KENYA TRAVEL GUIDE
The following are travel information and guides when travelling to Kenya for a safari or holiday.
Application for Kenyan Visa
Tourists are required to have a valid visa and passport before gaining entry into Kenya. Your passport should be valid at least six months after arrival into the country. Visa is applied online by logging to www.evisa.go.ke to apply for an electronic visa. You will be required to pay the visa fees using credit card on the visa application website.
Once you have successfully applied, the visa shall be issued approximately five days after the day that you had requested for it.
2. Monetary Provision and making payments
Kenya’s currency is the Kenyan shilling (KSH). Most major credit cards for example (MasterCard, Visa and American Express) are widely accepted. Also pay attention to only convert money as needed. The best place where you will receive a good rate is at the Forex Bureaus. Kenya demonetized some of its banknotes in June 2019, in a bid to fight corruption in the country. The country’s central bank decided to introduce a new generation currency including a new KSh 50, KSh 100, KSh 200, KSh 500 and KSh 1,000 notes.
Most shopping outlets including supper markets accept payment through credit card. You can also make withdrawals using your visa card on some banks ATM including withdrawing dollars. No need to carry a lot of cash with you.
3. Kenya Safari roads
All the primary roads out of Nairobi are tarmacked, and will take you comfortably to your safari destination. Road conditions are good and ever improving, so expect to encounter some road works along the way. There are also unsurfaced roads. The so-called ‘C’ and ‘D’ roads are usually unsurfaced. Most roads within the country are properly maintained although the further you are from the city centers the more rugged the terrain becomes. Also the weather conditions contribute to how simple or difficult it would be to maneuver the different paths. Roads in the game parks and reserve are fairly good and can be traversed by 2 wheel drive vehicles although they can be a challenge in the wet season and 4 wheel drive vehicle will do be better. Some remote areas can only be accessed by sturdy 4 wheel drive vehicles.
Yellow fever vaccination is mandatory to travelers arriving from Yellow fever endemic countries. This condition also applies to travelers subjected to long flight connection (transit) in an airport of a Yellow fever endemic country for twelve hours (12hrs) or more
Yellow Fever vaccination is not compulsory for visitors arriving directly into Kenya from NON-endemic countries like Europe, the USA and Japan. Kenya is mapped by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a low risk country for Yellow fever (WHO 2015 update). However, the presence of Yellow fever vector (mosquitoes) poses potential risk for Yellow fever if the virus is introduced into the country.
All visitor from Endemic Yellow Fever zone(s), and those visitors whom on their way to Kenya and have passed through Endemic Yellow Fever zone(s) and got out of that country’s airport, will be required to show their yellow fever certificates on their arrival into Kenya or receive vaccination at the entry point on their arrival at a fee.
5. Packing for safari
What you pack on the trip will therefore depend on the duration and purpose of the trip. While on safari you will need cloths that are loose and comfortable. The weather will also determine the type of clothes that you carry. Laundry service can be expensive in most of the hotel so it is advisable to carry enough clothes. Local flights have limitations to the maximum weight of luggage they carry so you should consider that factor when packing.
For footwear, have comfortable shoes. The terrain can be rocky, thorny and uneven so it can be ideal to have boots if you intend to explore the bush on foot. Light weight sandals are ideal for the bush.
Topless bathing is not permitted at the beaches of Kenya and you will need to carry appropriate swimwear. Also pack in a few semi-formal apparel such as trouser pants, polo shirts and dresses so you can enjoy the romantic dinners at your beachside resort.
What to pack
- short-sleeve or t-shirts
- long-sleeve shirts (for protection from both sun and mosquitoes)
- cotton trousers or light pants
- jacket or fleece
- wide-brim hat with an under-chin tie (to stop it being blown off in open-top vehicles)
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Lightweight sandals or flip flops (for wearing around the camp)
- Swimwear (for camps and lodges with a pool)
- Cotton socks and underwear
- Buff or, scarf or bandana (good for dust)
- Sunglasses with polarized lenses (the glare can be intense)
- Passport + a copy (keep in separate bags)
- Camera, battery, extra battery and plenty of memory cards
- Chargers (for camera and phone) and a power adaptor
- Sunscreen Lip balm
- Mosquito repellent
- Malaria prophylaxis
- Good binoculars (at least 8 x 30 magnification)
- Small torch
- Toiletries (remember the lodges will have shampoos, soaps etc)
- A pack of wet wipes or hand sanitizer
- Cash for tips (including driver and guide)
6. Game trophies
In Kenya, it is illegal to sell any product made from wild animals, including hides and skins, rhinoceros horn, elephant-hair bracelets, crocodile handbags, etc.
Please note also that ivory is not legally sold in Kenya.
7. Travel insurance
It is advisable to have a travel insurance which can be issued in your home country.
8. Languages and People:
Kenya has many different dialects and local languages. English is the official language while Swahili is the national language. Most Kenyans speak good English.
9. Medical Facilities:
Most camps and lodges have a doctor on call in case of an emergency or other common travel related ailments. Kenya also boasts of top notch health facilities in case of any eventuality.
