Safari Tips

Accommodation




Carhire

When you visit Kenya with ETG Safaris, you will stay only at the finest, most reputable safari camps and lodges. We take great care in choosing and checking all the properties at which our guests stay, and each lodge and hotel is individually selected to reflect the style and flavour of your personal safari.

 
In order to rent a car you must: 
- Be between 23-70 yrs
- Be a holder of a valid Driving License or an International Driver’s Permit for the past 2years
- Have no endorsements on the license for the past 2 years
- Have a valid identification other than Driver’s License
 
BaggageOn light aircraft in Kenya the baggage allowance is limited to a maximum of 15 kilogrammes (33 pounds), including camera and video equipment. We would therefore urge you to pack lightly! Soft sided bags only, no hard suitcases

Excess luggage can be stored at our offices or your hotel in Nairobi. Luggage and personal effects are carried at their owners’ risk on safari, and baggage insurance is recommended.

BankingNormal banking hours in Kenya are as follows:
Monday-Friday: 0900 – 1400
Saturday: 0900 – 1100.

Please note that it is not always necessary to go to a bank to change money. This can be done at most hotels and safari lodges at fairly competitive rates. You can also use the plethora of foreign exchange bureaus.

Binoculars

Probably the most important piece of equipment that you will use on your safari will be a pair of binoculars. If buying, get the finest that you can afford: 7-10 magnification is best. Try to avoid an electrically driven focus – manual adjustment is usually still required and the electrical drives cannot be repaired on safari.

Cameras & FilmThe best camera for a safari is a 35mm with automatic exposure and interchangeable lenses. For photographing wildlife, the best advice is to cover the whole range from 28 to 300mm in as few lenses as possible: remember that wild animals move fast, and you will often not have much time to change lenses! Consider using a 100 to 300mm zoom that stops down to 4.5. There is always the option of multiple bodies – a particularly good idea if you want to shoot some black and white.

Most people use between two and three rolls of film each day. Consider bringing relatively fast film; blurring from handshake is a bigger problem in wildlife photography than graininess from fast film speeds. Remember that a lot of your pictures will be taken in the subdued light of dawn and dusk.

For digital cameras we recommend you carry with you one or two additional memory cards plus spare batteries. Cameras can be recharged, (usually at reception), at all lodges and tented camps. A few properties can burn photographs onto a CD but we recommend taking additional precautions just in case.

Climate

Equatorial Kenya is a year-round destination. The climate is pleasant throughout the year, due to the high altitude of most areas you will visit.

Daytime temperatures are usually in the region of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, (20 degrees Celsius), – except in the mountains (low 50s in the evenings) and at the beach (80s). The coolest months are July and August; the warmest are between December and March.

Clothing

The weather in Kenya varies from extremely hot days to chilly nights, and you should choose your safari wardrobe to allow for easy layering. Ideally, you should plan to wear a lightweight shirt or T-shirt and a pair of shorts during the day, with a jacket or sweater for early morning game drives and cooler evenings. In the winter months of July and August, you should also pack a heavier jacket or thick sweater.

A same-day laundry service is available in most of the places where you will be staying, so you can replenish your supply of clean clothing as you need it.

Lightweight, comfortable shoes are recommended – ranging from walking or tennis shoes to lightweight desert boots.

You will be in the sun a great deal, and at these altitudes it is easy to get sunburned very quickly. Please pack a hat or cap with your sunscreen!

We also recommend that you bring a swimming costume, as most of the hotels and lodges have swimming pools.

The coast weather is much warmer and also more casual except for the evenings when a pair of long trousers, (not jeans), and a collared shirt are required.

Contact Address

Many lodges do not have land line telephones but most will have mobile phones or a radio. The more remote the property is, the more limited are their communications. We recommend that messages be sent through Express Travel’s Nairobi office. Our contact details are as follows:

Express Travel Group,
P.O. Box 14736,
Middle East Bank Building,
Milimani Road
Nairobi. 00100
Tel: +254 20 2734971/2734973
Fax: +254 20 2218910
e-mail:
info@expresstravelgroup.co.ke

Credit Cards

Although most lodges and shops accept American Express, Visa and MasterCard, the best purchases are usually made with cash. Personal cheques are rarely accepted.

Currency

Kenya’s unit of currency is the Shilling (shillingi in Swahili), which is divided into 100 cents. Notes come in denominations of 1,000, 500, 200, 100 and 50 shillings; coins represent 20, 10, 5 and 1 shilling, and 50 and 10 cents. The shilling is often referred to as a ‘bob’, and 20 shillings is sometimes called a ‘pound’.

