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Rent a Car in Kenya: A Safari Dream Vacation
The African Republic of Kenya is a vacation destination which should make it onto everyone’s bucket list. The tropical climate, wildlife, and the history are aspects which make any trip there simply unforgettable. The country has the best of both worlds, as it has a coast on the Indian Ocean, but also a large and diverse interior landscape.
Kenya is quite a large country, covering 220,000 square miles and home to over 40 million people. There are six main ethnic groups and other smaller ethnic groups which make up 15% of the population. 1% of the people residing in Kenya are non-African residents.
The country has a diverse topography and there are a number of low grasslands, called savannahs, which typically have lower temperatures than the tropical climates around the coasts. This colder temperature remains especially so near the country’s mountain: Mountain Kenya, which always has snow at its peak. In the warmer areas, Kenya has set aside land to grow coffee and tea – Kenya’s cash crops, which are some of the most successful agricultural areas on the whole continent.
Being on the equatorial line, Kenya can become quite humid, especially around Lake Victoria, the world’s largest fresh water lake, with temperatures reaching up to 95ºF in areas of low elevation, like Lodwar and Mandera. Because of this diversity, the country is home to a number of animal reserves and national parks. Particularly of interest to visitors are Amboseli National Park, East and West Tsavo National Park, Aberdares National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park and the renowned Maasai Mara. Also, large amounts of land are dedicated to preserving the natural habitats of indigenous creatures of all shapes and sizes, such as wildebeest and zebra.
Kenya is famously home to such a wide variety of animals that visitors should seriously consider taking part in a safari. These usually last a number of days and give visitors the opportunity to see what is known as the Big Five – the lion, buffalo, rhino, elephant and the leopard – in their natural habitat. Every year, between June and September, a phenomenon known as the annual animal migration occurs, where two million wildebeest travel a distance of around 1800 miles from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara, in the search for food. This phenomenon is such an interesting spectacle that it is considered to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.
How to get the Best from Kenya
Getting to see all the top spots in Kenya couldn’t be easier – just rent a car and off you go. Prices are very variable, with the local companies offering the most competitive rates. A lot of car hire services have to option of providing you with a driver as part of the service. although this will obviously cost more, it can be a great way to get around, if you’re less confident about driving, especially in Nairobi. A car with a driver (daytime only) can be found from as little as $45 per day. Sixt have operations in Nairobi, but local providers such as Kenya Cheap Car Hire usually have better rates. Here are some examples of cars available:
- Toyota Auris Estate or similar (compact class) – $72/day
- Toyota Corolla or similar (intermediate class) – $90/day
- Toyota Hilux or similar (standard class) – $142/day
- Toyota Rav4 or similar (fullsize class) – $156/day
- Toyota Prado or similar (premium class) – $174/day
Regulations, Tips and Useful Information
Once you get driving, it is important to make sure you follow the rules of the road.
- Drivers have to always have the following documents in their possession when driving on Kenyan roads: drivers’ license, car registration, insurance, and passport.
- Ensure that your car has been equipped with a functioning fire extinguisher.
- There are 3 speed limits depending on the area that you are driving in. In urban zones, that is, built-up areas, the maximum speed limit is 30 miles per hour, whereas in rural areas, away from schools and pedestrians, and on highways, this limit is increased to 70 miles per hour
- When stopping, make sure that you turn off the engine before leaving your car, as not doing so is illegal and can result in fines.
- Having been a British colony, driving is on the left.
- Rush hours are from 7-9am and 4-7pm, and the roads are best avoided at those times.
- In urban areas, the roads are of a generally good quality. As the traffic decreases the further you move out of the urban areas, so does the quality of the roads.
- Curiously, Kenyan officials have taken justice to a new level: road side court. If you are caught breaking any rule of the road, the police will stop you and take you to a makeshift road side court, complete with judge who will deal out justice swiftly!
- Many languages are spoken in Kenya – almost 70, it is thought – but Bantu Swahili and English are the most common. The currency is the Kenyan shilling, with the current exchange rate being just over 100 shillings to the dollar.