General Travel Info
General guidelines on your travel plans
Our transportation modes range from modern 4x4 vehicles and mini buses with viewing hatches, radio communications and a mobile wildlife library. Quite often we find that clients prefer the speed and convenience of light aircraft. We can organise both scheduled and charter flights to almost all of our destinations. However, our transport is by no means restricted to the modern-day machines. Our walking safaris can take you to the wildest spots on earth, as horse, camel and elephant-back safaris. Without them our fleet would not be complete.
We employ skilled, multilingual driver guides and specialist guides who have attended tourism, wildlife, and bird and culture courses on a regular basis and achieved bronze and silver levels (the highest official rating for a guide in East Africa). With an average of 20 years’ experience per guide, our driver guides know their flora, fauna and cultures extremely well. They are dedicated professionals who are passionate about what they do.
Commitment to the Environment:
We recognize the need to protect the environment and society from the negative impacts of tourism. Consequently we have taken steps to re-evaluate systems and processes in order to develop operations which contribute to a more sustainable development of tourism.
Get some rest the first day in Nairobi. The elevation is 5,000 feet and you are in a different time zone.
Unlimited foreign currency can be brought into the country but only maximum of Kshs.100, 000 can be exported. Unspent Kenya Shilling may be re-converted at the airport bank on departure but this takes time and patience. We recommend you change only what you intend to spend.
Do not exchange money on the street. You may be approached by someone willing to give you a 50% to 70% premium for your dollars. This is what is known as the black market. It is illegal. DO NOT therefore, get involved. Hotels, Camps and Lodges can change money but sometimes their exchange rate is lower. There are several foreign exchange bureau in Nairobi offering competitive rates.
Safekeeping of passport and Valuables
Please keep your passport and money ON YOU at ALL times. Never leave money or valuables in your room or in the vehicle. You can check valuables in security boxes at the hotels and lodges. Be especially careful whilst in camps and lodges and on special excursions such as boat-rides. Avoid wearing expensive jewellery (necklaces etc.).
Banking hours are from 0900 - 1500 Monday through Friday and 0900 - 1200 on the first and last Saturday of the month. Banks at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi and Moi International Airport, Mombasa remain open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Credit cards such as American Express, Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in Nairobi and Mombasa Hotels and in most camps and lodges.
Nairobi at Night
DO NOT walk around Nairobi at night and apply extra caution on weekends when Nairobi is relatively deserted. Please take a taxi instead. Always let a tour member know where you are going when you go off to do your own thing. Please take the same care-and common sense precautions-that you would take in any other part of the world.
Be careful of the "hustlers" in Nairobi. You may hear a hard luck story which is designed to get you to donate money to some cause. We strongly suggest you do not get involved.
You may make international telephone calls to keep in touch with your family and friends back home. Do not however, expect all hotels in Kenya to be able to get through. Nairobi is the best place to make these calls. Nairobi and Mombasa hotels have telex, facsimile machines and internet services.
Spectacles & Contacts
On a safari be prepared for bumpy and dusty roads. These can be an irritant to contact lens wear. Eye drops and a spare pair of glasses are a sensible precaution.
Pack light. Laundry facilities are available throughout your safari. Remember your 20 kg limit (30 kg for first and club class travellers) on your return from East Africa. Excess luggage charges may apply.
Remember, if you are staying at one of the 'tree hotels', the cabins are small and you are only allowed to take one small overnight bag with you. The bulk of your luggage is stored at the base hotel and retrieved the following morning. If your itinerary includes any flying in light aircraft around Nairobi or on safari, you are restricted to a maximum of 15 kgs, including hand luggage. Coastal scheduled light aircraft flights have a limit of 10 kgs per person.
Safari attire is casual and comfortable. Dress mainly for outdoor comfort with a change of informal clothes for the evening. Evenings and early morning can be chilly especially on the mountain areas. Warm jerseys, socks and walking shoes or sneakers are recommended. Footwear should be low-heeled and comfortable. There is not much walking and you stay in your vehicle during game runs. Bring a light-weight raincoat and a hat for sun protection. Roof hatches on safari vehicles are left open whilst game viewing. Although evening wear is informal, the Mt Kenya Safari Club at Nanyuki and some Restaurants in Nairobi do require gentlemen to wear a tie and jacket for dinner, and ladies, formal evening attire.
Place the safari luggage tags we provide on your baggage. These are used to identify your bags by your driver-guide.
Please be on time when you meet at your mini-vans for game drives.
Our equatorial sun is strong. Too much can cause dehydration, nausea, dizziness and headaches. We recommend that you wear sun screen and a hat, as well as a strong pair of dark glasses. All of the lodges, with the exception of the 'tree hotels' and some of the permanent camps, have swimming pools. When sunbathing be advised accordingly.
