Travel tips for African Safaris
Travel tips for African Safaris – Nomadic Safaris
Safaris in East Africa are unpredictable and sometimes inefficient or uncomfortable, no matter how detailed the itinerary, things may at times not work as expected. Unpredictable weather, wildlife activities, food, water, or fuel shortages can all impact on level of service. The safaris involve activities in remote areas of the country that may carry an element of risk or illness or injury where medical facilities may not be readily available. The most important items to pack are an open mind, patience, positive attitude and a desire for adventure.
Packing for safari
Depending on the number of passengers in the safari vehicle, it is always good to carry light luggage. This makes it comfortable for you and also for other passengers especially if you are sharing the vehicle. Soft sided suitcases or soft bags are recommended as they are easy to pack in the vehicle. You can have an extra back pack that will carry essential items such as your personal items, money, documents, cameras, binoculars, a jacket and any other items that you may need during the safari.
Lightweight casual clothes can be worn all year round. Evenings and early morning can be chilly especially in the mountain areas so pack a sweatshirt, sweater or warm jersey. Socks and walking shoes or sneakers are recommended. Footwear should be low-heeled and comfortable. On safari keep clothes to a minimum and mostly of neutral coloring – khakis, browns and greens. A sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen and insect repellant are a must. Remember, roof hatches on safari vehicles are left open during game viewing. Don’t forget swim wear and binoculars. Some city restaurants and clubs have dress codes – casual jacket and tie for men, informal dresses for women.
Arrival in Nairobi / Mombasa
When you arrive at your port of entry, Nomadic Safaris will have your flight information, hence, our representative will be waiting for you at the airport to receive you. You will then be transferred to your hotel in Nairobi according to the program.
Hotels and lodges can change money but their exchange rate are not usually very good. There are Forex bureaus at the airport if you choose to exchange dollars for Kenyan Shillings upon arrival. Banks at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi remain open 24 hours a day. The exchange rate varies but mostly 1$ changing with Kshs 100.
There are numerous banks in the major towns as well as many bureau de changes. Hours of business vary from bank to bank, but most are open from 9.00am to 430pm, Mondays to Fridays, and 9.00am – 12.30pm on Saturdays. Hotels and lodges change money outside these hours. Banking services are also available at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and at Moi International Airport in Mombasa.
Currency unit is the shilling, comprising 100 cents. Coins are in denominations of 1,5,10,20 and 40 shillings. Bank notes are in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 shillings. Importation of foreign currency is unlimited and does not have to be declared on arrival.
It’s best to come into the country with dollars, Euros or pounds which can be exchanged at any of the many Bureau de Change in the main Towns. If you are offered an exchange on the black market at the borders, exercise extreme caution as they are notorious for cheating you without you even realizing it.
Credit Cards, Cash and Traveler’s Checks
International credit cards are accepted by most restaurants, stores, hotels, lodges, camps, car rental firms, etc. However, many small shops in rural areas will not accept them. American Express, Visa and MasterCard Traveler’s Checks are widely accepted.
While the national language of Kenya is Kiswahili, English is the official language and is widely spoken and understood across East Africa. There are more than 43 different ethnic groups, each with their own language and culture.
Please don’t walk alone in apparently deserted areas, especially in and around the cities. It is preferable and usually more enjoyable to walk with company or in groups. Don’t carry large sums of cash in your purse or pocket, or display expensive jewelry. Be aware of the possibility of pick-pockets and bag snatchers in crowded areas. Make photocopies of the first few pages of your passport, air ticket and other important travel documents. Keep this separate from the originals. Don’t leave money or valuables in a hotel room. Most hotels offer safety deposit box service, and ensure that you have adequate insurance coverage before leaving home.
Always remember that while some animals have become accustomed to the presence of people they are still wild animals. Keep your distance. It is illegal to feed any animal, make excessive noise to attract their attention, or deviate from designated roads for that closer photograph. Never get out of your vehicle except at designated points. Close all windows and zippers when you leave your room or tent and spray it with insect/mosquito repellant.
