Kenya Travel Tips
Visa and Health Regulation:
Visa requirements vary from time to time and should be checked with nearest tourist office of diplomatic mission. Health certificates are required but these vary with country of origin and should be checked with relevant authorities. Yellow fever and cholera vaccinations are recommended. Anti malaria medication should be started prior to arrival.<.
Films and batteries are available at most lodges but in restricted stocks and sizes so it is suggested you bring your own supply. A 200 mm to 300 mm telephoto lens is recommended for game and bird photography. Much of East Africa is generally warm, minimal humidity and cool evenings. Temperatures vary with altitude.
Cotton, linen dresses, light slacks and short sleeved shirts are recommended. Bring a warm sweater, as nights can be chilly at high altitudes. Comfortable walking shoes, swim suit, sun glasses, suntan lotion, flashlight and an alarm clock will complement your safari gear.
The major crossing point between Kenya and Tanzania is at Namanga, which is open 24 hours a day. Other crossings include Lunga Lunga and Taveta. The Ethiopian border post of Moyale is becoming increasingly dangerous because of civil fighting.The border was closed for a while but has now reopened. For those with four-wheel drive vehicles, a more adventurous route to the west near Lake Turkana is quite popular. Ask the locals for advice before trying this route. There is no border post on either side of the border crossing so you'll have to get your visa stamped in Nairobi. Malaba and Busimia are the main Ugandan border posts. At present there are no overland crossings with Somalia and Sudan as it is not safe to cross unless part of a refugee convoy.
RAIL & BUS:
Wildlife Safaris Rail is a safe, reliable form of public transport. Passenger services run from Mombasa to Malaba via Voi, Nairobi, Nakuru and Eldoret. It is essential to book tickets two to three days in advance. Kenya has a good network of buses, as well as matatus (minibuses) and share-taxis, but none are very safe as drivers tend to overload and speed, and horrific accidents are reported regularly. Where possible, rail travel should be the chosen means of transport. Private 18-seater buses offer shuttle services connecting Nairobi and Mombasa with Arusha and Moshi in Tanzania, which are more expensive, but more comfortable and safer.
Domestic air services operate between the major airports: Jomo Kenyatta International, Nairobi (NBO) Moi International, Mombasa (MBA) Note that departure tax (US$20) is paid when you leave. For local flights this is KSh100 and US$20 for international flights (not payable in KSh). A number of airlines operate between Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nanyuki, Malindi, Lamu and the national parks/reserves of Amboseli, Masai Mara and Samburu.
There are 63,800 km of highways in Kenya, 8,863 km of which are paved. Roads are generally in good condition, but have deteriorated and some stretches are very unsafe. The A104 running from Mombasa to Malaba via Nairobi is a heavy truck route. High speed and unpredictable local driving habits are daily hazards on Kenyan roads. Roads in the north and north-east are predominantly dirt roads and in the rainy season are only navigable by four-wheel drive vehicles. Your national driving license is accepted, with an English translation if necessary. Driving is on the left side of the road. As fuel shortages can occur, it is best to fill your tanks before leaving a major town.
Passports and Visas:
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS (as at June 2000)
This is a guide only – please check with your nearest Kenyan Consulate for up to date information. All visitors are required to carry a passport that is valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay. There should be sufficient blank pages for entry stamps upon arrival.
Nationals of some countries may obtain visas upon arrival. Check with the Kenyan Consulate beforehand. Those wishing to enter Kenya on business or for longer than 30 days, should obtain a visa from their nearest Kenyan Consulate.
Requirements for this are:
» visa application form, » business letter (for business visa), » one passport photograph, » proof of sufficient funds and onward travel / return ticket.
Visas cost about US$50 and are valid for three months. All visitors may be requested to show proof of sufficient funds and onward travel / return ticket.
