Located in the eastern part of Africa, Kenya is one of the busiest tourism destination in Africa and it’s undoubtedly worth it.
Kenya safari is the ultimate Africa that you always think of with the endless plains of the Masai Mara dotted with animals, wildlife film documentaries, the Great Migration that is gradually becoming one of the best soot out attraction for both Kenya and Tanzania, rolling hills and lush mountains like the great Kilimanjaro and a damn good-looking Swahili coastline beaches, not forgetting the ever buzzing Nairobi capital.
If Kenya is your destination of choice on your Africa safari, let us give you some travel tips by answering most of your travel questions that you might be asking yourself about Kenya and tell you how to plan our perfect Kenya safari from safety to the entry requirements into Kenya.
Safety on a Kenya Safari – Is Kenya safe for tourism?
This is a very broad question that includes other specific questions like; is Kenya safe for female travelers? Is Kenya safe for family travelers? Is Kenya safe from terrorism?
Yes! Kenya is generally safe with extremely friendly people and we are sure you will be over whelmed by the hospitality of Kenyan. However, like any other African country, Kenya has a large share of people living in poverty. So this attracts some petty crimes in some areas of the country so we do advice that you always move with you guide especially when moving in the lower scale areas but most importantly using common sense is the best survival tactic in Africa.
Is it safe for a single woman to travel in Kenya?
Yes, Kenya is safe for female visitors since people are hospitable but nevertheless, we do advice you to use professional safari operators when you think of visiting Kenya for an African safari. Professional tour companies have safari guides who will be with you all throughout your safari in Kenya to guide and protect you where necessary. If you are thinking of visiting Kenya without the help of a tour company, we warn you of simple harassment from local men but it’s usually just an annoyance rather than a threat so we advise that you dress conservatively, wear sunglasses and limit your night time travels in the lower scale areas.
Traveling with children on a safari in Kenya – Is it safe to travel with children to Kenya?
Kenya is one of the most family friendly destinations for African safari lovers. In Kenya, many tour operators have a family friendly category safaris that are specially designed for the entire family to enjoy with specifics of children from 6 years. However, children below the age of 6 are also welcome but they will require more attention from their parents all throughout the safari. Please not that all children do occupy independent seats so they do pay full price in the safari vehicles but those below 6 years are free to share a bed with parents if they wish to.
HEALTH AND IMMUNIZATIONS
Most travel enthusiasts always ask about the travel health requirements and tips when planning for any travel especially to unfamiliar locations like Africa. In this health section we are going to answer the most popular questions asked by most Africa safari.
Vaccination – what are the mandatory vaccinations do I need to travel to Kenya?
There are no mandatory vaccinations by law to enter Kenya if you are travelling directly from Europe or United States but, if you are travelling from a country with a fellow fever high risk, you will need to provide evidence of a yellow fever vaccination taken 3 month before your travel date. However, the following vaccinations are also highly recommended before travelling to Kenya; Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Diphtheria and also up to date with your polio and tetanus vaccinations.
Malaria on a Kenya safari – Do I need anti-malaria tablets for Kenya?
Kenya is a high risk malaria country since its located in the tropics where mosquitoes are many, so we highly recommend that you take visit a travel clinic or your general doctor and tell them about your intention to travel to Kenya so that they can prescribe the right anti-malarial medication since there are some medications that are ineffective to the type of malaria in Kenya. However, we do advice that you prevent malaria by covering up at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active and finally always sleep in a treated mosquito net.
Health facilities and emergency- are there good health care services and healthcare emergency services?
Be sure to purchase travel insurance before you begin your trip, including medical evacuation in case of an emergency. There are so many specialized hospitals around Kenya to take care of any emergency.
ACCOMODATION AND FOOD
In this section we are going to cover some of the most frequently asked questions about where to stay when you visit and the quality of food to eat when on a Kenya safari. We are to answer questions like; where will I stay when I visit Kenya? What will I eat when I visit Kenya? What is the quality of the food in Kenya? Is tap water safe for drinking in Kenya?
Foods – what foods are served in Kenya?
Kenya is gifted with so many food varieties these range from the local dishes to the foreign dishes that are served in most of Kenya’s restaurants that are worth trying. Here at Africa safari magazine, we do encourage you to taste some of the local dishes with Ugali – a grainy paste made from cornmeal that is eaten with stews and other sauce-based meals as the number one dish on our recommendation list during your safari stay in Kenya. Local dishes vary according to region and tribe, however there are some that are popular like Beans, corn, Goat, beef, fish, chicken, nyama choma– which is chunks of roasted meat served with irio or rice, but the most popular dish in the country is probably irio – green peas and potatoes that have been mashed together with corn added in for texture.
Is it Safe to eat while travelling in Kenya?
Kenya has a number of en-route standard restaurant where you can get something to eat. There are also so many roadside stalls that sell other fresh delicacies to eat. However we only encourage visitors to only eat food from standard restaurants recommended by professional tour guides because some eateries’ quality of food preparation and hygiene is below the basic standard of the western world.
Is it safe to drink tap water in Kenya?
