Holidays To Kenya: Safety, Costs & The Best Time To Go

Just like any other sovereign country in the world, Kenya recognizes the achievements of self governance and observes certain days mostly related to religious affiliations or international celebrations. There are about a dozen nationally recognized holidays in Kenya and if you know Kenyans, these are usually seen as a gift from the government, everyone looks forward to them.

1st JanuaryNew Year’s DayThis day is observed and celebrated with the start of every year.
1st MayLabor DayThis day is observed in line with the international Labor Day of the same date to honor the importance of workers.
1st JuneMadaraka Day“Madaraka” is a Swahili word which means Freedom. This holiday is observed to celebrate independence from colonial rule and the start of self governance in 1963.
20th OctoberMashujaa Day“Mashujaa” is a Swahili word meaning Heroes. This holiday is observed to honor the individuals who agitated for Kenya’s freedom from colonial rule and  continued to positively impact the country post independence.
12th DecemberJamhuri Day“Jamhuri” is Swahili word which means Republic. This holiday is observed to remember the date when Kenya officially became a republic in 1964.
25th DecemberChristmas DayKenya is a majority Christian country and this day is observed to celebrate the nativity of Jesus Christ.
26th DecemberBoxing DayThis day is observed and celebrated the day after Christmas Day every year.

In Kenya, if any of these holidays fall over a Sunday, they are not counted as holidays rather they remain normal Sundays. Instead, the holiday is celebrated on the subsequent Monday and that day is officially marked as the public holiday. This makes for some very interesting “long weekend” situations over a year and Kenyans just love it.

The following holidays are usually observed but the actual dates depend on communication from the communities themselves.

Religious communitySignificant DaysSignificance
ChristiansGood Friday & Easter MondayThis period which includes a number of events is observed by the Christian community to celebrate the Passion of Jesus Christ.
MuslimsRamadan, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-AdhaThese holidays are observed by the muslim community and celebrated in line with the international period meant for reflection, service and fasting during Ramadan, the end of this period during Eid al-Fitr, and the act of obidience shown by Abraham in sacrificing his son Ismael during Eid al-Adha.
Hindus & SikhsDiwaliThis period which usually lasts about five days is observed to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. Despite not being officially recognized as a public holiday throughout the country, Hindus and Sikhs are allowed a day away from work to hold their celebrations.

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Is Kenya Safe for Travelers?

Kenya is a reasonably safe country in Africa and especially in the region of East Africa. Its citizens have enjoyed peace and relative political stability for well over a decade now. It has been considered a safe space even for refugees fleeing political persecution. Dadaab, the oldest and largest refugee camp in Africa has been operating since 1991.

Central Business District(CBD), Nairobi

The northeastern parts as well as the coastal region along the border with Somalia are the few potentially unsafe areas of the country. It is very important for any traveler to check the latest travel advice since sporadic conflicts and incidents of banditry do occur in these areas. However, it is generally a good idea to completely avoid travel to the Kenya-Somalia border, areas of the North-Rift valley and some coastal regions. It is also important to always seek the assistance of travel guides if you intend to venture into some neighborhoods especially after dark.

However, despite the strong messaging of various governments concerning terror threats, there have been little to no recorded attacks in the last couple of years. It is also important to note that this has been possible due to an improvement in the operations of the anti terror units of the Kenya police service. At the same time, it was clear that during the last major terror incident, security forces responded swiftly and decisively neutralized the threats which was lauded by the international community.

Despite limited emergency medical and police response, privately run services ensure that areas frequented by westerners are well protected and monitored. As a rule of thumb however, you should always stay alert at entertainment spots, shopping malls and regularly monitor the local news for breaking stories and alerts. It is also really important to make contingencies in case of an incident.

You will find supermarkets and general stores well stocked at all times of the year and this will definitely make it easier to access food or any consumable you may wish. Kenya has had a spectacular growth of the manufacturing sector which provides good quality, fast moving consumer goods throughout the year. Despite the rapid decline of the agricultural sector, Kenya has bolstered its deficits with improved importation of goods from neighboring Tanzania and the wider global market. Food security is definitely an issue the Kenyan government takes seriously.

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Is Kenya expensive to travel to?

In a sense, it is expensive to travel to Kenya but this is not necessarily the case for westerners. Kenya is an expensive country in general, the cost of living is high for the average Kenyan but this may not be the case for westerners. The middle class in Kenya earns about $1000 to $1500 per household per month and whereas this affords a comfortable living in Kenya, not many households earn this much. However, this figure is well within the reach of most westerners.

Yore Oyster, a Popular Airbnb in Nairobi

The average prices for an AirBnB in major tourist towns in Kenya like Mombasa are about $50 to $100 for the more elegant listings. Adding up the total for a one week stay could be beyond the reach of many Kenyans but this isn’t the case for westerners, besides, an average hotel room costs as much as $100 dollars in the United States. When it comes to accommodation, there are truly many options to choose from. The presence of such options for accommodation means that enjoying City Tours can be really affordable for many travelers.

The cost of transportation in Kenya is pretty manageable even for locals. There is a newly built railway line as well as upgraded trains which operate regularly and have brought down the cost of travel to and fro the coastal city of Mombasa to the capital, Nairobi. There are also several taxi hailing apps like Uber which have decent coverage across the country and in smaller towns, there are great alternatives. In the event that you are traveling as a large unit, maybe a family or friends, several enterprising Kenyans can offer exclusive hire of vehicles or vans as well as the driver for a reasonable fee. In many cases, this is the best option since the driver serves as your guide.

There are many aircraft companies that fly into Kenya which makes the cost of flights relatively cheaper than it used to be before. Kenya Airways, the country’s main carrier, actually has a flight direct from New York’s JFK Airport which costs just under $1000. On average it is cheaper to fly to Kenya in the months of January to May, Sept, October to December and as a whole, November is the cheapest month to take a trip to Kenya.

The Best Time To Go

When should I go to Kenya?

There is never the perfect time to visit Kenya, there are always interesting things to do and see all year round. As a general rule travelers need to evaluate their desired activity and check if the weather forecasts or other socio-political factors may affect the trip.

What are the seasons in Kenya?

There are two distinct seasons in Kenya which are the wet season as well as the dry season. The wet seasons are grouped as the short rains between October and December and the long rains between March and May. On the other hand the remaining months consist of the dry months with the driest being from January to the onset of the long rains in March. As a whole, global warming has definitely affected the cycles but short term weather forecasts are pretty accurate and reliable. However, Kenya directly lies on the equator which makes most of the year’s weather conducive for traveling.

What month is typically the busiest for tourists in Kenya?

November is one of the busiest months for tourists in Kenya alongside June and February. November in particular is warm and since it precedes the Christmas holidays in December, fewer tourist numbers in Kenya means that you will enjoy your Safari to the fullest. The bush may be very tricky for tourists to maneuver as December rolls in since it tends to get hotter and dryer, to make matters worse, spotting wildlife becomes increasingly difficult.

It is important to note however, that domestic tourism from Kenyans tends to peak around the Christmas and Easter Holidays. December typically sees higher numbers of tourists at the beaches whereas tourists prefer the Traditional Bush safaris during the Easter season.

What is the hottest month in Kenya?

April and October are the hottest months in Kenya. In total, there are two months which record the highest average temperatures in Kenya. Kenya is located on the equator with the north and south evenly distributed on either half of the globe. This means that there are two instances where the sun is directly overhead at the equator. Depending on the onset of the heavy and short rains in march and october respectively, a period of significantly increased average temperatures are experienced in Kenya

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