The best way to get the most out of your safari is to take an active interest in everything going on around you, not just the number of species you can see in the shortest possible time. Ask all the questions you can think of and take reference books on not only wildlife but birds, insects and trees and read up about everything you see.
Please be on time when meeting your safari driver for travelling or for game drives so that you can get maximum value for your time spent on safari.
It is advisable to take out emergency medical insurance before flying to Kenya.
Vaccinations for cholera, tetanus and yellow fever are advised. Malaria is virulent in Kenya. Take prophylactics two weeks before arrival and continue two weeks after leaving. ( Your chemist or doctor can advise you of the most suitable drug available as certain drugs lose their effectiveness. )It is advisable to buy travel insurance covering accidents, illness or hospitalization for the period of your stay. Temporary membership in East African Flying Doctors’ Service is also recommended for safari goers. Members who require emergency medical attention on safari are flown to Nairobi for the best medical attention available in the country.
It is advisable to drink bottled water which we shall provide 2 half liter bottles per day per person during safari. It is also readily available in the camps and lodges. Drink only bottled water or from flasks of filtered and boiled water provided by most camps and lodges.
Standards and services range from up-market to tourist. Deluxe and first class hotels are found in the main cities and the resorts on the coastline of the country. Luxurious lodges are set in exotic locations, while comfortable tented camps are found in the main game parks.
Valuables, cash and passports
Please keep your passport & money on you at all times. Never leave money or valuables in your room or in the van. You can check valuables in security boxes at the lodges and camps.
Power supply is 220/240 volt 50 cycles. Plugs are usually 13-amp 3 pin square (British type)
A tip of 10% for good service is adequate. Service charges are frequently added and it is usual to tip a waiter, porter, tour driver or guide at least US $15 per person per day.
Although Kenya is considered to fall in the tropics, climate and temperature varies depending on altitude and proximity to the ocean. Coastal regions are hot and humid while the central plateaus are warm and dry, with cool nights.
Most hotels and lodges will offer a laundry service. For low budget travelers there are no coin operated Laundromats at all so consider drip dry clothing and be prepared for hand washing. In most places one could hire someone to do your washing.
Kenya is considered to be a photographer’s dream destination. From panoramic scenery, wildlife and birds to people and vibrant ceremonies. Rich color and good low lighting conditions abound. It is considered rude to take pictures of people without asking them first. Masai and Samburu warriors will expect payment for posing. Keep your cameras in a dust resistant, padded case and out of the midday sun. A 200mm (or longer) telephoto lens will prove very useful on safari, and an ultra violet filter and lens cap are strongly recommended. Please note that taking pictures of government and military personnel and installations is prohibited!
Driving is done on the left side of the road. Drivers require a valid license that must include a picture of the holder. A valid foreign license may be used for up to 90 days, but only after it has been endorsed by the Road Transport Office in Nairobi.
If you’re doing a vehicle trip through Kenya it is a good idea to carry a range of tools and essential spares with you. Two spare wheels and a couple of spare tubes are a must due to the condition of the roads. Spare jerry cans of fuel and water, a tow rope, compressor, winch and a spotlight are useful items to have. Many of the villages along the main routes offer tire mending services at a very reasonable fee. .
Be very careful in towns and villages not to leave your vehicle open and unattended. You should have no problem sleeping outdoors in designated camping areas or remote places along the way, but get into the habit of locking things away before you go to sleep.
Transportation by Air
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and Moi International Airport in Mombasa are main points of entry. Many charter services operate out of Nairobi’s Wilson Airport. Regular services link Kisumu, Lamu, Malindi, Mombasa and Nairobi.
Air Kenya, flies to Amboseli, Lamu, Masai Mara, Nyeri, Nanyuki and Samburu. Kenya Airways is the national airline.
All visitors must have a valid passport and are subject to clearance through customs. In addition, all non-Commonwealth citizens require a visa, to be obtained from Kenyan Missions abroad or at the post of entry. Personal effects, including cameras, binoculars are allowed into the country duty free.
Throughout the year, Standard Time in Kenya is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, two hours ahead of Central European Winter Time, and eight hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time in the U.S.
Safe Travel !!