’t been on a safari in Kenya, so i really find this guide useful. It’s in my list of “to-do’s” in the next year or so 🙂 …

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