1o. Souvenir shopping:
There are various curio and gift shops that sell souvenir items. The items include attractive baskets, copper jewelry, batik cloth, beads, carvings. Kenya coffee and tea are also sort after and available in shops and markets.
Therefore we suggest that you take all goods you purchase with you as shipping cost may easily exceed the cost of the item. Most of the curio shop accept both cash and credit cards payments.
11. When is the best time to visit Kenya
This is the question that mostly comes to the mind of anybody planning to come to Kenya on a holiday. There is no simple answer to this question.
Many factors will determine the time that a person chooses to visits Kenya for holiday or safari. The factors could range from:
- School holidays, if traveling with children.
- Your budget. Peak seasons are expensive than low seasons.
- Your interest. Which type of safari are you interested in.
- What time are you free.
- And many other factors
When planning to come to Kenya, it’s important to have an idea of what to expect during that period.
There are 3 tourism seasons in Kenya;
This is the period between November to March. There are usually short rains between November to December. January to March is usually rainless with hot weather. Hotel rates are slightly lower.
This is the period between April to June. Around this time there is heavy rainfall ending in the early June. Hotel rates are at their lowest
This is the period between July to October. This is long dry season which also coincides with the Great migration of wildebeest and zebra. Hotel rates and other costs are at their highest.
12. Weather through the year
January: The days are hot and nights warm making this month a popular time for safaris and good for diving and snorkeling.
February: Continuation of the long dry season. Less grass and wildlife gathering close to water points. Furthermore, this is still a good time for a safari and staying in hotels near water point comes with advantage.
March: Hot and Humid weather, good diving and snorkeling conditions at the start of the month, onset of rains.
April: Lower temperature, heavy rains. Advisable to use 4×4 a jeep for safari. Predators avoid wet grass and regularly use the tracks.
May: There is a lot of vegetation around making it ideal for photography. Predators hide on the long grass and grazers scatter in the vast parks and reserves.
June: Rains cease and give way to cloudy, cooler weather, making for very comfortable conditions, especially in the highlands. Sometimes wildebeest migration starts towards the end of this month.
July; This is the coldest month in Kenya. Wildebeest starts arriving in from Serengeti. This is a very busy month in terms of tourism.
August: The temperature is pleasant and mostly dry. The wildebeest and Zebra have filled Masai Mara providing lots of action. Still a very busy time and getting accommodation in hotels becomes a challenge.
September: This is the start of, dry weather with little chance of rain. The game viewing action continues in the Masai Mara, and it is still excellent throughout Kenya for wildlife.
October: There are some light rains. It’s a lovely time to travel if you want to avoid the crowds but still have excellent game viewing opportunities. The migratory herds are leaving the Masai Mara, but excellent resident populations remain. All other Kenya destinations are great at this time of year. It’s also good for diving and snorkeling.
November: The short rains are starting and the temperature is hotter. There is still good game viewing under the heavier skies and activities continue. Crowds are fewer and you can get good deals on this month.
December: Finally the end of the year can be hot and potentially wet. It is still great time to view wildlife with high number of birds present in places like Lake Nakuru.
We have been taking people on safari throughout the year. Every time they come back with great stories of what they have seen on safari. This proves that Kenya is indeed the ideal country to visit all year round. I hope this guide will help you decide the best time for you to visit Kenya.
14. Security/safety in Kenya
Kenya is generally a safe country. There have been few security incidents involving tourists. However just like any other developing country caution needs to be exercised against petty crimes. Follow security instructions given by the safari company or hotels. Avoid travelling with expensive jewelry and do not flaunt lots of money openly. Most hotels and lodges have safety boxes for valuables.
People in Kenya are generally friendly and hospitable.
While on safari follow your driver guides instructions. Also ensure that you follow park rules.
Kenya has tourist police whose role is to protect tourist.
The Kenya Tourism Federation, operates 24 hrs a day monitoring visitors’ safety and liaising closely with the security agencies.
COVID 19 CONTAINMENT MEASURES IN KENYA
Kenya lifts all mandatory Covid-19 restrictions
Kenya lifted its remaining COVID-19 restrictions including wearing of masks in public. Wearing of masks was also encouraged during indoor gatherings. Temperature screening stopped with emphasis on hand washing and sanitizing. All Passenger Service Vehicles resumed full capacity but with face masks on at the time of travel. Requirement to present a negative COVID-19 test for arriving air passengers was also lifted but one should show proof of vaccination. Quarantine measures for confirmed COVID-19 cases was also halted. More information can be obtained from Kenya Civil Aviation Authority Website.
Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe told a news conference that though the restrictions had been lifted, Kenyans should continue heeding public health measures such as handwashing and social distancing.
Regardless of all these containment measures, Covid-19 still remains lethal and individual effort is also needed to contain the disease. Experts suggest that the virus will remain troublesome until the day world population will have herd immunity. It is therefore paramount that everybody exercise utmost care when it comes to corona virus and practice all the guidelines put in place.