Here is a list of travel information you may find useful when planning your safari holiday tour of Kenya and Tanzania. If you require any further details or have questions on something not covered by this list, please get in touch with the Natural World Kenya Safaris team.
Tourists must have a valid visa to visit Kenya. Your passport must also be valid for at least six months after the date of your arrival in the country. In 2017 Kenya introduced ‘eVisa’, the electronic tourist visa CLICK HERE . This means that you can apply online before flying into Kenya.
Electronic visa application for Kenya
Please use the website www.evisa.go.ke to apply for an electronic eVisa. You may pay by credit card. The visa processing fee is USD 50, and there is a service charge of USD 1. The minimum period you can apply for a Kenyan visa is three months before your travel date.
The visa application process involves uploading your passport picture along with your passport photograph. Your visa shall be issued approximately five days after you register. You shall be required to print a copy of your electronic visa, bring it with you for presentation along with your passport on arrival in Kenya. If you have any problems or enquiries related to applying for an electronic visa, please contact the Kenyan Embassy in your country / region.
Related information on e-visa application
The e-Visa takes a maximum of 48hrs to approve but can be issued in a much shorter period.
Availability in different languages will be looked into but poses a challenge for local Immigration Officers who may not be familiar with different languages.
The ability to auto save applications has been updated to the system. Should the system “hang”, one can refresh the page then click on the “history” tab to access the information saved.
The system currently only accepts Visa & Mastercard and arrangements are in progress to include American Express, Union Pay, PayPal & Mpesa.
Critical to note is that when making payments, the system sends a One Time Password (OTP) for the owner of the credit card to confirm. Failure to enter this OTP has been a cause for card payment decline.
Communication (in case of a hitch in process)
Application process assistance is provided in a timely manner
The system flashes two dedicated telephone numbers & an email that can be used to get help:
General Enquiries: +254 110 922 063 /4
Payment Issues: +254 110 922 062
The E-visa system has very little downtime but is occasionally taken offline for system upgrade.
During the downtime, a message shall be displayed indicating the system was offline for upgrade and the time this would take.
Other things you need to bear in mind with regard to your visa:
All major Kenyan roads are tarred. However, road surfaces vary depending on remoteness from Nairobi city and sometimes due to regular maintenance.
Rain may also affect the state of roads. Many roads within the National Parks and game reserves are quite navigable.
Driving time on Kenyan roads vary from one safari point to another and are approximate. They vary depending on traffic and road conditions.
Most major credit cards (MasterCard, Visa and American Express) are widely accepted. In addition to credit cards, it is advisable to carry easily convertible currency in cash. USD currency is readily accepted in many local outlets and can also easily be exchanged to Kenya shillings
We advise you to contact a medical specialist or family doctor or even a licensed vaccination clinic well before travelling to Kenya.
Safari hotels/ lodges/ tented camps are carefully chosen and are named on the safari itinerary/program. The choices are unique and add flavor/ romance to your safari tour. They are comfortable and sufficiently luxurious.
They vary from economy, comfort, superior comfort (applies for Masai Mara accommodation) and luxury options. Luxury lodges blend nicely with the landscape and have rooms with all amenities you would expect from a good hotel. Tented camps are on permanent foundations and have en-suite bathrooms.
The amenities can include hot water bottles to warm your bed before you turn in, coffee, tea and hot chocolate served in your tent as part of your early morning wake up call. Except the tree lodges, most other lodges and camps in economy, comfort & luxury options have swimming pools.
Avoid drinking water straight from the tap. Complimentary bottled drinking water will be provided in the safari vehicle. -there shall be a cooler box in your private safari car Soft drinks, beer and other bottled beverages can be purchased at the lodges and camps throughout the safari as they have bars and comfortable lounges with fire places for those cool evenings. Tea or coffee are served after meals.
