Kenya is home to one of the oldest, most vibrant civilizations on Earth.
When you think of the East African country, your mind’s eye probably starts scanning the vast plains of one of Kenya’s savannas. If you only have time for a single adventure while in the country, a safari in one of Kenya’s 19 national parks and game reserves is sure to impress. Travellers can see all of the “Big Five” (lions, leopards, buffalo, rhino, and elephants) and admire the beautiful, varied geography that defines the Kenyan landscape.
If a cultural lesson is what you fancy, Kenya is home to a number of tribes, including the Maasai people. A visit to one of the villages or time spent in a local homestay can provide a unique and immersive experience for travellers.
Not to be forgotten is Kenya’s oceanside east coast. Bordering the Indian Ocean, cities and towns such as Mombasa and Malindi invite tourists to soak up the sun and wander fascinating waterfronts with architecture inspired by years of Swahili culture and colonial rule.
Tourism numbers have declined slightly in the past few years as the result of security concerns and travel advisories, but the country is still ripe to explore for adventurous travellers.
The Public Health Agency (PHA) advises Italian travellers to consider the following vaccinations before travelling to Kenya:
- Yellow Fever: It is essential to have received the yellow fever vaccination if you plan to travel to Kenya. Border officials will ask to see the certificate and random spot checks are becoming increasingly common.
- Meningitis: Kenya is located in the Meningitis Belt which stretches across a central part of Africa. It is considered a high risk area for contracting meningococcal disease. Travellers planning to spend longer periods of time in Kenya, especially those working closely with the local population, should ensure they have this shot.
- Hepatitis A: This liver disease can be contracted if travellers eat contaminated food or water. Vaccination will provide nearly complete protection against transmission of Hepatitis A.
- Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is a liver disease transmitted through unprotected sex, exchange of contaminated bodily fluids, or the use of dirty piercing tools and needles. Hepatitis B cases are on the rise in Kenya, though vaccination offers 95% effectiveness against the disease.
- Polio: A contagious disease spread through contaminated food and water. Kenya experienced a polio outbreak in 2013, though the risk remains low for most travellers.
- Rabies: The three-dose rabies vaccination is recommended for travellers spending extended periods of time in Kenya, especially if they will be working with animals or children.
Kenya is home to mosquitoes that may be infected with various strains of malaria. Travellers are at risk of being bit by an infected mosquito anywhere in the country that is 2,500 metres or lower. The only location in the country where there is no risk is the central part of Nairobi. The PHA recommends contacting a medical specialist six weeks prior to departure to talk about mosquito prevention measures and antimalarial medication.
There are also a variety of other insect-borne diseases that can be contracted in Kenya, including Dengue fever, Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus, and others. Careful mosquito prevention is recommended to protect from infection.
Nairobi is the medical hub for East Africa and facilities are of much higher standard in the city than in other parts of the country and region.
The PHA recommends traveler’s visit a travel health clinic before leaving to Kenya. To schedule your appointment at your Passport Health clinic call +39 392 0056499 or book your appointment online.
The climate of Kenya varies due to geographical features such as the Great Rift Valley and other areas of elevation. Cities are also impacted by Kenya’s position next to the Indian Ocean and Lake Victoria. Here is the climate in some major tourist destinations:
Nairobi: Nairobi’s climate is influenced by its elevation, and the capital city is nearly 1,800 metres above sea level. As a result, daily temperatures usually fall in the mid-20’s, but evening temperatures can drop as low as 10° Celsius. April and May and October to December are the two rainy periods, though precipitation is only moderate.
Mombasa: Kenya’s second largest city has a tropical climate that experiences temperatures warmer than Nairobi, with more rain during the April/May rainy period. Temperatures range from 20° Celsius to 32° Celsius.
Kisumu: Kisumu is located in western Kenya next to Lake Victoria. The city has a similar climate to Nairobi, with warm days and cooler evenings.
Malindi: The coastal town of Malindi is where travellers head to soak up the sun. The climate is tropical and coastal effect means the temperature goes from cool to hot nearly every day.
The rainy seasons between October and November and late March to mid-June can cause flooding requiring evacuations. Weather conditions should be monitored closely at these times of the year, and travel to rural regions should be avoided.
