Useful Information for Travel to Kenya
The following has been put together to give you a little more information on Kenya as a safari destination.
What to Wear
When travelling to foreign destinations it is always respectful to dress modestly and we suggest the emphasis is on comfortable clothing. It is often warm on the plains and at lower altitudes but cold in the hilly and mountainous areas of Kenya, for example the Laikipia and Mount Kenya regions.
Whilst on safari neutral coloured, loose fitting and relaxed clothing is the most appropriate. You might feel rather a ‘clichéd traveller’ but the reason most safari clothing is khaki or light brown is that tsetse flies are attracted to darker colours. Basically, loose light coloured clothing is best. We also suggest taking a fleece or jumper for early morning games drives and evenings around the camp fire. It can be surprisingly cool! Some safari vehicles will provide a blanket but it is best to be prepared for cool mornings as the wildlife wakes up around you. A perfect way to start the day!
On the Beach
The costal beach resorts of Kenya are in predominantly Muslim areas, so recognition of local customs and traditions is important and we suggest dressing modestly when away from the beach. Unsuitable clothing such as swimwear or brief shorts, are not acceptable in town and villages away from the main tourist resorts.
It is best to pack as light as possible, remembering that the charter flights (often in small aircraft) have a maximum baggage allowance of 15kg per person. Most hotels and lodges have laundry services, so an excessive amount of clothing should be unnecessary. Please note that most hotels, lodges and camps hand wash clothing.
Please limit baggage to two items per person and always use soft bags rather than suitcases. In specific cases i.e. for internal flights, luggage may be limited to 15kg per person. More information about luggage can be found in your journey essentials document post-booking.
Getting There & Away
If Natural World Safaris has arranged your international flights you will be sent your flight itinerary separately. Please note that once your flights have been booked these will be subject to their respective terms and conditions. If you haven’t booked your flights with Natural World Safaris clients will need to make their own arrangements to arrive and leave in accordance with their itinerary. We can arrange these flights for you if needed, please ask for further details.
Upon arrival at your destination, you will be met by our local representative. They will hold a ‘welcome card’ with your name on it. We have provided local contact details in the accompanying information but if you have any problems please call our 24-hour Emergency UK telephone number on +44 (0)7887 637 628.
Hotels, Lodges & Camps
The lodges and camps in Kenya are some of the best in Africa but they do vary in terms of the facilities they offer. Generally lodging in Nairobi and other towns is in western style three to five star lodges, hotels or guesthouses. On safari it tends to be in lodges or tented camps of varying standards, occasionally without running water or electricity and some camps have short-drop, long-drop or self-composting toilets. Other lodging can be of the utmost luxury with very high standards of comfort. We do however always attempt to use environmentally friendly lodges who are committed to protecting the local environment and helping local communities.
Most lodges are able to offer laundry facilities but please note that the cost is not always included. Check with reception for current prices. Due to natural drying and variable climatic conditions your clothing might not always come back ‘bone dry’. As most laundry is hand washed please avoid handing in delicate clothing. Most lodges won’t wash underwear but will happily provide washing powder to use in your room.
Most of the safari lodges and camps we use in Kenya are in prime wilderness areas where wild animals roam! At dusk some animals such as elephant, buffalo and hippo may come and graze near these camps. It is not unknown for the ‘Big Cats’ to wander through camps as well! Wild animals are dangerous and should not be approached on foot, unless accompanied by a guide. After dark camps and lodges will have night watchmen on duty to escort you to and from your tent or room. Once you have retired for the night please do not leave your tent/room and in the unlikely event that you need to summon assistance there will usually be a whistle beside your bed to alert the night watchman. It is also wise to keep your tent zipped up, as well as doors and window screens closed at all times after dark and also during the day when you are out.
Food & Water
Food varies from destination to destination. Please bear in mind that we try to use lodges/camps that use local produce which supports the local communities. Do not be afraid to try local produce it is part of the experience!
We recommend that you only drink bottled water and all our vehicles in Kenya will carry bottled water for your use.
International telephone communications are good from the major cities but more difficult from some remote areas. Mobile network coverage is reasonable throughout most of Kenya and mobile phones are now the most reliable means of communication, though you may have to travel a short distance to reach an area of coverage. All drivers/guides will have mobile phones and/or radios for emergency use.
We are not able to provide contact details for individual hotels, lodges or camps, as many do not have the facilities to handle guest calls/communications. We will provide contact details for our ground agents, please see accompanying information.
Kenya is three hours (+3) ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Sunrise is around 06:30 hours and sunset at about 19:00 hours. This varies slightly, depending on the location within Kenya and the time of year.
Outside of the major towns electricity supplies in rural areas are provided by generators or solar cells. As such most lodges and camps are only able to provide lighting/power to guest rooms at set times in the morning and afternoon. Most lodges do not have in room electrical sockets but charging facilities will be available, so please ask at reception or your guide. Please bear in mind that solar power is weather dependent and at times insufficient sunshine may mean lighting is limited. When generators are running power will be available but in other instances alternative lighting is normally provided e.g. storm lanterns or torches.
