With its measureless savannas, snow-capped mountains, immense wildlife and rich culture, Kenya is a magnet for adventurous backpackers and luxury travelers alike. When I think of Kenya, the first thing that comes to mind is Safari and then I immediately think of a roaring lion and see myself running faster than a gazelle into the sunset. But there’s so much more to this up-and-coming entrepreneur-laden African gem than lions and safaris. Beyond the safaris lie coastal treasures such as Watamu and Diani Beach. Then there’s Nairobi, the lively capital city, which is an incredibly exciting and evocative travel destination for even the most adventurous of travelers. So prepare to be dazzled by Kenya’s diversity and the sheer number of awesome things to do here.
KENYA TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
Chill on Diani beach
For any ocean lover, this beach is sheer paradise, with silky white sand and lush green palm trees. After the rather strenuous safaris you’re bound to go on in Kenya, Diani beach is where you get to relax and unwind.
Hike Mount Kenya
Mount Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa and is situated right above the equator. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site and Biosphere Reserve. Most hikers manage to reach the third highest peak of Mount Kenya, and you will find several guided tours that will take you there via different routes. Hiking to the top of this mountain is extremely challenging, but if you like a challenge… go for it!
Sip espressos in Watamu
Moving further up the coast of Kenya, towards the north of Kilifi, you will find the beach town Watamu also known as ‘Little Italy’. This place has dazzling beaches, ancient ruins, and lush green jungles so ladies, visiting this town is a must especially if you’re a fan of spectacular views, espresso sipping and great gelato, thanks to all the Italian tourists that flock here.
Spend a day in Mombasa
On the coast of Kenya lies another great city called Mombasa. If you’re looking for top things to do in Kenya, this is a great place for female travelers to explore. The Old Fort museum is among one of the highlights of the city, but the best experience to be had here is to revel in the chaos of the lively ancient city and wander around its market area for fabulous shopping and bargaining opportunities.
Cycle your way out of Hell Gate National Park
Looking for a unique Kenya safari experience away from the crowds? Hell Gate National Park Cycle Safari is definitely worth checking out. Get up at dawn to cycle past zebras, giraffes and other exotic creatures and create memories that’ll last forever. You can also get some surreal photo-opportunities with the morning sun on your face, wind in your hair and with wildlife close by and ready to pounce or purr.
AFRICA TOP 25 ADVENTURES
Browse the ultimate
Bucket Bunny List of the top 25 Africa travel adventures.
White water raft the Zambezi river, visit Kruger National Park or go gorilla trekking in Rwanda. Enjoy browsing our top 25 Africa Travel Adventures and be inspired to tick off a few yourself.
KENYA TOP 3 FESTIVALS
Lamu Cultural Festival
This festival is held in November in the beautiful island of Lamu. Lamu is a World Heritage Site, and this festival provides an insight into the lives of the people of Lamu during ancient times. Some cultural activities like Swahili poetry recitation, henna painting, dhow sailing, donkey racing and a few Swahili weddings are the main attraction of the Lamu Cultural Festival.
The Mombasa Carnival
This is believed to be the most popular of all Kenyan festivals, organized by the Ministry of Tourism. Two parades converge on Moi Avenue with Mombasa’s multicultural communities represented by floats, costumes, music and dance, beautifully showcasing Kenya’s traditions. Visit Kenya when the Mombasa carnival is on which is usually in November so you can experience the African festive spirit.
Lake Turkana Festival
This annual festival is incredibly unique as it overcomes stereotypes and develops a sense of mutual understanding of diverse cultures and motivates people to coexist peacefully. People from ten different ethnic communities living in the Lake Turkana region give unique dance performances. Visit the homes of the natives and taste their delicious home cooked cuisine.
Language: Swahili is the national language of Kenya, spoken by almost 100% of the population. English is the language of choice used in the tourism industry, businesses, and schools. Hence, you will not face any problem in communicating with the locals in Kenya.
Currency: Kenyan Shilling.
Visa: Both a visa and a passport are required to enter Kenya. Single, as well as multiple entry visas are available and make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of departure. Use these free online visa checker and calculator tools so you know if a visa is required (which depends on the country you’re from) and if so, how long it will take to process your visa.
