- Kenya shares Lake Victoria, the world’s second-largest freshwater lake, with Tanzania and Uganda.
- Kenya has virtually no Middle Class.
- In Kenya, coffee is an export product and very few people drink it. Instead, locals prefer tea and beer.
- The equator runs through the center of Kenya.
- Britain’s Princess Elizabeth was in Kenya when her father, the king, died, so she technically became queen while in Kenya.
Situated on the equator and home to colossal, 17,057-foot-high (5,199-meter) Mount Kenya, the Republic of Kenya is a country that will quickly capture your heart with its unforgettable landscapes, colorful native peoples, bustling city scene, and some of the best safari territory in the world. It’s a place where you may find yourself hand-feeding giraffes one moment…and marveling at brilliant, unfamiliar constellations the next. Here, rolling savannahs give way to soaring highlands, windswept moors, sparkling lakes, beckoning coastline, and life-sustaining farmland—and from sun up to sun down the air is filled with a symphony of birdsong, trumpeting elephants, roaring felines, chattering baboons, barking zebras, and chanting tribesmen.
VISAS, PASSPORTS, AND OTHER ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
You are responsible for obtaining and paying for all entry documents (visas, etc.) and for meeting all health requirements (inoculations, etc.) as required by the laws, regulations, or orders of the countries you will visit. We cannot accept liability if you are refused entry onto any transport or into any country for failure to carry correct documentation.
A visa for your visit to Kenya is necessary for US citizens. If you hold a passport from another country, check with your local consulate about requirements for travel to Kenya.
Visas can be obtained through an embassy, a visa service, or online (http://evisa.go.ke/) prior to departing the US. Alternatively, they can be obtained at the airport upon arrival.
The embassy or visa service will be able to advise the latest requirements for obtaining a visa. If you choose
to obtain a visa at the airport/border upon arrival:
- It is critical that you check visa requirements (blank pages needed, passport validity, etc) prior to leaving the US.
- Delays upon arrival/at the border should be expected.
In general, going through a visa service is more expensive but it offers convenience and peace of mind. If you choose to go this route, we recommend contacting Generations Visa Services (GenVisa), our preferred partner for visa and passport services, at least 90 days prior to departure. GenVisa has a special website and toll-free number. Call 800.845.8968, email email@example.com, or visit their below websites for additional information. Our travelers receive discounted prices and other special services:
- For Monograms, visit: genvisa.com/monograms
- For Globus, visit: genvisa.com/globus
- For Cosmos, visit genvisa.com/cosmos
All passengers traveling internationally are required to have a passport. Most countries require that the passport be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the conclusion of your trip, so please check the expiration date carefully. It is also recommended you have a minimum of three blank pages in your passport when traveling, as many countries require blank pages. Please carry proper identification (your passport) on you and do not leave it in your suitcase or hotel room. Most countries have laws that require you to carry your passport with you at all times.
It is imperative to find out from your physician what inoculations may be required for travel to Kenya, and if any other health precautions are recommended (such as anti-malaria pills). For more details, you might also like to consult the internet site of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/travel.
Plastic Bag Ban
In an effort to reduce the use of disposable plastic shopping and trash bags, the Kenya government has passed a law banning plastic bags, including Ziplocs and those used for packing. Multi-use toiletry bags are not part of the ban. Failure to comply could result in jail time or large fines. While the law is aimed at companies in Kenya and not tourists, we suggest not taking the risk. Since enforcement specifics are still in question, we advise that all travelers to Kenya avoid packing plastic bags in checked or carry-on luggage. Plastic bags for items purchased at the airport, including duty free, should be left on the plane disembarking.
The country code for Kenya is 254. When calling to Kenya from overseas, dial your international access code (011 from the US/Canada), followed by the country code, area code, and phone number. Phone numbers in Kenya are 7-9 digits in length. Dialing from the US/Canada: 011 254 ## ######.
As a general guideline, bring a variety of payment means, particularly in the event that you have difficulties with your preferred method of payment.
The most commonly accepted form of payment in Kenya is by cash in US Dollars. Alternatively, US Dollars can be exchanged into the local currency (Kenya Shilling). For initial convenience we recommend you bring a supply of U.S. Dollars with you from home. A few other important notes when using U.S. Dollars:
- Ensure that bills are in good condition and not ripped or torn. These bills may be refused.
