Destinations

Kenya

The mother of all safaris

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Kenya

Kenya is the original safari destination. Home of the famous Masai Mara, the country has a decades-long history as the place to see the epic annual wildebeest migration. Sightings are certainly spectacular as the plains become flush with a moving melee of black ungulates, followed closely by lions and cheetahs who pick off the young and weak. Alternatively, a Kenya safari could take you north to Samburu, with its arid thornveld and amazing leopard sightings, or to Amboseli, with its stunning views of Kilimanjaro, or even to the picture-perfect beaches on the Indian Ocean coast. We could send you to Kenya for months and you wouldn't be able to see it all.


Why you'll love it

Kenya is a traditional sort of place, and many of the lodges are still owner- or family-run, resulting in a charming safari that’s personal, a little bit different and all-round excellent. You won’t fail to fall in love with this mesmerising country again and again.


Off the beaten track

Head to Northern Kenya (Samburu and Mathew’s Range) for cultural experiences with a difference, exquisite walking safaris, fly camping and four-legged explorations on camel- and horseback.


Something to think about

Safaris in Kenya are on many a wish list (and rightly so!), but it does mean that some of the more popular areas can become congested, particularly during the Great Migration.

When to go

January

Season: Dry
  • The close proximity to the equator can make the weather difficult to predict. In this month there is usually little rainfall with warm sunny days.
  • Game viewing is good throughout the year in the Masai Mara with impressive numbers of resident game and predators.
  • The Samburu National Reserve birthing season is in full swing with numerous young herbivores causing a stir amongst the cheetah and lion.
  • Enjoy exceptional water clarity of up to 30 meters in this month's, providing incredible marine life viewing for snorkelers and divers.

February

Season: Dry
  • The close proximity to the equator can make the weather difficult to predict. In February days are long with plenty of sunshine and little chance of rain.
  • During this time in the Masai Mara herds of buffalo congregate with plenty of newborns, offering the opportunity to witness a late season birthing or lion hunt.
  • In the Samburu, vegetation is still quite thick but wildlife is prolific with many unusual species encountered across a range of habitats.
  • A wonderful time of year for beach relaxation, enjoy a recliner with a view of glowing turquoise waters lapping white sandy shores.

March

Season: Wet
  • The close proximity to the equator can make the weather difficult to predict. At this time of the year days are still relatively long with plenty of sunshine but rainfall increases in the form of afternoon showers.
  • In the Masai Mara game viewing is still good at this time of the year, as long as you don't mind the chance of seasonal rains.
  • Vegetation is lush and green in the Samburu National Reserve, making wildlife a little more difficult to find but no less spectacular with young antelope in abundance at this time of year.
  • Ocean temperatures are at their hottest with an average temperature of 28 degrees celsius.

April

Season: Wet
  • The close proximity to the equator can make the weather difficult to predict. However at this time of year expect high rainfall often over prolonged periods of time with a handful of sunny days.
  • In the Masai Mara herds of elephant move out of the forested areas to feed on the lush grasses of the open plains, providing exceptional viewing opportunities.
  • Wildlife viewing although still good in Samburu, is at its most challenging with heavy rains and lush vegetation obscuring views of the animals.
  • Whale sharks and Manta rays are present in the waters of this region providing a unique diving experience.

May

Season: Wet
  • The close proximity to the equator can make the weather difficult to predict. In this month rain is a given falling regularly but usually for short periods of time, leaving plenty of sunshine hours for safari.
  • The grasses are longer during this time of year with cheetah making good use of the cover, hunting Thomson's and Grant's Gazelles in the Masai Mara.
  • Take advantage of the rare species present in the Samburu, encountering animals like the beautiful pinstriped Grevy's zebra.
  • A great month to enjoy the fruits of the ocean with billfish fishing season underway.

