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Defining the Classic African Experience

Magical Sights Safaris

General Information for Visitors to Kenya

Arrivals & Departures

Kenya is readily accessed by air from Europe, the USA, Southern America, the Middle East and Australasia to two main ports of entry by air. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi (NBO) is located 16 km from the city centre. Moi International Airport, Mombasa (MBA) is located 12 km from the town centre.


Kenya’s National carrier; Kenya Airways, is a highly regarded international carrier with a modern fleet of aircraft. Mombasa is the main port of entry by sea.


Airport Departure Tax

International Airport departure tax equivalent to US$ 40 per person is payable on departure from the International airports, but is usually included in your ticket price. A local airport service charge is also payable on departure for domestic flights. As this varies from country to country, please check with us on the prevailing amounts payable prior to your flight departure.


Visa & Immigration

Tourist Visas are required by most visitors. For citizens of many countries Visas can be obtained on arrival in Kenya and now online by eVisa; the 2015 rate is US$ 51 for a single entry Visa and US$ 21 for an online transit Visa (72 hours), or US$10 for a port of entry transit Visa (24 hours). An East African Visa is now available for visiting Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda; applications must be mad to an Embassy/High Commission. Please contact your nearest Kenyan Embassy or High Commission for further details about Visas.


Health

Since rules concerning disease prevention change from time to time, a check should be made with your doctor or health professional, the nearest Kenyan High Commission, Kenya Tourist Office or any airline flying scheduled services into Kenya. Malaria is endemic to most parts of Kenya and intending visitors should start taking anti-malarial tablets before departure and continue taking them for the prescribed time after their return. Although a higher cost, Malerone normally has far less side effects than other malaria prophylactics. Insect repellents should be made use of after dusk and suitable cover up clothes should be worn in the evenings.


Baggage

Baggage space on safari is restricted to one medium suitcase or holdall per person, plus hand baggage (private safaris where there are less than 7 persons in the vehicle are not subject to this restriction). Small duffel bags are however comfortable to travel with. Visitors to Treetops and the Ark are asked to take overnight bags only; suitcases can be left at the base hotel.


Hotels will normally store baggage at no extra cost. Baggage can also be stored at Safaris in Style offices. A baggage weight restriction of 15 kg per person applies on air safaris. Where very small aircraft are used this may be reduced to 10 kg!


Currency

The official currency is the Kenya Shilling (Ksh). Visitors to Kenya should change foreign currency at banks, bureau de change or authorized hotels. US Dollars and Sterling Pounds are most acceptable and will cause the least delay. Travellers cheques are widely accepted, and many hotels, travel agencies, safari companies and restaurants accept visa and master credit cards. As a norm, always ask what commission and charges will be deducted first and prior to any transaction.  Please make sure you have plenty of small notes for tips, such as 100 and 200 Ksh notes and 1 US Dollar bills.


Banking

Banks are open from 09:00 to 15:00 Monday to Friday. Some branches open on Saturdays from 09:00 to 11:00. Many banks are now equipped with 24 hour ATM machines. The bank branches at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Nairobi and Moi International Airport Mombasa both run 24 hour Forex services.


Credit Cards

VISA and MASTERCARD are widely accepted for tourist services. There's usually a 5% mark-up on top of the price as establishments are charged a fixed percentage of their transactions.


Hotels & Accommodation

All over Kenya there is accommodation that can cater for any possible budget, taste, interest or preference. Hotels, hostels, luxury tented camps, guesthouses, resorts, campsites, backpacker lodges, village home-stays and more can be found in Kenya.


Time

Kenya has a single time zone which is GMT +3; there is no daylight saving.


Language

Swahili (Kiswahili) is the lingua franca while English is the official language. In addition, most Kenyan tribes have their own language. Please see our Swahili Language Reference.


Post

Kenya has a good postal service for both local and international post. Many shops in tourist lodges and hotels sell stamps.


Telecommunications

Kenya has a good network of telephone, Cellular and satellite connections. Most hotels and lodges offer international telephone and fax services. In larger towns, private telecommunication centres also offer international services. If you have a mobile phone with roaming connection, then you make use of Kenya’s excellent cellular networks which cover most larger towns and tourist areas. When dialling Kenya, the international code is 254 + local area code.


Internet

Kenya has good Internet service providers. Many hotels and lodges offer email and Internet services. In most towns, there are plenty of private business centres and cyber-cafes offering email and Internet access.


Electricity

The electricity supply in Kenya is 220/240 @ 50 hz. Plugs are the British type 3 pin square. If you are planning to bring a video camera charger or any other electrical device, please bring voltage and plug adaptors where appropriate. Most large hotels and some game lodges provide shaving points with the normal 2 pin shaver socket.


Flying Doctors Society

Membership of the Flying Doctors Society is strongly recommended. In event of accident or sickness while on safari, the society will fly patients by air ambulance to Nairobi for admittance to hospital. This service will be offered to you with your quotation.


Drinking Water

Drinking water from the tap must be considered hazardous. Hotels and lodges usually supply bottled mineral water or safe (boiled) water in a thermos flask in guest rooms. Bottled mineral water is available in every hotel, lodge or camp and in supermarkets.


Cuisine

The multicultural nature of the population is reflected in the international cuisine and any dietary needs are easily accommodated. If you have any particular dietary needs, please specify them when booking.


Security

Normal precautions as in any other destination worldwide should be taken. Visitors are advised not to leave cash and valuables in their hotel rooms but to make use of safe deposit boxes and safes. One should never carry large sums in cash and women should keep a tight grip on handbags in crowds or busy streets. Jewellery snatching is quite common in city streets, so please keep jewellery hidden or don’t wear it.


As in all major cities, walking alone or in small groups at night should be considered a hazard and avoided. Reliable taxis are available at all the principal hotels. Taking photographs at airports, near military installations, of policeman, the president, the national flag, the State House, state lodges, soldiers, prisons and prisoners etc., is prohibited. Before photographing local people, permission should be obtained and a fixed price agreed. Seek the assistance of your driver/guide in this matter.


Wild animals

Many of the animals and reptiles you will see are potentially dangerous. Attacks by wild animals are rare. However, no safari in Africa can guarantee that such incidents will not occur. Please note that most camps are unfenced. Please make sure that you listen to and abide by the safety talks given by your guides or lodge/camp staff. Don’t wander off on your own without a guide, even to your room. After retiring to your rooms at night, don’t leave your rooms without signalling for a guard (askari) to come and escort you. If you are sensible, you will be safe.


Opening hours and Shopping

Major stores, tourist services, offices and museums open from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm in large towns, though offices often break for lunch. In rural areas and out in the bush small shops can be open at almost any hour. Souvenirs to take back home can include wood and soap stone sculptures and carvings, ciondos (sisal baskets), beadwork and tribal regalia, masks, textiles and gemstones set in unique jewellery pieces.


Tipping and Porterage

Although hotels and lodges include a service charge, it is customary to tip porters, waiters, housekeeping staff, taxi drivers, safari drivers/guides etc. Note: some staff are not paid a wage and rely solely on tips. Please use the following as a tipping guide:


Public Holidays