YOUR KENYA SAFARI GUIDE
Important Things to Know
Africa and its world of inspirational safaris are a never-ending gift. To help create your perfect holiday adventure please look over this comprehensive travel guide. We’ve included everything from obtaining visas to packing tips to weather, currency, clothing, safety, and more
If you have any questions, please contact the team at Africa Kenya Safaris who will be happy to talk with you about your trip.
All tourists must have a valid visa to visit Kenya. Additionally, your passport must be valid for at least six months after the date of your arrival in Kenya. In 2017 Kenya introduced ‘eVisa’, the electronic tourist visa. CLICK HERE to learn more.
Electronic Visa Application
Please use the website www.evisa.go.ke to apply for an electronic eVisa. You can pay by credit card. The visa processing fee is USD 50, and there is a service charge of USD 1. The earliest you can apply for a Kenyan visa is three months before your travel date.
The visa application process involves uploading a picture of your passport along with your passport photograph. Your visa will be issued approximately five days after you register. You will be required to print a copy of your electronic visa and bring it with you for presentation along with your passport on arrival in Kenya. If you have any problems or inquiries related to applying for an electronic visa, please contact the Kenyan Embassy in your country/region.
Other Visa Items to Note:
- You will be required to complete a landing card that will be issued to you on the plane, or at the visa desk when you enter Kenya.
- You will be required to complete an exit card, which will be provided to you in the departure terminal when leaving Kenya.
SAFARI & ROADS IN KENYA
All major Kenyan roads are paved. However, road surfaces vary depending on their remoteness and level of maintenance. Rain is a factor and may also affect the condition of your road. Most of the roads within the National Parks and game reserves are quite navigable. Driving time on Kenyan roads vary from one safari point to another and are approximate depending on traffic and road conditions.
Most major credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, and American Express) are widely accepted. In addition to credit cards, it is advisable to carry easily convertible currency in cash. USD currency is readily accepted in many local outlets and can also easily be exchanged for Kenyan shillings.
We advise you to contact a medical specialist, family doctor, or a licensed vaccination clinic well before traveling to Kenya to ensure you receive all required immunizations.
ACCOMMODATIONS ON SAFARI
We research and carefully choose all safari hotels, lodges, and tented camps for their quality, comfort, authenticity, and safety. Your choice of accommodation can add a unique flavor, adventure, and even romance to your safari tour.
The options vary from economy, comfort, superior comfort (applies for Masai Mara accommodations), and luxury. Luxury lodges blend nicely with the surrounding landscape and their rooms feature all the amenities you would expect from a finer hotel. Tented camps are on permanent foundations and have en-suite bathrooms. The amenities can include everything from hot water bottles to nighttime bed warming service, plus coffee, tea, and hot chocolate served in your tent as part of your early morning wake up call. Except for the elevated tree lodges, most other lodges and camps in the economy, comfort & luxury options have swimming pools.
DRINKING WATER & BOTTLE DRINKS
Avoid drinking water straight from the tap. Complimentary bottled drinking water will be provided in your safari vehicle where you’ll find a convenient cooler box or fridge. Soft drinks, beer, and other bottled beverages can be purchased at the lodges and camps throughout your safari tour. All accommodations feature bars and comfortable lounges with fireplaces for the cool evenings. Tea or coffee are served after meals.
SUGGESTED PACKING TIPS FOR YOUR SAFARI
It is advisable to distribute your clothing between you and your partner’s suitcases. This is a precaution should a suitcase be lost in transit. All important items and information should be carried in your hand luggage: passport, visa, insurance, credit cards, money, and prescriptions if necessary. You should also carry on your person any information about specific health conditions. Also, keep on your person or in your hand luggage such items as malaria pills, any lifesaving medication (diabetics), anything used to treat allergies, stomach upset (Imodium), and analgesic aspirin.
Any expensive electrical equipment, such as a camera or computer should be well looked after. Please note that all use, import, and production of plastic bags, such as those commonly used in supermarkets, etc., are prohibited in Kenya. We, therefore, recommend that you avoid using plastic bags when packing your luggage. Use fabric bags instead, or bags made of a waterproof material other than plastic. If you are visibly carrying hand luggage in plastic bags upon your arrival in Kenya, you will be asked to hand it in. This includes plastic bags from “Duty-Free”, etc.
On light aircraft flights in Kenya, the baggage allowance is limited to a maximum of 15 kilograms (33 lbs.) including camera and video equipment. Any additional luggage can be stored at your hotel in Nairobi until the end of the safari. Extra luggage is charged at $5 per kilogram and depends on space availability and weight. Luggage and personal effects are at the owner’s risk throughout the tour. For your peace of mind, baggage insurance is recommended.
PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT ON SAFARI
A recent model digital camera is ideal for taking excellent wildlife and landscape photographs on your Kenya safari holiday. No need to get a top-of-the-line camera – a mid-priced camera can give you excellent results. Getting good safari photos is more about practice, focus, and concentration than having an expensive camera.
A DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera with interchangeable lenses is a good option. Ideal lenses for African wildlife photos are in the range of 200-400mm, while those intending to make landscape or animal shots in their wild environment should consider bringing a wide-angle lens in the range of 24-100mm. A video camera can also enhance your photography while on safari.
Safari Tours are in remote areas so bring plenty of batteries and a charger in case you run out of power! Also, bring ample cleaning equipment like cleaning cloths and a blower brush as cameras can get dirty quickly in the dusty safari environment. Plenty of memory cards are necessary as well. The opportunities for picture taking on a safari adventure are practically unlimited! A pair of binoculars is essential to view the birds and animals at a distance. The best size is 8/10 x 40, and they should be of good quality.
Suggested Camera Equipment List for Safari
- Choice of lenses (ideally covering 24-100mm and 200-400mm range)
- Cleaning equipment for lens
- Extra batteries
- Battery charger
- Memory cards
- Camera bag
- Ziplock bags (dustproof) No plastic bags as they are banned in Kenya – you may use a cloth alternative
- Beanbag (for camera stability during photography)
SAFARI WEATHER THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
Any time of year is suitable for a safari adventure.
January, February, and March (High Season)
These three months are great for safari – this is just after the short rainy season and you may see some bird species that have migrated from Europe. The grass is still low enough so as not to hinder your view of the animals. Count on lots of opportunities to encounter large elephant herds.
April and May (low season)
This is the long rainy season, but you can still enjoy your safari during this period. Tropical rains come in bursts and last just a few hours, mostly in the mornings and afternoons. The rains freshen up the landscapes and wildlife, often enhancing the safari experience.
The month of June is a good time to experience a safari after the long rainy season. The large zebra herds cross from Tanzania to the Masai Mara Reserve ahead of the migration which happens from mid -July.
July to October (peak season)
Huge herds of wildebeest enter the Masai Mara from the Serengeti in Tanzania. Due to evolving climate situations, it may be a little hard to predict the exact timing for the migration’s start. But we can expect the great wildebeest migration to be active at the Masai Mara by the middle of July. Wildebeest begin their return journey to Tanzania around September / October.
November and December (shoulder season)
This is the short rainy season in Kenya. The short rains freshen the pastures, regenerating the savannah grasses. The national parks and game reserves regain their vegetation during this period.
WHAT CLOTHING TO WEAR ON SAFARI
We recommend that you bring casual summer clothes that are easy to launder and quick to dry. Go for neutral colors that do not reflect the heat and do not show the inevitable safari dust. With cool mornings and evenings, layering is suggested. Laundry service is available in most safari lodges and tented camps, which can help you replenish your supply of clean clothing as you need it.
Much of the time on safari is spent in the vehicle so lightweight and comfortable walking shoes are appropriate. The style is casual – even in the evening. You will be in the sun a great deal and at these elevations, it is easy to sunburn very quickly, so pack plenty of sunscreen. Don’t forget to pack a swimsuit and cover-up, as most of the safari accommodations have swimming pools.
Kenya’s currency is the Kenyan shilling (KSH). Check online for the current rate. You can exchange your convertible foreign currency for shillings at a Forex Bureau and usually find the best rates at the airport. Small cash denominations are handy for tipping and minor expenses.
You can also withdraw Kenyan shillings at an ATM (VISA & MasterCard). Cash USD, Euro, and British pounds are readily accepted in many outlets. We recommend that you exchange money only as needed. You will find it easiest to make small purchases in local currencies and will usually receive a better price. You may conveniently exchange money at all lodges and hotels at close to the bank rate, but the best exchange rates you’ll find will be at the Forex Bureaus at the airport or Nairobi city.
Customs regulations are quite straightforward. What is allowed: one bottle of spirits, 200 cigarettes, a reasonable amount of camera equipment, film, and one tape recorder are allowed to enter Kenya duty-free.
YOUR SAFARI GUIDE/DRIVER
Your Safari Guide/Driver will be an integral part of your safari adventure. You’ll be spending a lot of time together as he shares with you the wonders of Kenya’s geography, history, and of course the wildlife. Each safari guide is a local Kenyan, steeped in the traditions and folklore of his country as well as being exceptionally knowledgeable in areas such as local flora and fauna, tribal lore, and regional geography. Get to know our friendly and experienced safari guides here.
The voltage in Kenya is 220, and the plugs are different from those in North America or even Europe. Due to the variations of the outlets, we suggest you travel with a variety of international adapter plugs as well as a voltage converter, which may be purchased as a set. The most used adapter plug has 3 square prongs.
