KENYA

Wildebeest Migration

Trip Facts & Information

Reading Materials

General Travel Guide
WILLIAMS, Lizzie. Kenya (Footprint Travel Guides). Footprint Handbooks; 1st edition, 2005. 352 pages. Paperback, $14.07

Animals
KINGDON, Jonathan. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. A & C Black Publishers Ltd, 2003. 496 pages. Paperback, $47.89

STEVENSON, Terry and John FANSHAWE. The Birds of East Africa: Kenya, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. Princeton University Press, 2006 (2002). 287 color plates featuring 1,388 species. Illustrated by Brian Small, John Gale, and Norman Arlott. Distribution maps and concise species accounts opposite color plates describe appearance, status, range, habits, and voice. Includes information on habitats, protected areas, and conservation issues, with a map of important bird areas. 604 pp. Paperback. $25.04

Natural History
JACKSON, Brian. Big Cat Diary. BBC Books, 1996. 162 pages, $24.95

ADAMSON, Joy. Born Free. Pantheon; 1st Edition, 1987. 220 pages, $10.81

Memoir
DINESEN, Isak. Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass. Vintage, 1989. 480 pages, $10.20

Passports

A passport valid for six months beyond the date of entry to Kenya is required. A passport is also needed in order to depart the U.S./Canada. If you currently do not have a passport or need to renew your passport, please apply as soon as possible. Typical application processing time is 4-6 weeks in the U.S. with an expedited service option of 2-3 weeks.

For more information on acquiring a U.S. passport, please go to the U.S. State Department website. For information on acquiring a Canadian passport, please visit Passport Canada.

Visas

A visa is required in order to travel in Kenya. Visas are available at the country's port of entries, including international airports. The current fee for a single entry 6-month visa is $50, a multi-entry 6-month multiple-entry visa is $100.00, and a transit visa, allowing a short stopover of less than 24 hours, is $20. You may purchase your visa ahead of time at a passport/visa expeditor or through the Kenya Embassy. However, visas can also be purchased at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport upon arrival. Please bring a new USD bill to purchase your visa.

Air Travel & Luggage

Ujuzi African Travel provides comprehensive travel options, including international, regional, and in-country flight reservations. International flights are available into/from Nairobi. The primary international carriers that serve U.S., Canadian, and European travelers with the most direct flights are KLM (Delta), Brussels Airlines, British Airways, and Ethiopian Airlines (United/Continental). International carriers allow 2 bags of 50 lbs each on their flights. However, it is strongly suggested that due to vehicle size and any regional or in-country flights you may take that you carry 1 soft-sided bag, weighing less than 45 lbs.

Regional airline carriers in the area include Precision, Kenya Airways, RwandAir, Air Uganda, Fly 540, and Air Seychelles. They serve the surrounding countries with direct and connecting flights. Most of these flights allow 45 lbs for checked luggage.

If you are travelling by small charter aircraft, only one suitcase or soft bag of not more than 33 lbs. may be carried.

Currency & Spending Money

The Kenya Shillings (KES) is used throughout Kenya, although US dollars are accepted everywhere. Depending on what you want to buy, it is suggested that you bring $500-1,000 with you ($100 of which will go to your visa). The rest can be used for souvenirs, alcohol, and tips. It is also suggested that you bring about $30-50 in singles for tips to baggage handlers and meal servers. Be sure all USD is dated after 2004. USD can be exchanged for Shillings at banks, hotels, and lodges and money can also be withdrawn from ATM/cash machines.

Tipping

Do not feel that 15% is mandatory. For hotel and restaurant staff, several dollars is sufficient per person per day. In locations where you'll be staying more than one night, leave tips at the end of your stay; it is not necessary to tip more than once. Driver/guides should be tipped at the end of your trip; use your discretion in this area, but base it on their performance. The "average" is approximately $10 per day (per person), less for children, is accepted as the benchmark, although more or less is acceptable based on the quality of service.

Many of the personnel who will serve you during your stay, depend on tips as part of their living, so your tip will have a significant impact on their livelihood.

Security

In general, Kenya is acceptably safe travel destinations since democratic, local governments came into power. Political demonstrations can occur sporadically throughout Kenya. Travelers should maintain security awareness at all times and avoid public gatherings and street demonstrations. In Kenya, pick-pocketing and muggings can be a problem in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu, and tourists are encouraged to be cautious at all times, practice common sense, not to walk around at dusk or later, and to leave valuables in hotel safes. Due to some recent events and threats, travel in the Lamu District and the Northeastern Province should be avoided. Ujuzi African Travel errs on the side of caution and does not book trips to East African countries shortly before or after presidential elections.

Immunizations

Before visiting Kenya, you will need to get vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases for which you might be at risk (Note: Your doctor or health-care provider will determine what you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities).

