Frequently Asked Questions
Best time to travel?
Kenya and Tanzania are wonderful safari destinations all year round. Straddling the Equator, and with many of the wildlife conservation areas above 1500m the weather is a very pleasant average 25 C year round. Days are warm with minimal humidity and evenings are cool.
How many parks should I put into an itinerary?
We recommend that you stay in one wildlife area for not less than three nights, giving you two full days to enjoy the area. East Africa has the most varied ecosystems and wildlife species in Africa—so each area that you visit will offer you a completely different wildlife experience, vegetation, landscape and views. You need to plan for a minimum of six nights on safari so that you can visit at least two different ecosystems, or combine safari and beach. See our sample itineraries.
Can I bring my children?
Children love safari, and even the most up-market properties in Kenya and Tanzania welcome children. The local people are very welcoming and adore having fun. Make sure you plan your safari with a good safari consultant to ensure you are visiting areas of minimal malaria risk, and consider taking exclusive use of safari vehicle. Most safari properties are in areas of no or minimal malaria risk and have special rates for families—many have family houses or suites. Read our section on family safaris, and also see our sample itineraries.
Exercise on safari?
Although safari means early mornings and being outside all day, it is not strenuous. Lots of fresh air means meal times are a major focus, and game drives are not exercise. For those of you that will miss your regular work outs, there are some forest camps in Kenya that offer only walking, and guests can chose a leisurely 40 minute walk to a 3 hour hike! Or a visit to see gorillas or chimpanzees means a good hike in the forest.
Can I go for walks while on safari?
Leaving the safari vehicle behind is a must to truly enjoy the African bush. You can walk in most safari areas. For those that really want to get out and enjoy the forest or the savannah, there are some properties that specialize in walking, Kitich Forest Camp offers only walking, visiting gorillas and chimpanzees and you can also consider a camel safari.
What to bring?
Internal flights have a luggage limit of 15kg per person. It doesn’t sound very much, but you can pack quite a few shorts and T shirts within 15kg and all lodges have laundry facilities. Don’t forget binoculars, they are an essential part of safari.
What is Nairobi like?
Nairobi is a large metropolitan modern city. We recommend getting straight out on safari—however for those who are spending a night in Nairobi to connect with flights, there are some extremely nice boutique hotels, excellent restaurants and good shopping.
Safari means journey in Kiswahili, the language of East Africa, and Kenya is the home of safari. Its varied ecosystems and landscapes mean that the biodiversity here is higher than any other country in Africa. It has been the natural home of celebrity safaris, big game hunters and royalty since the 18th century and remains the most spectacular safari destination with unparalleled wildlife viewing.
A complete safari includes at least three of the main ecosystems: the semiarid dramatic landscapes of the north, the tropical woodlands of the Rift Valley and the lush savannahs of the Masai Mara. We recommend booking three nights in each area in order to give your guests the best possible safari.
Kenya has a culture borne of countless sources. From the prehistoric records of early man to the present day, Kenya has been a land of unending change, contrasts, and diversity. The country has at least 40 different ethnic African groups (including the Kikuyu, Luhya, Kalenjin tribes, Luo, Kamba, Kisii, Meru and Embu, Mijikenda, Swahili, Turkana and Masai) who speak a variety of indigenous languages. Waves of migration over the centuries from the north and south of the continent have led to Kenya becoming one of the most diverse African countries culturally and linguistically.
Kenya has a well-established system of guide training and certification. It is important that a safari is guided by competent and experienced guides as it is through their eyes that guests will interpret the wilderness around them! Many of the properties, have in house guides, usually from the local area, that know their part of the wilderness and its inhabitants.
Kenya offers many superb private conservancies and unique boutique safari camps and lodges. Some areas suit low-key tented camps and others large open airy rooms with stunning views.
A passport with at least two blank pages, six months' validity, and a visa are required to enter Kenya. Single-entry visas are available upon arrival at Kenyan airports; however, a visa can be obtained online through the following website: http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html.
Banking and Currency
The currency in Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KES; symbol KSh). 1 Kenyan Shilling = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of KSh1,000, 500, 200, 100 and 50. Coins are in denominations of KSh40, 20, 10 and 5.