Kenya has a high rate of crime, and incidents are on the rise, especially in Nairobi and other major cities. In Nairobi, the neighbourhoods of Eastleigh, Kibere, Kasarani, and Mathare should be avoided, even during daylight hours. Extreme incidents such as kidnappings and carjackings have occurred in these areas and petty crime such as bag snatching and pickpocketing is also common throughout cities.
Travellers are encouraged to be cautious of who they trust. Scammers and thieves have been reported to impersonate police and government officials. You should only stay at legitimate hotels and should have either them or your tour company pick you up at the airport. Inter-city and long distance public transportation is not considered safe for travellers, particularly those venturing alone at night.
The riskiest part of Kenya is in the north along the Somalia border. A number of terrorist acts have been carried out by al-Shabaab, an Islamist extremist group. Incidents include the 2015 gun attack at Garissa University College that killed at least 140 people. Travel is not recommended to this area.
To protect yourself from potential terrorist attacks, the Italian Government recommends being extra vigilant in large crowds or packed places such as sporting events and nightclubs. Locations frequented by expats and travellers such as coffee shops, safari lodges, bars, and shopping centres could also be targets. More caution should also be exercised during major religious holidays.
There are several further incidents of crime in Kenya.
In addition to beach and safari gear, here are a few other items you may wish to consider packing for your Kenya trip:
- Eye drops and a face mask: Kenya’s safari circuit and its cities can be dusty and dirty. These two essential packing items will ensure you’re able to keep your eyes and throat clear as you ride in an open-air safari car or tuk tuk.
- A pashmina or another light cover up: A scarf will be ideal to protect your shoulders from the sun, ease an evening chill, or cover up in areas of Kenya where more modest dress is required.
- Visa application form: If you are planning to apply for your Kenya visa upon arrival it’s important to print all applicable documentation before leaving home, including a Kenya visa application form. Not all airlines or buses will carry these forms, and you don’t want to be stuck in a jam at the border.
- Extra memory cards and camera batteries: Many travellers visiting Kenya go on safari. Ensure you pack extra memory cards and camera batteries so you don’t miss a moment. Both extreme heat and the evening cold can zap the juice out of your gear, so be mindful that they may not last as long as at home.
- Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate: Kenya is very strict about ensuring travellers have received their Yellow Fever vaccination. Spot checks for the certificate are increasingly common, so you should carry a copy of the document with you at all times. Make photocopies of the certificate in case you lose the original.
All Italians visiting Kenya should register with the Embassy in Kenya before departure. This will inform the office of your travel plans within the country and will allow them to reach out to you in the case of an emergency or evacuation. If you plan to purchase a local SIM card you can also enter your phone number to receive SMS updates from the office.
Ambasciata d'Italia a Nairobi
International House, 9th Floor Mama 'Ngina Street.
P.O.Box 30107 - 00100 Nairobi
Tel: (0025420) 2247750, 2247696, 2247755, 3343144, 3319050, 3319006, 3319030, 2240116, 2240112
00254 (0) 703 136286, 00254 (0) 733 330038
Visit the Italian Embassy website prior to your departure to confirm correct contact details for the office.
Italians must have a visa to travel to Kenya. While temporary visas are available when you enter the country by air or overland, it is strongly suggested that travellers apply and receive a visa ahead of time. Kenya has created an eCitizen website where [prospective visitors to the country can apply for an eVisa in advance of their trip. If approved, visas are valid for up to three months.
To apply for a visa, Italians must hold a passport that is valid for at least six months on the date of arrival. In addition, travellers must be able to show proof of Yellow Fever vaccination, even when transiting through one of Kenya’s airports to an onward destination. For those travelling through Kenya, they can apply for a three-day transit visa.
Kenya has strict rules around permits for Italians intending to work or volunteer in the country. Failure to get the proper work permit can lead to a fine or deportation from the country. The Embassy of Kenya is a good resource for travellers, volunteers, and other workers looking to have their visit to the country approved.
Kenyan immigration is currently working with Rwanda and Uganda to create an East Africa Tourist visa, a multiple entry document that once issued will allow for 90 days of unlimited travel between the three countries.
If you have any questions about travelling to Kenya or are wondering what shots you may need for your trip, schedule an appointment with your International Health Passport clinic today or speak to a Travel specialist on +39 392 0056499.