To enter Kenya a visa costing 50 USD, with a validity of three months, is required. This can be obtained directly on entry at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, or in any Kenyan diplomatic mission in your country. Besides, your passport must have a minimum validity of six months starting from the date of entry. As long as your visa is valid, you do not need to ask for re-entry passes if you travel to Uganda or Tanzania. The airport taxes are now included in your flight ticket, so you will not have to pay upon leaving the country as it used to be.
The average temperature oscillates between 25º C during the day and 10º C during the night in the interior and between 30º C and 15º C at the coast with a high level of humidity seemingly intensifying the heat. Nairobi stands at 1,700 meters above sea level, and some of the areas that you may visit, for example the Aberdares or the Mount Kenya stand at around 2000 meters above sea level, and the nights are chilly and humid.
It is advisable to carry light and comfortable clothing; long-sleeves for the nights for protection against insects, and a light raincoat in case it rains. It is necessary to carry warm clothing for the cold nights, whilst on safari. Lightweight boots, sports shoes and cotton socks are the recommended footwear. At the coast, summer clothing is ideal, however please note that the population there is mainly Muslim, and in the town, it isn’t advisable for the ladies to wear sleeveless tops or shorts. This applies only to the town centres, and during a visit to some coastal village, for example. We recommend you carry a bathing suit, as almost all the hotels have a swimming pool. During dinner at the Mount Kenya Safari Club, and in some restaurants in Nairobi and Mombasa, please note that the dress code is a bit strict, and they do not allow jeans, T-shirts or sports shoes.
The safari vehicles do not have a lot of luggage capacity and for this reason, we recommend soft, light luggage. In any hotel with a stay of 2 days or more, laundry service is available.
Your gold Communion medal, diamonds, Grandmother’s pearls, gold watches, $200 sunglasses, etc. In other words, carry things that will not be sorely missed in case of loss.
As is the case in most regions of the world, security is a topic that should be kept in mind. Nairobi and Mombasa are generally safe during the day, as long as narrow alleys or isolated streets are avoided. We advise you not to walk in the streets in the dark. If you wish to travel by night, always call for a taxi. Don’t carry a lot of money with you when you go out; only the amount you think you will spend. While walking in the streets, don’t wear jeweler or valuables that bring attention to you. Please leave all valuables (jewelery, travel documents, cameras etc) in the safes or safety deposit boxes of the hotel you are staying at. Please don’t leave anything of value lying around your hotel room.
Malaria is endemic to Kenya, so please remember to take anti-malaria tablets. In case of any medical emergency, your hotel will have a doctor on call, or will have the medicine you may require, including the parks on safari. All the same, please take the following precautions: Dress in warm clothing in the evenings and at night; use repellants against mosquitoes and use insecticide sprays in rooms before sleeping (or before going for dinner). This area is right at the Equator, and the hot sun can cause sunburn very quickly- including on cloudy days. Sun creams, lip balm, hats and sunglasses are recommended. Although tap water in the big towns is potable, we advise you to drink mineral water always. In the hotels/ lodges during the safaris, there is always a jar/bottle/thermos of filtered water in the rooms, which is convenient for using for cleaning your teeth. The mineral water in the hotels/ lodges has quite an elevated price. You may buy some bottled water at the local supermarkets at a more reasonable price.
During the safari, all your meals will be taken in the hotels. In Nairobi, generally only breakfast is included with lunch and dinner billed separately. The food is of an excellent quality and you may eat all the types of fruits and vegetables without worry. The meal plan is usually as follows:
Most of the hotels have both local and imported beers and wines, liquors, fruit juices and refreshments available. Drinks are not included (unless otherwise stated). If you require a special diet or are vegetarian, please make sure you communicate this to the reception at the time of your arrival at the hotel.
The local currency is the Kenyan shilling.
Kenya has the custom of giving tips. This means that any person who performs a service for you would expect a tip for this. A guideline for each traveler follows below:
Shopping hours are from 0830hrs to 1230hrs and 1400hrs to 1700hrs. Mondays to Fridays, and from 0830hrs to 1300hrs on Saturdays. The bigger supermarkets do not shut over lunchtime, and stay open until 2000hrs during the week and 1800hrs on weekends.
Communication is not as sophisticated here as it is in Europe or the States, but it is however more expensive. It is possible to make international calls from most of the hotels, but the price is between USD 7-10 per minute, for a minimum of 3 minutes. It is mostly automatically billed. Several hotels also offer fax services which are quite costly. The Nairobi hotels, mainly, will also offer email services. Mobile phones will only work in and around the larger towns, if at all.
Numerous shops and stalls selling a variety of souvenirs can be found in the towns and en route during the safaris. You can buy both traditional and modern jewelery, wood carvings, sculptures, soapstone figures, baskets and bags, safari attire, articles made from banana fiber, khangas and kikois (khangas are the colourful wraps worn by women especially at the coast and in the countryside, while kikois are the wraps worn by men at the coast), precious stones like Tanzanite (violet/blue), semi precious stones such as green Tsavorite, Tiger Eye and Malachite etc. It is important to bargain in most of the shops for a better price. We also have some small “markets” such as the Maasai Market in Nairobi, where you can not only enjoy the hectic atmosphere but also find all types of arts and crafts for sale. This market is open air, operating on Tuesdays, and is found next to the Globe roundabout. They also have the market on Fridays at the Village Market shopping centre, in Muthaiga. In Westlands, there is a permanent collection of stalls facing the Sarit Centre mall selling africana, and a more pricy but excellent shopping centre-Viking House- next to the main Westlands roundabout, along Chiromo Road. Most hotels also have gift shops that sell souvenirs, T-shirts etc.
During the safari you will need a minimum of 12 rolls of 36 per week. Film is readily available, however the selection is limited and sold at elevated prices. All types of photographic equipment are available in Nairobi and Mombasa.
Permission must be obtained from any person you wish to photo, and some sort of payment for this is generally required.
If you will not be requiring a certain piece of luggage on safari, please leave it at the baggage consign in the Nairobi hotel, where you will be issued with a receipt for reclaiming your bags on your return.
Most hotels use generators which function only in the morning, and at night. We use 240 volts and plugs with three spokes. Transformers are available at the hotel receptions. A small deposit is required as security when you borrow the transformer, which is refundable.
Please refrain from disturbing or feeding the animals in the parks. It is dangerous to try to touch them- they ARE wild. Please stay in the vehicle during game drives in the park. It is prohibited to sit on top of the vehicles, even while they are stationary.
On arrival, you will fill in a registration card at the reception in order to obtain the room key. Room occupancy is only guaranteed after 1100hrs, and on check out must be done by 1000hrs or 1800hrs, if you have contracted a day room. Extras bills will be paid at the reception. When this is cleared and the room key has been handed in, you will receive a luggage ticket which allows your luggage to leave the hotel, as it indicates all bills and outstanding matters have been cleared.