Tourism in Kenya
How many parks and reserves are there in Kenya?
Kenya has a total of 54 national parks and reserves. The largest of these parks, Tsavo East and West national parks, cover some 21,754 square kilometers – more than 450 square kilometers larger than Wales – while the smallest, Saiwa Swamp National Park, measures just 3 square kilometers. The management of our parks and reserves is the responsibility of the Kenya Wildlife Service and individual county councils. For more information on Kenya’s parks, please visit: www.kws.org.
How many tourists visit Kenya and from where?
More than 500,000 tourists visit Kenya each year. Most of them come from Europe and America, with Europe accounting for over 70% of the country’s visitors. Other tourists come from Asia, Scandinavia, and other African countries. Among the European countries, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland contribute the highest number of tourists. From Asia, Japan is the leading market.
What are Kenya’s main attractions?
Kenya boasts seven wild habitats in one country, ranging from open savannah to sandy beaches, deep forests to snow-capped mountains, wild deserts to coral reefs and river deltas. The country’s other natural attractions include a diverse culture, with 42 ethnic groups, a rich sporting history, and several major archaeological sites. Of course, none of these attractions would be complete without Kenya’s warm people and their famous hospitality.
After a century as Africa’s main tourist destination, Kenya’s primary attraction remains its diverse and bountiful wildlife. The country’s national parks and reserves – as well as a growing number of conservation conscious private ranches – remain the best place in Africa to see the ‘Big Five’ (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard), as well as several highly endangered species, such as Grevy zebra, black rhino, African hunting dog, and sable and Hirola antelope. The country is also blessed with some of the world’s richest birdlife – some 1,500 species in all – with Lake Baringo holding the world record for the number of species spotted in a single day. Kenya’s small mammals, reptiles and insects also offer fascinating smaller-scale safaris, including a new category to tick off in the ‘Small Five’ (leopard tortoise, ant lion, elephant shrew, buffalo weaver and rhinoceros beetle). For more information, visit the Kenya Tourist Board’s award-winning website: www.magicalkenya.com.
Are there tourist seasons in Kenya?
There are two high and two low tourist seasons each year. The high seasons are from July to September and December to February, with the low seasons from March to June and October to December. During the low seasons, the country continues to receive some international visitors, together with a sizeable number of domestic tourists.
Are the tourist seasons tied to the climate?
Kenya’s tourism seasons are determined more by the traveling patterns of its visitors than by climatic conditions. The country enjoys a hot tropical climate almost all year round, except for a wet season between April and June and a cold season in July and August. Even during the wet and cold seasons, daytime temperatures rarely fall below 16 Celsius.
How easy is it to get to Kenya?
Kenya is served by several major airlines, which fly in to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and Moi International Airport in Mombasa. Some Commonwealth citizens do not require visas. We strongly recommend you check with the nearest Kenya Embassy or your travel agent to ensure you have the most up to date visa information. Yellow fever and cholera vaccinations are required only for visitors arriving from countries where these diseases are endemic. Check with your Embassy and/or local heath office for more details.
How can one minimize health risks while on holiday?
Anti-malarial prophylactics should be taken before, during and after your visit, especially if you are visiting coastal areas. Good medical facilities are available in all of Kenya’s major cities. Membership with groups such as the Flying Doctors is also recommended. Hotels, camps and lodges usually provide either bottled water or filtered water for drinking. Visitors should try not to drink the tap water.
Who plans for the tourism industry in Kenya?
Tourism planning in Kenya is a collaborative effort between the government and the private sector. While the government plays a major role in terms of policy formulation, other stakeholders are involved in initiatives to support government policy by organizing themselves into societies and associations. The main government department responsible for policy formulation is the Ministry of Tourism and Information. The Kenya Tourist Board has the responsibility of translating our marketing strategies into visitor numbers, while the Kenya Tourist Development Corporation works to provide an enabling environment for investment in tourism. Supporting the country’s efforts to build a world-class tourism destination is the Utalii College in Nairobi, Africa’s only specialized tourism college, which offers training in hotel and restaurant management, tour guiding, and other customer services.
Do tour operators in Kenya have a code of practice?
Tour operators in Kenya have a code of conduct developed and enforced by the Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO). For non-members of KATO, monitoring is left to the licensing authority, which is the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife. Always check your operator’s credentials with KATO www.katokenya.org or Ecotourism Kenya www.ecotourismkenya.org
How important is a good safari guide?
Good guiding is arguably the most important part of any African safari. Fortunately for visitors to Kenya, there is a well-established and thorough system for training and certifying local safari guides. This includes formal training in colleges and a certification scheme. The Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association (KPSGA) undertakes the certification, which rates practicing guides through bronze, silver and gold examinations www.safariguides.org It is strongly recommended that any visitor who cares about his safari experience travel with a guide who is college-trained or at least KPSGA bronze-rated.
Can I be guided by a member of the local community?