- $5, $10, $20 bills – Ensure these are the latest design with the large portraits and subtle background colors, as older US currency will often be refused due to increasing issues with counterfeit bills. For this same reason, establishments may be reluctant to accept larger bills, so we recommend you bring a mix of notes in denominations of $20 or less.
- Change will normally be given in the local currency.
- Keep a supply of smaller denomination notes for minor purchases, water, or tips.
- U.S. Dollars are also useful for tipping your Driver/Guide.
ATMs are available in most cities and towns throughout Kenya. Keep in mind that only local currency is dispensed.
1 Kenyan Shilling (KES) = 100 Cents
- Banknote denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000 Shilling
- Coin denominations: 5, 10, 50 Cents and 5, 20, 40 Shillings
For the most current exchange rates, please go to our website at Globusjourneys.com/Currency.
Although cash is the preferred method of payment, Visa and MasterCard are accepted in Kenya in major city centers, hotels, and shops. Use may be limited outside major cities, but most lodges accept them. Smaller shops may ask you to pay in cash or may have a minimum amount required to use a credit card. In some cases a fee or commission between 5%-10% may be applied when using a credit card. Due to increasing credit card fraud worldwide, be prepared to show identification when making a transaction with a credit card.
These are not accepted in Kenya.
- Monday–Friday: 9am–4:30 pm
- Saturday & Sunday: Closed Daily at reception in lodges/camps: 8am–9pm
Budgeting and Shopping
The following budget guidelines are just approximate values or starting values for meals and are per person. Actual prices will vary widely by restaurant and city within a country but below are some averages as provided by our experienced personnel.
- The approximate cost of a soft drink/mineral water/coffee is US$2-$3.
- An average lunch consisting of a salad or sandwich and a soda or water starts at approximately US$7-$10.
- Dinner at a mid-range restaurant with dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage starts at approximately US$25-$30.
When shopping in Kenya, prices are as marked in department stores, although in markets/curio shops it is customary to barter. Start by negotiating with an offer at one-third or half the vendor’s initial price.
Please be warned that if you buy items on tour to be shipped to your home, customs import charges are rarely included in the price. If you use a credit card for your purchase, you will be debited in the local currency, and your bank will establish the rate of exchange on the debit. Sales tax or GST (Goods & Services Tax) is normally already included on price tags; GST refunds, if applicable, are processed at the departing airport from the relevant country.
Tipping is common in Kenya and wait staff and service personnel rely on tips as a large part of their income. Tips are already factored in for all included meals in Kenya. If you venture out for a meal, we recommend tipping percentages based on what you would normally tip at home.
For taxi service, we recommend a tip of 10% of the total fare.
Tip hotel and bar staff US$1 per service if warranted (not including porterage, which is included).
Electricity and Electrical Outlets
At Lodges & Camps
In Kenya, many lodges wever, some do shut down the electricity late at night and/or midday to conserve energy. Rest assured, this is a normal practice and part of the safari experience. There is still hot water for showers and enough time to charge batteries/electronic equipment. If you require 24-hour electricity for a breathing device, please let us know prior to departure.
Voltage for outlets is 220-240V. North American voltage is generally 110V. Therefore, you will need a converter for your travels. Adapters will be necessary to adapt your plug into the outlet, but these may not convert the voltage, so both devices are necessary.
Kenya has a warm, dry climate with an abundance of sunshine year round. Due to the higher elevation, the warm days often cede to cool evenings/mornings.
There are two rainy seasons: April to May and November. Rainfall is not regular or predictable, and it often falls in brief tropical downpours during the evening or night with pleasant sunny days in between.
To help you plan, below are average low and high temperatures for Kenya.
To convert to Celsius, subtract 30, then divide by 2. While not exact, this simple formula will give a close estimation.
A typical day on safari
Below is an outline of a typical day on safari. It is important to note that there is no way to predict 100% what will happen each day as nature is always full of wonderful surprises! Changes may be implemented due weather, animal movements, or simply due to a spontaneous and magical safari moment that captures your attention. There are also days where a full-day game drive is required or we transit between destinations. Please refer to your specific itinerary for details.
On safari, all meals are included.
Morning – There are generally two options:
- Early morning game drive (before breakfast) – Wake up early, between 5 am and 5:30 am, for coffee/tea. Although this may seem very early, it is essential to head out early, as this is the time of day many animals are most active. Depart your lodge/camp between 5:30 am and 6 am. The game drive lasts around 3 hours; breakfast is being served upon your return to the lodge/camp.