Foreign currency can be exchanged at the major banks, bureaux de change or authorised hotels. The banks at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Moi International Airport have 24-hour exchange services. The easiest currencies to exchange are US Dollars, Pound Sterling and Euros.
There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency. However, amounts exceeding US$5,000 or equivalent must be declared.
Banking hours: Monday to Friday 09h00 to 16h00, Saturday 09h00 to 12h00. Banks in Mombasa and the coastal areas typically open and close half an hour earlier.
Credits Cards are widely accepted in all major hotels and more upmarket establishments, with the most recognized being Master Card and Visa. American Express and Diners Club cards are occasionally accepted. However, you will need some cash handy because smaller shops will only accept cash.
Almost every bank now has an ATM, and they are increasingly being installed at petrol stations in cities and large towns.
Travellers cheques are no longer accepted in Kenya.
Travel, Transport and Getting Around
Nairobi has two airports for domestic and regional flights: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Wilson Airport (www.kaa.go.ke). Kenya has over 150 domestic airports and airstrips and there are daily flights to the most popular destinations. In addition to the scheduled airlines, several private charter companies operate out of Wilson Airport.
On smaller, domestic planes the baggage allowance is restricted to 10-15 kg (22-33 lbs). Arrangements can be made to leave excess luggage with hotels or airlines.
Main roads between the major cities and towns are generally in good condition, and easily navigable in a normal saloon car. Most highways in the south are paved, but that’s not the case in the north.Vehicles are driven on the left side of the road.
While major roads are generally in a good condition, most minor gravel roads have deep potholes which deteriorate further in the rainy season. Dirt roads, including those in the parks and reserves, are extremely rough, and some are only passable with a 4-wheel drive.
Matatus (shared minibus taxis) hop from town to town, starting and finishing at bus stations. Fares are paid to the conductor. Numerous private bus companies operate in Kenya. Most vehicles are old and tend to depart when full, which means there are no set timetables. Petty theft on the vehicles and at bus stations can be a problem. Nevertheless, buses are cheap and link all long-distance destinations. Plus, seatbelts are now mandatory, so buses are relatively safe.
Private taxis can be hired for long-distance journeys. It is not possible to rent motorbikes or mopeds but some of the beach resorts hire out bicycles. Uber now operates in both Nairobi and Mombasa.
Health and Medical Information
Children on Safari
There is no greater pleasure than watching your child discovering a different world and the joys of an old-fashioned childhood. East Africa is ideal for family holidays; we welcome children and many camps and lodges have family suites.
- Young children: attention span is short, children tire quickly. We recommend families opt for exclusive use of a vehicle.
- 6 to 12 years: a perfect age to be on safari—identifying animal tracks, fishing, walking, horse-riding, identifying “dung”, tracks and butterflies.
- 13 to 16 years: these optimistic young adults with developing opinions are interested and passionate about our planet, conservation, cultural diversity, and have their own knowledge of biodiversity facts.
Malaria is common in Africa, however most safari areas are at altitude and in remote areas with little human population, so can be considered “malaria free”. Avoiding the mosquito bite is the cornerstone of protection including:
- mosquito bed nets when not in a tent;
- wear long clothing after dark;
- repellents/insecticides (sprays, creams & mosquito coils) again, after dark; and
- oral prophylaxis.
We team up with the foremost authority on tropical diseases in East Africa who keeps us updated with the latest prophylaxis and general inoculation advice.
East African Flying Doctors Medical Evacuation (AMREF)
All guests are registered with AMREF Flying Doctors, who operate the most comprehensive and professional air ambulance services in East Africa. They also have international evacuation capabilities. The purpose of the membership is to ensure immediate evacuation response in case of emergency and is separate and additional to guest's own medical insurance, which is mandatory for safari participation.
Sources: Dr Mauro Saio, www.gov.uk, www.travel.state.gov
We care about your well being and peace of mind. Here are the answers to a few questions that we have received from operators around the world.
Travel advisories have been in place for over 30 years and are usually updated annually; whether there are changes or not. The message that is communicated can cause unnecessary concern as the annual travel advisory update may lead the public to believe that the security situation has changed, when in fact it has remained the same.
