Travelling Tips


  • Arrival
    Get some rest the first day in Nairobi. The elevation is 5,000 feet and you are in a different time zone.

    Currency Declaration
    Unlimited foreign currency can be brought into the country but only maximum of Kshs.100,000 can be exported. Unspent Kenya Shilling may be re-converted at the airport bank on departure but this takes time and patience. We recommend you change only what you intend to spend.

    Money Exchange
    Do not exchange money on the street. You may be approached by someone willing to give you a 50% to 70% premium for your dollars. This is what is known as the black market. It is illegal. Do NOT therefore, get involved. Hotels, Camps and Lodges can change money but sometimes their exchange rate is lower. There are several foreign exchange bureau in Nairobi offering competitive rates.

    Safekeeping of passport and Valuables
    Please keep your passport and money ON YOU at ALL times. Never leave money or valuables in your room or in your vehicle. You can check valuables in security boxes at the hotels and lodges. Be especially careful whilst in camps and lodges and on special excursions such as boat-rides. Avoid wearing expensive jewellery (necklaces etc.).

    Banking hours
    Banking hours are from 0900 – 1500 Monday through Friday and 0900 – 1200 on the first and last Saturday of the month. Banks at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi and Moi International Airport, Mombasa remain open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    Credit Cards
    Credit cards such as American Express, Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in Nairobi and Mombasa Hotels and in most camps and lodges.

    Security
    Do Not walk around Nairobi at night and apply extra caution on weekends when Nairobi is relatively deserted. Please take a taxi instead. Always let a tour member know where you are going when you go off to do your own thing. Please take the same care-and common sense precautions-that you would do in any other part of the world.

    Hustlers
    Be careful of the “hustlers” in Nairobi. You may hear a hard luck story which is designed to get you to donate money to some cause. We strongly suggest you do not get involved.

    Communications

    You may make international telephone calls home. Do not however, expect all hotels in Kenya to be able to get through. Nairobi is the best place to make these calls. Nairobi and Mombasa hotels have telex, facsimile machines and internet services.

    Spectacles & Contacts
    On safari be prepared for bumpy and dusty roads. These can be an irritant to contact lens wear. Eye drops and a spare pair of glasses are a sensible precaution.

    Packing
    Pack light, Laundry facilities are available throughout your safari. Remember your 20 kg limit (30 kg for first and club class travelers) on your return from East Africa. Excess luggage charges may apply.

    Luggage Allowances

    Remember, if you are staying at one of the ‘tree hotels’, the cabins are small and you are only allowed to take one small overnight bag with you. The bulk of your luggage is stored at the base hotel and retrieved the following morning. If your itinerary includes any flying in light aircraft around Nairobi or on safari, you are restricted to a maximum of 15 kgs, including hand luggage. Coastal scheduled light aircraft flights have a limit of 10 kgs per person.

    Clothing
    Safari attire is casual and comfortable. Dress mainly for outdoor comfort with a change of informal clothes for the evening. Evenings and early morning can be chilly especially on the mountain areas. Warm jerseys, socks and walking shoes or sneakers are recommended. Footwear should be low-heeled and comfortable. There is not much walking and you stay in your vehicle during game runs. Bring a light-weight raincoat and a hat for sun protection. Roof hatches on safari vehicles are left open whilst game viewing. Although evening wear is informal, the Mt Kenya Safari Club at Nanyuki and some Restaurants in Nairobi do require gentlemen to wear a tie and jacket for dinner, and ladies, equivalent evening attire.

    Luggage tag
    Place the safari luggage tags we have provided on your baggage. These are used to identify your bags by your driver-guide.

    Punctuality
    Please be on time when you meet at your mini-vans for game drives.

    Sun
    Our equatorial sun is strong. Too much can cause dehydration, nausea, dizziness and headaches. We recommend that you wear sun screen and a hat, as well as a strong pair of dark glasses. All of the lodges, with the exception of the ‘tree hotels’ and some of the permanent camps, have swimming pools. When sunbathing use common sense.

