Kenya Basic Information
If you find yourself in the Old Town of Lamu, Kenya's oldest continually inhabited town and one of the original Swahili settlements along coastal East Africa, and it’s the end of November, don’t miss the Lamu Cultural Festival – a 3-day festival showcasing traditional dances, handicraft, Swahili poetry, donkey races, dhow (traditional sail boat) races, henna painting, a Swahili bridal ceremony and musical performances. For more insider info about Kenya, read on.
All Australian passport holders must have valid visas to enter Kenya. Apply for visas through the Kenya High Commission in Canberra, Australia. Visas will only be issued to applicants travelling to Kenya for short-term holiday or business purposes and are valid for 90 days. Make sure your passport has at least 6 months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. Please be aware that this information is only a guideline. For up-to-the-minute visa information, contact your local Embassy or Consulate of Kenya.
Kenya uses the Kenyan Shilling. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the Kenyan Shilling changes constantly, so keep an eye on the exchange rate and purchase your cash when the rate is at its best. For safe spending while overseas, consider using a credit or debit card.
Kenyan cuisine has some similarities to the Indian region with its chapati breads and pilau and biryani-style spiced rice dishes. But there are also several starchy and vegetable-heavy native dishes including the staple ugali, a cornmeal starch that often accompanies fried vegetables or meat stew. Sukama wiki is the Kenyan version of collard greens and is often served with onions, tomatoes and ugali, while closer to the coast you’ll find meals with coconut milk and cream such as maharagw, a dish made with kidney beans in a coconut curry soup. Nyama choma is the East African style of roasted meat. And then there’s the burgers – yes, a little unexpected but burgers and fries are found on most menus with a unique African flavour and distinctive condiments - hit up Burger Hut in Nairobi to try it. For a cheap snack you can’t go past roasted maize rubbed with a lime chilli sauce. There are plenty of good beers on offer but steer clear of the local moonshine, changaa, as its production practises are questionable. Instead, opt for a Dawa cocktail – a combination of vodka, honey and lime juice or Stoney Tangawizi, East Africa’s answer to ginger ale with an intense dose of ginger that will lift your spirits.
Enjoy life in the slow lane in Kenya where the clubs are open late and you’re welcome to stay out until the sun shines. Enjoy a relaxed dinner, and then head to a small neighbourhood bar for casual drinks, before continuing onto your main destination. If you’re looking to party, look no further than Nairobi and Mombasa. Nairobi’s best clubs and bars are mostly found in the suburbs - Langata has a concentration of hot clubs – head to The Carnivore Nightclub for African music, rock, soul and jazz music or Bomas of Kenya for memorable cultural dance performances. If you want to mingle with locals and ex-pats, head to the eclectic Gipsy’s in Westlands. In Mombasa, it’s all about Casablanca Club International – the city’s premier entertainment venue features plenty of dancefloors with exotic dance shows. You’d also be crazy not to check out Tembo Disco for the best DJs and designer décor.