No! Tap water is generally unsafe for drinking in Kenya, so we do recommend only taking boiled water from a trusted restaurant or bottled mineral water. The advantage with Kenya is that bottled water is readily available at a very cheap price. However don’t worry about drinking water since your tour company will have that sorted before any safari starts.
Accommodation – are there standard accommodation facilities in Kenya?
We do receive this question many times from most travelers who wish to travel to Africa. The good news is that Kenya has so many standard accommodations for example Kenya has many 5 star & 4 star hostels and so many other standard lodges mainly found in all national parks and other tourism destinations. You will find accommodation facilities categorized into 3 categories which include; luxury facilities; these are high end facilities that have and provide 5 star customer services then the second category is midrange facilities; these are middle end facilities that have and provide 4 star customer services and the last one is the budget facilities that provide the basic customer services to clients. Prices of all these category vary according to the standard of the accommodation facility so we do encourage you to always inquire for the price before you book your lodge and the quality of customer service provided.
TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATION.
In this section, we are to discuss the transport to and around Kenya and the best way of communication with other people in Kenya; we are to answer most of the transport and communication questions like what is the status of Kenya’s transport sector? What is the official national language of Kenya? Do I need a visa before travelling to Kenya? So let’s start off with the most common questions.
Visas to Kenya – Do I need a visa before travelling to Kenya?
Not necessarily, you can get it at most point of entry like at the airport or border crossing points when you arrive but you can also apply for the visa in advance if you want to plan ahead of time and details and the required forms can be found on the Kenyan embassy website of your respective countries especially if you are from a non-commonwealth country. People from commonwealth countries don’t require a visa to enter into Kenya. Tourist visas are mainly valid for 30 days. Single entry visa costs USD 50 and multiple entry visa costs USD 100. However for the most up to date information about this Visas, we encourage you to check on your country’s Kenya embassy website.
English is the national language and is widely spoken however Swahili is the most common language spoken by most Kenyans. All the people you will interact with in hotels, lodges, airport and your driver guides are fluent in English while some are multi-lingua; speaking fluent Spanish, French, German, Italian among other languages.
Kenya has a developed transport system with many international airlines flying into and out of Kenya’s two international airports that is Kenyatta International Airport (Nairobi) and Moi International Airport (Mombasa). International airlines like KLM, Swissair, Ethiopian, BA, SAA, Emirates, and Brussels etc. help to supplement the national carrier Kenya airways which also flies around the world at the international standards.
For domestic flights within Kenya, there are many small airline companies that supplement national airline like Eagle Aviation, Air Kenya and African Express Airways to transport people to most corners of the country to busy destinations like Amboseli, Kisumu, Lamu, Malindi, Masai Mara, Mombasa, Nanyuki, Nyeri, and Samburu. However we highly encourage you to book your domestic flight in advance since they get fully booked quickly.
Roads in Kenya are not very good like any other African country so we highly recommend using or driving a 4×4 WD vehicle to get around Kenya and we also highly discourage the use of public road transport as it might not be comfortable for most of you. However, you can also use the train in case you are traveling from Nairobi to Mombasa which gives you fantastic views of the Tsavo national park
DRESS CODE AND EQUIPMENT TO CARRY FOR THE SAFARI
Equipment to carry – what equipment should I carry when coming for a Kenya safari?
This depends on your interests for photography, birding and wildlife enthusiasts we recommend the following: camera that has at least 8x optical zoom with at least six to eight megapixels. Bring a lens cloth to remove dust, several changes of batteries (even if you use rechargeable – not all sites have power points) and take several 1GB memory cards and binoculars that is Waterproof and with relatively high magnification but light for you to carry around all day.
Dress code – What to wear in Kenya on Safari
Different occasions attract varying styles of dressing for example there is what you wear in town and what you wear on safari. While in town, you are free to wear light clothes but there short be decent enough to cover your private part since Kenya’s traditions don’t allow indecent dressing.
During safaris, we do recommend having Light clothing, hats, and sturdy shoes. A sun cream and an insect repellent will be of great help and for those interested in mountain hiking you will be required to have long pants (Jeans) and long-sleeved shirts and blouses, rain gear- water proof jacket or rain coat that will protect your cameras from rain and sturdy shoes are recommended for the steep terrain.
Kenya Shilling is our national currency. However, other currencies like the US dollars, Euro, British Pound or Travelers’ Cheques are acceptable in some places especially hotels and other tourist facilities. Forex Services are available in most urban centers in Forex Bureaus and Banks. Bank and ATM services are provided widely in the Capital and Upcountry. Credit cards are accepted in major hotels, international banks and some restaurants but not widely. You are advised to carry local currency upcountry as you may not get forex services.
Is it standard to tip in Kenya?
Kenya does not have a tipping culture however you are so much welcome to tip since it shows a good gesture of appreciating someone’s good services. Tips are mainly given to a waiter or waitress in a restaurant, driver-guide and lodge or hotel staff during your time in Kenya. We do not have a standard tip amount in Kenya so any amount is always welcome and it might surprise how much an impact it will have on that person.