| 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 available in
Kenya. Birdlife is prolific and a great number of species
can be identified. Here are the top points to note when
planning a visit to Kenya:
a safe destination?
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 leaving
in the wildlife areas?
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.
Health in Kenya?
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 youre 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.
Water Safe to Drink?
Drink only bottled water or from flasks of filtered and
boiled water provided by most hotels and lodges.
Chemists / pharmacies?
Travellers should carry an adequate supply of medicines
and first aid accessories with them as supplies especially
away from major towns, are limited in Kenya. Most chemists
in the major towns are open from 08h30 to 12h30 and 14h00
to 17h00. Monday to Friday and 08h00 to 13h00 on Saturdays.
There are very emergency chemists open after hours or
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.
Electricity in Kenya?
Power supply is 220/240 volt 50 cycle. Plugs are usually
13-amp 3 pin square (British type)
have access to Banks
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 in Mombasa.
the local language?
While the national language of Kenya is Kiswahili, English
is the official language and is widely spoken and understood
across East Africa.
What is the local Currency?
Currency unit is the shilling, comprising 100 cents. Coins
are in denominations of 5c, 10c, 50c and 1 and 5 shillings.
Bank notes are in denominations of 5, 10, 2-0, 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. A VAT
(tax currently 16% on most items, 2005) is levied and
visitors cannot claim a refund on goods purchased.
use my Credit Cards?
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.
the Communications in Kenya?
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 frustration).
the best time to go to Kenya?
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.
the Climate in Kenya?
Althoug 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 washing.
Tips on Photography
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 youre 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. People with little are easily
tempted. 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.
by Air in Kenya
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 Nairobi. 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. A departure
tax of U.S. $40 is levied when leaving the country (Please
check whether it is included in your ticket).
Requirements in Kenya
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
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.