Safari Information

Banking and Currency

Currency

The currency in Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KES; symbol KSh). 1 Kenyan Shilling = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of KSh1, 000, 500, 200, 100 and 50. Coins are in denominations of KSh20, 10 and 5.

Foreign currency can be exchanged at the major banks, bureau de change or authorized hotels. The banks at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Moi International Airport have 24-hour exchange services. The easiest currencies to exchange are US Dollars, Pounds Sterling and Euros.

There are no restrictions on the import or export of local or foreign currency. However, amounts exceeding US$5,000 or equivalent must be declared.

But the rate offered at the hotel is often lower than at the local banks.

Keep in mind the distance it takes to go to the bank as well as the waiting time which can mount up significantly.

Banking

Banking hours: Monday-Friday 09h00-15h00, Saturday 09h00-11h00. Most banks in Mombasa and the coastal areas open and close half an hour earlier.

Credits Cards are widely accepted in all major hotels and more up market establishments, with the most recognized being Master Card and Visa. American Express and Diners Club cards are occasionally accepted. However, you will need some cash handy because smaller shops will only accept cash.

Almost every bank now has an ATM, and they are increasingly being installed at petrol stations in cities and large towns.

Please ask the reception or Makilands Tour and Safari Representative where the closest one to you is located. Whenever you change your money you are going to need your passport. Please ensure you obtain a receipt for all transaction.

Travellerscheques are no longer accepted in Kenya.

Services and goods including fine cuisine, wine and entertainment are relatively affordable with a beer going for around $2. A traditional meal will cost about $15, while you can expect to pay about $25 for a more classy meal. Petrol costs about KSh 100- 120 per litre.

Travel, Transport and Getting Around

AIRPORTS

Domestic air services operate between the major airports:

  1. Jomo Kenyatta International, Nairobi
  2. Moi International, Mombasa

Nairobi has two airports for domestic and regional flights: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and Wilson Airport (www.kaa.go.ke). Kenya has over 150 domestic airports and airstrips and there are daily flights to the most popular destinations. In addition to the scheduled airlines, several private charter companies operate out of Wilson Airport.

Kenya Airways (www.kenya-airways.com), Air Kenya (www.airkenya.com), Fly 540 (www.fly540.com), Mombasa Air Safari (www.mombasaairsafari.com) and Safari link (www.flysafarilink.com) serve the most popular safari destinations, plus many others such as Lake Victoria.

On smaller, domestic planes the baggage allowance is restricted to 10-15 kg (22-33 lbs). Arrangements can be made to leave excess luggage with hotels or airlines.

Note that departure tax (US$20) is paid when you leave. For local flights this is KSh100 and US$20 for international flights (not payable in KSh). A number of airlines operate between Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret, Kisumu, Nanyuki, Malindi, Lamu and the national parks/reserves of Amboseli, Masai Mara and Samburu.

Passports and Visas

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS This is a guide only – please check with your nearest Kenyan Consulate for up to date information. All visitors are required to carry a passport that is valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay. There should be sufficient blank pages for entry stamps upon arrival. Nationals of some countries may obtain visas upon arrival. Check with the Kenyan Consulate beforehand. Those wishing to enter Kenya on business or for longer than 30 days, should obtain a visa from their nearest Kenyan Consulate.

Requirements for this are:

  • visa application form,
  • business letter (for business visa),
  • One passport photograph, proof of sufficient funds and onward travel / return ticket.

Visas cost about US$50 and are valid for three months. All visitors may be requested to show proof of sufficient funds and onward travel / return ticket

Main roads between the major cities and towns are generally in good condition, and easily navigable in a normal car.

While major roads are generally in a good condition, most minor gravel roads have deep potholes which deteriorate further in the rainy season. Dirt roads, including those in the parks and reserves, are extremely rough, and some are only passable with a 4-wheel drive.

A driving license from a home country (and a translation if this is not in English) or an International Driving Permit is required. Third-party insurance is mandatory when hiring a car and it’s recommended to take out the additional collision damage waiver. A valid credit card is also needed.

Matatus (shared minibus taxis) and buses run from town to town, in a designated route starting and finishing at bus stations. Fares are paid to the conductor safe for a few routes that have ticketing offices for long distances.

Nairobi and Mombasa have efficient local bus systems and there are also frequent Matatus, but reckless driving and petty theft makes them a dodgy option for tourists. Three-wheeled auto rickshaws are popular in town centres and carry up to three passengers.

The newer fleets of taxis (usually painted white with a yellow band) are reliable and have meters. The older yellow taxis do not have meters, so fares should be agreed in advance. In Nairobi, there is a fleet of London-style black cabs. A 10% tip is expected. Cabs cannot be hailed in the street, but can be found parked in designated taxi ranks.

EARLY MORNING CALLS: These can be booked along with an early breakfast the day before at the reception.

TELEPHONE CALLS TO EUROPE/USA.Is expensive to call home from hotels in Kenya .Price range from 20-60 Dollars per minute depending on the hotel. It is slightly cheaper however to call from a post office or a special phone centre. Most hotels have fax and email facilities which tend to be more reasonably priced.