Yes. Many lodges and camps are now giving members of neighboring communities a chance to guide. This helps to add a wealth of traditional local knowledge to the visitor’s experience. In some instances, a more experienced/college-trained guide may need to accompany the community guide to ensure that the visitor gets a high quality experience.
Ecotourism in Kenya
What is ecotourism?
Nature and culture based tourism that invests in and supports the protection of the environment, respects local cultures and involves local communities to ensure equity amongst all stakeholders.
What types of ecotourism are available in Kenya?
Ecotourism is a fast growing market sector in Kenya, with a growing number of responsible lodges in and around the main parks and reserves, together with increasing local ownership of ecolodges on community owned land. As well as game viewing in private and community owned sanctuaries, a number of conservation-minded communities are establishing innovative new tourist attractions on their land. Several far-sighted tourism companies have also joined the ecotourism boom, creating packages that are specially designed to help local communities and to offer attractions beyond the standard ‘beach-and-bush’ fare. Many lodges and camps are also breaking new ground in sharing their benefits with their local community neighbours.
Who owns and manages ecotourism in Kenya?
Many ecotourism enterprises in Kenya are partnerships between communities and private investors. The community provides the land (and the resources thereof), funds and labour, while the private partner brings funds and professional lodge management and marketing skills. In most of the partnerships, the community is involved in the lodge’s management. There is also an increasing number of ecolodges that are exclusively owned by local communities.
How can I support community ecotourism in Kenya?
You can support community initiatives directly by including at least one of them in your personal travel itinerary. Details of all community based tourism initiatives in Kenya are available at www.ecotourismkenya.org/communities&ecotourism If you would like to visit these initiatives or support them in any way, you can contact them directly or through us.
Who is Ecotourism Kenya?
Ecotourism Kenya is a non-political civil society organization that was founded in 1996 to promote ecotourism and sustainable tourism practices in Kenya. As a membership organization, Ecotourism Kenya brings together individuals, community based organizations (CBOs) and corporate organizations in a forum where they can discuss the concept of ecotourism and use this knowledge to improve practices in their respective fields. The society’s vision is to be a leader in the knowledge and practice of ecotourism. Its mission is to link communities, tourism and conservation for sustainable tourism development. Current programmes include community outreach, information dissemination and certification & standards (development and dissemination of codes of conduct, guidelines, standards and best practices for sustainable tourism in Kenya).
How can I support Ecotourism Kenya?
One way of supporting Ecotourism Kenya is by being a member. Our membership is open to individuals, community based organizations (CBOs) and corporate organizations.
How do I become a member of Ecotourism Kenya?
Individuals and CBOs pay Ksh1,000 per year. Corporate organizations pay Ksh10,000 per year. You simply need to fill the membership form (in the section on membership) and mail it to us, together with your subscription.
What are the benefits of joining Ecotourism Kenya?
By supporting our activities, you are contributing to our efforts to make Kenya’s tourism environmental friendly and increase local community involvement in tourism in Kenya. Members receive a monthly email (e-letter) and a quarterly newsletter with information on ecotourism and sustainable tourism; free access to our resource center with publications on ecotourism, best practices, etc; discounted prices for our publications and for entry to Ecotourism Kenya-organized events; an account on Ecotourism Kenya website (for corporate members only); an opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and enterprises; and an opportunity to support Ecotourism Kenya’s sustainable tourism initiatives.
Are there eco-friendly tour operators in Kenya?
There are many eco-friendly tour operators in Kenya. Most are members of Ecotourism Kenya and the Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO). Visitwww.ecotourismkenya.org/membership for a list of Ecotourism Kenya members and details of what they do for them to be called eco-friendly. For a list of KATO members, visit www.katokenya.org
Tourism and Sustainable Development in Kenya
Does Kenya have a tourism certification scheme?
Kenya now has a certification scheme for tourism accommodation facilities. Ecotourism Kenya’s Eco-rating scheme provides an opportunity for Kenyan hotels, lodges, camps, bandas and private homes to have their environmental and social performance evaluated through a thorough audit process. Properties that show a high degree of responsibility in managing their wastes, conserving resources like water and energy and supporting local communities are awarded a label to show this. You can see the facilities that have been eco-rated at www.ecotourismkenya.org/eco-rating
Does Kenya have a code of conduct for tourists visiting the country?
Yes. The Kenya Safari and Coast Codes were developed by Ecotourism Kenya, Kenya Association of Tour Operators, Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association, Friends of Conservation and Kenya Wildlife Service. It presents simple guidelines to inform visitors how to protect the country’s most vulnerable habitats and species. It also gives guidelines on how to engage with local people.
How can I support sustainable tourism practices in Kenya?
You can support sustainable tourism in Kenya by becoming a member of Ecotourism Kenya, an organization that supports good practices among the whole tourism industry. To join us, go to www.ecotourismkenya.org/membership Additionally, ensure you travel with reputable tour companies. Most reputable tour companies are members of the Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO), which keeps a regularly updated listing on its website www.katokenya.org It is also a good idea to insist that your safari guide be qualified through the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association, which certifies tour guides through a reliable bronze-silver-gold rating system www.safariguides.org