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Kenya Safari FAQs


Booking Your Kenya Safari:

Preparing for Your Trip:

The Kenya Safari Experience:

Traveling in Kenya:

When is the best time to go on a safari in Kenya?
Safaris are available year-round, although the best game-viewing periods are during the dry winter months of May through August and the warmer spring months of September and October. [top]
How far in advance should I book my safari?
It is best to book as far in advance as possible, as some safaris sell out months ahead of their departure dates. This is especially important for those planning to travel during peak seasons (July and August) and for those adding extensions to scheduled trips. [top]
Why are safaris labeled as budget, first class, deluxe or luxury? What is the difference?
Safaris are classified according to the quality and amenities of accommodations, and the quality and number of meals and activities included in the price of your vacation.
Budget safaris typically range from $60 to $250 per person, per day, plus airfare.
First-class safaris typically range from $150 to $500 per person, per day, plus airfare.
Deluxe safaris typically range from $175 to $850 per person, per day, plus airfare. [top]
Are children allowed on safaris in Kenya?
Most Kenya safari companies set specific age limits for children. For safety reasons, children five and under might not be allowed on game drives in the parks and reserves, where terrain may be rough. In some cases, very young children may not be permitted on a safari, and older children and teens must be accompanied by an adult. There are a few Kenya safaris designed just for families, providing an exciting and educational experience for all. [top]
How many people travel in a safari group?
Group sizes vary according to the tour operator. Many tour operators limit game drives to six or seven people per vehicle, using more than one vehicle if needed so that everyone is guaranteed a window seat and good photo opportunities. [top]
How long do safaris last?
We offer safaris that range from less than a week to a month or even longer. [top]
Is airfare included in my safari price?
In some cases, the prices shown on our site are for the safari only, but one of our travel counselors can quote air from your airport gateway. We may show an air-inclusive price on the site, though that price is based on air from certain gateways and will be different if you choose to depart from a different airport.

For customers departing from the US, we offer airfare to connect to the safari. Most tour operators do not offer air from other countries, so customers departing from gateways outside the US should arrange their own air. [top]
Is there an additional charge for solo travelers on a safari in Kenya?
Safari prices are quoted based on double occupancy. Solo travelers who want their own room pay the per-person price plus the single supplement fee. A single supplement is a fee imposed by hotels, lodges and camps on individuals traveling alone who want private accommodations.

Some tour operators can arrange for two single travelers to share accommodations, providing they are on the same safari, of the same sex, and both persons agree to the arrangement. [top]
What are the entry requirements for Kenya?
All safari guests must carry a passport that is valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay. US citizens traveling to Kenya are required to carry a visa that costs approximately $50. It is recommended you purchase your visa in advance. Citizens of other countries should check with the Kenya consulate to verify entry requirements. [top]
What should I pack for a safari in Kenya?
Pack as lightly as possible, but be prepared for all the activities in which you are planning to participate. Pack for the destination and season you will encounter, and be mindful that climates may vary drastically from region to region. Temperatures can also vary quite a bit between the midday heat and the evening cool, so plan to dress in layers. Comfort will be a priority, but you might consider bringing a few dressy outfits for nights out in the cities.

Pack neutral-colored, comfortable, lightweight clothing. White, bright or vividly patterned clothing should be avoided when game viewing on foot so that safari-goers can blend in with the natural landscape as much as possible. Bring sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots, depending on the anticipated level of physical activity. Wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, lip protection and good quality sunscreen are essential to protect against the harsh Kenya sun. Insect repellent with DEET is also a must when on safari. Also pack a good pair of binoculars to optimize wildlife viewing.

A travel kit is recommended with any basic medications you may need, such as painkillers, antihistamines, allergy medicines or remedies for an upset stomach. If you take prescription medication, bring a sufficient supply to last for the duration of your trip, as well as the generic names so that the drugs could be replaced locally if necessary. Those who wear prescription glasses or contact lenses should bring spares.

Pack prescription medicines and spare contacts or glasses in your carry-on bag, in the event that your checked luggage is delayed.

Climbers and divers can hire gear locally but may wish to bring their own equipment, as well as dive certification cards. Those with digital camera or video camera battery chargers or other electrical items should bring the appropriate power converter and adapters.

Securely bind all travel documents together, including tickets, passports and any visa entries, vaccination certificates and travel insurance documents. Make extra copies of your passport, airline tickets and traveler's check numbers, some to pack and some to leave at home. A small daypack is a handy means of carrying travel documents, cameras and everyday items. [top]
What sort of luggage should I bring?
Due to space limitations aboard motorcoaches and domestic flights between safari destinations, tour operators may place restrictions upon the number of bags allowed per person, and upon the maximum weight of each bag. Guests also may be required to use only soft-sided luggage or duffel bags rather than hard-sided suitcases. Ask your travel counselor for more details. [top]
What medical precautions should I take before traveling to Kenya?
It is worthwhile to protect your health and take basic precautions to ensure a smooth trip. Talk with your doctor or travel medicine specialist one to two months before your trip to discuss medical issues related to your travel destination. Travelers to Kenya must take responsibility for obtaining required or recommended vaccinations, prescriptions, over-the-counter medications or insect repellents. Proof of vaccination may be required for entry into a destination country or for return entry into your originating country.