It is advisable to spread packing between you and your partners suitcases. This is in case of loss of luggage – (in case you are travelling together) All the important items and information should be carried in your hand luggage: passport, visa, airfare, insurance, credit cards, money and prescriptions if necessary.
You should carry information about your specific health condition plus malaria pills, any lifesaving medication (diabetics), anything used to treat allergies or a sudden stomach upset (maybe Imodium) and analgesic aspirin should all be kept accessible to you.
Any expensive electrical equipment, such as a camera or computer should be well looked after. Please note that all use, import and production of plastic bags, such as those we know from supermarkets, etc., is prohibited in Kenya. We therefore recommend that you avoid using plastic bags when packing your luggage. Use fabric bags instead, or bags made of a waterproof material other than plastic.
If, for example, you are visibly carrying hand luggage in plastic bags upon your arrival in Kenya, you will be asked to hand them in. This also includes plastic bags from “Duty Free”, etc. On light aircraft flights in Kenya the baggage allowance is limited to a maximum of 15 Kilograms, including camera and video equipment.
Any additional luggage can be stored at the hotel in Nairobi until end of safari. Extra luggage is charged at $ 5 per kilogram and depends on space availability and weight Luggage and personal effects are at owner’s risk throughout the tour. For your peace of mind, baggage insurance is recommended.
PHOTOGRAPHY / EQUIPMENT ON SAFARI
A digital Camera made during the Last several years is good for taking excellent Wildlife and Landscape photographs, it does not need to be the most expensive camera to take good pictures on your Kenya Holiday Safari.
Getting good safari photos is more about practice, focus and concentration than having an expensive camera / gadget A (digital Single Lens Reflex) DSLR Camera with interchangeable lenses is a good option during a Safari Tour. Good lenses for African wildlife photos fall in the range of 200-400mm, while those intending to make landscape or animal shots in their wild environment should consider bringing a wider-angle lens in the range of 24-100mm.
A video camera if available is a welcome gadget during safari, you may be having it already in your DSLRs as a built in extra. Safari Tours are in remote areas so bring plenty of batteries and a charger in case you run out of power! Bring plenty of cleaning equipment like cleaning cloths and a blower brush as Cameras get dirty quickly on the dusty safari environment.
Plenty of memory cards are necessary too – safari adventure is exciting and you may take more shots than you had anticipated A pair of binoculars is essential to view the birds and animals at a distance. Best size is 8/10 x 40 they only need to be of good quality
Suggested equipment List for Safari
You can make a safari in Kenya throughout the year.
January, February and March (High Season)
The three months are good for safari, the period is just after the short rain season, you may catch some bird species that are winter visitors from Europe. The grass is not so high enough to hinders your view of the animals. There shall be great opportunities to encounter large elephant herds.
April and May (low season)
This is the long rainy season; you can still enjoy your safari during this period. Tropical rain comes in bursts and lasts a few hours, mostly in the mornings and afternoons. The rains freshen up the nature and often enhance the safari experience.
The month of June is a good time to experience safari after the long rainy season. The large zebra herds cross from Tanzania to the Masai Mara game reserve ahead of the migration which happens from mid-July.
July to October (peak season)
Huge herds of wildebeest enter the Masai Mara from the Serengeti in Tanzania. Due to evolving climatic situations it may be a little difficult to give specific time for the start of migration. It is however safe to state that the great wildebeest migration is active at the Masai mara by the middle of July. Wildebeest start their return journey to Tanzania around September / October. The return process is devoid of drama.
November and December (shoulder season)
This is the short rainy season in Kenya. The short rain freshens the pastures and grass start to grow. The national parks and game reserves regain their vegetation.
We recommend that you bring casual summer clothes that are easy to launder and quick to dry. Go for neutral colors that do not reflect the heat and do not show the inevitable safari dust. With cool morning and evening, layering is suggested.