ROOM KEYS It is helpful to the hotel and our representative if whenever you leave the hotel you hand in your room key to the reception .If you keep it, you may miss messages left for you at the reception.

DIFFICULTIES: If you encounter any problem at all whilst here on holiday, please seek advice from your Makilands Tour and Safari representative or call our office immediately for assistance.

PHOTOGRAPHY: If you are taking photographs of the local people, always ask for their permission before hand. Your driver guide will assist you in this and will possibly help you agree on a reasonable modeling fee. Do not take photographs of the President, police officers ,military personnel or government building {i.e. military installations border posts or road blocks}.It is advisable to carry your cameras in dustproof bags on safari, especially in the dry season.

Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice

Bottled water is advisable for the first few weeks of your stay. When buying bottled water, check the seal of the bottle is intact. Never drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected (such as with iodine tablets). Never drink from streams, rivers and lakes. It’s also best to avoid drinking from pumps and wells – some do bring pure water to the surface, but the presence of animals can still contaminate supplies. Avoid ice and washed salads and fruit except in up market hotels and restaurants. Milk is pasteurized and dairy products are safe for consumption. Food prepared by unlicensed vendors should be avoided at all times.

Nairobi has some of the finest eating establishments in Africa. Many different cuisines and types of restaurants are available, from fast food to fancy. Many five-star hotels have excellent restaurants. Restaurants are called "hotels" and there are many in Nairobi including the famous carnivore. The local cuisine is also worth trying out, particularly Pilau, chicken and rice dish, cabbage and rice; and the staple food in Kenya-Ugali, made from maize flour, roasted meat famously referred to as “nyama choma” .Among the many cuisines available are Indian, Brazilian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, German and French restaurants. Fast food restaurants, mostly by South African chains (Steers, Nandos), are common in the larger urban areas. These will oftenly be found in most fancy restaurants

Tipping: This is entirely at the discretion of the visitor, depending upon how you are satisfied with the service. As a guideline the following are standard tipping rates:

Porters: Between US$1to US$2 per service.

Bar &Restaurant staff: Approx. 10% of the value of the bill.

Driver guides: Between US$ 5 to US$ 10 per day per person depending on satisfaction.

HEALTH

Anti-malaria medication is strongly recommended and professional medical advice should be sought on this. Tap water should not be consumed. Bottled mineral water is widely available, as is filtered water in hotels and lodges. Anti –septic cream should be applied to all insect bites.

HOTEL DOCTORS: Most hotels have a doctor who passes by daily .Should you need to see the doctor then please contact the reception. Hotel doctors are expensive, so some people may find it better to visit the hospitals which have good out-patient department and costs are more reasonable. Please keep all receipts for your insurance claim upon your return back home.

Clothing / Dress Recommendations

Comfortable, casual clothing that is lightweight is the best bet while on safari. It can be quite cool in the early mornings, so you'll want to dress warmly in layers, until the sun has a chance to warm up the air. "Kenya Convertibles", khaki pants with zip-off legs, are perfect for cool early morning game drives that turn warm before you're back in camp. Walking shorts, long pants, cotton shirts and tee-shirts are just right. A cotton bush jacket or wind-breaker will be useful along with a warm sweater or fleece jacket for the cool nights. And, a hat that ties on is a must. There is not a good deal of long walking or hiking on most safaris, so a comfortable pair of walking shoes or tennis shoes and a pair of sandals should be adequate. You will need thorn-proof soles.

In Kenya's major cities the dress code is conservative but not overly formal – jeans and decent tops for women are fine. Swimsuits are acceptable on the beach but you’ll need to cover up in public places.

FAITH

Kenya is multicultural and people of all faiths live happily together. Should you wish to visit a Church, Mosque or Temple during your stay please enquire from our representative for information on what is available in your area.

SECURITY

Common sense should prevail and precaution should be taken as in any major city. Use hotel and lodge safety deposit boxes wherever possible. If they are unavailable, documents, cash, checks and other valuables should be carried on you at all times. Never leave valuables, especially money and documents unattended in the hotel room or in the Safari Vehicle. If walking in towns or cities only carry small amounts of cash, do not wear obvious jewelry and keep a close eye on your handbags or wallet .Rather than walk, we recommend that you take a taxi in cities at night .Ask the hotel or restraint doorman to arrange your cab.

CHECKOUT: Check out time is normally 10.00am.This still applies even to guests taking late evening flights. It is always a good idea to speak to reception the day before departure to find out whether you can keep your room longer .If it is not possible the hotel will be able to store your luggage and normally offer shower and changing facilities.

EXCESS LUGGAGE: Normal passenger baggage allowance on international flights is 23 kilos. On Local domestic flights baggage allowance is 15kgs but for them you will be required to pay for excess baggage.

Electricity and Plug Standards

Electric Power is 220V - 240V running at 50Hz. The Plug type used in Kenya is the 3 large flat prong (UK). If your appliances are compatible with 220V-240V electrical output, an adapter is all that you will need, if not a voltage converter will be necessary.