Your doctor can advise you of the latest health precautions, as vaccination requirements are subject to change. Vaccines that may be recommended for travelers to Kenya include those for tetanus, diphtheria, polio, typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, yellow fever, rabies and meningitis. Some of these vaccines may not become effective immediately, or may require more than one dose. If a disease was recently prevalent and is endemic in the destination country, many doctors may recommend the vaccination as a precaution.

If you are taking prescription drugs, make sure you have an adequate supply of medication for the duration of your trip, as well as a copy of your prescription. [top]

See also "What is the risk of malaria?"
What are some of the attractions on a safari in Kenya?
Kenya safaris may include the following attractions: Masai Mara National Reserve, Samburu Game Reserve, Amboseli National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park and Nairobi. [top]
What is the landscape like in Kenya?
This eastern country lies on the Indian Ocean and on the equator. Its four geographical regions are desert, savannah, highlands and fertile lowlands along the coast. There are extinct volcanoes as well as lakes and rivers. [top]
What is the best time of day to view the animals?
In general, the best times to see game are early morning and late afternoon. In the midday heat, animals frequently retreat to the cool of thick undergrowth, where they cannot be seen. Another benefit to morning and afternoon game drives is witnessing Kenya's unforgettable sunrises and sunsets. [top]
How did Africa's "Big Five" get its name?
The "Big Five" are leopard, lion, elephant, rhino and buffalo and comprise a top viewing priority for many safari-goers. The term is a reference from the days of colonial trophy hunting, when hunters ranked Kenya game according to how dangerous they were to pursue. [top]
What types of accommodations can I expect on a safari in Kenya?
Accommodations will vary according to which type of safari you choose, from simple yet comfortable bungalows and participation camping to private, luxurious lodges. Guests may also stay in bush lodges, fine hotels or well-appointed, Hemingway-style tented camps. [top]
What types of transportation are used on safaris in Kenya?
While it varies among tour operators, transportation is generally by private vehicle. Four-wheel-drive safari vehicles are essential throughout the national parks and game reserves. All vehicles are maintained with high standards of comfort and safety. Some safaris use internal flights to transport guests between destinations. [top]
What are the roads like in Kenya?
Major roads are tarred, while the surfaces of lesser roads vary. In the rainy season, four-wheel-drive vehicles are essential on many roads. [top]
What are the different cultures and religions to be encountered on Kenya safaris?
More than 70 tribal groups exist in Kenya, though traditional values are becoming less prominent as the country integrates more Western cultural values. More than three-fourths of the population is Christian, while Islam and indigenous beliefs are also represented. [top]
What languages are spoken in the destination countries in Kenya?
The main languages spoken are English, Swahili and Kikuyu. [top]
Do you have any photography tips for travelers on an Kenya safari?
As you are not always guaranteed to get extremely close to the wildlife, a typical "point-and-shoot" camera may be insufficient. A 35mm SLR (single lens reflex) camera with an interchangeable lens is recommended. A 35-70mm lens works well for landscapes; a zoom lens such as a 70-210mm lens is good for moving subjects; and a long lens such as an 80-200mm lens is good for wildlife photography. More serious photographers may choose telephoto lenses of 400-500mm, though any larger lens that might require a tripod would not be practical on a moving vehicle. A 2x teleconverter is a useful option to double the focal length of your lens.

The bright Kenya sun provides good lighting, and a UV filter may be helpful. ASA/ISO 50 and 100 speed film will suffice in daylight conditions. Using larger lenses will require faster film, such as 200-400 ASA film, especially in the softer light of early morning or late afternoon.

Bring plenty of film and extra batteries. If you run out during your vacation, you generally can find film and batteries available at lodges and along major tourist routes. Protect your equipment on safari with a solid camera bag, as well as a lens cleaning cloth and a soft brush to eliminate dust.

Users of digital cameras should pack rechargeable batteries, a charger, adaptors and converter, and one or two high-capacity memory cards (1 gigabyte is often recommended) to store the photos you've taken.

For a digital video camera, bring long-life batteries, charger, and adaptors and converter for the charger.