The electricity supply in Kenya is 220/240 volts/AC50Hz. Plug sockets do vary and we advise visitors to take multi-adaptors to cope with 3 square pin sockets (UK) and some places may use 2 round pin sockets (European).
The local currency in Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KES; symbol KSh) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of KSh1,000, 500, 200, 100 and 50. Coins are in denominations of KSh20, 10 and 5. Currency can be exchanged at the major banks, bureaux de change or authorised hotels. The banks at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi and Moi International Airport, Mombasa have 24-hour exchange services. The easiest currencies to exchange are US Dollars, Pounds Sterling and Euros. Banking hours are Monday – Friday 0900-1500, Saturday 0900-1100, closed Sundays. Banks in Mombasa and the coastal areas open and close half an hour earlier. The banks at international airports are open 24 hours every day. Bureaux de Change have longer opening hours and in the cities they are often open on Sundays.
As most meals, park fees, guiding fees etc are covered in the cost of your safari we generally recommend allowing approximately US$10-15 per person per day for spending money on drinks, souvenirs and crafts items.
You may wish to take extra funds to make contributions or donations to organisations that we encourage clients to visit. Donations and contributions are entirely voluntary.
We recommend you change you money upon arrival, as it is more difficult to change money whilst on safari. This is easily done at the international airports (Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi and Moi International Airport, Mombasa) or at the major hotels which are authorised.
It is preferable to travel with cash rather than travellers cheques or credit cards (cards are useful as an emergency back–up), as often it is only possible to use these in main cities. Cash is easily exchanged in Kenya. We recommend that you carry a mix of cash denominations, US Dollars (USD$) are easily exchanged and many places now accept Pounds sterling GBP£ and Euros EUR€.
Never keep all of your cash in the same place, keep it in different pockets and split it up between different bags.
If you are carrying USD$, please take bills dated 2006 or later as earlier dated bills can be very difficult to change and may not be accepted (as well as torn and dirty bills – the crisper the better!). You will get a better exchange rate for $50 or $100 USD$ bills. A number of low denomination USD$ bills are useful for tipping although some locals in remote areas may prefer Kenyan Shillings, as sometimes it’s difficult for them to change USD$.
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are all widely accepted. Major hotels now also accept payment by credit card, as do major safari companies, travel agencies and restaurants. Almost every bank now has an ATM and in the cities they are increasingly being installed at petrol stations. All ATMs will only dispense Kenyan Shillings. Please note: Where credit cards are accepted, the payments will normally be recorded in US Dollars, regardless of the card’s default currency. Most small shops will not accept payment other than cash, and card use is restricted to major banks, hotels and restaurants. It is wiser not to expect to use one at all.
These are required by citizens of Britain, the European Union, Canada, Australia and the USA; other nationals should check with their local embassy. We recommend that all visas should be obtained before your departure and these can be obtained at the Kenyan missions overseas. To apply for your visa in advance please go to: http://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html
Visas can be obtained upon arrival at the immigration desks at the international airports but this takes time as queues can be long and processing slow. A single entry visa to Kenya costs (approx.) US$50 and is valid for three months. Please have the correct money in US Dollar cash and be prepared for queues. Please note obtaining the correct entry visas are your responsibility.
A valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity on arrival and at least two blank pages is mandatory.
Embassy Contact Details
In the UK the Kenyan High Commission is located at:
45 Portland Place, London W1B 1AS, UK
Tel: (020) 7636 2371/5.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: applications 0930-1200, collections 1400-1530.
In the USA the Kenyan Embassy is located at:
2249 R Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Tel: (202) 387 6101.
All of our local operators conform to local safety regulations. If you at any time feel that this is not the case please do not hesitate to contact us.
Know Before You Go is an ongoing campaign from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to help Brits stay safe abroad, however in our opinion it has useful information for all nationalities. The campaign was launched in 2001 to promote these key messages:
Get adequate travel insurance
Check the FCO’s country travel advise
Visit your GP as soon as possible before travelling
Check your passport is in good condition and valid and you have all necessary visas
Make copies of important documents and/or store them online using a secure data storage site.
Tell someone where you are going and leave emergency contact details with them
Take enough money and have access to emergency funds.
We suggest that you go to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website to get up to date information on your specific destination and important travel tips before you travel.
Kenya has had a progressive and democratic government for many years. Clients should take the usual precautions when travelling abroad in unfamiliar surroundings and we recommend that clients take a taxi rather than walk at night. Please use your common sense and do not draw attention to cameras, video equipment, jewellery, etc. Do not flaunt money and always use safes when provided at hotels/lodges. If in doubt please ask your guide.
For latest travel advice please contact us, at our UK office, or alternatively use the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
Go to: www.gov.uk/travelaware for relevant and important travel tips to plan your trip abroad.
Health & Medical
Always seek medical advice before travelling; please consult your GP or Doctor who will be able to advise you on required vaccinations and anti-malarial prophylaxis.