General Accommodation Info:
Most safari lodges vary in size and style, and are built to blend in with the local environment. Accommodation tends to be of rondavel or banda type, with a lounge, central dining and bar in single unit hotels. Do not be misled by the term “tented accommodation” – this tends to be luxurious insect-proof tents and are usually permanently pitched on concrete bases, often including en suite bathrooms with flush toilets. These are very popular and give the visitor the true experience of being close to nature without the inconvenience and discomfort that can be associated with camping in the open. In the towns, cheaper hotels are definitely avoidable. Prices for higher range hotels vary according to season. Note that although prices may be quoted in US$, payment in local currency is the accepted norm. Campsites in national parks and game reserves tend to be very basic, with running water, but only pit toilets. It is strongly recommended that you reserve all your accommodation as far in advance as possible as availability is often at a premium, especially in peak season.
Kenya - Health: Requirements:
Everyone entering Kenya must be in possession of a valid International Certificate of Vaccination against yellow fever. It is imperative that you obtain malaria prophylactics before entering Kenya. When purchasing these, please tell your doctor or pharmacist that you intend visiting Kenya. It is important to note that the Kenyan authorities have banned the use of chloroquine combinations as prophylaxis, and instead recommend the use of either mefloquine (Lariam/Mefliam) or doxycycline. Start your course at least one week before entering Kenya and continue taking the pills for six weeks after leaving the country. If you suffer from side effects, try taking your malaria prophylactics at night, after dinner. Precautionary measures that you can take to prevent contact with mosquitoes are: sleeping under a bed net or in room/tent with mosquito proofing (remember to keep the flaps zipped at all times), spraying your accommodation with insecticide, making use of a mosquito repelling lotion or stick and wearing long sleeve clothes, trousers and socks when outside at night. Immunisation against typhoid, tetanus, tuberculosis, polio, & meningococcal meningitis are recommended.
Medical services in Kenya are good in urban areas and in the vicinity of game parks and beaches, but are limited elsewhere. Doctors and hospitals often require immediate cash payment, but usually accept major credit cards. It is advisable to secure medical cover on your medical insurance before arriving in the country. Note that major hotels have contracts with physicians and dentists. Visitors are however advised to bring along supplies of specialised medication they may require. Otherwise, medicine may be purchased at pharmacies and emergency pharmacies are open all night.
Adventure Safaris Travel in Kenya is generally entirely safe, however, there are the occasional regional ethnic skirmishes. You are advised to remain informed as to the situation in areas to which you plan to travel, particularly remote parts and borders. Ugandan, Somalia and Sudanese shifta (bandits) rove their borders with Kenya. Violent cross-border attacks and cattle raids occur, so it is best to avoid the border regions. Border crossings into Somalia and Sudan are strongly discouraged. Petty crime and theft occurs in some of the urban areas, so be vigilant and keep valuables concealed. Security within the parks is quite good, but never leave possessions unattended. It is always better to travel in a large group.
While water in major towns is chlorinated and relatively safe to drink, there are frequent breakdowns and this can lead to mild to serious abdominal upsets for first time African travellers. Rather stick to sealed bottled water, which is available from most supersmakets, hotels and lodges, and which is highly advised for the first few weeks of your stay. Do not use ice cubes or eat rare meat, raw seafood or dairy products. Avoid roadside stands and street vendors and only eat well-cooked foods while they are still hot and fruits that can be peeled without contamination.
Seasons and Climate: SUMMER: December – March WINTER: July – August
Kenya is divided by the equator and enjoys a tropical climate. It is hot and humid at the coast, temperate inland and very dry in the north and north-eastern parts of the country. The hottest time is in February and March and the coldest in July and August.
The average annual temperatures in the main areas are: Mombasa (coastal): Max 30ºC, Min 22ºC Nairobi: Max 25ºC, Min 13ºC North Plainlands: Max 34ºC, Min 23ºC
The long rains occur from April to June and short rains from October to December. Rainfall is sometimes heavy and tends to fall in the afternoon and evenings.