Kenya Safari Tips To Save Your Trip
For sheer awe-inspiring travel, few countries can match Kenya. Its national reserves and conservancies are well-protected havens for some of the most endangered wildlife on the planet, from the lions and cheetahs in the Maasai Mara of the south to elephants and black rhinos in Samburu of the north. The birthplace of safari, Kenya is Africa’s most famous and prized wildlife destination showing off endless savannahs teeming with game, fascinating Masai culture, snow-capped mountains, flamingo-filled lakes and pristine beaches, Kenya is the ultimate ‘Out of Africa’ experience and Scenic Trail Ventures wants to take you there.
If all you know of wild Africa is David Attenborough or Big Cat Diary you are in for the surprise of your life. No matter how many wildlife documentaries you may have watched, nothing prepares you for the real thing.
If you’re a first timer, here are a few tips to help you craft your most anticipated Kenya Safari with little or no hustle.
- What should you carry as your luggage
- Tipping: gratuity to Kenya safari guides
- How to deal with money issues
- Passports and Visas
Here’re The Kenya Safaris Tips!
All holidays involve a fair amount of planning – especially African Safaris – so let us take the stress out of your Kenya safari admin with this helpful summary of the key things you need to think about before you set off.
Off the beaten track
The mass Kenya Safaris market tends to stick to the same routes and hotels without venturing off the beaten track.
At Scenic Trail Ventures we know Kenya inside out, and it is a beautiful, wild and superb place with huge tracts of wilderness where you will not see another soul. These are the areas that we like, and we are sure you will too.
To access these areas, we’ll fly you in light aircraft. Once there, we’ll have pro guides on hand to ensure you get the most out of your safari.
The official language of Kenya is English and Kiswahili (also known as Swahili) is the National Language. There are also various tribal languages spoken throughout the country. Almost everybody involved in the tourism industry, either directly or indirectly, will be able to speak some English.
The traditional gratuity to Kenya safari guides or camp staff is not included in the price of your tour but is completely discretionary. If you want to tip because you have received good service, a brief guideline is as follows:
- On average driver-guides are tipped around US$10 per day which is usually given at the end of a Kenya safari.
- General camp/lodge staff: We recommend US$10 per guest per day. This should be placed in the communal tipping box.
Where restaurant meals are involved, the tipping standard is usually 10% of the bill.
Most safaris are all-inclusive when it comes to food and drink, but you’ll still need money for certain activities, local purchases and tipping.
Kenya’s currency is the shilling and it’s a good idea to carry some along with your major credit card(s). The currency of Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KSh). The exchange rate is approximately UK£1 = KSh130, US$1 = KSh100 and €1 = KSh117.
Most hotels, restaurants and shops in the tourist areas may accept payment in US$. Due to a problem with counterfeit dollars, some places may not accept US bills older than 2003, however.
Credit cards are accepted at some of the major hotels but a 5-10% surcharge will usually be added. There are ATM’s in most banks in Kenya from which you can withdraw cash, however, Visa cards are usually a safe bet no matter where you go.
We recommend that you change some money at the airport as the banks there typically give a better exchange rate than at the hotels. There is a bank at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (open until midnight every day) as well as an ATM so that you can obtain local currency on arrival.
Conservative casual wear is generally acceptable everywhere, but revealing clothes should be avoided since they may cause offense. When on the coast it is fine to wear your swimsuits around the hotel and private beaches, however you should cover up if going into villages and towns. Do not take pictures of people without asking permission.
Passports & Visas
You’ll need a passport valid for at least six months from the date of entry with at least two blank pages to travel to Kenya. If you’re from the UK, EU, US, Canada, or Australia, you’ll also need a visa.
It’s best to apply for an e-visa online, but you can also visit your local Kenyan embassy if you have any problems or questions. You’ll need two passport photos and proof of travel arrangements to support your visa application. It is also possible to obtain a visa on arrival at the airport in Nairobi, in which case you do not require passport photos but you will just need to complete a form that you should be given on the aircraft as you fly in. Always carry spare photocopies of your passport and any visa documents with you when you travel.