Kenya is one of the oldest and most traditional safari destinations.
A country with a wide range of cultures, wildlife and contrasting
landscapes complete with a long tropical coastline.
Kenya never fails to thrill the visitor
who may be expecting the rolling plains of the Masai Mara, but is
pleasantly surprized with the dramatic escarpments of the Great
Rift Valley, the numerous picturesque lakes, the dense tropical
rain forest, the harsh arid deserts and a splendid coastline.
Almost all species of African wildlife
are accessible in Kenya. Birdlife is prolific and a great number
of species can be identified.
While the national language of Kenya
is Kiswahili, English is the official language and is widely spoken
and understood across East Africa.
In the cities, adhere to the following:
Don't walk alone in apparently deserted
areas, especially in and around the cities. It is preferable and
usually more enjoyable to walk with company or in groups. Don't
carry large sums of cash in your purse or pocket.
or display expensive jewelry. Be aware of the possibility of pick-pockets
and bag snatchers in crowded areas. Make photocopies of the first
few pages of your passport, air ticket and other important travel
documents. Keep this separate from the originals. Don't leave money
or valuables in a hotel room. Most hotels offer safety deposit box
service, and ensure that you have adequate insurance coverage before
Always remember that while some animals
have become accustomed to the presence of people they are still
wild animals. Keep your distance. It is illegal to feed any animal,
make excessive noise to attract their attention, or deviate from
designated roads for
that closer photograph. Never get out of your vehicle except at
designated points. Close all windows and zippers when you leave
your room or tent and spray it with insect repellant.
The best way to get the most out of
your safari is to take an active interest in everything going on
around you, not just the number of species you can see in the shortest
possible time. Ask all the questions you can think of and take reference
books on not only wildlife but birds, insects and trees and read
up about everything you see.
It is advisable to take out emergency
medical insurance prior to entering Kenya.
Bilharzia: The bilharzia parasite is
found in many lakes, streams and rivers on the continent. Avoid
swimming in them!
Vaccinations for cholera, tetanus and
yellow fever are advised. Malaria is virulent in Kenya. Take prophylactics
two weeks before arrival and continue two weeks after leaving. Your
chemist or doctor can advise you of the most suitable drug available
as certain drugs lose their effectiveness.
Tap water in the major towns is purified and perfectly safe to drink.
In the more remote areas always boil it first, except if you’re
staying at a lodge or hotel where drinking water is perfectly safe.
Bottled water is readily available in the bigger towns.
It is advisable to buy travel insurance
covering accidents, illness or hospitalization for the period of
your stay. Temporary membership in East African Flying Doctors'
Service is also recommended for safari goers. Members who require
emergency medical attention on safari are flown to Nairobi for the
best medical attention available in the country.
Drink only bottled water or from flasks
of filtered and boiled water provided by most hotels and lodges.
Travellers should carry an adequate
supply of medicines and first aid accessories with them as supplies
are limited in Kenya. Most chemists in the major towns are open
from 0830h to 1230h and 1400h to 17h00. Monday to Friday and 0800h
to 13h00h on Saturdays. There are no emergency chemists open after
hours or Sundays.
Standards and services range from up-market
to tourist. Deluxe and first class hotels are found in the main
cities and the resorts on the coastline of the country. Luxurious
lodges are set in exotic locations, while comfortable tented camps
are found in the main game parks.
Power supply is 220/240 volt 50 cycle.
Plugs are usually 13-amp 3 pin square (British type)
There are numerous banks in the major
towns as well as many bureau de change. Hours of business vary from
bank to bank, but most are open from 9h00 to 14h30, Mondays to Fridays,
and 9h00 - 11h30 on Saturdays. Hotels and lodges change money outside
these hours. Banking services are also available at Jomo Kenyatta
International Airport in Nairobi and at Moi International Airport
Currency unit is the shilling, comprising
100 cents. Coins are in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 40 shillings.
Bank notes are in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 shillings.
Importation of foreign currency is unlimited and does not have to
be declared on arrival. The importation and exportation of Kenyan
currency, however, is illegal.
It's best to come into the country
with either Travellers checks or dollars or pounds which can be
exchanged at any of the many Bureau de Change in the main Towns.
If you are offered an exchange on the black market at the borders,
exercise extreme caution as they are notorious for cheating you
without you even realizing it.
(Value Added Tax)
A VAT (tax currently 16% on most items)
is levied and visitors cannot claim a refund on goods purchased.
