Naro Mom Route

Although the least scenic, this is the most straightforward and popular route and is still a spectacular and very enjoyable trail. Begin in the town of Naro Mora (p270) and allow a minimum of four days for the trek. While possible in three, if you arrange transport between Naro Mora and the Met Station, doing it this quickly risks serious altitude sickness. There are three good bunk houses along this route Met Station Hut (Map p271 dm US 12) is at 3000m, Mackinder's Camp (Map p263 dm US 12) is...

Gay Lesbian Travellers

Even today there is still a widespread perception across Africa that homosexuality is somehow an un-African phenomenon, introduced to the continent by degenerate European colonials. It goes on covertly of course, particularly on the coast, but under Kenyan law, homosexuality is still punishable by up to 14 years in prison. There are very few prosecutions under this law, but it's certainly better to be discreet some local conmen do a good line in blackmail, picking up foreigners then threatening...

Getting Around

Including the national carrier, Kenya Airways, four domestic operators of varying sizes now run scheduled flights within Kenya. All appear to have a virtually clean slate safety-wise (Kenya Airways have suffered just one fatal incident since 1977). Destinations served are predominantly around the coast and the popular southern national parks, where the highest density of tourist activity takes place. With all these airlines, be sure to book well in advance (this is essential during the tourist...

Before You Go

A little planning before departure, particularly for pre-existing illnesses, will save you a lot of trouble later. Before a long trip, get a check-up from your dentist, and from your doctor if you have any chronic illness, eg high blood pressure or asthma, or use regular medication. You should also organise spare contact lenses and glasses (and take your optical prescription with you) get a first aid and medical kit together (see p386) and arrange necessary vaccinations (p386). It's tempting to...

Food Drink

The Kenyan culinary tradition has generally emphasised feeding the masses as efficiently as possible, with little room for flair or innovation. Nonetheless, Kenya is blessed with a cornucopia of natural produce and the 'foodies' scene is definitely on the improve. Kenyan markets are bursting with crisp vegetables, the steamy coast provides abundant tropical fruit and fresh seafood, and throughout the country, meat - be it beef, goat, mutton, or even camel - is consumed with gusto. So, while...

African Safari Club

Although it's package tourism at its most developed, the UK-based African Safari Club (UK 020-84660014 www.afrlcansafarldub.com) has some splendid properties on the coast and in several of the national parks. The company even has its own airline ferrying in guests from Europe. There are African Safari Club resorts at Watamu, Kilifi, Shanzu Beach and Kikambala on the coast, and in Tsavo East and Masai Mara National Parks. Rates are typical for up-market resorts, but are quoted as part of holiday...

Getting There Away

Unless you are travelling overland from Southern Africa or Egypt, flying is by far the most convenient way to get to Kenya. Nairobi is a major African hub and flights between Kenya and the rest of Africa are common and relatively cheap. It's important to note that flight availability and prices are highly seasonal. Conveniently for Europeans, the cheapest fares usually coincide with the European summer holidays, from June to September. An economy return ticket from London can be about UK 400,...

North To Lake Turkana

Almost 23km north of South Horr, when the valley opens to the northern plains, you'll see massive Mt Kulal in the distance and Devil's Hand, a large rock outcrop resembling a fist attempting to punch its way out of the earth's surface, to your immediate right. Just north is the eastern turn-off to Marsabit via Kargi, so if you're heading for Turkana keep left. If you get mixed up, just remember that Mt Kulal on your right is good and that Mt Kulal on your left is very, very bad (unless of...

Archer S Post

This dusty, ramshackle town sits 33km north of Isiolo and is perfect for budget travellers visiting Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves. At night there's definitely a Wild West feel about the place, with most vendors plying their goods by candlelight. There's a small market (Map p325 off A2) but little else in the way of services. Eight kilometres north of Archer's Post is the immense 384-sq-km Kalama Community Wildlife Conservancy (admission incl camping KSh1500), which opened...

Sleeping

The following accommodation must be booked through park headquarters. Publiccampsites (adult child US510 5) Basic sites with minimal facilities - some have water. Tusk Camp (exclusive use per night KSh6000) Near Ruhuruini gate, these four cottages provide beds for eight to 10 people, a kitchen area (no pots, utensils etc), toilets, hot water, a dining lounge area and great views. Sapper Hut (exclusive use per night KSh2000) A simple banda, with an open fire, two beds and a hot-water boiler,...

The Culture

It's fair to say that there is not a great sense of national consciousness in Kenya. Many residents of Kenya are more aware of their tribal affiliation than of being a 'Kenyan' - this is one of the more fascinating aspects of Kenyan life, but the lack of national cohesion undoubtedly holds the country back. This focus on tribe, however, is usually accompanied by an admirable live-and-let-live attitude, such that only on rare occasions do tribal animosities or rivalries spill over into violence....

In Africa

AVAILABILITY & COST OF HEALTH CARE Health care in Africa is varied it can be excellent in the major cities, which generally have well-trained doctors and nurses, but it is often patchy off the beaten track. Medicine and even sterile dressings and intravenous fluids might need to be purchased from a local pharmacy. The standard of dental care is equally variable, and there is an increased risk of hepatitis B and HIV transmission from poorly sterilised equipment. By and large, public hospitals...

Environment

Kenya straddles the equator and covers an area of some 583,000 sq km, which includes around 13,600 sq km of Lake Victoria. The country is bordered by both land and desert to the north by the arid bushlands and deserts of Ethiopia and Sudan, to the east by the Indian Ocean and the wastes of Somalia, to the west by Uganda and Lake Victoria, and to the south by Tanzania. Kenya is dominated by the Rift Valley, a vast range of valleys rather than a single valley, that follows a 5000km-long crack in...