To have the most benefit, see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine (ask your regular practitioner who this is) at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for your vaccines to take effect and to start taking medicine to prevent malaria, if you need it. Even if you have less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see a health-care provider for needed vaccines, anti-malaria drugs, and other medications and information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.

Please note that Kenya requires proof of the yellow fever vaccine. Upon receiving this vaccine your health care practitioner should provide you with a "yellow card" that provides proof of immunization. Please carry this card in your passport.

For more information on immunizations you may need for Kenya, please visit the Center for Disease Control.

Travel Insurance & Health

Optional insurance coverage is available for baggage, accident, and trip cancellation/interruption through Ujuzi African Travel. Please contact Ujuzi African Travel for a plan description and quote.

Before going abroad, learn what medical services your health insurance will cover overseas. If your health insurance policy provides coverage outside the United States, REMEMBER to carry both your insurance policy identity card as proof of such insurance and a claim form. Although many health insurance companies will pay "customary and reasonable" hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for your medical evacuation back to the United States.

Senior citizens may wish to contact the American Association of Retired Persons for information about foreign medical care coverage with Medicare supplement plans.

To facilitate identification in case of an accident, complete the information page on the inside of your passport providing the name, address and telephone number of someone to be contacted in an emergency.

A traveler going abroad with any pre-existing medical problems should carry a letter from the attending physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic name of prescribed drugs. Any medications being carried overseas should be left in their original containers and be clearly labeled.

Water and Drinks

Do not drink or use water from a faucet, including brushing your teeth. Bottled water will be provided in rooms and vehicles. Bottled water is available for purchase during meals, unless provided by the lodge. Soft drinks and fruit juices are widely available. Chai, a sweet tea where all ingredients are boiled together in a pot, is the most common local, hot beverage. Kenya coffee may seem watery, even though it is a major cash crop. However, it is improving over time! For alcoholic beverages, try some of the local brews (Tusker and White Cap) or South African wines.

Food

You can expect to eat close to 90% of your meals at or from lodges or hotels. Days that include game drives early morning or mid-day or transportation to and from destinations may include a packaged breakfast and/or lunch box. You can expect most Kenyan accommodations to serve high-quality Western or Indian food. Vegetarians are often poorly catered to (with the exception of Indian restaurants), so please be sure to inform Ujuzi African Travel in advance about your dietary preference so we can make the appropriate accommodations. Be sure to try some local cuisine as well, which is based around a meat or chicken and rice or potatoes.

A Typical Day

After an early breakfast, you will leave for a morning game drive arriving back at the hotel or camp for lunch and an afternoon rest. You'll take a late afternoon game drive as well. The animals are moving early morning and late afternoon, snoozing and resting during the hottest part of the day. If you are tired or want to stay behind to swim or enjoy some time off, feel free to do so. And don't push yourself too hard. This is also a vacation!

Weather

Because of its location on the equator and elevation, Kenya has the gift of vacation-weather year around. That said, due to the two rainy seasons a year, the best times to travel are January to March and from July to October. The coastal region will be hot and humid, Mt. Kenya and other locations of high elevation will be cool, and Masai Mara, Samburu, Tsavo, and Amboseli will be pleasant during the day, but chilly in the evening and for early morning game drives.

Packing

A detailed packing list will be provided to you, based on your destinations, activities, and the time of year of your travel.

Electricity

The voltage used in Kenya is 240 volts (U.S./Canada uses 110-120 volts), Plugs G. You will need a voltage converter, and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit.

Shopping

You will find that East Africa has a wealth of fascinating curio shops, clothing stores, and shops specializing in Africana. There is plenty on offer from woodcarvings in stalls and markets to individual art in sophisticated shops and interesting galleries. Apart from carvings and paintings, there is a lot more on offer such as colorful woven sisal mats and bags, called kiondos, which are painstakingly woven by women. Kangas and kitenges are long individual pieces of colorful cloth traditionally worn by women, which also make unique tablecloths or beach wraps.

East Africa is also famous for various types of stone. Sensuous Kisii soapstone are carved into beautiful pieces of art, whereas Tanzanite, a blue stone, and Tsavorite, a green stone which is more durable than emerald, can be used to make jewelry.

Some shopping areas: Nairobi city center, major hotels, and City Market and streets around the Market; if you are going to the Rift Valley then there are some interesting curio shops there. Nearly every main shop in the city centers and in hotels/lodges will accept major credit cards.

Language

There are 69 languages spoken in Kenya and Kenyans see themselves as having two "official" languages: English and Swahili. At most tourist destinations (airports, lodges, cultural centers) you will find proficient English being spoken.

Communication with Your Country of Origin

Phone and internet communication is very unreliable in East Africa. Using your personal cell phone is an option, albeit an expensive one. Call your cell company and find out rates and any special plans that you may use, but in general you should plan to use it only for emergencies. Most lodges will have computers and internet to rent for your use.