June

Season: Dry
  • The close proximity to the equator can make the weather difficult to predict. There is a marked improvement in conditions in this month, with little rainfall and long sunny days.
  • The grasses of the Masai Mara are still long, concealing lions on the hunt for warthog and recently born eland calves.
  • In the Samburu National Park, wildlife viewing improves with the steady approach of the dry season, causing animals to move towards the perennial water sources.
  • Take advantage of the improving weather with a boat cruise to the nearby Funzi Island.

July

Season: Dry
  • The close proximity to the equator can make the weather difficult to predict. In this month there is usually little rainfall with warm sunny days.
  • The arrival of the Great Migration in the Masai Mara, takes game viewing from impressive to exceptional.
  • In the Samburu, animal behaviour is a little more predictable at this time of year, with wildlife congregating along the Ewaso Nyiro River, the only source of year-round water.
  • In the coastal areas wind can pick up at times providing the ideal conditions for kiteboarding and windsurfing, two of the water based activities offered in this region.

August

Season: Dry
  • The close proximity to the equator can make the weather difficult to predict. Over this period temperatures are sunny and comfortable with little chance of rainfall.
  • The presence of The Great Migration in the Masai Mara takes game viewing from impressive to exceptional.
  • An wonderful time for game viewing in the Samburu National Reserve, with wildlife congregating along the last remaining water source the Ewaso Nyiro River.
  • Enjoy ideal beach relaxation conditions, white sand as far as the eye can see with crystal clear waters.

September

Season: Dry
  • The close proximity to the equator can make the weather difficult to predict. In this month there is usually little rainfall with warm sunny days.
  • The presence of The Great Migration in the Masai Mara takes Game Viewing from impressive to exceptional.
  • In the Samburu National Reserve during this month, visibility is good with foliage thin and grasses short, improving your chances of finding the more elusive wildlife species.
  • Viewing and swimming with dolphins is a great way to spend a day in this month on the Kenyan coast.

October

Season: Dry
  • The close proximity to the equator can make the weather difficult to predict. This month sees temperatures climb and an increase in rainy afternoons towards the end of the month.
  • Catch the end of the action packed Great Migration with plenty of predator prey interactions.
  • In the Samburu conditions are at their most extreme for wildlife, animals are forced into close proximity along the last remaining water sources, leading to some interesting interactions.
  • The billfish fishing season is kicking off providing plenty of excitement for even the most seasoned anglers.

November

Season: Wet
  • The close proximity to the equator can make the weather difficult to predict. In this month rains can be severe, however it is often a hit and miss scenario with ample sunshine hours should the rains not arrive.
  • A great month for seeing young animals with topi, impala and giraffe choosing to calve during this period causing a stir amongst the cheetah and lion of the Masai Mara.
  • The arrival of the Samburu rains rejuvenates this landscape, plants begin to shoot allowing the herds to spread out once more.
  • Explore the cultural sites and local eateries along the coast, providing some interesting experiences should you catch a day or two of rain.

December

Season: Wet
  • The close proximity to the equator can make the weather difficult to predict. Expect rainfall in this month with long hours of sunshine inbetween.
  • In the Masai Mara, the rutting season for antelope has kicked off with males approaching their prime, posturing and fighting for territories and mates.
  • It is the start of the birthing season for many of the antelope species present in the Samburu National Reserve, causing high excitement amongst the predators.
  • Enjoy improving weather conditions in Msambweni by relaxing on the beach with a local beer or cocktail.

Wildlife


Kenya is a country known for a rich diversity of wildlife spread across a range of habitats, both on land and in the in its tropical coastal waters. Explore the majesty of the Masai Mara's great migration with all its predators, or the unique species of Samburu land in northern Kenya. Encounter the mighty Tuskers of the Amboseli backdropped by the picturesque Mount Kilimanjaro, and the endangered black rhino's of the Laikipia region. The coastal waters provide reef diving with tropical fish, turtles, whales, dolphins and more.

