Travel tips for your Safari
These are some of the Travel tips for your African safari.
Safaris in East Africa are unpredictable and sometimes inefficient or uncomfortable, no matter how detailed the itinerary, things may at times not work as expected. Unpredictable weather, wildlife activities, food, water, or fuel shortages can all impact on level of service. The safaris involve activities in remote areas of the country that may carry an element of risk or illness or injury where medical facilities may not be readily available. The most important items to pack are an open mind, patience, positive attitude and a desire for adventure.
Packing for safari
Depending on the number of passengers in the safari vehicle, it is
always good to carry light luggage. This makes it comfortable for you
and also for other passengers especially if you are sharing the vehicle.
Soft sided suitcases or soft bags are recommended as they are easy to
pack in the vehicle. You can have an extra back pack that will carry
essential items such as your personal items, money, documents, cameras,
binoculars, a jacket and any other items that you may need during the
Lightweight casual clothes can be worn all year round. Evenings and
early morning can be chilly especially in the mountain areas so pack a
sweatshirt, sweater or warm jersey. Socks and walking shoes or sneakers
are recommended. Footwear should be low-heeled and comfortable. On
safari keep clothes to a minimum and mostly of neutral coloring –
khakis, browns and greens. A sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen and insect
repellant are a must. Remember, roof hatches on safari vehicles are left
open during game viewing. Don’t forget swim wear and binoculars. Some
city restaurants and clubs have dress codes – casual jacket and tie for
men, informal dresses for women.
Arrival in Nairobi / Mombasa
When you arrive at your port of entry, Nomadic Safaris will have your
flight information, hence, our representative will be waiting for you
at the airport to receive you. You will then be transferred to your
hotel in Nairobi according to the program.
Hotels and lodges can change money but their exchange rate are not
usually very good. There are Forex bureaus at the airport if you choose
to exchange dollars for Kenyan Shillings upon arrival. Banks at Jomo
Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi remain open 24 hours a day. The
exchange rate varies but mostly 1$ changing with Kshs 100.
There are numerous banks in the major towns as well as many bureau de
changes. Hours of business vary from bank to bank, but most are open
from 9.00am to 430pm, Mondays to Fridays, and 9.00am – 12.30pm on
Saturdays. Hotels and lodges change money outside these hours. Banking
services are also available at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in
Nairobi and at Moi International Airport in Mombasa.
Currency unit is the shilling, comprising 100 cents. Coins are in
denominations of 1,5,10,20 and 40 shillings. Bank notes are in
denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 shillings. Importation of
foreign currency is unlimited and does not have to be declared on
It’s best to come into the country with dollars, Euros or pounds
which can be exchanged at any of the many Bureau de Change in the main
Towns. If you are offered an exchange on the black market at the
borders, exercise extreme caution as they are notorious for cheating you
without you even realizing it.
Credit Cards, Cash and Traveler’s Checks
International credit cards are accepted by most restaurants, stores,
hotels, lodges, camps, car rental firms, etc. However, many small shops
in rural areas will not accept them. American Express, Visa and
MasterCard Traveler’s Checks are widely accepted.
While the national language of Kenya is Kiswahili, English is the
official language and is widely spoken and understood across East
Africa. There are more than 43 different ethnic groups, each with their
own language and culture.
Please don’t walk alone in apparently deserted areas, especially in
and around the cities. It is preferable and usually more enjoyable to
walk with company or in groups. Don’t carry large sums of cash in your
purse or pocket, or display expensive jewelry. Be aware of the
possibility of pick-pockets and bag snatchers in crowded areas. Make
photocopies of the first few pages of your passport, air ticket and
other important travel documents. Keep this separate from the originals.
Don’t leave money or valuables in a hotel room. Most hotels offer
safety deposit box service, and ensure that you have adequate insurance
coverage before leaving home.
Always remember that while some animals have become accustomed to the
presence of people they are still wild animals. Keep your distance. It
is illegal to feed any animal, make excessive noise to attract their
attention, or deviate from designated roads for that closer photograph.
Never get out of your vehicle except at designated points. Close all
windows and zippers when you leave your room or tent and spray it with
The best way to get the most out of your safari is to take an active
interest in everything going on around you, not just the number of
species you can see in the shortest possible time. Ask all the questions
you can think of and take reference books on not only wildlife but
birds, insects and trees and read up about everything you see.