Laundry service is available in most safari lodges and tented camps which can help you replenish your supply of clean clothing, as you need it. Much of the time on safari is spent in the vehicle so lightweight and comfortable walking shoes are appropriate. The style is casual – even in the evening.
For Dinner in Nairobi and at the Mount Kenya Safari Club, dress is smart casual. You will be in the sun a great deal and at these altitudes it is easy to sunburn very quickly. Pack a swimsuit and cover-up, as most of the safari accommodations have swimming pools.
Kenya’s currency is the Kenyan shilling (KSH). Check online for the current rate. You can exchange your convertible foreign currency in to shillings in a forex bureau and shall find the best rates at the airport. Small cash denominations are handy for tipping and minor expenses.
You can also withdraw Kenya shillings at the ATM (VISA & MasterCard). Cash USD, Euro, British pounds are readily accepted in many outlets. We recommend that you exchange money only as needed. You will find it easiest to make small purchases in local currencies, and will usually receive a better price and also change when required.
You may conveniently exchange money at all lodges and hotels at close to the bank rate, but the best exchange rates you get from the Forex Bureaus at the airport or Nairobi city.
Customs regulations are quite straightforward. The usual one bottle of spirits, 200 cigarettes, a reasonable amount of camera equipment, film and one tape recorder are allowed to enter Kenya duty free.
Your safari Guide / Driver will be an integral part of your safari tour experience. You will spend many days together as he narrates the wonders of Kenya’s geography, history and of course the wildlife.
Each safari guide is a local Kenyan, steeped in the traditions and folklore of his country as well as exceptionally knowledgeable in areas such as local flora and fauna, tribal lore and regional geography.
The voltage is 220; however, the plugs are different from those in North America or even of Europe. Due to the variations of the outlets, we suggest you travel with a variety of international adapter plugs as well as a voltage converter, which may be purchased as a set. The most commonly used adapter plug has 3 square prongs.
Note that lodges in the game parks may turn off their generators during the day and late at night (11pm – 6am), this means there will be no electricity at this time. Please recharge your video camera batteries at applicable times of the day, or carry extra batteries.
The safari tour price includes government taxes and service charges relating to accommodations and meals provided, entrance fees to national parks and game reserves, and game ranger services (where obligatory). We shall go further to itemize all inclusions / exclusions at safari booking / confirmation
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. Please note that it is illegal to bring into the U.S. anything made from elephant, rhino or crocodile products.
All hotel, lodges and porterage gratuities are included on your safari price – these are referred to as service charge. Individual waiters, porters and other service providers may provide exemplary service and it is your discretion to decide to tip It is however customary to tip the driver / guide at the end of the safari tour. The amount is dependent on your evaluation of the quality of the service rendered.
An average of $ 10 per guest per day is suggested the amount is however at your discretion, you are welcome to provide additional compensation to any staff who have provided special services. A bar gratuity of $1 is acceptable.
Travelers should have medical insurance, as they will be responsible for all medical expenses they may incur. We provide as part of our service an offer of a temporary evacuation cover on the flying doctor’s service
Kenya has many different dialects and local languages. English is the official language while Kiswahili is the national language, these provides a common identity in the vast country. English is the instructional language in all schools A few Swahili phrases learnt in advance shall enhance your local interactions.
Laundry services are available at safari lodges and camps where more than one night is being spent. Dry cleaning is only available in Nairobi and Mombasa.
All meals are included on safari. This is from lunch on day 1 until lunch on last day of safari tour. During your safari all meals shall be provided by your respective lodge or tented camps or at restaurant on safari route. Packed / picnic lunches are provided during full day game viewing drives and on long day drives. The quality of the cuisine in East Africa game lodges and camps is superb, with all meats, vegetables and fruits arriving fresh daily from the surrounding farmland areas. Individual dietary requests are catered for in the respective accommodations
Nairobi has excellent international medical facilities. Most camps and lodges have a doctor on call who is experienced with common travel related ailments. We suggest that you make certain your health insurance has adequate coverage, as once you are returned to Nairobi any further medical expenses will need to be covered by you.
