Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

“By African standards, Kenya markets itself well on the international tourism market. It is able to draw large crowds at cheaper prices, and it has plenty of trump cards since there are few countries where you can combine a beach holiday with a safari so easily.

The Masai Mara is a wonderful place to see wild animals in their natural habitat.

Kenya has a lot of high-quality hotels to choose from, though it’s a drawback that so many people visit during high season – the 4x4s are practically bumper to bumper at a time in the wildlife reserves, especially when they find a pride of lions. Another problem is poor public security, and because of this, some areas can only be visited as part of a group. What’s more, accommodation in wildlife reserves is overpriced.” (K.J., 2017)

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“The oceanfront beaches aren’t too friendly. Huge waves carry seaweed in close to the shore, so bathers always have the impression some kind of sea creature is slithering around their legs – can be alarming at times! What makes this worse is the knowledge that the great white shark feeds in these waters. Hotel proprietors know these drawbacks, so to avoid complaints they almost always provide a private pool for avid swimmers.

Endemic levels of local poverty can be linked to the region’s flourishing sex tourism industry. Hotels turn a blind eye to all the local young men entertaining foreign women in their late 50s in hotel bars.
We saw European parents renting little kids to keep their own children company for two weeks.

You can get to Mombasa from the hotel by taxi or hire a car, or possibly by bus, but the public transport is so unpredictable, and the roads are so bad, that taxis are generally considered safest. If you’re lucky and get a friendly driver, you might have simultaneously found your tour guide.”


Kenya - Masai bicyclist - Elter photo

Kenya - Masai girl - Elter photo

Kenya - Mombasa - Diani Beach - k.m. photo

Kenya - Watamu - k.m. photo

Practicals

Transport

We do not recommend the use of local public transport (matatu, minibus) in larger cities. These vehicles are not safe to use, and they are mostly in poor technical condition.

Nairobi - tourist bus - b.s. photo

Accomodation

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Kenya - Lake Nakuru Lodge - b.s. photo

Food

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Kenya - Naivasha Lake - dish in a lodge - b.s. photo

Kenya - can happen - k.m photo

Shopping

“Taking a deep breath, we plunged into one of the rip-off Massai tourist markets – and in the end, we found there was a surprising amount that we genuinely wanted to buy. After all, “a man who doesn’t indulge in superfluities is no gentleman at all”, though that doesn’t mean buying every useless trinket.

In a separate area, behind these ‘authentic’ shops, a ‘craftsman’ conspicuously sculpts his wares. Somehow, however, every craftsman from Cape Town to Nairobi comes up with exactly the same sort of stuff, and the same souvenirs can be bought everywhere. The special Massai gloss is added in Kenya and Tanzania, of course, but I’ve seen exactly the same ‘ebony’ animal figurines in South Africa, as well as in Tanzania and Kenya.” (2017)

Kenya - fish for sale - k.m. photo

Nairobi - market - b.s. photo

Fun

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Kenya - Diani Beach - Amigos - k.m. photo

Public safety

In the tourist season (between January and May), crimes committed at bus terminals and airports are remarkably increasing. Pickpocketing, package theft, car break-ins are common in Nairobi and Mombasa.

Foreigners are not the primary targets of criminal groups, but in recent years, many foreign nationals have fallen victim to crime in Kenya. Most crimes are committed near Nairobi’s slums and downtown. Attacks are usually carried out in small groups and on motorcycles. Criminals stop pedestrians and vehicles and then force tourists with guns to hand over their valuables (watch, jewelry, money, phone, laptop). If you are a victim of such a street attack, give your valuables ​​without resistance because the criminals typically use their weapons even at the slightest resistance.

In Mombasa, most theft, robbery, is committed in the vicinity of the Old Town and the Likoni Ferry, which connects Mombasa and the southern resort areas.

Health

To avoid infections, don't drink tap water, and don't eat fruits and vegetables without disinfection.

