FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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Practical Stuff

Preparing for your Trip

The following information will help you to have the amazing holiday you have envisaged and have dreamed about:

Planning Your Itinerary

Consider and research: What are you interested in? What would you like to see? Where should you go? What should you not miss! Is it?

  • Knowledge about Kenya?
  • Fauna and flora?
  • People and Culture?
  • History?
  • Shopping?
  • Food and restaurants?
  • Relaxation? Activities?  Education? Volunteering?
  • Private or group travel?
  • Luxury accommodation in tented camps, lodges and hotels, or basic camping and other more budget-conscious accommodation?
  • Budget-conscious travel OR able to spend a bit more?
  • A few days in Kenya OR a longer period of time to explore and enjoy

WHERE TO GO:
  • Coast – A great place to travel after your safari. Enjoy the relaxed way of life and beautiful white sandy beaches and warm blue water of the Indian Ocean.
  • Nairobi – Likely the entry and exit point for your Kenya trip. Excellent international and local restaurants and coffee shops, Maasai markets for souvenir shopping, clothes, fabrics and good places to visit.
  • National Parks & Reserves – What Kenya is most famous for!
    Be aware of the physical conditions and safety considerations.

Accommodation:

There are essentially two types of accommodation:

  • Camping in tents in open or fenced campsites, within or just outside the parks. This is the lower price option. It can provide for an exciting experience as it is common for animals to enter open camps sites at night. Just be careful if you need to leave your tent at night! Tents are provided, but you may be required to help set them up.
  • Luxury tented camps and lodges vary in price and provide facilities and comfort; hot  showers, comfy beds, restaurants, bars, and may be welcome after a day spent driving on dusty roads. Some are eco-friendly and accentuate conservation. Many are situated near waterholes which provide for great animal viewing from your accommodation.

We do our very best to reserve accommodation closest to your budget while meeting your specific needs – And we never compromise on quality!



WEATHER AND WHEN BEST TO VISIT

Kenya is divided by the equator and enjoys a tropical climate. It is hot and humid at the coast, temperate inland and very dry and hot (34°C +, 93 F +)) in the north and north-eastern parts of the country. There are typically distinctive seasons, although in recent years these have been variable in time and duration:

  • Summer: December to March: Hottest months, February and March.
  • Winter: Coldest months, June and July to August in the highlands
  • Dry seasons: January to February and July to August. The hot and dry weather is most comfortable for travelling, and the best time for bird watching on the Rift Valley lakes.
  • Rainy seasons: Long rains, April to June. Short rains, October to December. Rainfall is sometimes very heavy and tends to fall in the afternoon and evenings. During the rainy seasons flooding often occurs, and not all parks are easily accessible, though it doesn’t hinder visibility. Accommodation rates are lower.
Regional weather:
Central Kenya/Nairobi:

Average annual daytime temperature in Nairobi is 21-26°C (70-79F) from December to mid-March. Days are warm, sunny and dry. 
Nights are usually cool. June to August can be very cool. This is a great time to visit Mount Kenya as peaks are normally cloud free. The main rainy season occurs mid-March to May, with a shorter period of rain in November.

Coast/Mombasa:

Average annual daytime temperature in Mombasa (coastal) is 27-31°C (80.6-88F), and humid August to March. This is best time for fishing, snorkelling and scuba diving as the seas are calm and the water clear. The Coast can be very hot and humid, especially from December to March.  April and May, and into June some hotels close. The sea is warm year round.

South-West Kenya:

Temperatures depend on altitude. The end of March to May and again in November to early December rains are sometimes heavy, though Maasai Mara is good to visit year round. The weather affects the Great Wildebeest Migration (between Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya). It usually takes place between July and September, but as the animals depend on when the rains fall, it can vary from year to year. It is an event not to be missed!

Great Rift Valley:

Almost any time of the year is suitable though road conditions may make driving difficult in National Parks and Reserves.


INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS:
  • Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi. Located 16 km (10 mi) from the city centre.
  • Moi International Airport, Mombasa. Located 12 km (7.5 mi) from the town centre.

VISA

A single-entry visa costs USD 50.-. Confirm your visa requirements with your embassy and the Kenya Embassy well before you are due to travel. Most nationalities can obtain a visa on arrival at the airport or border, but check first.



