Kenya is home to an abundance of wildlife, as well as diverse landscapes, ranging from dramatic mountains to idyllic beaches. The variation of ways to spend your time here makes the country an ideal destination for both families and couples; there are a number of luxury honeymoon lodges, as well as family-friendly safaris, which will have your children marvelling at the roaming wildlife. Whether you’re heading off on safari or spending your time on the coast, here are some things to know before travelling to Kenya.

Climate & Weather

Given the diversity of the landscapes in Kenya, the climate also varies considerably. Along the coast, the climate is tropical, with more rainfall and higher temperatures and a rainy season that tends to span from March to May. Further inland, the climate is drier, with cooler temperatures at night and in the mornings, and rising throughout the day. The elevation at which you’re staying also has an influence on the weather you’ll experience. Pack layers in preparation for colder evenings, but also ensure you bring plenty of sun cream for the sizzling days.

Food & Drink

The tap water in Kenya isn’t safe to drink, so ensure you only drink water from a dispenser or buy bottled water, which is readily available. It’s also sensible to avoid ice and fruit and vegetables that might have been washed with tap water. Kenya’s food offerings are diverse, with influences from all over the world. The most common food staple is ugali, which is made from cornmeal, and usually served with vegetables and stew. Irio, a combination of mashed peas and potatoes, is another common dish and is often eaten alongside nyama choma (roasted meat). Along the Indian Ocean coast, you’ll find coconut rice and plenty of fried fish, as well as traditional Indian dishes, such as samosas and chapatis. For something sweet, try a mandazi, a kind of deep-fried dough similar to a doughnut. It may take some time for your stomach to adjust to the foreign ingredients in Kenyan food and while the food at lodges will be prepared well, it’s important to be wary of food hygiene if consuming street food.


In the capital city of Nairobi, there is an effective bus service which covers the suburbs. The Kenyan railway now also has a trainline running between Nairobi and Momboasa. The public transport system in Kenya also consists of privately-owned and operated vehicles, known as matatus. While these have no fixed timetable, they are effective for reaching every part of the country. When taking a taxi, it’s recommended to negotiate the fare before the journey starts, as most will not have a functioning meter. Boda-bodas (bike or motorbike taxis) are another form of public transport used regularly by locals but rarely by tourists.


While the country is safe to travel to, there are some things to be aware of once you’re there. Pick-pocketing and petty crime is an issue in Kenya, especially in the more touristy areas, so it’s important to be conscious of your belongings in busy areas. Avoid wearing valuable jewellery and watches, as well as brand new clothing. Take precautions to avoid crime as you would in other destinations: don’t leave belongings unattended on beaches, don’t carry too much cash and don’t walk alone at night. Carrying a backpack could also identify you as a tourist and a money-belt or pouch tucked into your clothing is a more secure alternative. There are specific areas of the country that are considered unsafe (along the border regions with Somalia, South Sudan and Ethiopia), however these are not areas of the country that tourists visit.

In terms of health and safety, one of the key things to know before travelling to Kenya is to purchase malaria pills before leaving and pack plenty of insect repellent, as malaria is prevalent in Kenya. Also ensure that you’re up to date on all necessary vaccines far enough in advance of your departure. It’s a good idea to take a small first-aid kit and some medical supplies with you, as these may be more difficult to access in some areas of the country.


Kenya has introduced a ban on single-use plastics, with plastic bags and water bottles included in the prohibited items. When packing toiletries, reusable mesh bags are a convenient alternative to buy before your trip. If you’re embarking on a safari during your holiday (which is highly recommended), make sure you pack appropriately. Natural fibres such as cotton and linen are a good choice, as they’re naturally breathable for the hot temperatures. However, game drives in the morning can be colder, so layering up is a good idea. Wearing muted colours is advised, as they avoid disturbing animals or drawing attention. A wide-brimmed hat with an adjustable drawstring and sunscreen are also essential.

Additional Information

It’s required by law to carry your passport with you everywhere in Kenya, so make you have it with you just in case you’re asked to present it. Making a copy of your passport and important documents to keep in your luggage is also sensible. As well as taking plenty of insect repellent, always ensure you use mosquito nets provided in your accommodation and consider wearing long sleeves and trousers to protect against being bitten by mosquitos or insects.

Culture Hit

Read: West with the Night, Beryl Markham’s beautifully written reminisces of growing up in Kenya (then British East Africa) in the early 1900s. 

Watch: Out of Africa (1985), starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford and based on Karen Blixen’s moving memoir. 

Listen: Kenya Special, a compilation of funky Eastern African afro-beat tracks from the 1970s & ‘80s. 

Contact one of our Kenya specialists