Electricity: Kenya operates on 240 V electric supply with a frequency of 50 Hz. Associated plug type is Type G, and all appliances used between 220-240V will operate here. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
Lonely Planet Kenya: Check price on Amazon
WHAT TO EAT IN KENYA
Some of the most delicious, traditional dishes that you must try when in Kenya are listed below. Ready to start drooling?
Irio: Iryo is a traditional dish from Kenya which is made of potatoes, green vegetables, and peas. In some versions of Irio, corn is also included. It is served as a side with steak-Nyama choma, and this combination in Kenya is known as Nyama Na Irio.
Pilau: Pilau is a rice meal where rice is cooked with spices like cumin, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon, in a stock of chicken, meat or fish. Meat is usually pan-fried until it turns brown before adding it to rice. Most pilau uses goat meat and is absolutely delicious.
Chapati: Chapati is flatbread and the most preferred with all kinds of meals. White flour, salt, and oil are kneaded together and then rolled out to form chapattis. In Kenya, they are served with kachumbari or a tasty stew.
Matoke: Makote is a staple dish of Kenya and is made of green bananas. Bananas are cooked with tomatoes, garlic onion, and meat until they become mushy. The preparation is then mashed and served with an incredibly delicious sauce. The meal is super delectable and mouthwatering.
Maharagwe: This dish is made of red beans which are cooked in coconut milk, and authentic Kenyan spices are added to enhance the flavor. In a different version of Maharagwe, red beans are cooked with chicken, skipping the coconut milk.
WHERE TO STAY IN KENYA
Kenya is an incredibly affordable place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Kenya is super easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget.
Hostels and dormitories make travel to Kenya affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, Kenya will not disappoint you. A basic hotel room in Kenya can cost less than $8 dollars. If you’re looking for accommodation that includes western amenities and comforts then there will be more options to choose from in the big cities and popular tourist hotspots like Nairobi or Mombasa. If you’re traveling to Kenya during peak season or wish to stay in a luxury hotel then it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have already been snapped up. Kenya is a pretty popular year-round destination you know!
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Kenya. However, if you’re backpacking in Kenya or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Africa very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
If you’re hoping to go on safari, the best time to visit Kenya is from June to October, the country’s dry season although the wildlife can be seen year-round, with babies being born towards the end of the year. The wildebeest migration usually reaches the Masai Mara in July and remains until October when they move back to the Serengeti in Tanzania.
KENYA TRAVEL BUDGET
Kenya is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to Kenya really depends on the level of comfort you will expect while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating street food then budget between $25 to $35 a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $35 to $60 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants in places like Kenya’s capital Nairobi then budget about $60 to $150 plus a day.
IS KENYA SAFE FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS?
Safety is a concern for most people traveling to Kenya. Most regions of Kenya, including the major cities like Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa have a high crime rate. Kidnappings, robberies and carjackings are common here, even during the daytime. Bag-snatching, pick-pocketing and other scams to take advantage of travelers are also common in Kenya. Female travelers to Kenya should be extra careful when walking alone or at night. Based on my own travel experiences in Africa I would never leave home without travel insurance. I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks before your trip to Kenya.
GET YOUR KENYA VISA
KENYA FLIGHT DEALS
KENYA TOURS & ACTIVITIES
KENYA PACKING TIPS
Packing for a trip to Kenya, like most other places in Africa, is a breeze. You really don’t need as much travel gear as you may think for a trip to Kenya and it’s always best to travel light whenever possible.
That said, the gear you do bring on your trip should be the very best option available for you and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Jetset Bunnies around the globe are always discovering the latest and the greatest in travel gear for women and this is where we share our fabulous finds with you.
It’s so easy to travel light in hotter climates just remember to pack lightweight and breathable lose-fitting clothing. Be prepared for the occasional cool evening depending on the month you visit and pack a warm sweater just in case. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need in the larger cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Kenya include, most importantly, a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Read our related blog post with tips and advice on how to choose the best backpacks for women travelers. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
So if you’ve found your travel inspiration, figured out the practicalities and got the travel gear it’s time to stuff it all in a bag and go right? Well, no, hold your horses, you see there’s an art to packing which we have (almost) perfected. Hop to our Travel Packing Tips for all of the latest on this topic.