Areas within Kenya that fall under a travel advisory include northeastern Kenyan counties of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa, the coastal counties of Tana River and Lamu in their entirety, all areas north of Malindi in Kilifi County, and the Nairobi neighbourhood of Eastleigh.
Part of Nairobi that like any large city has “no go” areas usually because they are slums with increased crime, not a tourist area.
Any areas very close to our neighbor, Somalia. Kenya is a massive country, and all tourism areas are very many miles from the Somali border. No normal tourist would be travelling to this very remote location.
Book with a trusted and reputable company
We have extensive international public liability insurance, we are fully licensed, have long-standing experienced staff and the best on the ground advice and support.
Beware of “briefcase operators”. Despite sending slick safari proposals; having a lovely website, if you look carefully there is no office, only one mobile telephone number and one email.
We have a duty manager available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with additional officers on call for any emergency!
Sources: Dr Mauro Saio, www.gov.uk, www.travel.state.gov
Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice
Nairobi has some of the finest eating establishments in Africa. Many different cuisines and types of restaurants are available, from fast food to fancy. Among the many cuisines available are Indian, Brazilian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, German and French restaurants. Fast food restaurants, mostly by South African chains (Steers, Nandos), are common in the larger urban areas.
The local cuisine is also worth trying out, particullarly Pilau-a chicken and rice dish, cabbage and rice; and the staple food in Kenya-Ugali, made from maze flour.
Bottled water is advisable for the first few weeks of your stay. Never drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected (such as with iodine tablets). Never drink from streams, rivers and lakes. Avoid ice and washed salads and fruit except in upmarket hotels and restaurants.
Climate and Weather
Kenya lies on the equator and has a pleasant tropical climate, but there are large regional climatic variations influenced by several factors, including altitude. Temperatures drop by about 6°C for every 1000m you climb (or 3.5°F per 1000ft). Kenya’s daytime temperatures average between 20°C (68°F) and 28°C (82°F), but it is warmer on the coast. The coast is hot and humid all year round, but the heat is pleasant and tempered by the monsoon winds. Kenya is too close to the equator to experience a real winter and summer. There is, however, both a dry and wet season. The wet season is from November to May and the Dry season is from June to December.
Clothing and Dress Recommendations
Comfortable, casual clothing that is lightweight is the best bet while on safari. It can be quite cool in the early mornings, so you'll want to dress warmly in layers, until the sun has a chance to warm up the air. "Kenya Convertibles", khaki pants with zip-off legs, are perfect for cool early morning game drives that turn warm before you're back in camp. Walking shorts, long pants, cotton shirts and tees are just right. A cotton bush jacket or wind-breaker will be useful along with a warm sweater or fleece jacket for the cool nights. And, a hat that ties on is a must. There is not a good deal of long walking or hiking on most safaris, so a comfortable pair of walking shoes or tennis shoes and a pair of sandals should be adequate. You will need thorn-proof soles.
In Kenya's major cities the dress code is conservative but not overly formal; jeans and decent tops for women are fine. Swimsuits are acceptable on the beach but you’ll need to cover up in public places.
Wi-Fi is readily available in major cities and hotels, as well as in luxury game lodges.
Electricity and Plug Standards
Electric Power is 220V-240V running at 50Hz. The plug type used in Kenya is the 3 large flat prong (UK). If your appliances are compatible with 220V-240V electrical output, an adapter is all that you will need, if not a voltage converter will be necessary.
Kenya lies on the Equator, therefore our dry and wet seasons have stable and pleasant temperatures, and allow for year round Safaris and game viewing. The perfect climate!
Many parts of the country are at altitudes of 2000m (6000 feet); these highlands e.g. Laikipia, Mathews Range, Masai Mara, experience a cool and temperate climate, with warm, dry sunny days, and chilly evenings.
Lower regions at 1200m (3800 feet), which include the semi-desert areas of Samburu/Shaba, Meru and the coastal strip, can reach a dry and comfortable 35°C (95°F) during the day, with cool and pleasant evenings.
The hottest months of the year in Kenya are from December through to March, with the coldest months being in July and August. Kenya’s long rains are during the months of April and May, however, we still experience sunny days. The short rains are in November. Some of the smaller bush camps close during the wet seasons of April, May and November.