Recent trouble in Kenya has distracted tourists from the delights of the East African country that was previously one of the most visited in the continent. Tension and violence after last year’s election spread throughout the country and, though the situation has largely stabilized now, many tourists still stay away. For the more adventurous, this is no bad thing. Now is the perfect time to find cheap flights to Kenya and deals on hotels and resorts. And as the biggest appeal of this country is its stunning game parks, the main attraction remains untouched.
With a spectacular landscape that includes the Maasai Mara reserve, Rift Valley, Kikuyu moorlands and Mount Kenya (the second largest mountain in Africa) natural habitats have arisen to suit all types of wildlife. Kenya is the number one destination for big game. From safari lodges throughout the country, tourists head off to spot elephants, lions, giraffe, buffalo and monkeys, baboons, cheetahs… the list is almost endless. Naturalists book Kenya flights to explore its varied terrain: forests, moors, mountains and huge expanses of plains, across which the famous migration of wildebeest takes place once a year
Kenya’s rainy season lasts from April to June and October to early December. It’s hot and humid on the coast all year round, but onshore breezes make it more comfortable. It’s hot and dry in the lowlands while the highlands are more temperate and cooler at night. October-January, though still off-peak, is the best time to book trips to Kenya for snorkeling as the seas are at their clearest. January and February are the hottest and driest months, however, it can be easy to spot wildlife congregating around water holes.
The annual migration of wildebeest and other animals across the plains of the Maasai Mara takes place between June and September. Consequently, this is the peak season for safaris and prices rise drastically across the country.
The rainy seasons are the main off-peak seasons, though still a good time to visit. Prices can be cheaper and there are better deals to be found. Though you will miss the migration, there are still plenty of big game to be spotted, as well as the other attractions of mountains, diving on the coast and the ancient tribe of the Maasai.
October-January, though still off-peak, is the best time to visit for snorkeling as the seas are at their clearest. January and February are the hottest and driest months, however, it can be easy to spot wildlife congregating around water holes.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and Moi International Airport in Mombasa are the primary international hubs in Kenya, with some flights arriving at international airports in Eldoret and Kisumu. Flight time to Nairobi or Mombasa averages a little over 15 hours from New York, about 18.25 hours from Seattle, 16.3 hours from Miami and just under 20 hours from Los Angeles. Flights from the United States include at least one stop, generally in Europe or northern Africa.
As large cosmopolitan cities, Nairobi and Mombasa are served by numerous large airlines, including U.S. air carriers Delta, American Airlines and United Airlines. Major international carriers that fly to Kenya from the U.S. include British Airways, KLM, Emirates Airlines and Lufthansa.
Daytime temperatures can reach highs in the 80s throughout the year in Kenya, so warm weather attire and sunblock is a must. If your visit takes you to the country’s coastal areas, be sure to pack your swim suit and towel. Temperatures at night are generally mild, with averages rarely dropping below 50 degrees in the lowlands, so if you stay in the cities, a light jacket should be all you need. If you head to the interior highlands for a safari, pack a sweater or coat for the chilly mornings and evenings. Bring rain gear if you travel to Kenya during the spring monsoon season, which peaks in April and May. You should also bring wet weather clothes and an umbrella in November and December.
There are many scheduled Kenya flights available from Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi to domestic destinations such as Mombasa, Lamu or the game reserves of the Maasai Mara. In total, Kenya has around 250 airports and internal Kenya flights are cheap, so it can be the most efficient way to travel both for time and cost.
Trains are available, though generally slow and not very reliable. Railways have been allowed to deteriorate a lot over recent years.
Shared taxis and minibuses, called matutas,are the most popular means of transportation for short distances and between cities. They used to be very dangerous, but a recent government crack-down on safety has improved the services somewhat. It is often recommended not to use matatus at night.
Rental cars are available from main cities. Remember that road conditions will be poor if you’re considering traveling any way off the beaten track (anywhere off the main roads that connect major urban centers). Hiring a four-wheel-drive vehicle is advisable.
For many tourists the biggest draw in Kenya is the natural beauty and wildlife of the savanna. Book a safari for a chance to spot lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras and other famous creatures. Visit Kenya between July and early October to catch the annual wildebeest migration on the Serengeti, which features vast herds of the animals accompanied by zebras, gazelles and impala, as well as a variety of carnivores on the hunt.
The cities of Nairobi and Mombasa are packed with dining, sightseeing and cultural opportunities. Nairobi features the Nairobi National Museum and Kenya National Archives, which each explore facets of the country’s history, art and people. The city also offers plenty of opportunities to see wildlife up close without heading to the savanna, including the Giraffe Centre, the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and the Nairobi Safari Walk. The Maasai Market sells a variety of artisan crafts that reflect the nation’s diverse cultural roots.
Set on an island Mombasa is a gateway to exploring Kenya’s coastal areas, including the sprawling Coral Sand Beach and numerous diving and snorkeling locations. The 16th century Fort Jesus overlooks the city and features tunnels, guns and turrets to help bring the city’s history alive. Mombasa’s old town features narrow streets full of twists, turns and classic Arabic architecture. Explore the neighborhoods many markets and restaurants for an experience that takes you back in time.
Major airlines, such as Delta, United, and British Airways that fly into Nairobi and Mombasa also offer return flights from Kenya. Numerous smaller airlines connect the Kenya’s international airports with more than 250 smaller airports.
You can reach Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Moi International Airport easily by taxi, shuttle, rental car or the public bus system.
(prices quoted are from London)