What You Need To Know

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Kenya straddles the equator and as such the seasonal variation in temperature is minimal. The biggest of variations is mainly between high plains and mountain regions and low lying regions of the country. Vast majority of the parks lie between 5000 to 7000 feet above sea level. The days are war and evenings cooler. The weather is generally very pleasant.  There are two rainy seasons that is long rains and short rains. Long rains are traditionally during April and May and short rains traditionally in November. It is however worth noting that the climate is changing and highly successful safaris can be conducted during the wet seasons. During the rainy seasons, it has been observed that most parts enjoy heavy but brief downpours especially during the evening or night. Sunny days in between are common even during rainy seasons. In rare occasions flooding may occur or animals may disperse to different areas. The rains are always a welcome relief as it makes the atmosphere clean and dust free and the vegetation is lush and green.
The local unit is Kenya Shilling. It is possible to exchange foreign currency like USD, EUR etc to local unit. There are banks and bureau de change in most towns. Most lodges and hotels too may exchange foreign currency at reasonable rates. Kenya shilling is unavailable outside the country and it is illegal to export more than very small amounts. Major credit cards are acceptable in most places. Most establishments have their prices in USD.
The unit of currency is the Kenyan shilling (KSh), which is made up of 100 cents. Notes in circulation are KSh1000, 500, 200, 100 and 50, and there are also new coins of KSh40, 20, 10, five and one in circulation. Foreign currency like United States Dollar, Euro etc are easy and quick to exchange at banks and forex bureaus
The power supply is UK / European standard voltage of 220/240 and power sockets are UK style (square pin type).  It is important to note that if you want to use U.S. appliances, you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug converter. Power cuts and voltage fluctuation are not uncommon. Most of the safari lodges have generators or alternative source of power and may have specific times when they run.
Most of the lodges and hotels have telephone service but international calls are expensive and connections erratic. Camps in most remote areas may use radio communications. All Vintage Africa vehicles are equipped with two way radio communication for ease of communication with office (base) or other driver guides in the region.
We recommend that while visiting different areas of the country you only drink bottled mineral water and not directly from the taps. The sale of alcohol and consumption is not allowed to those below 18 Years of age. There is a good selection of local beers and soft drinks available everywhere. You will also find a range of imported wines, beers, spirits etc in many places though prices may be deemed high. The quality of food in Kenya is good and various options of speciality restaurants are available especially in the major cities.
Water is a precious commodity in Africa. Please use water sparingly.
The national language in Kenya is Kiswahili while the official language is English. There is a wide usage and understanding of English as a language. There are many other tribal languages but they are not used for official business.  Few Kenyans do speak other foreign languages like Spanish, French, German etc.
There are few options of long distance coaches which are suitable for use by visitors such as the daily Nairobi to Arusha shuttle bus. The popular ‘matatu’ (local buses or minibuses), might be uncomfortable and overcrowded and not very safe.  There are taxis available but it is recommended that you use taxi recommended by hotel especially for longer distances. Due to poor state of both town and safari roads, self drive though possible it is not recommended as can be unsafe.  Vintage Africa offers safe and reliable transport to all destinations within the country.
You will find well stocked gift shops in most hotels and lodges. They offer wide selection of local crafts and souvenirs including woodcarvings, paintings and local batiks. In some selected spots you will get jewellery and precious stones.
There are very many international carriers that fly daily into Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO). There are also flights into Mombasa’s Moi International Airport (MBA). Cruise ships that operate in the Indian Ocean may include Mombasa as a port of call.  There are other entry points from Neighbouring countries (Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia) accessible by road.
Kenya is an all Year destination as there are no extremes of weather. The most popular seasons are Mid December to Mid March and July to end of October. Other Months are ideal and generally visitors benefit from good deals from hotels.
Please click www.immigration.co.ke for more information on who needs a visa prior to arrival and visa conditions. The rules keep changing as per directives of the immigrations office. Visa fees for tourists are generally USD 50.00 and valid for 3 Months. Some nationalities can get Visa on arrival while others may require prior approval. Cheek with your local travel agent, or Kenyan consulate / embassy in your country.
Departure tax is generally included and paid for in the price of ticket.  Government rules may change from time to time especially on taxation.
It is advisable to check with your doctors to get up to-date information on all travel medical requirements. Anti malarial medication is highly recommended. When one is visiting Kenya from a Yellow Fever endemic zone then one must carry a valid Yellow fever certificate or proof of vaccination.
Take along comfortable, casual and semi-casual, “wash and wear” clothes. Bright colours and white are not suitable for game viewing. Please avoid clothing resembling army uniform (i.e.: camouflage clothing). This list below is purely a guideline, and will depend on the duration/length of the safari as well as month/season travelling. Additional warmer clothing may be required during June/July/August: – Khaki and muted colours are preferable on safari – not bright colours or white. Army camouflage uniforms are forbidden,  Soft holdall (suitcases) for all safaris, 2 pairs of comfortable shoes – one pair being desert boots or trainers, Warm jacket and gloves for winter months, Lightweight waterproof for wet months, Warm jersey, 2 pairs of casual trousers including one thick pair for winter months, 3 pairs shorts/skirts, 2/3 T-shirts, Long sleeved cotton shirt in case of sunburn,  Sweatshirt, Swimming costume, Photographic and/or video equipment, film, batteries, battery charger * 1 pair binoculars per person, Large/strong torch per person (and spare batteries), Personal medication and antihistamine, All travel documentation and immunization certificates if applicable, Malaria pills, High factor sun protection cream, Insect repellent, Eye drops, Baby wipes, Extra pair of prescription glasses or contact lenses, A small day pack for walks and game drives, Wide brim hat, Sunglasses