- Morning game drive (after breakfast) – Some days, when possible, we have a slightly later start based on the location or animal movements. Wake up is still early (around 6 am), with time for breakfast. Departure time is between 7 am to 8 am, and the game drive will generally last between 3 to 4 hours.
Late morning/Midday – Time to relax at your lodge/camp. Read a book, take a nap, or go for a swim! Lunch is generally served from 12/12:30 pm until 2 pm.
Afternoon – Embark on your afternoon game drive between 3 pm and 4 pm. This allows time to see the animals during the daylight but also to witness a spectacular African sunset! Arrive back at your lodge/camp between 6:30 pm and 7 pm to freshen up for dinner
Evening – Dinner service starts between 7 pm and 7:30 pm and is normally quite lively as everyone shares stories from an exciting day on safari. Afterward, grab a drink at the bar or proceed to bed…you may have another early day tomorrow!
In many cases, your Driver/Guide will switch off the engine while people are observing wildlife on game drives. This is both to create a quieter environment for observation and to save fuel. He will also obey park regulations, including those concerning off-road driving, which is prohibited or restricted in most parks to the ecosystem.
ation is a natural event and largely dependent on the weather making it difficult to predict year to year. General guidelines are:
- January & February – Herds typically assemble south of Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to give birth to their young.
- Early to mid-March – Herds begin moving north and west in search of fresh grazing through Serengeti National Park.
- July – Herds begin to cross into Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
- August through late-October/early November – Herds remain in Maasai Mara National Reserve.
- Early November through December – Triggered by the short rainy season, herds begin their trek back into Serengeti National Park.
Common foods in Kenya are chicken, fresh fish and seafood, ikwa (yams), maize, and a variety of fresh vegetables. Popular dishes include nyama choma (grilled meat), parantha (chicken stew), ugali (porridge), and sukuma wiki (kale/cabbage).
Meals on safari
Meals are normally served in a restaurant or dining tent, depending on the lodge or camp you are staying in. Meals are often buffet style, with a generous choice of dishes and often a made-to-order cooking station. In some cases, you may encounter some à la carte dinners. There are generally Western or international dishes, but Indian influences and barbecues are also common. You will also likely find some local choices and game animals, such as wildebeest or impala, to choose from.
Vegetarian options are available at all meals.
Tap water is not safe to drink in Kenya. Bottled water is provided each day with meals and on all game
drives. In addition, many lodges/camps have complimentary bottled water in each guest room.
Customs and Culture
- African culture is diverse. You will encounter new customs and different lifestyles as soon as you enter the country. Appreciate and enjoy the differences. A majority of the locals speak English and will greet you with a smile.
- In some African countries, a warm smile and a handshake is a perfectly acceptable greeting. If you are not a local, do not extend your hand first. Wait for the other person to do so. Local men do not normally shake hands with women in public. When greeting an elder, it is acceptable to bow your head slightly in place of a handshake.
- Always ask permission before taking a photograph of a local resident.
- Poverty is a fact of life in many African countries. You should be prepared to see it, but not be scared by it, as most people are still very happy and friendly. Out of respect, it is best to avoid excessive displays of wealth.
A few words of the local language
Hello!: ell: Mzuri sana, Bad: Baya, Yes: Ndio, No: Hapana, Thank you very much: Asante sana, Please: Tafadhali, Goodbye: Kwaheri, Welcome: Karibu, Friend: Rafiki, Sorry: Polay or samahani, How much?: Pesa ngapi?, Where is…?: Iko wapi…?, Today: Leo, Tomorrow: Kesho, Yesterday: Jana, Toilet: Choo, Water: Maji, Coffee: Kahawa, Tea: Chai, Milk: Maziwa, Sugar: Sukari, Ice: Barafu, 1: Moja 2: Bili 3: Tatu 4: Innay 5: Thano 6: Sita 7: Sabah 8: Nanay 9: Tisa 10: Kumi.
U.S. Department of State Country Information
Additional country-specific information for US citizens can be found on the US Government’s website www.travel.state.gov. Here, you can find the most up-to-date information about destination descriptions, passports/visas, safety and security, transportation, travel local laws, alerts/warnings, vaccinations, and more. For citizens of other nations, we recommend you consult your local consulate for travel information, regulations, and requirements.