Visitors should exercise the same common sense as one would in any other part of the world. Normal care and sensible precautions should be taken. Please do not leave cash, jewelry or valuables unattended in hotel rooms. Every lodge or hotel has a safe deposit facility for your valuables safe keeping. Do not wear flashy jewelry, or leave handbags and photographic equipment unattended in public places.
SAFARI SOUVENIR SHOPPING:
Affordable and attractive baskets, copper jewelry, batik cloth, beads, carvings, Kenya coffee and tea are all for sale in the shops and markets of Nairobi. Boutiques sell fine art and handicrafts, gemstones and jewelry, including a locally mined semiprecious stone called tanzanite. Most popular are items carved from wood, which range from small trinkets such as animal head salad spoons and letter openers, to world-class ebony sculpture. Carved soapstone from napkin rings and candlesticks to complete chess sets, are also attractive. Bags woven from sisal and baobab are available in myriad colors, sizes, styles and shapes much more artistic and unique than those reaching the US Market. East African artisans have responded to the increasing appreciation of tribal artifacts with a variety of stunning original pieces and faithful reproductions: drums, headrests, stools, shields, and beaded necklaces and belts from various parts of the region. Some of the most prized pieces feature elaborately worked silver, malachite and amber beads.
TRANSFERS TO AND FROM THE AIRPORT
We provide complimentary airport hotel transfers on arrival. At your time of departure, we shall again transfer you to the Nairobi airport. We shall request that you share with us your arrival & departure flight details for the airport to hotel to airport transfer purposes
Our experienced and knowledgeable safari driver / guides shall collect you up at Nairobi Airport, Nairobi local hotel or local residence. He will take you on safari and other sightseeing adventures and return you back to the hotel or airport on your last day. Because most of the safari journey includes hours of safari trip, the quality of the safari vehicle is of high importance. As much of the journey is long hours on the trail on wildlife, the quality of the ground vehicle is of the utmost importance. Each comfortable safari vehicle carries a maximum of 6/7 guests, thus providing a guaranteed window seat and access to the po up roof hatch. Our safari Driver/Guides have a mechanical background and are good for simple mechanical calls in case of emergencies.
DRIVING DISTANCE & TIME ON SAFARI:
Note that all driving times are approximate and may vary depending on weather, condition of road and density of traffic.
MASAI VILLAGE VISIT AT MASAI MARA
If your dream is to visit the local Maasai people, please discuss this with your safari guide. A donation of 25 USD per person payable directly to the village chief is suggested. Despite the introduction of money and some touch of modern influence, the Masai culture still retains much of its original authenticity
LUNCH AND DRINKS DURING SAFARI
All meals including picnic lunches are included in the tour price. Bottled drinks including beers, colas, wines and spirits are settled for directly by you
Kenya is 3 hours ahead of GMT.
Mosquitoes appear when the sunsets, temperatures drop and the evening night sets in. This is when most bites happen. We advise that you wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. It is also important to make sure any exposed parts of the body are protected with insect’s repellent. All safari lodges and camps are fitted with mosquito nets over the bed.
CHARGING OF MOBILE PHONES AND OTHER ELECTRICAL ITEMS
Most hotels and lodges generally have their electricity from generators switched off after 11pm. You are reminded to take a small flashlight with you. The sockets are 240 volts and use 3 flat pin plugs as in the West
CHECK IN / OUT OF THE HOTELS
At hotel / lodge check in always fill out one of registration cards at the front desk before key collection. Check in after 11am and check out before 10am. When checking out you pay the extra bills for drinks from the restaurant and bar. There shall be an induction / instruction talk at all hotel / lodge / camp at check -in
LUGGAGE WHICH IS IMPORTANT TO BRING
IMPORTANT ITEMS TO HAVE IN YOUR HAND LUGGAGE