About Kenya (KE)
Straddling the Equator on the east-central coast of Africa, Kenya (KE) is a fascinating juxtaposition of thriving economic powerhouse and developing third world nation.
Its tropical climate is influenced by altitude, with a swampy atmosphere near the coast, moderate inland temps, and bone dry in the northeast. Many aspects of its social and physical infrastructure create an interesting comparison of extremes, with a rising middle and upper class living next door to scenes of squalor and poverty in the capital of Nairobi.
At any rate, most visitors come for abundant sunshine and wildlife found in Kenya’s numerous national parks. Thanks to its large concentration of large wildcats (lions, tigers, etc.), Masai Mara National Park is the most popular destination for foreign travelers, but Kenya offers a wide range of attractions, many of which are off the beaten path, so to speak.
The best way to experience the famous game reserves is to rent a car in Kenya, and by car, we mean SUV or 4x4. Although the roads in Nairobi and Mombasa are paved and relatively passable, the majority of Kenyan routes are in poor condition.
You’re free to do as you please, but you’re probably not going to get very far in a two-wheel drive economy hatchback — unless of course, you’re staying within major city limits. Driving in Kenya is a challenge for even the most experienced drivers, and the lack of road signs isn’t going to help.
You’ll do yourself a couple of big favors by not driving at night and staying off rural routes in isolated areas, where bandits are constant threat. Common sense is key to staying safe in Kenya, and nowhere is that more evident than driving its roads. So, go ahead and book that all-wheel drive vehicle, make sure it has GPS, do your homework, and enter Kenya with the knowledge that driving in the country is a lot more challenging than they make it look on National Geographic. So do your planning well.
Choosing your car
Cheap car rentals in Kenya are supplied by Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Thrifty, Avis and Hertz. Although an SUV is by far the most popular choice, you may have reason to need a 7-12 seater minivan, or a minicar, or a compact, standard or fullsize 4-door sedan.
Tips and advice for renting a car in Kenya
Think long and hard before visiting remote communities where foreigners are rarely if ever seen.
Monsoon season in Kenya lasts from April to June. During this time, the already dilapidated roads are absolutely impassable. July through September is the driest and best time to visit Kenya — but also the most popular time.
Do a thorough inspection of your Kenya car hire before driving it off the lot. That means checking the brakes, headlights, air conditioning, GPS, radio, turn indicators, windows, locks, and tires.
Your Kenya car rental will include the standard Collision/Loss Damage Waiver that — surprise — doesn’t cover tires and wheels, the two most frequently damaged features of a vehicle. It’s recommended to sign up for the Excess Reduction Waiver, or make sure your credit card travel insurance covers all expenses. Note: Some credit cards don’t cover car rentals in Kenya.
The northern regions of Kenya are considerably more dangerous than other regions, but even the Central Business District of Nairobi can be hazardous — day or night. Avoid ostentatious displays of wealth i.e. don’t flash your cash or personal effects.
Police in Kenya have a bad reputation for soliciting bribes from foreign tourists for non-existent traffic violations. There’s really no tried and true way of handling the situation, but it is not advisable to offer a bribe to police. If they want money from you, they’ll let you know.