All visitors to Kenya are required to have valid passports. Visas are also required f visitors who are not citizens of the commonwealth countries in order to enter Kenya. At present visitors from Germany, Denmark, Norway, San Marino, Sweden, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Finland, Spain, Turkey and Uruguay do not require visas. However, since visa requirements may change, it is advisable for the visitors to check the current visa requirements through airlines, tour operators or Kenya Tourist Offices, Kenya Embassies or High Commissions in their countries before coming, to avoid embarrassment. Visas normally take up to six weeks to process and are valid for up to a three month period. Those visitors with proper documents and who also possess onward or return tickets may be given visitor’s passes free of charge on arrival at any Kenyan point of entry.
Roads in Kenya aren’t very good. Potholes, road blocks, goats and people tend to get in the way of vehicles. Avoid driving a car or riding a bus at night because potholes are difficult to see and so are other vehicles especially when they are missing their headlights, a fairly common occurrence. If you are renting a car, keep the doors and windows locked while driving in the major cities. Car-jackings occur fairly regularly but may not end in violence as long as you comply with demands made.
Basic Safety Rules for Travelers to Kenya
- Make a copy of your passport and keep it in your luggage.
- Don’t walk on your own at night in the major cities or on empty beaches.
- Don’t wear jewelery.
- Don’t carry too much cash with you.
- Wear a money belt that fits under your clothes.
- Don’t carry a lot of camera equipment especially in the major cities.
- Beware of thieves posing as police officers.
Health and Safety
In general people are extremely friendly in Kenya and you will be humbled by their hospitality. But, there is real poverty in Kenya and you will soon realise that you are far richer and more fortunate than most local people you meet. You will probably attract your fair share of souvenir hawkers and beggars, but try and take the time to meet ordinary people going about their day to day business too. The experience will be worth it. Don’t be afraid to step out of that tour bus, just take some precautions.
Kenya enjoys a tropical climate. It is hot and humid at the coast, temperate inland and very dry in the north and northeast parts of the country. The average annual temperature for the coastal town of Mombasa (altitude 17 meters) is 30.30 Celsius maximum and 22.40 Celsius minimum, the capital city, Nairobi (altitude 1,661 meters) 25.20 Celsius maximum and 13.60 Celsius minimum, Eldoret (altitude 3,085) 23.60 Celsius maximum and 9.50 Celsius minimum, Lodwar (altitude) 506 meters) and the drier north plain lands 34.80 Celsius maximum and 23.70 Celsius minimum. There is plenty of sunshine all the year round and summer clothes are worn throughout the year. However, it is usually cool at night and early in the morning. The long rains occur from April to June and short rains from October to December. The rainfall is sometimes heavy and when it does come it often falls in the afternoons and evenings. The hottest period is from February to March and coldest in July to August.
The annual migration of wildlife between Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya takes place between June and September. The migration of almost two million wildebeest, zebras and other species is nature’s greatest spectacle on earth. The animal trek has been captured by filmmakers work.
Baggage space on safari is restricted to one medium suitcase or hold all per person, plus hand baggage (private safaris where there are less than 7 persons in the vehicle are not subject to this restriction). Visitors to Treetops and the Ark are asked to take overnight bags only; suitcases can be left at the base hotel. Hotels will normally store baggage at no extra cost. Baggage can also be stored at Serene East Africa Safaris offices. A baggage weight restriction of 15 kg per person applies on air safaris. Where very small aircraft are used this maybe reduced to 10kg.
Hard currencies can be exchanged in cash or travelers cheques at banks all over the country, at forex bureaus in Nairobi and at most large hotels. US Dollars and Sterling Pounds are most acceptable and will cause the least delay. As a norm, always ask what commission and charges will be deducted first and prior to transaction. Banks are usually open from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm, Mondays through Fridays and from 9.00 am and 11.00 am on Saturdays. The Currencies can also be change in All Casinos in town.
VISA, MASTERCARD and AMERICAN EXPRESS are widely accepted for tourist services. There’s usually a 5% mark-up on top of the price as establishments are charged a fixed percentage of their transactions.
Since rules concerning disease prevention change from time to time, a check should be made with the nearest Kenyan High Commission, Kenya Tourist Office or any airline flying scheduled services into Kenya. Malaria is endemic to most parts of Kenya and intending visitors should start taking anti-malarial tablets before departure and continue taking them for the prescribed time after their return. Insect repellents should be made use of after dusk and suitable cover up clothes should be worn in the evenings.
JAMBO is one of the most common words you will hear spoken throughout Kenya. This is the simplest Swahili greeting, and is often the first word learned by visitors to Kenya.
Bottled and alcoholic beverages
Wine, beer, extra bottled water, sodas and alcoholic beverages are available at all camps and lodges and are usually not included in the trip price. Beer and sodas are inexpensive but premium spirits can be pricey so you may want to bring your favorite with you.
If you don’t like bargaining, there are many nice shops and galleries in the main cities that carry nice crafts, including basketry, batiks, beadwork, masks and woodcarvings. Gift shops in hotels, safari lodges and some camps are also excellent places to buy quality souvenirs. If you like to bargain, you may want explore the local markets. However – do not ship goods home! Shipping rates are not guaranteed and can be exorbitant. Plan to carry your purchases home or pay the surcharge from the airline.
Food during safari
The food on safari is delicious and ranges from simple to gourmet. You can expect lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and wonderful homemade soups. Chicken, lamb, beef or pork are usually served at lunch and dinner as well fish and vegetarian dishes. Breakfast is buffet with lots of tropical fruits, hot and cold cereals, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, breads and pastries and eggs to order. Lunch can be either buffet or served at the table and always starts with soup. Dinner is usually a 4 or 5 course sit-down affair, although there is no need to dress up. Often your safari guide will join you at meals as you recall your days events.
In Kenya, electricity runs at 220/240 volts.
At most lodges, video and camera batteries can be recharged. Lodges are unable to provide adapters. However, be aware that at the lodges overnight recharging may not be possible where generator use restricts the availability of electricity.
Generally there are no places to jog and there will not be much time for exercise, although we do try to include some walking where it is safe and legal. It is possible to do some walking and exercising within the lodge or camp grounds but because the wildlife is “wild” it is not safe to venture away from the grounds. Also, walking in not allowed in the national parks without permission and is usually escorted by an armed guard.
Arrivals and Departures
Kenya has two main ports of entry by air: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi. Located 16 km from the city center. Moi International Airport, Mombasa. Located 12 km from the town center. Mombasa is the main port of entry by sea