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Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya, is a country in Africa and a founding member of the East African Community(EAC). Its capital and largest city is Nairobi. Kenya's territory lies on the equator and overlies the East African Rift covering a diverse and expansive terrain that extends roughly from Lake Victoria to Lake Turkana (formerly called Lake Rudolf) and further south-east to the Indian Ocean. It is bordered byTanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, South Sudan to the north-west, Ethiopia to the north and Somalia to the north-east. Kenya covers 581,309 km2 (224,445 sq mi), and had a population of approximately 45 million people in July 2014.
Kenya has a warm and humid tropical climate on its Indian Ocean coastline. The climate is cooler in the savannah grasslands around the capital city, Nairobi, and especially closer to Mount Kenya, which has snow permanently on its peaks. Further inland, in the Nyanza region, there is a hot and dry climate which becomes humid around Lake Victoria, the largest tropical fresh-water lake in the world. This gives way to temperate and forested hilly areas in the neighboring western region. The north-eastern regions along the border with Somalia and Ethiopia are arid and semi-arid areas with near-desert landscapes. Kenya is known for its safaris, diverse climate and geography, and expansive wildlife reserves and national parks such as the East and West Tsavo National Park, the Maasai Mara, Lake Nakuru National Park, and Aberdares National Park. Kenya has several world heritage sites such as Lamuand numerous beaches, including in Diani, Bamburi and Kilifi, where international yachting competitions are held every year.
The African Great Lakes region, which Kenya is a part of, has been inhabited by humans since the Lower Paleolithic period. By the first millennium AD, theBantu expansion had reached the area from West-Central Africa. The borders of the modern state consequently comprise the crossroads of the Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan and Afroasiatic areas of the continent, representing most major ethnolinguistic groups found in Africa. Bantu and Nilotic populations together constitute around 97% of the nation's residents. European and Arab presence in coastal Mombasa dates to the Early Modern period; European exploration of the interior began in the 19th century. The British Empire established the East Africa Protectorate in 1895, which starting in 1920 gave way to the Kenya Colony. Kenya obtained independence in December 1963. Following a referendum in August 2010 and adoption of a new constitution, Kenya is now divided into 47 semi-autonomous counties, governed by elected governors.
The capital, Nairobi, is a regional commercial hub. The economy of Kenya is the largest by GDP in East and Central Africa. Agriculture is a major employer; the country traditionally exports tea and coffee and has more recently begun to export fresh flowers to Europe. The service industry is also a major economic driver. Additionally, Kenya is a member of the East African Community trading bloc.
The Republic of Kenya is named after Mount Kenya. The origin of the name Kenya is not clear, but perhaps linked to the Kikuyu, Embu and Kamba words Kirinyaga, Kirenyaa and Kiinyaa which mean "God's resting place" in all three languages. If so, then the British may not so much have mispronounced it ('Keenya'), as misspelled it. Prehistoric volcanic eruptions of Mount Kenya (now extinct) may have resulted in its association with divinity and creation among the indigenous Bantu ethnic groups, who are the native inhabitants of the agricultural land surrounding Mount Kenya.
Getting to Kenya has never been easier. Many airlines are now part of global alliances that have made travel to Kenyafaster and more affordable. From the UK alone, British Airways, Kenya Airways, Virgin Atlantic and charter firms Thomson and Monarch all fly direct to Nairobi or Mombasa on a frequent basis, while over 40 other international airlines route via European, Middle Eastern or Asian destinations. Internally, there is an extensive network of routes served by several excellent regional airlines and charter firms, meaning transfers by air are both efficient and affordable.
Visas and Passports
Three-month tourist visas to visit Kenya can be obtained on arrival or prior to departure from the Kenyan High Commission or Embassy in your home country. (For a few specific countries, visas must be obtained prior to departure.) The current rates are UK£30/US$50 for a Single Entry Visa which must be paid in cash. Children are also required to obtain an entry visa. Obtaining a visa on arrival is straightforward, but to speed up the immigration process, it is recommended that the visa form is downloaded and completed before departure. The passport holder must have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining and ideally with two full blank pages. It is recommended that the latest fees and requirements are checked online before departure.
The local unit of currency is the Kenya Shilling (Ksh). At the time of writing, US$1 = approximately Ksh100, but the exchange rate fluctuates considerably. There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency, but for amounts greater than US$5,000 you will need to complete a declaration form. Hotels and banks will change cash and travellers cheques, although more favourable rates are usually obtained at forex bureaus. Avoid changing money with street dealers (however attractive their rates) and in general try to avoid carrying a lot of cash around. ATMs accept international credit and debit cards and all hotels accept Mastercard, Visa, Amex and other major cards.
It is recommended that all visitors see their doctor 4-8 weeks prior to departure for advice on medication and vaccinations. Hepatitis A and B, typhoid and polio are usually recommended vaccinations. Visitors over one year of age entering Kenyafrom yellow fever infected areas must have an international certificate of vaccination. Malaria remains a serious risk in much of the country (although the risk is lower in the highlands above 2,500m), and visitors are strongly advised to take prophylactic treatment before leaving home and throughout your time in Kenya. Drinking tap water is not advisable.
Health and travel insurance are highly recommended, and you should ensure that your travel insurance includes emergency evacuation.
Golfers enjoying Kenya’s courses (and other attractions) through a reputable tour operator are usually taking no greater a risk than playing at home. That said, some ‘common sense’ advice is worth emphasising: avoid visiting informal settlements (slums) in Nairobi, Mombasa and other urban areas; avoid any large public gatherings; avoid travel by buses and mini-buses, otherwise known as matatus; and avoid walking in the city at night. Unfortunately, the global threat of terrorism is equally prevalent in Kenya and the only practical advice can be ‘remain vigilant’.