Eating

Unless you've got the ugali maize meal set hard and served in brick-shaped pieces or nyama choma itch, few of your tastebuds will be scratched here. That said, a few places hammer out quality local eats. Hard Rock Caf meals KSh60-170 While the Hard Rock Caf chain would cringe at their name's use, this Somali-run restaurant is the town's best restaurant. Enjoy their chapo-fry spiced beef with chapati and side plate of diced tomatoes, onions and beans while listening to Rick Astley and being...

Voluntary Conservation Development Work

Taita Discovery Centre 020-331191 www.savannah camps.com in Nairobi is a conservation-based offshoot of Savannah Camps amp Lodges. This purpose-built conservation research centre covers 68,000 hectares of the Taita and Rukinga ranches near Tsavo West National Park and forms a vital migration corridor for elephants and other animals between Tsavo and Mt Kilimanjaro. Courses on a huge range of conservation topics are run here along with hands-on projects in conservation and the local community....

Milimani Nairobi Hill

Upper Hill Campsite Map pp98-9 2720290 www .upperhlllcampslte.com Menengai Rd, Nairobi Hill camping KSh300, tents KSh450-1000, dm r KSh400 1000 fl Off Hospital Rd near the Indonesian embassy, Upper Hill offers a range of accommodation to suit all tastes in a pleasant and secure compound, plus a well-used little restaurant and bar. The core of regular overland clients are supplemented by an international mix of backpackers and budget travellers. Facilities include hot showers and a cosy...

Lyangalani

An oasis of doum palms, natural springs and vivid Turkana tribespeople, Loyangalani is one of northern Kenya's most fascinating places. It overlooks Lake Turkana and is surrounded by small ridges of pillow lava evidence that this area used to be underwater peppered with Turkana families' traditional stick and palm dwellings. The El-Molo tribe see p44 , which is one of Africa's smallest, lives on the lakeshore just north of here in the villages of Layeni and Komote. Although outwardly similar to...

Machakos

This small, busy town was the centre of the former Akamba territory see p43 for more , and was chosen by the Imperial British East Africa Company as an upcountry trading post a decade or so before Nairobi was even established. The main motivation was the reputation of the Akamba people as mediators between the coastal Swahili and the inland Maasai and Kikuyu - the cooperation of the latter two tribes seemed essential for anyone wishing to reach the shores of Lake Victoria. When this attempt at...

Matthews Range

West of the remarkable flat-topped mountain 01 Lolokwe and north of Wamba is the Matthews Range. Its thick evergreen forests support elephants, lions, buffaloes and Kenya's most important wild dog population. These dramatic mountains highest peak 2285m offer great opportunities to explore the depths of Kenya's wilds. With few roads, only those willing to go the extra mile on foot will be rewarded with the spoils. In 1995 the local Samburu communities collectively formed the Namunyak Wildlife...

City Centre

Iqbal Hotel Map pp102-3 220914 Latema Rd dm KSh300, s d tr KSh400 600 960 The Iqbal has been popular for years, and is still possibly the best place in the area to meet fellow budget-conscious travellers. There's supposedly hot water in the morning, but you'd have to be up early - the 7am services at the church next door might help There's a storeroom where you can leave excess gear for KSh40 per day. It's very secure and the askari can arrange taxis at reasonable prices. New Kenya Lodge Map...

Ngong Hills

The green and fertile Ngong Hills were where many white settlers set up farms in the early colonial days. It's still something of an expat enclave, and here and there in the hills are perfect reproductions of English farmhouses with country gardens full of flowering trees - only the acacias remind you that you aren't rambling around the Home Counties of England. Close to Pt Lamwia, the summit of the range, is the grave of Denys George Finch-Hatton, the famous playboy and lover of Karen Blixen....

Nairobi

Mpaka Road Mayfair Court Westlands

Who's afraid of big bad Nairobi Quite a lot of people - the city's reputation precedes it, so much so that most visitors dive in and out as quickly as possible. Unsurprising perhaps, as it's true that Kenya's capital requires more big-city common sense than most, and it's hard not to feel a little nervous once the shutters come down and the streets empty after dark. However, it's easy enough to sidestep the worst dangers here, and there's no reason why a streetwise traveller can't enjoy a stay...

Isiolo

Isiolo is a vital pit stop on the long road north, as it's the last place with decent facilities until Maralal or Marsabit. How you interpret this frontier town depends on which direction you arrive from. Arrive from the south and you'll get your first taste of the remote northeast of the country- and hopefully not a mouthful of dirt blown up by late-afternoon squalls. Besides the arid conditions, you'll undoubtedly notice the large Somali population descendants of WWI veterans who settled here...

Tribes of Kenya

Mursik Kenya

There are more than 70 tribal groups in Kenya, although distinctions between many of the groups are becoming increasingly blurred, largely as a result of migration to the cities and encroaching Western cultural values. Many smaller tribes have also come in under the umbrella of larger tribal groups to gain protection in intertribal disputes. Even though many Africans have outwardly drifted away from tribal traditions, the tribe is still the most important aspect of a Kenyan s identity upon...

Language

Conversation amp Essentials 396 English and Swahili called Kiswahili in the language itself are the official languages of Kenya and are taught in schools throughout the country. There are also many major indigenous languages including Kikuyu, Luo, Kikamba, Maasai and Samburu and a plethora of minor tribal languages. Hindi and Urdu are still spoken by residents of Indian subcontinent origin. Most urban Kenyans and even tribal people who deal with tourists speak English, so you shouldn t...