Others

1. In national parks, admission can only be paid by credit card in most cases!

2. In Kenya’s major cities: Nairobi, Mombasa, and Nakuru, smoking has been banned in both public areas and public buildings. The violators of the ban can be detained, prosecuted, and severely fined.

Background

Kenya - national flag - in the center two crossed spears and a shield - Bendera ya kitaifa ya Kenya

Destination in brief

Kenya in brief
 
Kenya is located in East Africa. Neighbors: Ethiopia (north), Sudan (northwest), Uganda (west), Somalia (east), Tanzania south). It has a long coastline on the Indian Ocean.
 
Kenya was a British colony until 1963. 
 
Size: 580,367 km² (224,081 mi²) - Lake Victoria, which lies partly in Kenya, is the world’s second-largest freshwater lake (number one: Lake Baikal).
 
Capital city: Nairobi – about 4.7 million (2020) – sits at an altitude of
1,700 meters (5,577 ft) above sea level
 
Population: 53.3 million (rough estimate from 2020) – the main ethnic groups are the Kikuyus (22%), the Luhyas (14%), the Luo (13%), the Kalenjin (12%), the Kamba (11%) - Most tourists know only about the Maasai, although they do not make up more than 2.1% of the population.
 
Most Kenyans live in the highlands.
 
Languages: Swahili and English are the official languages – Swahili is a lingua franca – Members of Kenya’s more than 40 ethnic groups typically speak more than one language (in some level or other).
 
Young people in big cities speak their own strange mixture, the Sheng. This is a Swahili-based slang, with bits of English thrown in alongside other Kenyan and non-Kenyan languages. Sheng is remarkably catching on across all parts of society.
 
Religions: 69% Christian (38% Protestant, 28% Catholic), 20% adherents of local religions, 11% Muslim
 
Political and economic life: Presidential republic. Kenya is a relatively solid democracy.
 
Coffee and tourism are Kenya’s two leading industries.
 
Kenyan coffee is similar to Colombian mild, making Kenyan coffee one of the most sought after coffees in the world.
 
Currency: Kenyan shilling (KES)
 
Average net monthly salary: 370 USD (2020)
 
Most common surname: Mwangi
 
Kenyan men have a constitutional right to have more than one wife.
 
Kenya is a left-driving country.
 
Safety:
 
The safest areas are where travelers participate in safari tours.
 
There is an ongoing threat of terrorist attacks against tourists, especially in Nairobi and in the most frequented oceanside beach areas near Mombasa.
 
The crime rate is high in downtown Nairobi, the old town of Mombasa and the ferry stations leading to beach resort areas (thefts, muggings).
 
Optimal timing for a safari visit or a beach vacation:
 
June-October for safaris
 
January-February or July-October for a beach vacation
 
Top tourist attractions:
 
Kenya is the world’s leading safari destination. (Hunting is illegal in Kenya.) A safari tour in one of the major national parks means a chance to see the “big five” – lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and the buffalo.
 
Maasai Mara NP, Tsavo NP, old town of Lamu
 
The Kenyan ocean coast has some fine white sand, shark-free areas protected by coral reefs. Most popular beach holiday areas: Diani, Watamu and Malindi.
 
Kenya is not a backpacker destination. The country is simply not prepared
(and has no wish) to develop the necessary infrastructure for budget travel.


Geography

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East Africa - Kenya - male impala antelope - Elter photo

Nowadays

“There is a committee in Kenya whose purpose is to determine a moral rating for certain cultural products, such as movies. If we wanted to name this process, we could say that this committee essentially acts as a censorship office and moral police force (though of course not in the Saudi sense).