Cards, Cash and Traveler's Checks
International credit cards are accepted
by most restaurants, stores, hotels, lodges, camps, car rental firms,
etc. However, many small shops in rural areas will not accept them.
American Express, Thomas Cook, Visa and MasterCard Traveler's Checks
are widely accepted.
A tip of 10% for good service is adequate.
Service charges are frequently added and it is usual to tip a tour
driver or guide at least US $5 a day.
Postal services are fairly well organized
in Kenya and you should have no problem sending or receiving letters.
Telegrams are less certain. Public telephones are in a bad state
of repair and you could wait hours for a line. Rather make international
calls from a private home or large hotel.
All major hotels have fax machines
at the disposal of their guests as well as telex services. Telephone
directories will list all the international dialing codes. Both
local and long-distance calls are metered on a time basis. (Note
the surcharge at hotels is quite high, but it will cost less in
Between December and mid-March, the
days are sunny, hot and dry and the nights are cool. Best time for
deep sea fishing and scuba diving is between August and March when
the ocean is calm and water is clear. Rains fall mainly from mid-March
to May and again in November.
Although Kenya is considered to fall
in the tropics, climate and temperature varies depending on altitude
and proximity to the ocean. Coastal regions are hot and humid while
the central plateaus are warm and dry, with cool nights.
Lightweight casual clothes can be worn
all year round, with a jacket or sweater for early winter mornings
and evenings. On safari keep clothes to a minimum and mostly of
neutral coloring - khakis, browns and greens. A sunhat, sunglasses,
sunscreen and insect repellant are a must. Bring a hat, good walking
shoes and sun screen. Don't forget swim wear and binoculars. Some
city restaurants and clubs have dress codes - casual jacket and
tie for men, informal dresses for women.
Most hotels and lodges will offer a
laundry service. For low budget travelers there are no coin operated
laundromats at all so consider drip dry clothing and be prepared
for hand washing. In most places one could hire someone to do your
Kenya is considered to be a photographers
dream destination. From panoramic scenery, wildlife and birds to
people and vibrant ceremonies. Rich color and good low lighting
conditions abound. It is considered rude to take pictures of people
without asking them first. Maasai and Samburu warriors will expect
payment for posing. Always bring plenty of film and video cassettes
if you're bringing a camcorder as well as batteries - as these items
are difficult to get in Kenya. Keep your cameras in a dust resistant,
padded case and out of the midday sun. A 200mm (or longer) telephoto
lens will prove very useful on safari, and an ultra violet filter
and lens cap are strongly recommended. Please note that taking pictures
of government and military personnel and installations is prohibited!
Driving is done on the left side of
the road. Drivers require a valid license that must include a picture
of the holder. A valid foreign license may be used for up to 90
days, but only after it has been endorsed by the Road Transport
Office in Nairobi.
If you’re doing a vehicle trip
through Kenya it is a good idea to carry a range of tools and essential
spares with you. Two spare wheels and a couple of spare tubes are
a must due to the condition of the roads. Spare jerry cans of fuel
and water, a tow rope, compressor, winch and a spotlight are useful
items to have. Many of the villages along the main routes offer
tire mending services at a very reasonable fee. .
Be very careful in towns and villages
not to leave your vehicle open and unattended. You should have no
problem sleeping outdoors in designated camping areas or remote
places along the way, but get into the habit of locking things away
before you go to sleep.
Car rental companies are represented
at the major airports and in the cities, as are taxis.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
in Nairobi and Moi International Airport in Mombasa are main points
of entry. Many charter services operate out of Nairobi's Wilson
Airport. Regular services link Kisumu, Lamu, Malindi, Mombasa and
Air Kenya, flies to Amboseli, Lamu,
Masai Mara, Nyeri, Nanyuki and Samburu. Kenya Airways is the national
airline. South African Airways links Johannesburg and Nairobi with
regularly scheduled air services.
An airport departure tax of U.S. $20
is levied when leaving the country.
All visitors must have a valid passport
and are subject to clearance through customs. In addition, all non-Commonwealth
citizens require a visa, to be obtained from Kenyan Missions abroad
or at the post of entry. Personal effects, including cameras, binoculars
and film are allowed into the country duty free
Throughout the year, Standard Time
in Kenya is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, two hours
ahead of Central European Winter Time, and eight hours ahead of
Eastern Standard Winter Time in the U.S.