History and Culture: Recognised as the 'cradle of humanity' (as a result of the Leakey's' famous Rift Valley digs), it has one of the most diverse and colourful collections of tribal people anywhere on the continent. Colonised by the British it became independent in 1963, led by Kenyatta of the Kenya African National Union (KANU) until his death in 1978. Kenya's area of 582,000 km makes it about 2 x the size of Britain and nearly 1 1/2x the size of California. The population is levelling off at 28 million. Most people are engaged in subsistence agriculture to scrape a living. The economy is based upon tea, coffee and tourism. The staple diet is Ugali, (maize) with relish (katchambari - onions, tomatoes, coriander with chillies).

Politically: Kenya is a multi-party democracy in theory - the first democratic elections took place in 2002, which saw the end of the Daniel Arab Moi regime. New party anti-corruption campaign have made some headway. Kenya's a legal framework and constitution is very much in line with the London-Westminister UK pattern.


Internal Travel: Minibuses (matatus) or buses between & within towns. The train network links Nairobi - Mombasa and Nairobi - Uganda; it is slow and unreliable. Roads are poorly maintained (potholes rule!) and consistently challenge any car's suspension.
Several Companies provide daily express to Dar es Salaam. Travelling in from Tanzania or Uganda by land is only for those with firm bums, long novels and lots of time to kill.

Climate: : Hot Sept-May. Rains Oct-Dec & March-May. Cold/winter - June-end Aug (you'll need jumpers & fires).

Water: OK from taps and wells - sometimes water cuts Sept-Nov. The hours of daylight are aprox 6am-6pm.
Malaria: Widespread - Vivax & Malari - can be serious - dress up at dusk, cover skin if out, use mosquito net and mozzie coils. Emergency malarial treatment is readily available in all local shops & private hospitals are ok.


Culture: : Tips - start all conversations off with a greeting first. Hello - 'Habari' response - 'Mzuri'. Post is reliable but costly. Internet/phone cafes+ Host appreciate small gifts like a postcard/tea towel/basket of vegetables/fruit.


Currency: The Kenyan Shilling (local currency) is divided into 100 cents. The currency is fairly stable and Visa/Master cards can be drawn upon and travellers' cheques cashed, in most large cities and posh hotels. Hard currency can be exchanged at Forex Bureau's and US $ cash withdrawals against your home account is possible.

Language: : English and Swahili are the official languages. Kikuyu, Luhia, Luo & Kikamba are also widely spoken.

Time: Malawi time is 2 hours ahead of UTC/GMT not withstanding 'summer/winter' time clock alterations.

Public Holidays: 1 Jan, 1 May (Labour Day), 1June, 10 October, (Kenyatta Day), 12 December (Independence), 25 Christmas & 26 Dec' - Boxing Day, 1st Jan - New Year, Good Friday, Easter Monday and various Islamic Days.



Towns and regions

NAIROBI: Is the capital, a large cosmopolitan city, home to 1 million people and many embassies, but security is a concern. It has museums & cinemas!!
MOMBASA: The largest port on the coast of East Africa. Historic and popular 'hip' coastal destination.
DIANI BEACH: a typical tropical paradise' beach south of Mombasa.
KILIFI: A coastal town north of Mombasa home to the Mnarani Ruins (old Swahili city-state).
KISUMU: On lake Victoria and is Kenya's 3rd largest town. Easy going atmosphere - lively, busy.
KOGELO: is the village that President Barack Obama's father and family comes from. His grandmother, Sarah Onyango Obama, still live there. It is located near the equator, 60 kilometres west-northwest of Kisumu, the provincial capital. They have even named a beer after him. The beer called Senator is now commonly called Obama.
LAMU: On the Indian Ocean coast with access still only by motor launch it rivals Zanzibar's atmosphere. An almost exclusively Muslim population.
KITALE: Agricultural service town - not too exciting!
ISIOLO: Where the tarmac ends, is the frontier town for north-eastern Kenya - a vast area of forested and barren mountains, deserts, scrub and Lake Turkana and home to the colourful Boran, Samburu, Rendille and Turkana people.
LAKE NAVASHA: Rift valley fresh-water lake town, home to incredible variety of birds
LAKE TURKANA: Hard to get too but picturesque


In Brief:                Servas Kenya 

Kenya has some the largest, best stocked and most accessible game parks in Africa, plentiful coral reefs and palm-fringed white sand beaches lying along the Indian Ocean.
Mt Kenya looms up from the plains and ancient Swahili cities (which rival Zanzibar) offer endless possibilities for adventure in the arid north.