Please be on time when meeting your safari driver for travelling or
for game drives so that you can get maximum value for your time spent on
It is advisable to take out emergency medical insurance before flying to Kenya.
Vaccinations for cholera, tetanus and yellow fever are advised.
Malaria is virulent in Kenya. Take prophylactics two weeks before
arrival and continue two weeks after leaving. ( Your chemist or doctor can advise you of the most suitable drug available as certain drugs lose their effectiveness.
)It is advisable to buy travel insurance covering accidents, illness or
hospitalization for the period of your stay. Temporary membership in
East African Flying Doctors’ Service is also recommended for safari
goers. Members who require emergency medical attention on safari are
flown to Nairobi for the best medical attention available in the
It is advisable to drink bottled water which we shall provide 2 half
liter bottles per day per person during safari. It is also readily
available in the camps and lodges. Drink only bottled water or from
flasks of filtered and boiled water provided by most camps and lodges.
Standards and services range from up-market to tourist. Deluxe and
first class hotels are found in the main cities and the resorts on the
coastline of the country. Luxurious lodges are set in exotic locations,
while comfortable tented camps are found in the main game parks.
Valuables, cash and passports
Please keep your passport & money on you at all times. Never
leave money or valuables in your room or in the van. You can check
valuables in security boxes at the lodges and camps.
Power supply is 220/240 volt 50 cycles. Plugs are usually 13-amp 3 pin square (British type)
A tip of 10% for good service is adequate. Service charges are
frequently added and it is usual to tip a waiter, porter, tour driver or
guide at least US $15 per person per day.
Although Kenya is considered to fall in the tropics, climate and
temperature varies depending on altitude and proximity to the ocean.
Coastal regions are hot and humid while the central plateaus are warm and dry, with cool nights.
Most hotels and lodges will offer a laundry service. For low budget
travelers there are no coin operated Laundromats at all so consider drip
dry clothing and be prepared for hand washing. In most places one could
hire someone to do your washing.
Kenya is considered to be a photographer’s dream destination. From
panoramic scenery, wildlife and birds to people and vibrant ceremonies.
Rich color and good low lighting conditions abound. It is considered
rude to take pictures of people without asking them first. Masai and
Samburu warriors will expect payment for posing. Keep your cameras in a
dust resistant, padded case and out of the midday sun. A 200mm (or
longer) telephoto lens will prove very useful on safari, and an ultra
violet filter and lens cap are strongly recommended. Please note that
taking pictures of government and military personnel and installations
Driving is done on the left side of the road. Drivers require a valid
license that must include a picture of the holder. A valid foreign
license may be used for up to 90 days, but only after it has been
endorsed by the Road Transport Office in Nairobi.
If you’re doing a vehicle trip through Kenya it is a good idea to
carry a range of tools and essential spares with you. Two spare wheels
and a couple of spare tubes are a must due to the condition of the
roads. Spare jerry cans of fuel and water, a tow rope, compressor, winch
and a spotlight are useful items to have. Many of the villages along
the main routes offer tire mending services at a very reasonable fee. .
Be very careful in towns and villages not to leave your vehicle open
and unattended. You should have no problem sleeping outdoors in
designated camping areas or remote places along the way, but get into
the habit of locking things away before you go to sleep.
Transportation by Air
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and Moi International Airport in Mombasa
are main points of entry. Many charter services operate out of
Nairobi’s Wilson Airport. Regular services link Kisumu, Lamu, Malindi,
Mombasa and Nairobi.
Air Kenya, flies to Amboseli, Lamu, Masai Mara, Nyeri, Nanyuki and Samburu. Kenya Airways is the national airline.
All visitors must have a valid passport and are subject to clearance
through customs. In addition, all non-Commonwealth citizens require a
visa, to be obtained from Kenyan Missions abroad or at the post of
entry. Personal effects, including cameras, binoculars are allowed into
the country duty free.
Throughout the year, Standard Time in Kenya is three hours ahead of
Greenwich Mean Time, two hours ahead of Central European Winter Time,
and eight hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time in the U.S.