Need to know

Getting there

Kenya has two international airports; Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO) and Mombasa Moi International Airport (MBA). There are various domestic airports and airfields connecting all major towns and safari destinations, and to other destinations in Africa. Depending on your arrival time you may have to overnight before catching your connecting flight to your first safari camp the next day.

International flights
We would recommend booking your flights online in order to get the best rates. If you need any help or advice please let us know.

Domestic flights and transfers
Connecting between all the locations on your trip may necessitate a variety of modes: light aircraft charters, domestic commercial flights and road transfers. Please review the inclusions and exclusions on your specific trip page for details. If you need help understanding the best flights to book, please let us know.

From the moment that you land in Kenya you will be greeted and assisted to your onward connections. You will be looked after from that point on until you are transferred back to the airport in time for your departure flight.

Health

Please consult your personal physician and/or a travel clinic preferably 6 weeks prior to your departure. Vaccine requirements vary based on your country of origin and your travel itinerary, as well as your previous vaccination history. It is best to consult with your physician or the CDC website for guidelines.

Important vaccinations to consider and which may either be required or recommended are: Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis A & B and Cholera, among others. Please always carry your "International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP)" (or "Yellow Card") with you.

Malaria
We advise that you consult a medical practitioner at least six weeks prior to travel. Malaria is present in Kenya and it is strongly advisable to take malaria prophylactics before, during and after your visit. Please consult a medical professional regarding which prophylactics will be suitable for you.

In addition to the recommendations of your travel clinic or physician, you may also consider the following proactive preventative measures:

● Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Recommended repellents contain 20-35% DEET but it is a very virulent repellent, and should be used cautiously.
● Wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants at dawn and dusk, as well as closed shoes.
● Use a mosquito net if your tent or room isn't screened or air-conditioned; and spray insecticide or burn a mosquito coil before going to bed.

If you come down with flu-like symptoms either during or within four to six weeks after your visit to a malaria area, seek a doctor's advice immediately and let him/her know that you have been in a malaria area.

You can also visit www.malaria.org.za for more information.

Yellow Fever
There is risk of Yellow Fever in Kenya; and, vaccination is required for travellers who are arriving from, or have transited through, countries with risk of Yellow Fever transmission (e.g. Uganda, Rwanda or elsewhere worldwide). It will also be required should you be carrying on to any regional countries without Yellow Fever (e.g. South Africa, Botswana, etc). This requirement can change unexpectedly, therefore, we recommend carrying a Yellow Fever card with you at all times.

Insurance
It is a condition of booking that you carry the correct comprehensive travel and medical insurance to cover yourself, as well as any dependents/travelling companions for the duration of your trip. This insurance should include cover in respect of, but not limited to, the following eventualities:

Compulsory Insurance:
a. Emergency evacuation expenses
b. Medical expenses
c. Repatriation expenses

Recommended Insurance:
a. Cancellation or curtailment of trip
b. Damage/theft/loss of personal luggage, money and goods

Communication
Kenya country code: +254

Calling overseas from Kenya:
From a landline dial 00 followed by the country code plus area code and number.
e.g. USA: 00 1 910 795 1048

When calling from a cell phone dial + prefix followed by the country code plus area code and number. e.g. USA: + 1 910 795 1048

Visas

As a general precaution, we recommend you make several copies of your travel-related documents (passport, traveller’s cheques, credit cards, itinerary, airline tickets, insurance cover, visas, etc). Leave one set at home, and bring another set with you, and place it in a location separate from your originals.

Most nationalities do require a visa to enter Kenya. Immigration control is very strict, and is known to deny entry to those not meeting the requirements. Passports MUST be valid for at least six months (we recommend nine) from your departure from East Africa to home. There must be at least TWO consecutive blank VISA pages in the passport (not endorsement pages). Visas can be obtained in advance or on arrival. Please have USD cash for payment.