In the UK we recommended visiting the ‘Fit for Travel’ website.
In the USA, we suggest consulting CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention).
Please bring any personal medication required. Anti-malaria tablets and mosquito repellents are essential.
All visitors will be required to show their Yellow Fever inoculation certificate before entering the country. Drink bottled or boiled water only.
Medical services, especially in rural areas, are basic so it is essential you have appropriate travel insurance with adequate medical cover, air repatriation with a 24-hours contact telephone number for emergencies. Securing the necessary travel insurance for your safari is your own responsibility.
It is a condition of booking that all clients must have, and must demonstrate to the company prior to their departure, adequate insurance for the duration of the tour.
Proof of the following items of insurance is required on booking; cancellation or curtailment of your trip, medical expenses, repatriation, loss of luggage, personal injury, adventure activities such as white-water rafting, tracking wild animals, theft of personal belongings.
Please report any theft, trip disruption immediately to your guide during your trip and also in writing to Natural World Safaris immediately on return to your home country.
We strongly believe that smoking in national parks should be avoided and is often not permitted.
Travel times can vary considerably in Kenya. Main roads are generally good but travel is much slower than on European or American roads. Most roads in rural areas are often dusty or muddy and bumpy due to poor local maintenance and weather conditions.
Many of our safaris are organised using scheduled flights on light aircrafts. Please note there is a luggage allowance of 15kgs on all shared charter flights to and from lodges/camps. There can be no exceptions to this rule, unless extra seats are booked in advance.
We also use properly equipped 4x4’s for many safaris and these vehicles have been especially converted for wildlife watching. Journeys overland can on occasions take most of the day, however we always try to break these up with refreshment stops and there is always a lot to look at as you travel by!
Kenya’s climate is predominantly tropical. For the whole country, the hottest months are from October to February. The long rains are from mid-March to late May, and the short rains from October to December. The coolest months are June to August when the nights and early mornings can be cold. In high-altitude areas such as Mount Kenya, temperatures can fall below freezing. The coastal areas are tropical, but tempered by monsoon winds. The lowlands are hot but mainly dry, while the highlands are more temperate with four seasons. Nairobi has a very pleasant climate throughout the year due to its altitude. Near Lake Victoria, the temperatures are much higher and rainfall can be heavy. Seasonal weather patterns can be unpredictable.
Please refrain from photography of military personnel, military installations and airports. Always ask for permission when taking photos of local people or alternatively ask your guide for advice. It is worth ensuring you have sufficient films, including fast films (400-1600 ASA). Please bring extra batteries as it may not always be possible to re-charge them at the lodges. In addition it might be useful to bring a car charger (cigarette lighter variety).
Please note flash photography of any wildlife usually causes disturbance and should be avoided.
Prices include airport transfers; accommodation; meals and drinks as stated; an English speaking driver / guide and a safari vehicle; porterage of two items of baggage per person on the trip (subject to weight restrictions); boat trips; park fees; and permits where appropriate.
Prices exclude all items of a personal nature: entry visas, international flights, tips, telephone calls, drinks (unless otherwise stated), laundry and airport taxes.
Tips & Gratuities
During your time in Kenya, tipping is entirely at your discretion. There is no obligation to pay a tip to your drivers, hotel staff or your guides. However, should you wish to tip, the following may be used as a guideline depending on the service you have received:
We suggest approximately US$5 – 10 per person per night at each camp/lodge. This goes into a main pot and is divided between all the staff. It is quite normal to tip your guide separately using the same guidelines. If there are other staff who have been particularly helpful you may want to tip them separately (US$1-5 per day). For airport transfers you may wish tip your driver between US$2-5 per vehicle.
Tips may be given in US Dollars or Kenyan Shillings. Please note that if you are tipping in US Dollars, only notes issued in or after the year 2004 are accepted in Kenya.
Charitable Giving & Community Projects
We recommend as part of our responsible travel policy that you do not give money or gifts directly to local people. We have links with local projects/schools that would appreciate your support. Please ask your guide for further details. If you would like to contribute to these donations of clothing, pens and pencils are greatly appreciated.
When you buy an ATOL protected flight or flight inclusive holiday from us you will receive an ATOL Certificate. This lists the flight, accommodation, car hire and/or other services that are financially protected, where you can get information on what this means for you and who to contact if things go wrong. Company Name: Natural World Safaris Ltd. ATOL Number 9826. For more information please visit their website: www.atol.org.uk.
As a member of the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT), Natural World Safaris Ltd has provided a bond to meet the requirements of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.
In the event of insolvency, protection is provided for non-flight packages commencing in and returning to the UK and other non-flight packages excluding pre-arranged travel to and from your destination. Please note that packages booked outside the UK are only protected when purchased directly with Natural World Safaris Ltd.
In the above circumstances, if you have not yet travelled you may claim a refund, or if you have already travelled, you may claim repatriation to the starting point of your non-flight package.
The ABTOT number is 5127.