Important Note Regarding Power
Note that lodges in the game parks may turn off their generators during the day and late at night (11 pm – 6 am), this means there will be no electricity at this time. Please recharge your video camera batteries at available times of the day, or carry extra batteries.
FEES & TAXES
The Africa Kenya Safaris tour price includes government taxes and service charges relating to accommodations and meals provided, entrance fees to national parks/game reserves, and ranger services (where obligatory). We will be happy to itemize all inclusions/exclusions at safari booking/confirmation.
In Kenya, it is illegal to sell any product made from wild animals, including hides and skins, rhinoceros horn, elephant-hair bracelets, crocodile handbags, etc. Please note also that ivory is not legally sold in Kenya. It is illegal to bring into the U.S. any products made from elephant, rhino, or crocodile.
All hotel, lodge, and porterage gratuities are included in your safari price – these are referred to as service charges. Individual waiters, porters, and other service providers may provide exemplary service and it is at your discretion to tip further.
It is however customary to tip your guide/driver at the end of the safari tour. The amount is dependent on your evaluation of the quality of the service rendered. An average of $10 per guest per day is suggested. The amount is at your discretion and you are welcome to provide additional compensation to any staff who has provided special services. A bar gratuity of $1 is appropriate.
You should always carry medical insurance, as you are responsible for any medical expenses that may incur. We provide as part of our service, temporary evacuation, if necessary, with the Flying Doctors Service.
The many different dialects and local languages in Kenya are as colorful as the landscapes. English is the official language while Kiswahili is the national language – these languages provide a common identity in our diverse country. English is also the instructional language in all schools. A few Swahili phrases learned in advance will be appreciated and enhance your local interactions.
Laundry services are available at safari lodges and camps where you’ll be spending more than one night. Dry cleaning is only available in Nairobi and Mombasa.
All meals are included on your safari with us – starting with lunch on day 1, until lunch on your last day of the tour. During your safari, all meals will be provided by your respective lodge/ tented camp or at restaurants on the safari route. Packed picnic lunches are provided during full-day game viewing drives and on long drives. The quality of the cuisine in East Africa game lodges and camps is superb, with all meats, vegetables, and fruits arriving fresh daily from the surrounding farmlands. All individual dietary requests are catered to.
Nairobi has excellent international medical facilities. Additionally, most camps and lodges have a doctor on call who is experienced with common travel-related ailments. We suggest that you make certain your health insurance has adequate coverage, as once you return to Nairobi, you are responsible for any further medical expenses.
Visitors should exercise the same common sense as one would in any other part of the world. Normal care and sensible precautions should be taken. Please do not leave cash, jewelry, or valuables unattended in hotel rooms. Every lodge or hotel has a safe deposit facility for your valuables’ safekeeping. Do not wear flashy jewelry or leave handbags and photographic equipment unattended in public places.
SAFARI SOUVENIR SHOPPING
Affordable and attractive baskets, copper jewelry, batik cloth, beads, carvings, Kenya coffee, and tea are all for sale in the shops and markets of Nairobi. Boutiques sell fine art and handicrafts, gemstones, and jewelry, including a locally mined semiprecious stone called tanzanite.
Many popular items are carved from wood, ranging from small trinkets such as animal head spoons and letter openers to elegant ebony sculptures. Carved soapstone items from napkin rings and candlesticks to complete chess sets can also be found. Bags woven from sisal and baobab are available in myriad colors, sizes, and styles and are more unique than those sold in the US market.
East African artisans have responded to the increasing popularity of tribal artifacts with a variety of stunning pieces and faithful reproductions: You’ll find drums, headrests, stools, shields, and beaded necklaces and belts from various parts of the region. Some of the most prized pieces feature elaborately designed silver, malachite, and amber beads. We suggest you take all purchases with you as shipping and duty costs may easily exceed the cost of the item. When purchasing large pieces, if you must have the items shipped, please note that freight can run into many hundreds of dollars.
TRANSFERS TO AND FROM THE AIRPORT
Africa Kenya Safaris provides complimentary airport hotel transfers on arrival. At your time of departure, we will again transfer you to the Nairobi airport. We request that you share with us your arrival & departure flight details upon booking to facilitate easy transfer.
Our experienced and knowledgeable safari driver/guides will pick you up at the Nairobi Airport, Nairobi local hotel, or location of your choice. From there, you’ll hit the road on your safari or other sightseeing adventures. Upon completion, you’ll be brought back to your choice of location. Because much of the safari journey includes driving time to and through the parks, the quality of the safari vehicle is of great importance.