HEALTH CARE

Medical and dental check-ups: Before you leave home ensure you are healthy! Arrange for comprehensive insurance to cover illness, accidents and emergencies for the duration of your trip.

Vaccinations:
Compulsory:

Yellow Fever: If you are arriving within six days from a country where Yellow Fever is present you will need to prove you have had the inoculation.

Exemption: Children under one year and those not having left an airport during transit in affected countries.

Recommended:
  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis A
  • Diphtheria

It is also recommended that you are up to date with your polio and tetanus vaccinations.
Optional: If traveling to Kenya frequently or intending to spend extended time in Kenya consider:

  • Meningococcal Meningitis
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies
  • Tuberculosis
  • Cholera

Malaria: There is a risk of malaria throughout Kenya though there is normally a reduced risk in Nairobi and highland areas (above 2,500 m, 8202 ft.). Consider using the latest anti-malarial prophylactics. Though they don’t guarantee 100% protection they do decrease the risk.
Kenya has the chloroquine-resistant strain of malaria as well as several others. Make sure you are prescribed the right anti-malarial medication and start taking them before departure and continue for the prescribed time following your return to your home. Homeopathic malaria treatments are also available.
Other ways to reduce the risk of malaria include using insecticide sprays and repellents, wearing light-coloured clothing that covers your arms and legs, and sleeping under a mosquito net, especially between sunset and sunrise, when malaria mosquitoes bite.
Medical and support supplies to take:

  • Adequate prescription medicines
  • Re-hydration tablets –as a back-up precaution
  • Mosquito repellents
  • Anti-diarrhoea pills
  • Bandages and antiseptics

Contact wearers: Take extra contact lenses and also your glasses, as your eyes might become irritated by the dust.
Condoms: HIV/AIDS prevalence is high in Kenya. Abstain from intercourse with local people, or use a condom (though this still doesn’t guarantee 100% protection!).
AND be prepared to drink plenty of water while on safari – bottled or boiled. Being dehydrated can make a great safari turn nasty!


WHAT TO TAKE

Pack wisely and do not over-pack. Travel light and smart for the weather and the itinerary you have chosen. Baggage space on safari is often restricted both in vehicles and on small aircraft (usually 10 or 12kg, 22 or 26 lbs., per person on the small aircraft).

Clothing:
  • Lightweight and light coloured, practical, comfortable and breathable: Natural colours and fabrics will help you blend in with the surroundings while you are admiring the wildlife and will also reflect the sun, keeping you cooler. Light clothing takes up less space and is easy to hand-wash and dry.
  • Long-sleeved shirts and long pants of cotton to protect from sun and evening mosquitoes
  • T-shirts
  • Shorts and light skirt
  • Jacket or sweatshirt for cooler mornings and nights.
  • Umbrella and waterproof jacket for expected and unexpected rains!
  • Scarf/Shawl for women for covering head and shoulders in Muslim areas.
  • Smart clothes for special occasions at Safari Lodges or in Nairobi.
  • Swimwear
  • Strong, comfortable walking shoes.
  • Sun Protection: The sun’s heat is strong throughout the year. Bring high protection sunscreen, lip balm, hat, sunglasses, scarf/shawl and clothes with lighter, denser weave and non-synthetic material such as tightly woven cottons and silks.
  • Binoculars – a magnification of 7, as in 7×50, seems to be optimal for seeing wild animals that tend stay at a distance, such as lions, leopards and cheetahs.
  • Photo or film camera and lots of film and/or disk space. Not all slide films sizes are available in Kenya, and some video film is expensive. Film processing shops are available in most towns, however results vary.
  • Sleeping Bag: – Many safari companies charge extra for sleeping bag hire when you’re camping, so take your own if you are on a tight budget.

MONEY

Kenya’s currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KSh / KES).  A combination of credit card and US dollars is best. Currency can be exchanged at banks over the country and at Forex Bureaus in Nairobi and at most large hotels. US dollars and Sterling Pounds are fine but there is limited acceptance in stores, except in Nairobi. ATMs are in major towns. Payment by credit card is widely accepted for tourist services, shops and accommodation and some stores in Nairobi (usually with 3-5% added to the cost, as they are charged a fixed percentage of their transactions), but they have limited acceptance elsewhere.


VOLTAGE?

