Lonely Planet Publications has put out it’s fourth edition of Kenya. This is a travel guide. In fact, it’s an excellent travel guide. The first thing I do when I get any book is flip through it. As I flipped the pages I was immediately impressed. I saw maps! Lots of maps! There are maps for just about any place you would consider visiting in Kenya. What’s more, the maps have hotels, restaurants, parks, and other points of interest marked. I did notice that there wasn’t a map for the small village I lived in, then again it’s pretty tiny.
The bulk of the book is information about cities and national parks and reserves. The cities are grouped into different regions of Kenya – Nairobi, The Coast, The Rift Valley, The Central Highlands, Western Kenya, and Northern Kenya. For each city mentioned there is information on how to get to and from the city, getting around, recommended accommodations, restaurants, and things to do. The authors have also mentioned different crimes or scams to watch out for in the particular city you are reading about.
The national parks and reserves are listed in alphabetical order right after the regions of Kenya. Again the same information is given about the parks as for the cities.
On page 126 of Kenya, you’ll find a page of ‘tongue in cheek’ comments about riding in matatus. One comment is “Don’t voluntarily ride in a matatu named Death or Glory, White Lightening, Velocity, or Beat the Reaper for obvious reasons.” Another is “A potholed road is a good road – it slows you down.” On page 86 you’ll find a paragraph on local brews (alcoholic drinks brewed from maize, bananas, sugar, and/or millet) known as chang’a. The book states “They’ll blind you if you are lucky, kill you if you are not. Leave them alone!” Of course, I find the comments hilarious. I’ve lived in Kenya. For the inexperienced traveler, however, these remarks may been a little too much. Just between you and me – I drank chang’a and I kept my sight and have lived to tell about it. My opinion, it tasted nasty and I wouldn’t drink it again.
One great feature of any Lonely Planet travel guide is that you can upgrade the book. The company has a website where the authors of the book post updates to the information. The are updates on places that have closed down or become unsafe or if something new and interesting has popped up. Take a look at the upgrade for Kenya. This is the upgrade for the third edition of Kenya. The fourth edition now published, so these upgrades are now a little out of date. I’m sure this page will be updated soon. Another nice feature on the Lonely Planet website is the postcards. These are comments from travelers about what they found in the country they are visiting. Here are the postcards from Kenya.
This travel guide for Kenya has tons of useful and helpful information. If you buy only one travel guide for your Kenyan travels, this is it. Buy this book.
A nice add-on book for Kenya is Swahili Phrasebook. It’s logically organized, very compact, has English to Swahili and Swahili to English dictionaries along with all the Swahili a traveler would ever need to know.
A review copy of Lonely Planet Kenya and Swahili Phrasebook was sent by the publisher free of charge.