    Drinking water

    In Nairobi and on safari, we recommend that you do not drink the water from the taps and even out of the thermos or flasks provided. We recommend instead, that you purchase bottled water at the lodges. Use mouthwash to brush and wash your teeth. Ice is generally frozen from boiled water and is ok for consumption.

    Food
    Food in Kenya is delicious, varied and plentiful, succulent crayfish from the Indian Ocean, smoked sailfish (Kenya’s equivalent to smoked salmon), English roast beef, Molo lamb, and much more. Kenyas’ famed fruits abound, pineapples, pawpaw, mangoes, avocados, passion fruits, banana, pears, and strawberries to name a few. Fresh vegetables are equally abundant.

    The hotels, lodges and camps in which you stay are renowned for their high standard of cuisine. However, a change of climate and traveling can, in a few instances, cause travelers diarrhoea, a minor complaint not comparable in severity with ‘gypie tummy’. Eating in moderation avoiding cold buffet lunch tables that have been exposed to the mid-day sun, and fasting for a day (whilst drinking plenty of bottled water) should you be stricken, are sensible precautions.

    Spirits, beers, wine and cigarettes
    Are all available around East Africa. The price of soft drinks and beer is reasonable, whilst imported spirits, wine and cigarette tend to be on the expensive side.

    Meal plan
    Generally, unless otherwise requested, bed and breakfast is the meal plan provided for in Nairobi, and full board on Safari. Mombasa hotels are booked on the meal plan of your choosing.

    Anti-malaria medication

    We strongly recommend that you take anti-malaria medication. Malaria is rare in most highland areas, but traveling in the hot bush and coastal areas requires precautions. If, on your return home, you develop influenza symptoms, please see your doctor immediately as you may well have contracted malaria.

    Medical services
    The larger towns around East Africa have pharmacy and hospitals, but you should carry with you adequate supplies of your own medicines and toilet items as in the smaller towns these cannot be obtained. A spare pair of prescription glasses is recommended.

    Hospitals

    There are several hospitals in Nairobi and Mombasa staffed by doctors with internationally recognized degrees. Most Nairobi and Mombasa hotels have their own house doctors for emergencies, appointments can be made if a doctor is necessary.

    Electricity
    Most hotels and lodges outside Nairobi and Mombasa generate their own electricity. However, take a small lightweight flashlight as some generators are usually only run for short periods in the early morning and again in the evening from 1830 to 2230 hrs. The voltage is 220-240 AC, suitable for appliances with the exceptions of those manufactured in the USA and Canada.

    Photography
    DO NOT take photographs of the locals without their permission. NEVER take photographs of military, military institutions, armed forces barracks, policemen, the President,

    Government officials, or airports.

    Always keep your camera loaded and ready for action. You never know when it is going to start. If you intend to purchase extra film, we suggest you do so in Nairobi, as often the safari lodges and camps have limited stock. You may wish to carry your equipment in a dust-proof bag as the roads can be extremely dusty.

    Wild animals
    Do please remember that our animals are wild and should never be approached on foot. Please be alert and cautious in the lodges and camps when walking from your room to the public areas.Game viewing
    Carry binoculars for added pleasure whilst game viewing.

    Tipping

    Most people, when visiting a foreign country, like to be given some guidelines regarding tipping. Bearing in mind that tipping is an extremely personal matter, the below are mere guidelines. Ultimately, expectations are left to the discretion of the individual safari member. However, if in doubt, please check with either your hostess or safari guide for advice.

    Restaurants
    These guidelines are for those lunches and dinners you may enjoy on your own that are not included in your itinerary. If the menu says 10% service charge included, you do not need to tip. Otherwise, 10% is considered usual and customary.

    Drinks
    When ordering from the bar waiter, a 10% tip is fair.

    Driver-Guides
    Ever since the early days of safari-ing, driver-guide and naturalist/ tour guide in Africa have had their expert bush skills acknowledged in the form of tips. We recommend US$ 5.00 per person per day, but this is entirely at your own description.