Electricity supplies provide 240 volts AC 50 cycles. Most large hotels and some game lodges provide shaving points with 110v 50 cycles. Sockets are usually the three pin ‘square’ variety.


COMMUNICATIONS

Kenya has an excellent mobile phone network covering most of the country. Purchase of a sim card is cheap and there are cheap rates to some countries in the world. Be aware that Kenya law requires that you register your sim card at the Posta (Post Office) before use. Internet cafes are available in most places, though connection may be intermittent or slow. Wireless internet cafes are available in Nairobi.


LANGUAGE

English and Kiswahili are the official languages. Additionally, individual tribes have their own languages.


BANKING HOURS
  • Monday to Friday: 09:00 – 14:00. Some open on Saturdays 09:00 – 11:00 and a few even on Sundays now in Nairobi.
  • Banks in Mombasa and on the coast open and close half an hour earlier.
  • Banks and bureaux de change at international airports are open 24 hours a day.
  • National and international banks have branches in most other major towns.
  • Tipping is becoming increasingly common (though a 10% service charge is often added to the bill). Service industry staff do not receive high wages and often rely on tips to supplement their wages.  For this reason, on safari, it is an expectation that you tip your driver, cook and guide.

SHOP OPENING HOURS?

Major stores, tourist services, offices and museums open from 8:00 to 9:00 AM to 5.00 PM in large towns. In rural areas and out in the bush small shops can be open at almost any hour.

FOOD AND GROCERIES

Water from taps should be considered risky. Boil before use, or buy bottled drinking water. Most cities and towns frequented by tourists have supermarkets with a reasonable selection of foods available, but imported goods are expensive. The staple food in the Kenyan diet is a solid white maize-meal porridge called ‘Ugali’. Their various dark green leafy vegetables are delicious!


SAFETY AND SECURITY

People often harbour unfounded concerns about the dangers of going on safari in Kenya, including an exaggerated fear of civil unrest and crime. In fact, tour operators make it their business to be intimately familiar with the areas in which they travel, thus minimizing risk for travellers. Nevertheless, it is sensible to take customary precautions on your African safari, especially when traveling through urban areas.

  • Don’t leave cash or valuables in your room or tent.
  • When walking in cities and urban areas in Africa, use two wallets. Hide one of them with the bulk of your cash, traveller’s cheques, credit cards and other essential items in a safe place on your person. Fill the second wallet with a small amount of money, and use that for routine spending. In addition, you should avoid counting your money in public, as this will cause the unwanted attention of potential thieves.
  • Always carry a photocopy of your Passport and required visas. If you carry traveller’s cheques, have a list of their numbers stored separately from the originals. Never carry large sums of cash, but if it is necessary, keep it in a travel wallet/belt or zipped pocket.
  • Laptops and cameras should be well concealed (e.g. in older or worn bag) when walking in populated areas.
  • Don’t wear expensive jewellery.
  • Don’t walk at night and only use authorized labelled taxis.

Most of Kenya is safe to travel, however we advise you to avoid the north near the borders, due to militia groups and bandit attacks. In some areas you may be advised to travel with armed guards.


GETTING AROUND

Cheap buses and matatus (mini buses) are the main form of public transport – mostly crowded.  If you use one beware of pick pockets. Taxis are available in larger towns. Use registered taxis and bargain for a mutually agreeable fare. Car hire is available.  The Nairobi-Mombasa train is a great service but usually late. Flying is a good, though not cheap, option. There are regular domestic airlines and small aircraft belonging to charter airlines.

Be aware:
  • Carefully guard your belongings at all times on public transport.
  • Overloading on public transport is common –so be prepared to be squeezed!
  • High speed and unpredictable local driving habits are daily hazards on Kenyan roads.
  • Main roads are generally good, though some stretches are hazardous. Roads in the north and northeast are predominantly dirt roads and in the rainy season are only navigable by four-wheel drive vehicles.
  • A national driving license with an English translation is accepted. Driving is on the left side of the road. Fuel shortages can occur so fill your tanks before leaving a major town.

WHAT TO BUY?

Tribal souvenirs are available, including Maasai beaded jewellery, kiondos (woven sisal baskets) and natural or decorated calabashes (dried gourds), wooden carvings. Bright sarongs (kangas or kikois) are great for wearing or for covering furniture.

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