NB: Please dress appropriately when crossing borders (no bare feet, bare chests, no bikini tops, no sunglasses or hats) visiting markets, villages, towns and when travelling in the vehicle.

Insurance to cover for medical, personal property and other personal risks during your safari is essential. Vintage Africa Limited requires that all clients arrange for personal insurance. Vintage Africa Limited works closely with Amref for emergency medical evacuation but this is just for emergency medical evacuation and cost of treatment is not included.
Travelling in Kenya can cost as much or as little as you like, depending on what kind of standards you’re happy with. Accommodation is the biggest single expense and depending on the choice of accommodation, one can push up costs sharply. On top of this, you’ll probably want to allow some extra cash for more expensive tourist activities such as trekking, diving and other excursions. The biggest outlay for most visitors will be visiting the national parks, whether on a safari or independently.
Kenyans are very well known for their friendly, laid-back attitude. In most cases you will be humbled by their hospitality despite the fact that most people are a lot poorer than you. As you get out and about and into the more frequented touristic areas, you will probably attract your fair share of souvenir hawkers and beggars. Remember that these are poor people who are trying to earn money to feed their families.

 

Basic Safety Rules for Travellers to Kenya

  • Make a copy of your passport and keep it in your luggage.
  • don’t walk on your own at night in the major cities or on empty beaches
  • don’t wear jewellery just simple earrings/ring/watch/bracelet.
  • don’t carry too much cash with you.
  • Wear a money belt that fits under your clothes.
  • Don’t carry a lot of camera equipment especially in the major cities.
  • Beware of thieves posing as police officers.
Space in the safari vehicle is limited and we request that you pay particular attention to the following guidelines. This is dependent of course on how many of you there are in the vehicle and the guidelines are based on a full vehicle.

I. cases are acceptable but soft bags preferable. We recommend that you pack your personal effects in an inexpensive luggage. Rucksacks are great if there is no frame.

II. 1 small handbag or daypack containing money, travel documents and camera equipment and other bits and bobs – this you can have in the vehicle beside you.