    Safari guide
    The tip for your naturalist/tour guide is entirely discretionary. A good tip for the guide is determined by the numbers in a group. We recommend US$ 2.00 per person per day. These tips are payable on the final day of your safari program.

    Driver-Guides/Safari Guides

    Get to know both your driver-guide and your safari tour guide. Their knowledge of Africa is a bottomless treasure of travel. Be friendly. Sometimes, at the outset of a safari, the driver-guides can be shy and need encouragement to open up. Ask a lot of questions. Don’t be afraid to make requests of both your driver-guide and your safari tour guide.

    Air ticket reconfirmation
    Air tickets must be reconfirmed for all domestic and international flights. We would be delighted to assist. In order for us to do this, we must be able to personally check your tickets. We will do all possible to secure your specific seat requests but this cannot be guaranteed.

    Flying Doctors Society
    The Flying Doctor’s Society of Africa has been evacuating patients by air since the 1950's. In the event of a medical emergency, you will be flown back to Nairobi where an ambulance will be waiting to move you immediately to a leading Nairobi hospital. Evacuations will not be carried out if the nature of the medical complaint is minor.

    The safari experience
    Please look at any inconveniences with a positive attitude. Flat tires and a few unexpected delays are all part and parcel of the safari experience.

    Buy your Flight Ticket

    Before departure, you will be required to buy an appropriate flight ticket to and from your tour destination. Double check your flight departure and arrival day, time and flight number and ensure that we are supplied with these details well in advance. These details will be very important to facilitate your arrival meet and greet service. An international airport departure tax of US$20 or the equivalent in foreign currency is levied. Visitors may import, duty-free, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, and one litre of spirit.

    Shopping and bargaining.
    Shop hours are from 8.30am to 12.30pm and from 2.00pm to 5.00pm Mondays to Fridays and 8.30am to 12.30pm on Saturdays. Tourist shops usually remain open beyond these hours and through lunch hour. Bargaining is particularly used in markets and curio shops. Requesting for the final best price is almost expected and starts off knowing you are being charged tourist prices and end up paying what you think the item is worth to you. Do not purchase game skins, trophies or elephant hair bracelets. These items are prohibited as hunting was banned in 1976.

    There is a big variety of souvenirs to take home.

    Most hotels have licensed Souvenir outlets and there are large number of such outlets in the main towns.Nairobi souvenir shops stocks a wide range of African crafts.Interesting artefacts are also sold in the city’s market, The jacaranda Special School, Nairobi and the Bombolulu Crafts Centre in Mombasa are charity-based, supporting the disabled. The Totototo Home Industries, Mombasa, and Kazuri beads in Nairobi helps local women to earn a living.
    Amongst the best buys are: wood carving, art and batiks, ethnic and modern jewellery with a Kenyan flavour, semi-precious stones (such as malachite and tanzanite); tie-dye cotton material, safari outfits, soap-stone carvings and basketware.

    Photography
    Ask for permission before photographing local people. Your driver/guide will assist you in this and will possibly help you agree on modeling fee. Do not take photographs of any official buildings such as airports; military installations, border posts or roadblocks. Wildlife can easily be photographed, you just ask the driver to stop and ask any questions you may have about the animals, terrain, people and their culture. It is advisable to carry your cameras in dust-proof bags on safaris, especially in the dry season. Films are available in hotels and lodges but it is advisable to stock up in Nairobi as there is variety and are cheap.

    Communications
    Phones and fax facilities are available in Nairobi, Mombasa, Mount Kenya Safari Club, most lodges/Tented Camps and major towns. E-mail services can also be found from lodges and also hotels (ask at the reception).

    Other important points
    Please be punctual for all departures, game drives and schedules so as to make maximum use of your holiday time. Departure transfers for international flights are usually two and half-hours prior to flight times. Day rooms are reserved till 6.00pm.