It is important to remember that not all Kenya cultures are comfortable with cameras. Rural populations may shy away from your camera, and some locals may ask for a fee in return for having their picture taken. It is advisable to avoid photographing anything relating to government and military installations, including personnel such as soldiers or police and buildings such as post offices, banks, airports, border posts and railway stations. [top]
What are the time differences in Kenya?
Time zones in Kenya safari destinations are either seven or eight hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time, depending on the time of year. [top]
What are the local currencies, and where can I exchange currency?
The official currency is the Kenya shilling. Travelers can exchange foreign currency at a local bank, bureau de change or authorized hotel. Major currencies such as the US dollar and the euro are easily exchanged. [top]
When are banks open?
Banks are open from 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday; some branches are open from 9am to 11am on Saturdays. Many banks are equipped with 24-hour ATM machines. [top]
Can I use my credit card for purchases made while on safari in Kenya?
Most major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard and American Express) and traveler's checks are widely accepted. Diners Club is not generally accepted. Most banks are equipped to advance cash on credit cards. [top]
Is tipping a common practice in Kenya?
Tipping is not mandatory in Kenya. Guides, drivers, waiters and hotel staff can be tipped at your discretion. [top]
Will I have access to the Internet while on safari? How about international phone service?
While communications in remote tented camps will be limited, most major hotels and lodges offer Internet services as well as international telephone and fax services. Additionally, private communication centers and cyber cafes in larger towns enable tourists to stay connected. Some centers may close on Sundays and public holidays. The cellular networks in safari destination countries, especially Kenya and South Kenya, cover most large towns and tourist areas. There are post offices in many towns, and stamps are also sold in many shops in tourist lodges and hotels. [top]
What types of electrical outlets are used in Kenya?
The electrical current in lodges and hotels is 220 volts. If you plan to bring 110-volt electrical devices, it's suggested that you pack an electrical converter and an adapter plug set (socket configurations in destination countries vary between the two-pronged variety and the three-pronged variety). In general, there are no electrical outlets in the tents of safari camps. Many safari camps in remote locales produce their own electricity through a generator that runs when guests are away from the camp on activities. Your tour guide may be able to arrange for the charging of digital or video camera batteries at these times. [top]
What safety issues should I consider while traveling in Kenya?
Basic precautions should be taken in all countries. Tour guides are highly experienced in navigating each destination, but visitors should always be aware of their surroundings, especially in any rural villages that may be wary of foreigners. In less-developed countries where many people live in poverty, crimes of opportunity can occur, such as petty theft. Visitors are advised to stay alert and use common sense. Safari guests should limit the amount of cash they carry and lock valuables in a hotel safe or other secure place. Lock hotel rooms when you leave. Do not walk alone in deserted areas at night. Take extra care of purses, bags and wallets in crowded places such as malls and nightclubs. [top]
Is the water in Kenya safe to drink?
Water in major towns is chlorinated and relatively safe to drink, though it is safer to drink bottled water. [top]
What precautions should I take when dining in Kenya?
It is worthwhile to be selective when traveling through the tropics, as possible disease hazards can range from minor bouts of travelers' diarrhea to dysentery and more serious parasitic diseases. Food should always be thoroughly cooked and served hot. Do not feel compelled to eat anything you might be wary about, as it is better to err on the side of caution.

Tour operators choose hotels and restaurants with high standards for food preparation. When dining elsewhere, it is best to avoid ice and raw produce. Avoid buying food or drink from street vendors.

If possible, avoid eating in empty restaurants or buffets (outside of those included in your tour), as the food may have been reheated or left sitting out for some time. Order meat well-done. In general it is best to avoid fish, unless you are on the coast and the seafood is fresh and thoroughly prepared. [top]
What is the risk of malaria?
Malaria is spread by mosquitoes, which bite mainly at dusk and at night. You can only contract malaria if you are bitten by an infected anopheles mosquito. Safari guests are advised to use insect repellent containing DEET (sprayed on clothing and any exposed skin), to keep arms and legs covered as much as possible, and to avoid the use of perfume, hairspray and other scented products that might attract mosquitoes.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends that visitors to southern and eastern Kenya take anti-malarial medication. Consult your physician before your trip so that he or she can prescribe the appropriate drugs. Anti-malarial medications are generally taken prior to your departure, during your trip, and after you return home for periods determined by your doctor. Symptoms of malaria include aches, chills, headaches and fever, and may not appear until after your trip. Treatment is widely available, recovery times are fast, and with basic precautions, the risk of infection is minimal. [top]
Are there any other health concerns for travelers in Kenya?
Depending on the season of your safari, the heat may be intense. Always stay well hydrated, use sunscreen with a high protection factor, wear a hat and light clothing, and stay indoors or in the shade during the hottest parts of the day. Keep a close eye on any minor wounds to ensure they do not get infected.

Travelers should avoid handling any animal, as rabies can be transmitted by licks and scratches as well as bites. Schistosomiasis, also known as Bilharzia, is a parasitic disease spread in Kenya's streams and rivers. It is best to avoid swimming anywhere except in chlorinated pools. [top]

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