Time Zone: GMT + 3
Capital City: Nairobi, meaning "place of cool waters" in the Maa language
Independence gained on: 12 December 1963 (from Great Britain)
National Language: Kiswahili
Official Language: English
Currency: Kenyan shilling (KES) and cents
Land Area: Kenya covers an area of about 586,600km sq
Drives on the: Left
Country Code: 254
On the Equator on the eastern coast of Africa. Kenya is bordered by Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, Somalia and the Indian ocean to the east, Ethiopia to the north and Sudan to the northwest.
Population & People:
• The population is estimated at 43,500,000 as of 2013.
• There are about 52 tribes in Kenya.
Vegetation & Special Natural Features:
• Kenya is home to the famous Masai Mara game reserve, Mount Kenya and Lake Victoria (the world's second-largest freshwater lake).
• The Great Rift Valley, which runs from northern Syria in Southwest Asia to central Mozambique in East Africa, bisects the country from North to South and is dotted with lakes and extinct volcanoes, is one of Kenya's most fascinating physical features.
• Kenya's natural vegetation is diverse. Truly a 'world within one country'. Tropical rainforests, sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains, desert, wide savannah plains teeming with wildlife, freshwater lakes and salt lakes.
• Kenya enjoys an equatorial to a tropical climate experiencing moderate temperatures averaging about 22C throughout the year. It is hotter and more humid at the coast, temperate inland and dry in the north and northeast parts of the country.
• There are two wet seasons: short rains (October to December) and long rains (March to June). Our hottest season is from January to March.
• Kenya shilling (KES) & cents. The colloquial term for shilling is 'bob'.
• There is no limit to the amount of currency or Travellers Cheques that you may bring into the country. Travellers Cheques can be difficult to change; please always carry your passport when you would like to change them though.
• Most of the hotels, lodges and shops in Kenya accept the major credit cards.
• Changing your Kenyan shillings back into hard currency is easily done at the airport, hotels and banks. It is recommended that visitors DO NOT change money on the black market as they are more likely to receive a lower rate of exchange or fake notes.
• It is illegal to destroy or deface Kenyan currency.
Passport / Visa:
• A valid passport is required.
• Visitors require a visa to enter Kenya, which they can obtain either online, at the Kenyan embassy in their own country, or at the airport on arrival.
• It costs US$50 per visa, and we recommend you have the exact change.
• Those requiring a visa (including all British citizens) are now advised to have at least two blank pages available in their passport on arrival; failure to meet this requirement could mean that entry may be refused.
• There is no national welfare scheme and visitors to Kenya are responsible for their own medical expenses. We insist on our clients being covered by the Flying Doctors' Service.
• Please leave a copy of your travel insurance with us at the beginning of your holiday, along with copies of your airline tickets and passports.
• Kenya is considered a generally healthy place to travel. The SAFARI Company's clients automatically become members of the Flying Doctors Rescue Service for emergency evacuation. However, you should carry your own complete holiday/medical insurance.
• In Kenya, we do have good medical facilities and a good hospital.
• Malaria protection is imperative. We recommend Malarone as a prophylactic.... But please consult with your preferred medical practitioner.
• There are no mandatory inoculations required for Kenya but please contact your doctor or a specialised travel clinic for further advice.
• Voltage is 220-240 AC. Most of the safari vehicles have a cigarette lighter socket operation on a 12-volt system.
• Please bring sufficient batteries for photographic equipment; most lodges have limited power supply but all are capable of re-charging your electrical items for you.
• Please also bring adapter plugs (square pin, English standard).
• All camps and lodges have radio communication with Nairobi.
• Most lodges do have a mobile phone signal (Airtel, Orange, Safaricom or Yu) in the lodge or nearby (under a tree or on a hill) which sometimes can be weak, so please do not always rely on it.
• Safaricom generally has the widest coverage.
• Most lodges and hotels also have internet access in case of emergencies.
• Please respect the local people with regards to photography and only use cameras if you have the permission of the subject/s to do so.
• Never try to "steal" a photo against the will of the person concerned. Let your guide help negotiate terms before you start shooting!
Food & Water:
• Please do not drink tap water; we recommend you drink bottled water which is readily available in all lodges and camps.
• Please advise us of any allergies, likes or dislikes before you embark on your holiday.
• If you are taking a local flight within Kenya, please ensure that baggage is packed in soft bags and should weigh no more than 15kg per person.
• The airlines will make you re-pack you luggage if your luggage is in hard suitcases or if it is over 15kgs.
• It is possible to store luggage not required during the safari with us at The SAFARI Company, at the airport or at your hotel if you are returning there after your trip.
• Please refer to our recommended packing list.
When on Safari
Kenya offers a treasure-trove of experiences, ecosystems, wildlife and cultures. The SAFARI Company encourages our guests to support our guides by learning and honouring their policies which helps preserve our precious environment. In order to promote responsible tourism, we ask that you join us in observing the following tips.
Whilst on a game drive:
• Please do not interfere with animal behaviour.
• No more than 5 vehicles around an animal at one time (please accept the decision of your guide to leave an animal if he feels it is becoming overcrowded).
• Please do not get too close to the animals as this may distress them.
• Please do not get out of the vehicle without consulting your guide.
• Please try to be as quiet as possible when viewing wildlife close up. Your guide will turn off the vehicle's engine whenever possible.
• Please minimize off-road driving.
• No speeding! The speed limit in the parks is 40kph.
Protect the Environment:
• Please do not litter, especially cigarette butts.
• Please do not collect bones, feathers, stones or plants etc; they are all mini ecosystems.
• Please do not buy bones, stones, feather displays or plants etc.
• Please do not take photographs of the local people without asking their permission first.
• Please do not encourage trade or give personal items away to the local people (if we support begging we promote begging).
• If you have brought gifts to give to the local people, please give them to your guide for proper distribution.
• Beware of anyone asking you for gifts or money and do not feel obliged to donate anything.
• Please report back to us if you are harassed.
Television & Music:
• Most places do not have either and some safari vehicles do not have radios.
• The sounds of the bush are so special, unique and memorable that we advise against either, but if you are a 'music addict', we suggest you bring an iPod and sufficient power supply.
• The first thing most visitors notice is that Kenyans as a whole are extremely friendly, helpful people. Much of Kenya's population is extremely poor though so take good care of your valuables, especially money and Travellers Cheques. Please do not leave money in your room or unattended in a safari vehicle.
• If you are walking around, please do not wear flashy jewellery or have expensive electronic equipment on display, and hold on tight to your bags.
• We cannot accept responsibility for theft and all hotels and lodges have a security box for valuables and lock-up rooms for excess luggage storage.
Guide to Tipping:
• Although tipping is a safari tradition, it is never compulsory and should only be done if you feel you have received good service. People working in the tourism industry earn decent salaries compared to local standards. While there are no standard tips within the industry, we can offer the following suggestions:
• Most lodges have a staff tip box located at reception, or in a central location. We recommend $10 per client per day in the tip box. These tips will be divided among all lodge staff.
• For local guides for a day, the equivalent of US$5 is fine.
• For drivers who are with you for an extended time, US$5-8/day is a good tip.
• If you are particularly satisfied with assistance received from someone in particular, a personal tip is also acceptable.
• In many restaurants, a 10% tip is suggested.
• If service charge is added, while this is meant to go to the staff, giving a few extra shillings for good measure is acceptable.
• Staff very much appreciate receiving gratuities from you, our guests, because it is one way of assuring them they are doing a good job.