Lying on Africa’s east coast, bordering the Indian sea, Kenya is a fascinating country. Nairobi, its current capital is the largest city in Africa between Cairo in the north and Johannesburg at the south of the continent. A modern city ablaze with colour from tropical bushes and vines, it was only founded in in 1899 by the colonial authorities in British East Africa! But Kenya is more commonly known as being the ultimate safari destination! The country is filled with fantastic reserves and national parks, not least the legendary Masai Mara. The jewel in Africa’s crown, the Masai Mara’s 1,510km² of open savannah, woodlands and tree-lined rivers are host to the most spectacular array of wildlife. By day, see a host of wildlife whilst keeping a look out for the "Big 5" - lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and rhinos. By night, enjoy spectacular African sunsets, big skies accompanied by the sounds of nocturnal wildlife. The word safari means “journey” in Swahili and this journey is a truly magical journey that will alter you soul forever.
As the requirements due to COVID-19 are constantly changing, if applicable, we will issue specific advice directly to you shortly before your departure date so that the recommendations and requirements will be those currently in force.
For guests travelling from the UK please see the FCDO advice regarding entry requirements and the prevailing entry rules : https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/kenya/entry-requirements
For guests traveling from the US please see: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Kenya.html or https://ke.usembassy.gov for current advice.
IMPORTANT - For those travelling on the Kenya tour extension to Rwanda, please ensure you also check the requirements for entry to Rwanda, as they differ to those for Kenya.
All travellers must have a valid passport, valid for at least 6 months after your expected return date. There must be at least two facing blank visa pages available. Please be sure to fill out the "Emergency Next of Kin" section in your passport
On 12 December 2023 the President of Kenya announced that Kenya would be visa-free from January 2024. Visitors to Kenya are now required to apply online for an electronic travel authorisation in advance of travel. You can apply for your eTA via the website - https://www.etakenya.go.ke/en
eTA applications for Kenya should be submitted at least 3 working days prior to travel to ensure adequate time for authorisation. Travellers can submit their applications up to 3 months prior to travel to Kenya. Some exemptions apply and can be found in full on the website of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.
Travellers who currently hold a valid visa can continue to travel using their visa until its expiry.
• Consular Information
There are a number of major international embassies located in Nairobi, including those for the US, Canada, Australia and UK. However, embassies for other countries, including New Zealand are located in other African cities, offering coverage to Kenya. Please check with your relevant government for the relevant contact details.
N.B. Please note, visa and entry requirements, regulations and restrictions can vary on a regular basis. Please ensure you check in good time prior to travel the current requirements applicable to you.
HEALTH, INSURANCE AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS
• Travel Insurance
It is company policy that all passengers must have valid travel insurance prior to travelling, to include but not limited to health insurance and cancellation insurance. It is vital that ALL members of the travelling party are fully insured for the dates of travel. All pre-existing medical conditions must be declared to the insurer and the correct cover must be taken in regard to the specific type of holiday you are taking.
The details of your insurance must be advised to The Big Journey Company at least 6 weeks before your departure date. Please make sure to write down important information from your insurance policy, such as the company’s 24hr emergency telephone number (including dial code from abroad) and your policy number and take these with you on tour.
• General Health
Please talk to your doctor or travel health clinic in person at least eight weeks before you travel, where a health professional can provide you with the necessary health information for your personal needs.
Wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water, washing your hands properly before eating and avoiding insect bites should keep you healthy on tour.
Insect bites have been very minimal within previous groups, however please come prepared with your insect repellent spray/plug-in just in case. Mosquito nets are available upon request. Whilst on safari, the lodges are sprayed nightly with insect repellent.
We recommend you carry a simple travellers’ first-aid kit containing any basic items that you feel may be required, including remedies for minor stomach complaints, but please note, whilst in the Reserves, doctors and medical supplies are few and far between.
If you do need to see a doctor during the tour, please speak to your Big Journey Company tour escort.
• Passengers with Disabilities or Reduced Mobility
The Kenya Safari Tour is an Activity Level 1 tour and will involve moderate physical activity over short periods of time. Please note, the Rwanda Gorilla tour extension requires a Level 3 mobility, and is not suitable for those with limited mobility. Please check our Activity Levels description page to see if this level is suitable to you or contact us if you require further information on the activities involved in the tour.
If you or any member of your party has any medical problem or disability which may affect your holiday, please provide us with full details before we confirm your booking, or as soon as possible at the time they occur, so that we can try to advise on the suitability of your chosen arrangements. Please note, we may require you to produce a doctor’s certificate certifying that you are fit to participate in the tour.
• Medical Conditions and Personal Medication
Please advise us prior to travel if you have any medical conditions requiring special attention during your trip. If you have a specific medical condition, it is wise to carry the relevant doctor’s prescription with you. Important:
- Pack a sufficient supply of any medications you are taking, copies of the prescriptions and the telephone/fax numbers of your doctor
- Please note, some countries require that prescription drugs be carried in their original container, with the label clearly visible. In the event of you losing your medication, a qualified pharmacist should be able to source a replacement.