Customs

Visitors are permitted to bring into Kenya duty free a one-litre bottle of spirits, 200 cigarettes or 250 grammes of tobacco, a quarter-litre of perfume, and a reasonable amount of camera equipment and film.

Electricity

The voltage in Kenya is the same as in the United Kingdom: 220-240 volt at 50 cycles, using two- or three-pin plugs. However, as outlets often vary, we would recommend that you bring a set of international adaptor plugs if you plan to operate any electrical appliances.

Although larger hotels have reliable electricity supplies, lodges in the game parks are usually powered by generators which are switched off during the day. Plan ahead to recharge your video and camera batteries at appropriate times of the day – or carry a spare set of batteries.

Express Travel

As East Africa’s leading and longest-serving travel company, the Express Travel Group can help you take care of any number of holiday ‘extras’ – from optional extensions to your safari to airline bookings and the purchase of additional travellers’ cheques.
Express Travel is an IATA-approved air ticketing agency, the franchise holder of international car hire firm Europcar, and the sole Kenyan representative of American Express. We are also general sales agent of the five-star Hemingways Resort on Kenya’s north coast – widely regarded as East Africa’s finest beach resort – and a specialist in large-scale corporate and incentive safaris. Together with our six offices in Nairobi and Mombasa, we operate a 24-hour office at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Fees & Taxes

The land portion of your safari will include all government taxes and service charges related to the accommodation and meals provided, as well as entrance fees to national parks and game reserves. Please check our terms and conditions appended to every quotation from our offices.

Game Trophies

It is illegal in Kenya to sell any goods produced from wild animals, including ivory, hides and skins, rhinoceros horn, elephant-hair bracelets, and crocodile-skin shoes or handbags. Please do not purchase any of these items.

Government

Kenya enjoys a stable democracy with strong ties with most Western nations, particularly the US and UK. The country has had three presidents since Independence in 1963: Jomo Kenyatta ruled the country until his death in 1978, when Daniel arap Moi succeeded to the presidency, Mwai Kibaki won the general election in 2002 in what was seen as the fairest election on the African continent. He won again in 2007 in a disputed election and now heads up a coalition together with the new position of Prime Minister



Guides

Your guide will be an integral part of your safari, spending many days with you revealing the wonders of life in the Kenyan bush. All Express Travel guides are Kenyan nationals with a high level of guide training and an exceptional knowledge of the local flora and fauna, regional geography, national history, and traditional tribal lore.

Health

Although no inoculations are required under Kenyan law, most doctors recommend vaccinating against tetanus, hepatitis and yellow fever. Anti-malarial prophylactics are strongly recommended, and should be taken two weeks prior to your arrival. Please consult your own doctor regarding any personal health requirements. We recommend you take out membership of the Flying Doctor Society which provides you with emergency treatment and an air ambulance to Nairobi hospital in the event of a serious accident or illness whilst on safari

Highest Point

Batian Peak, Mount Kenya, at 17,058 feet (5,199 metres).

Languages

The national language of Kenya is Swahili, but English is widely spoken. Nearly 80 different dialects are spoken by the country’s 42 tribes.

Laundry

Laundry service is available at any lodge or safari camp where two or more nights will be spent. Dry cleaning is only available in Nairobi or Mombasa. If you wish to do any washing yourself, please bring your own ‘Woolite’ or soap powder.

Lowest Point

Mombasa Port, at sea level.

Meals

Dining is an integral part of the safari experience. High standards of cuisine and a large choice of mouthwatering dishes will usually greet the hungry guest just in from safari. We do not recommend eating any food purchased from road side cafes etc. All meals will be provided during your ETG safari – except in Nairobi, where the charges include bed and breakfast, and at the coast, where half-board will be charged.

Nightlife

Nairobi offers a wide selection of nightlife, from international casinos to modern discotheques and shows by local and visiting bands. Check the Daily Nation or the Standard for details of what’s on during your stay.

Photographing People

Permission for photographing people should always be obtained from the subjects, and a fee may be required. Please do not feel offended by this: to many Africans, a portrait is a tradable commodity.

Population

Kenya’s population currently stands at 33 million.

Public Holidays

Kenya’s public holidays are:
January 1 New Year’s Day
March/April Good Friday/Easter/Easter Monday
May 1 Labour Day
June 1 Madaraka Day
October 10 Moi Day
October 20 Kenyatta Day
December 12 Independence Day
December 25/26 Christmas/Boxing Day.

