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For visitors coming to Kenya for the first time, there are many unanswered questions — what do we pack, what are the entry requirements e.t.c…. To make your visit truly relaxing and well- prepared, here are some of the answers. This information has been carefully compiled; however, it must be accepted that some details might change from time to time.
Kenya, Tanzania & Uganda are all GMT+3 hours and do not have summertime/daylight savings.
Passports & Visas
Effective January 2021, all persons traveling to Kenya are required to obtain an e-visa at http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html . Children under the age of 16 accompanying their parents are exempt from payment for Visa fees – but they must have their passports with them. Their passports will be stamped at Jkia free of charge. Same apply to infants. It takes approximately 48 hours to process the Visa and it costs USD 50 with a surcharge of USD 1 service charge. Card handling fee will be surcharged for Debit cards, Credit cards, VISA Card, Mastercard.
Please consult a medical practitioner for the complete up-to-date requirements. Kenya poses a low to moderate malaria risk, it is therefore advisable that you take a malaria prophylaxis. Once again consult your medical practitioner on which prophylactic is recommended. Currently it is mandatory for all visitors to Kenya to have a negative Covid-19 Test result.
Travel insurance is essential. It is advisable to take out your policy in advance to cover for cancellation charges in the event of an emergency preventing you from travelling.
Climate in East Africa
In Kenya, the long rains are from early April through May, and the short rains in November. As with many parts of the world weather patterns have become unpredictable so you may encounter any type of weather on your visit. Dry seasons offer excellent visibility and more reliable road conditions whilst wetter times offer dramatic skies and less dust. Temperatures are generally pleasant 20-25C on average though cold in the mornings between June to September.
It is recommended to bring a soft bag as they are easier to carry and are less prone to damage – please avoid suitcases. All internal flights have a baggage limit of 15Kgs per person, inclusive of hand baggage.
Sockets are 3 pin UK style, with USB. Voltage is 240V/ 50Hz.
East Africa is cooler than most people expect for a region on the equator. This is due to the altitude (1500-2000 metres) over much of the area. It is highly recommended to have a warm jacket for cold mornings and evenings. It however gets quite warm during the day. Light long-sleeved shirts and trousers are recommended for the evenings to avoid mosquito bites. Natural safari colours are recommended especially if you are game walking, they are also ideal to conceal the African dust! Good walking shoes/ boots will be useful. A sun hat, sunglasses, lotion, lip balm and skin moisturiser are important. A good insect repellent is essential as well. All the lodges/camps provide good quality soap, shampoo and body lotion mostly made in Kenya from natural products.
It is highly recommended to bring a camera with a zoom lens of at least 200mm for wildlife shots. A bean bag or jumper is useful to rest your camera on for shooting in low light (tripods are too cumbersome for use in a vehicle). Don’t forget to bring a spare camera battery and sufficient memory cards or alternative data storage for your videos and images. If possible, carry a pair of binoculars.
Meals at the lodges/camps or hotels are mostly Western in style and hygiene standards are high. Special dietary requirements, are catered for – this should be communicated in advance.
Safe, mineral water is provided daily in each safari vehicle and in the hotel rooms. Do not drink from the taps in your bathroom.
The currency is Kenyan shillings which is preferred by all outlets. The easiest hard currencies to exchange into Shillings are US dollars, UK pounds (not Scottish pounds), Euros. Other major currencies are accepted but only at foreign exchange bureaus in cities which also offer the most competitive rates of exchange followed by banks then hotels/camps. There are 24-hour Forex bureaus and ATM’s at Nairobi’s International Airport. One can withdraw Shillings from ATM machines which are widely dispersed in cities. Visa, MasterCard and AMEX are all accepted.
International and domestic departure taxes are included on your tickets. Please allow for tips and if you visit a Masai Village you will need cash ($30 or equivalent in Kenya shillings) for entrance or any souvenirs.
Do not carry valuable items unnecessarily; always use safe deposit facilities at your hotel room/reception. Do not wander alone on the streets of towns or along the beach at night. Violent crime is rare but petty crime is quite common.
The official languages are Kiswahili and English. English is widely spoken except in some rural areas.
Mobile phone signals are available all over Kenya, connections can however be sporadic and unreliable in isolated areas. In order to retain the safari atmosphere, please keep mobile phones on silent mode. Mobile use is not permitted in most hotel public areas and in vehicles on game drive. Wi-Fi is now available in most hotels; however, speeds might be slow especially in the lodges outside the city and usage might be limited to designated areas only.
Things to buy
There are numerous handicrafts available such as a wide selection of carvings in wood and soapstone, textiles, jewellery and leather goods.
It is prohibited to take photos of protected areas and Government installations. Always ask permission before taking photographs of people. It is quite common to be asked to pay a fee for the privilege. Agree on a fee before taking any photographs. Check with your safari guide, if in doubt.
Always remain silent when close to wildlife and do not make sudden movements so as not to startle the animals. Please remember wildlife is just that and the animals you will see are wild and unpredictable. You are very safe in a safari vehicle, but you must keep a respectable distance if on foot. It is forbidden to leave your vehicle when in the reserve except in a few authorized areas. Again, contact your guide.