Prior to travel, please consult your doctor to discuss the destinations you are visiting, the latest immunisation information and requirements as well as advice according to your unique medical needs.
There are currently no specific certificate requirements under International Health Regulations. However, there is a risk of yellow fever transmission in parts of Kenya.
Yellow Fever Certificate. Depending on the area you are visiting, or areas you have previously travelled to, you may need a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate to show you have received said vaccination prior to travel. Check whether you need a Yellow Fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended. These vaccinations include for example measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine. Vaccinations for Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid and Yellow Fever, Hepatitis B; Meningococcal Meningitis; Rabies and Cholera may be recommended depending on the tour you are taking and your medical history. For further information, please see: wwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations
You should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre and discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider, particularly if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Any feverish illness during or after returning from travel must be reported to a doctor immediately.
• Travelling with CPAP or other Medical Machines
Please inform The Big Journey Company that you are travelling with such a device as early as possible, and well before you travel. This is especially important in places where there may be issues with power supply, such as on safari or smaller cruise ships. Also,
- Check that you have the correct electrical and voltage adapters for the country and accommodation you are visiting;
- Check with your airline that they allow your device to be carried as additional hand luggage and ensure that your device is easily accessible and properly labelled as medical machinery;
- Always carry a letter from your medical practitioner prescribing its use for you;
- Ensure you have details of your machine separately in case of the need to secure repairs/replacements whilst you are travelling;
- Check with your medical practitioner about the use of tap or bottled water in the event that distilled water cannot be sourced in the country you are travelling to.
Please note, if you require distilled or ionised water, you must inform The Big Journey Company of this at least two weeks ahead of travel, so we are able to make preparations with our ground agents. There will be an additional charge for this.
• Special Dietary Requirements
Please let us know in good time prior to travel if you have any special dietary requirements (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten-free, etc.). We will make every effort to accommodate your request with the resources available to us.
• What to Pack and Wear
Please watch our video "What's in my bag" for advice on what to pack for this trip: https://youtu.be/clUXbjs6I2E
As you will expect, going on safari is dry and dusty and the temperature likely to be anywhere from 20-32°C. Pack light comfortable clothing e.g. vests/t-shirts, shorts/light trousers for the daytime. Some of the game drives depart early in morning when temperatures are slightly cooler, so please bring a jumper/fleece or jacket. There is no dress code, but in the evenings, it is a good idea to wear long tops and trousers to reduce insect bites. Feel free to include a smart-casual outfit for dinner if you wish, however there is no pressure to follow a dress code. Comfortable footwear is recommended. As there is not much walking, a pair of sandals with a thick sole should be sufficient. There are pools at the lodges whilst on safari, so make sure you pack your swimwear.
Obviously, we can’t give advice on any medication but please ensure you are prepared for any minor ailments that may occur whilst you are away as pharmacies are few and far between. If you need any assistance with storage conditions for medication, do let us know. Don’t forget your suntan lotion.
• Luggage Allowances
International airlines are often strict about the size and weight of checked in baggage and carry-on luggage. Prior to your departure, please contact your airline or visit their website for specific luggage requirements, as size and weight limitations may vary according to the airline and destination.
If you have no domestic flights, we recommend one main suitcase (preferably soft sided) is permitted per person, plus hand luggage. If you are stopping at the ‘The Ark’, an overnight bag is required.
If your tour includes domestic flights there will be a strict 15kg/33lb luggage limit as they are small aircraft.
Kenya and Rwanda Tours – These tours includes an international flight from Kenya to Rwanda. Luggage limit; main soft sided suitcase 23kg/50lb plus 8kg/17lb hand luggage
Luggage handling is included in our Kenya tour.
Laundry services may be available in some hotels on the tour.
The main languages of Kenya are English and Swahili, however many regional languages are spoken by the different tribes across the country. English is spoken to varying levels of fluency across the country but most in urban areas.
The time zone in Kenya is GMT+3, 3 hours ahead of London GMT.
The weather in Kenya will be warm, between 20-32°C, but there may be winds and temperatures will drop at night-time. On safari, it will be dry and dusty.
In Kenya, the standard voltage is 240V and the frequency is 50Hz. You will need a UK-style plug adapter, and/or converter depending on which electrical appliances you bring with you. Hairdryers are available at reception at some of the Safari lodges, but availability can be sporadic in places.
MOBILES & INTERNET COMMUNICATION
Kenya has a good communications infrastructure. A number of cellphone/mobile phone providers offer national coverage and there are well-established landline phone networks. In populated urban areas, there should be good mobile signal but as we head into rural areas, signal may fluctuate. Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible in most urban areas and most hotels and restaurants provide free WIFI. Please check data roaming charges for Kenya with your service provider before leaving home as these can quickly become very expensive.
The currency of Kenya is Kenyan shilling (KES). Nevertheless, US Dollars are widely accepted in most areas and it is advised that you bring both Kenyan shillings and US dollars with you. USD notes must be in good condition and only printed after 2003 are accepted in Kenya and, in fact, your safest bet is to carry notes printed after 2006.