Each of our well-appointed safari vehicles carries a maximum of 6/7 guests, thus providing a guaranteed window seat and access to the pop-up roof. In addition to their safari training, our Driver/Guides also possess technical skills should there be any mechanical mishaps.
DRIVING DISTANCE & TIME ON SAFARI:
- Nairobi – Amboseli: 240 km, approx. 4 hours
- Amboseli – Lake Naivasha: 350 km, approx. 6-7 hours
- Lake Naivasha – Masai Mara: 250 km, approx. 4-5 hours
- Masai Mara – Nairobi: 265 km, approx. 6 hours
- Nairobi – Samburu: 320 km, approx. 6-7 hours
- Samburu – Lake Naivasha: 340 km, approx. 6-7 hours
- Nairobi – Ol Pejeta: 220 km approx. 4 hours
- Nairobi – Lake Nakuru: 160 km approx. 3 hours
- Nairobi – Lake Naivasha: 100 km, approx. 2 hours
- Mombasa – Tsavo East: 120 km, approx. 3 hours
- Mombasa – Tsavo West: 240 km, approx. 4 hours
- Tsavo West – Amboseli: 100 km, approx. 2 hours
- Amboseli – Masai Mara: 520 km, approx. 9 hours
- Tsavo East – Amboseli: 300 km, approx. 5 hours
Note that all driving times are approximate and may vary depending on weather, road conditions, and density of traffic.
MASAI VILLAGE VISIT AT MASAI MARA
If your dream is to visit a Masai village (manyatta), please discuss this with your safari guide. A donation of 20 USD per person payable directly to the village chief is suggested. Despite the introduction of money and other elements of modern influence, the Masai culture still retains much of its original authenticity and lifestyle.
LUNCH AND DRINKS DURING SAFARI
All meals including picnic lunches are included in your tour price. Bottled drinks including beer, soft drinks, wine, and spirits are paid for directly by you.
Kenya is 2 hours ahead of GMT.
Mosquitoes come out when the sun sets, temperatures drop, and the evening rolls in. This is also when most bites occur. Accordingly, for the evening, we advise that you wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. It is also important to make sure any exposed parts of the body are protected with insect repellent. All safari lodges and camps are fitted with mosquito nets over the bed.
CHARGING MOBILE PHONES AND OTHER ELECTRICAL ITEMS
Most hotels and lodges get their electricity from generators which are switched off after 11 pm. You are reminded to take a small flashlight with you. The sockets are 240 volts and use 3 flat pin plugs.
CHECKING IN/OUT OF HOTELS
At hotel/lodge check-in you will be required to fill out a registration card at the front desk before key collection. Most check-ins are after 11 am and check-outs before 10 am. When checking out, please pay any extra charges for drinks from the restaurant and bar. There is an informational talk at hotel/lodge/camps at check-in.
- Don’t pack bright summer clothes for safari trips as the strong colors can attract flies found in certain areas of the parks. Hand laundry is inexpensive so there is no need to bring a lot of clothing.
- Do bring nicer clothes for evenings at the hotel and lodge. Long pants and long-sleeved shirts will protect you against mosquitoes after sunset and, if necessary, against the sun
- A jacket, as it can be cool in the morning and evening.
- Summer footwear (e.g. sports shoes and cotton socks). Avoid bare feet and legs at night due to mosquitoes.
- Power adaptor with 3-4 sockets – this enables a shaver, trimmer, electric toothbrush, and any batteries to be charged via a single adapter
- Small flashlight and extra batteries
- Hat to shield out the sun’s rays
- Sunscreen and lip balm
- A mosquito repellent for example
- Nail clippers and file
IMPORTANT ITEMS TO KEEP CLOSE BY IN YOUR HAND LUGGAGE
- Passports, money, tickets
- Medication that you use at home (always in your hand luggage, just in case you lose your suitcase!)
- Travel medication: analgesic, allergy pills, remedy for diarrhea (Imodium), malaria pills, plasters, and disinfectant wipes
- Binoculars (so you can get a clear view of that leopard way up in the tree!)
- Camera and memory cards – more than you expect to use, including a battery charger and a bag to protect the camera from Africa’s fine, red dust
- Shoulder bag with a sturdy strap and zip. A money belt or good inside pockets that can be zipped up
- A few photocopies of all personal documents such as passports, visas, flights, travel insurance, vaccination card, international debit cards (Master Card, Visa credit cards, etc.), driver’s license
- Telephone list for immediate blocking of lost credit/debit cards and insurance
- Mailing addresses of those you wish to send postcards or send messages to
- Notebook and pens
- A good book or games to keep you entertained on the flight
SAFARI BOOKING TERMS & CONDITIONS
Please read our booking terms and conditions carefully. These terms and conditions constitute the basis of your tour package purchased from Africa Kenya Safaris.