Reading List

The following books on Kenya would provide informative and entertaining reading before, during or after your safari:

Adamson, George: My Pride and Joy (Collins Harvill, 1986)
Beard, Peter: The End of the Game (Chronicle Books, 1988)
Bonner, Raymond: At the Hand of Man (Collins, 1994)
Bull, Bartle: Safari: A Chronicle of Adventure (Viking, 1988)
Dinesen, Isak (Karen Blixen): Out of Africa (Penguin, 1954)
Gallman, Kuki: I Dreamed of Africa (Penguin, 1995)
Hemingway, Ernest: Green Hills of Africa (Scribners, 1963)
Markham, Beryl: West with the Night (Penguin, 1988)
Mathiessen, Peter: The Tree Where Man was Born (Collins, 1995)
Moss, Cynthia: Elephant Memories (Elm Tree Books, 1988)
Naipaul, Shiva: North of South (various editions)
Poole, Joyce: Coming of Age with Elephants (Hyperion, 1997)
Trzebinski, Errol: The Kenya Pioneers (Heinemann, 1985)
Trzebinski, Errol: Silence Will Speak (University of Chicago, 1985)
Williams, J.A.: A Field Guide to the Birds of East Africa (Collins, 1983)
Williams, J.A.: A Field Guide to the National Parks of East Africa (Collins, 1983).

Safari Checklist

The following is a brief practical checklist of items other than clothing that you are likely to need on your safari:

Camera, lenses and film
Binoculars
Adaptor, 3-hole, for electrical items
Extra batteries for cameras, razors, etc.
Extra pair of prescription glasses (if worn)
Toiletries/personal cosmetics
Malaria pills and other medicines
Hat, cap or visor
Sunglasses
Suntan lotion and sunscreen
Insect repellant
Laundry soap
Passport, health card, driver’s license, copy of passport
Travellers’ cheques, credit cards, small amount of cash
Notebook and pens
Reading material
Travel alarm clock
Flashlight
Penknife
Extra set of luggage keys
Extra pair of shoes/sandals.

Safety

Guests should exercise the same care and common sense that one would while travelling in any foreign country. It is not advisable to walk in downtown Nairobi after dark, neither carry obvious valuables nor jewellery. All lodges and hotels have safety deposit facilities where your valuables can safely be stored. Because of the presence of wild animals, please do not walk outside your lodge or camp grounds at any time.

Shopping

Bargaining in Kenya’s shops is the perfect way to find exotic and reasonably priced souvenirs while meeting the local people up close. Local stores range from vibrant marketplaces and tribal roadside vendors to the modern malls and boutiques of Nairobi.

Among the ‘best buys’ in Kenya are Maasai tribal ornaments, wooden carvings, hand-woven baskets and bags, beautiful kangas and kikois (sarong-type wraps), soapstone carvings, handmade children’s toys, and, of course, cotton safari outfits. Nairobi’s up-market stores also offer unexpected ‘finds’, such as colonial and driftwood furniture, antique Arab doors, and paintings by world-renowned artists such as Simon Combes and David Shephard. From Nature, Kenya offers some of the world’s best tea and coffee, liqueurs such as Kenya Gold (coffee) and Kenya Cane (sugar cane), beautiful gemstones and elegant jewellery.

If you wish to have your goods shipped to your own country, please make sure that they are insured and that you receive a detailed, itemized receipt. We are happy to offer assistance however recommend that the shop organizes all shipping as they, generally, have good experience with this. Your guide is on hand to assist in all your shopping arrangements.

Transport

As much of your journey will involve long days on the trail of wildlife, the quality of your vehicle is of the utmost importance. In Kenya, our safari vehicles are all professionally serviced by experienced mechanics. You can also rest assured that your guide is himself a trained mechanic.

Our luxury minivans are limited to seven guests each – thus affording everyone a window seat and access to the roof hatch. Each vehicle is also equipped with cool boxes of complimentary drinks, binoculars, and a library of bird, animal and plant reference books.


 

Visas

As visa requirements change from time to time, we advise that you check with Express Travel or your travel agent when you are making your airline reservations.

WaterRegardless of what you may hear, we do not recommend that you drink the local tap water. Sterilised drinking water is provided at all lodges, and bottled mineral water is always readily available (if a little expensive). Guests should also exercise care when requesting ice in their drinks.