Credit cards will be accepted at the lodges, but it is advisable to carry money in cash with you as well. There are a few ATMs/cash machines en route; please let your tour escorts know if you require one. Please make sure that you contact your bank to inform them that you will be travelling to Kenya if you intend to use any of your debit or credit cards whilst you are away in order not to cause any problems using your cards or whilst on the trip.
Due to the nature of the tour, the majority of meals, as well as entrances are already included in your holiday price. However, in addition to any souvenirs you may want to purchase, you may need or wish to purchase drinks at the lodges and bottles of water daily. There are also a few excursions organised by your local escorts during the trip. These will include a Masai Mara village visit; a boat ride at Niavasha and a walk along the Mara River. The cost of these varies slightly each year and your escort will brief you once in Kenya but a guideline would be no more than $210 per person should you include all trips. These are arranged and payable locally only.
Souvenirs are available throughout your trip and will be a chance for you to practise your bartering skills.
• Bank Opening
Banks in Kenya are usually open 9am – 3pm Monday to Friday.
After feedback from previous guests, we offer a group tipping package for this tour. Look out for more information in your pre-tour emails.
Most meals are included as part of your tour – please check your individual departure for the relevant meal inclusions.
In Kenya, never drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected (such as with iodine tablets). Do not drink from streams, rivers and lakes and it is best to avoid drinking from pumps and wells – as animal presence can still contaminate supplies. 2 x 50cl bottles of mineral water are included per person per day in the Safari vehicle. Bottled water can be bought at hotels, supermarkets, kiosks and many shops.
Kenya offers lots of colourful handicrafts and materials for visitors to buy. From wood carvings, to bags, dresses and jewellery, you’ll be sure to come home with a few souvenirs.
• Opening Hours
In the cities and towns, most retail shops are open from 9am – 6pm Monday–Saturday, though may vary locally. Some shops are open on Sundays.
• VAT/Tax Refund:
Numerous shops in Kenya offer a VAT refund when leaving the country. Please ask the salesperson whether tax-free shopping applies to the shop in question.
SAFETY & SECURITY
Major crime levels in Kenya are low but can’t be ruled out. However, there’s a risk of petty theft especially bag snatching and mugging, particularly in airports, in popular tourist attractions and on public transport. Please take sensible precautions to protect your belongings, particularly your passport, money and credit cards. Don’t walk around alone at night-time and avoid carrying large amounts of cash and don’t wear expensive watches, jewellery or items of sentimental value
Most visits to game reserves are trouble-free. However, as you can imagine, with wildlife, there is always an inherent risk associated. Always follow park regulations and wardens’ advice.
Sadly, as is known, Kenya has been victim to a number of terrorist attacks in recent years and there remains a heightened threat of terrorism, including terrorist kidnappings, across Kenya. You should be vigilant at all times and follow any security advice given. You must carry a form of ID with you at all times.
Smoking is banned in most indoor public places, but there are usually designated outdoor areas where people can smoke. When in the nature reserves, to protect the environment and prevent fire risks, please ask the hotels and local guides on where it is possible to smoke.
Kenya is mostly Christianity, with around 70% of the population belonging to the Church. Due to commonwealth immigration, there are also large Muslim and Hindu populations in the country.
Kenya and the safaris offer photo opportunities one after another. You will return with many photos that can never be repeated. Remember to pack your camera, along with the charger, spare batteries and a spare memory card!
ARRIVAL IN KENYA
Please note, standard hotel check-in is around 3pm, so should you arrive earlier than this, your room may not be available upon arrival. For those arriving early morning, we will do everything we can to work with the hotel to get you an earlier check-in subject to availability.
We strongly advise against arranging transport with taxi drivers at the airport. Please arrange any transfers through The Big Journey Company or alternatively through your hotel if you’ve made your own pre/post tour arrangements. If booking transfers through The Big Journey Company, do not leave the airport with anyone until you have met up with our representative. If in doubt, stay in one place and we will find you.
TOUR HOTEL INFORMATION
Please check your tour paperwork for hotel information pertaining to your tour departure.
OTHER COUNTRIES ON TOUR ITINERARY
For those continuing their stay in Rwanda and other African countries, please check the relevant Travel Tip pages for information on these countries.
FLYING & TRAVEL HINTS
• Photocopy the personal information pages of your passport; leave one copy at home with a friend or family member, and take a copy with you, but pack it separately from the passport itself.
• It is advisable to carry all your travel documentation as well as valuables and essential items in your hand luggage, such as camera, toiletries, reading material etc.
• Duty-Free shopping is always tempting, but please check the current Duty-Free limits applicable in the country of your destination.
• Longer flights can be made a little more enjoyable by wearing loose clothing and good, comfortable shoes. Walking in the aisles regularly, eating sensibly and drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol) is also advised.
• Where possible, try to get some sleep during the flight and upon arrival at your destination, most people adjust better to the local time if they wait until the evening before sleeping – this should relieve some of the effects of jet lag.
If you have any other questions that we have not covered here; then please send us an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, the above information is provided as a guideline only. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, The Big Journey Company makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of content on this website. The Big Journey Company assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained in the website.
Updated November 2021