Several members of this committee have recently been outraged that a picture taken in a nature reserve of two male lions having sex has gone viral on the internet.
Ezekiel Mutua, the chairman of this committee, said that the photograph shows how “the demonic forces infecting humans have already reached the animal world.”
In addition, he believes that the animals’ behavior must have been changed by the presence of gay human couples visiting the park.
Mutua does not consider the behavior of the lions in any way normal, and so why the committee he leads has no remit to police the lives of animals – only humans – he still recommends that some sort of advice be transmitted to the lions in the picture.” (2017)

Kenya - village life - k.m. photo

Kenya - city of Nakuru - b.s. photo

People

“Kenyan women are, almost without exception, extremely beautiful – regardless of which tribe they belong to. Depending on the place and occasion, they may wear traditional dress, or jeans and western clothes, but even at 20°C they always wear gloves. They are very friendly, welcoming, warm-hearted, and cheerful. They often appear quiet and withdrawn, but in the background, it is they who direct the men. They have opinions about everything, and while they don’t always loudly proclaim them when push comes to shove they’re more than capable of standing up for what they think is right. Kenyan women are extremely strong, smart, brave, and resilient. They are family-focused, God-fearing, and caring.”

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“The Maasai are famous for their hospitality. If a Maasai has traveled a great distance and arrives in another Maasai village where he is a stranger, then the custom is that he should be the guest of the owner of whichever hut he picks out. The visitor can generally remain there for days, and the owner often offers him one of his wives, so he won’t be bored while he is in the village. If a child is born of this partnering, it will be raised by the village.”

Kenya - girl - s.d. photo

Kenya - Mombasa - niqab - y.m. photo

Tourist etiquette

“We photographed that important symbol of Kenyan history, the Nyayo Monument, which still adorns the back of the Kenyan 100-shilling note, and also took a look at the few surviving administrative buildings which still remain from the British colonial period. We also trekked eagerly out to see the parliament building, but it turns out to be an ugly socialist-realist structure and, what’s more, it’s forbidden to photograph it.

As it happens, though, I didn’t spot these signs – after all, who’d think a parliament couldn’t be photographed? Anyhow, I snapped a couple of pictures, and a passing pedestrian told us it was forbidden in this area. It was probable the same guy who told the soldiers standing guard at the next corner, because a few minutes later they came after us, determined to quash our conspiracy against the Kenyan state.

We were led back towards the parliament by a heavily armed private, and on the way I asked him what nefarious purpose he imagined we might have in taking a photograph of the building. He wasn’t interested but handed us over to his superior, who “deeply regretted” having to pass us on up to the next man up the chain of command, who was stationed on the other side of the Kenyatta International Convention Center. We had to wait for a while, so in the meantime, we went up the tower to take a look around. We had a good laugh with the soldiers stationed there, and it was hard for me to imagine that 50 meters away we were still under suspicion of crimes against the state.

It’s worth pointing out that from the top of the tower they don’t seem to mind you taking pictures of the parliament courtyard. I’ve seen enough of the world to know what a powerful effect a little cash can have, and as soon as we entered the command hut it was perfectly clear that the only thing they were interested in was a little financial lubrication. What I hate most in such situations is all the playacting and beating around the bush, until we, at last, learn what relatively small amount they had in mind.” (2017)

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1.  The Kenyans – both Christian and Muslim – are quite conservative in terms of social customs and etiquette. Kenyans are surprisingly modest (at least compared to many West African peoples) and extremely polite. Tourists are, in turn, expected to be polite to them – say thank you when appropriate, express your respect for the local culture, and the locals will return that respect. They smile a lot, as should visitors, and extend a hand when meeting someone for the first time. Don’t be surprised that Kenyans don’t often make eye contact. This is no dishonor, but rather an expression of modesty and respect.

2.  Women and girls visiting Kenya should not dress provocatively outside the confines of the hotel. Shoulders and upper arms should preferably be covered, especially in predominantly Muslim areas. Of course, in tourist areas, there is more flexibility in terms of what dress is tolerated.

3.  In Kenya it is offensive to point your finger at a local. It is also considered rude for couples to engage in gestures of affection outside the hotel, so it’s best to save the kissing for the hotel room.
Any remark suggesting that a Kenyan lacks intelligence is likely to provoke the strongest of responses.


Attractions

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Kenya - lion duo - Elter photo

Kenya - young female antelope - Elter photo

Nairobi

Nairobi - a.g. photo

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