In Nairobi and on safari, we recommend that you do not drink water from the taps and even out of the thermos or flasks provided. We recommend instead, you purchase bottled water at the lodges; also you can as well use to brush and wash your teeth. Ice is generally frozen from boiled water and is okay for consumption.
Food in Kenya is delicious, varied and plentiful, succulent crayfish from the Indian Ocean, smoked sailfish (Kenya's equivalent to smoked salmon), English roast beef, Molo lamb, and much more. Kenya's famed fruits abound, pineapples, pawpaw, mangoes, avocados, passion fruits, banana, pears, and strawberries to name a few. Fresh vegetables are equally abundant. The hotels, lodges and camps in which you stay are renowned for their high standard of cuisine. However, a change of climate and traveling can, in a few instances, cause travellers' diarrhoea, a minor complaint not comparable in severity with 'gypie tummy'. Eating in moderation avoiding cold buffet lunch tables that have been exposed to the mid-day sun, and fasting for a day (whilst drinking plenty of bottled water) should you be stricken, are sensible precautions.
Spirits, beers, wine and cigarettes
Are all available around East Africa. The price of soft drinks and beer is reasonable, whilst imported spirits, wine and cigarette tend to be on the expensive side.
Generally, unless otherwise requested, bed and breakfast is the meal plan provided for in Nairobi, and full board on Safari. Mombasa hotels are booked on the meal plan of your choosing.
We strongly recommend that you take anti-malaria medication. Malaria is rare in most highland areas, but traveling in the hot bush and coastal areas requires precautions. If, on your return home, you develop influenza symptoms, please see your doctor immediately as you may well have contracted malaria.
The larger towns around East Africa have pharmacy and hospitals, but you should carry with you adequate supplies of your own medicines and toilet items as in the smaller towns these cannot be obtained. A spare pair of prescription glasses is recommended.
There are several hospitals in Nairobi and Mombasa staffed by well qualified doctors and medical personnel . Most Nairobi and Mombasa hotels have their own house doctors for emergencies, appointments can be made if a doctor’s visit is necessary.
Most hotels and lodges outside Nairobi and Mombasa generate their own electricity. However, take a small lightweight flashlight as some generators are usually only run for short periods in the early morning and again in the evening from 1830hrs to 2230 hrs. The voltage is 220-240 AC, suitable for appliances with the exceptions of those manufactured in the USA and Canada.
DO NOT take photographs of the locals without their permission. NEVER take photographs of military, military institutions, armed forces barracks, policemen, the President, Government officials, or airports. Always keep your camera loaded and ready for action. You never know when it is going to start. If you intend to purchase extra film, we suggest you do so in Nairobi, as often the safari lodges and camps have limited stock. You may wish to carry your equipment in a dust-proof bag as the roads can be extremely dusty.
Do please remember that our animals are wild and should never be approached on foot. Please be alert and cautious in the lodges and camps when walking from your room to the public areas.
Carry binoculars for added pleasure whilst game viewing.
Most people, when visiting a foreign country, like to be given some guidelines regarding tipping. Bearing in mind that tipping is an extremely personal matter, the below are mere guidelines. Ultimately, expectations are left to the discretion of the individual safari member. However, if in doubt, please check with either your hostess or safari guide for advice.
These guidelines are for those lunches and dinners you may enjoy on your own that are not included in your itinerary. If the menu says 10% service charge included, you do not need to tip. Otherwise, 10% is considered usual and customary.
When ordering from the bar waiter, a 10% tip is fair.
Ever since the early days of safari-ing, driver-guide and naturalist/ tour guide in Africa have had their expert bush skills acknowledged in the form of tips. We recommend US$ 5.00 per person per day, but this is entirely at your own discretion.
The tip for your naturalist/tour guide is entirely discretionary. A good tip for the guide is determined by the numbers in a group. We recommend US$ 2.00 per person per day. These tips are payable on the final day of your safari program.
Get to know both your driver-guide and your safari tour guide. Their knowledge of Africa is a bottomless treasure of travel. Be friendly. Sometimes, at the outset of a safari, the driver-guides can be shy and need encouragement to open up. Ask a lot of questions. Don't be afraid to make requests of both your driver-guide and your safari tour guide.
Air ticket reconfirmation
Air tickets must be reconfirmed for all domestic and international flights. We would be delighted to assist. In order for us to do this, we must be able to personally check your tickets. We will do all possible to secure your specific seat requests but this cannot be guaranteed.
Flying Doctors Society
The Flying Doctor's Society of Africa has been evacuating patients by air since the 1950's. In the event of a medical emergency, you will be flown back to Nairobi where an ambulance will be waiting to move you immediately to a leading Nairobi hospital. Evacuations will not be carried out if the nature of the medical complaint is minor.
The safari experience
Please look at any inconveniences with a positive attitude. Flat tires and a few unexpected delays are all part and parcel of the safari experience.