Please do contact the embassy or consultant in your home country to reconfirm visa requirements, as they change often. Visa Central is also a good resource for further information.

Money
The currency in Kenya is the Kenya Shilling (KSh). You can convert money to Shillings at a bank or Forex Bureau, or withdraw from an ATM, all found in the larger airports and towns. Please check with your bank for charges and advice when using international ATMs. VISA and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards. American Express has limited to no coverage. It is advisable to have some cash for smaller shops and for tipping. IMPORTANT: When bringing foreign currency (e.g. USD, GBP, EUR) into the country, be sure to have the new format with no damage or marks.

What to pack

Climate
Kenya offers warm days with cool mornings and evenings year-round, throughout most of the country. At higher altitudes, the temperatures are moderate and the coast is often humid and tropical. There are two primary rainy seasons: the long rains roughly from April to June and the short rains during October and November. Kenya can be visited year-round, but the climate varies hugely between the rainy and dry seasons.

Dress Code
Modest clothing is advisable in the bigger towns and cities in Kenya, however in the lodges and camps and on the beaches at the coast, it is perfectly fine to wear shorts and shirts or beach wear. Generally speaking, light layers of clothing in neutral safari colours of green, khaki and beige are the best items to bring with you, as well as a warmer jacket or fleece for the colder evenings. A hat is also a must have! Dark colours such as navy or black can attract tstese fllies and are best avoided, as are bright colours like yellow, red and purple if you are going on safari.

What to Pack
• Layers - long and short sleeve shirts and trousers
• A warm fleece or jumper
• A lightweight waterproof jacket
• Comfortable but sturdy shoes
• Flip-flops
• Swimming costume (Bathing suit)
• A hat or baseball cap
• Sunglasses
• Sunscreen – a must!
• Toiletries – most camps will provide shampoo, shower gel and soap
• A small torch
• Spare batteries, plug adaptors and charging equipment
• A good pair of Binoculars (8x40/8x42 is recommended)
• Books or a fully loaded Kindle / iPad for siesta time

Most camps and lodges will have a small medical and first aid kit, but we recommend bringing your own supply of essentials - cough medicine, plasters, vitamins, aspirin and paracetamol, and anything else you use on a regular basis.

Camera Equipment (for the enthusiasts)
• A telephoto lens (200/300mm)
• Flash and fast film (400 ASA) for night photography
• Lots of film (64,100,200,400 ASA) if using an SLR camera
• Spare memory cards for digital cameras
• Camera cleaning equipment and a good dust proof bag
• Bring spare batteries as although you may recharge your batteries at the camps, charging capacity can be limited

NB: Plastic bags are banned and carry a fine if brought into the country. Make sure you leave your bags on the airplane upon arrival.

Luggage
Please check with your airlines for the specific luggage restrictions relevant to your flight schedule. Many international airlines have a baggage allowance of 20kgs or more per person and commercial airlines generally permit two (2) pieces of checked luggage. The carry-on bag must be of such dimensions and weight as set by the airlines.

Luggage Restrictions on Internal Flights
Please be advised that on domestic flights, luggage is limited to one SOFT duffel bag per person with a maximum weight of 15kg/33lbs. No hardshell bags are permitted.

Electricity
Kenya uses 220/230V, 50Hz AC, and sockets take mostly Type G (3 prong large rectangular) and some Type C (2 prong narrow round). Most hotel rooms have sockets for 110V electric razors. Most of the safari camps have electricity points either in the main communal area or in each tent/room. It is best to bring an adapter/convertor combination.

Gratuities
Gratuities are not compulsory or expected; rather it is a reward for excellent service. If you are pleased with the service you receive, you are more than welcome to tip your guide or the staff. Tipping is usually done at the end of your stay. You may tip the staff individually, give the tip to the manager to distribute or do both. Tips can be made in Kenyan Shillings (KSh), USD, GBP or EUR.

Gratuity suggestions:
Safari Camp or City lead guide: $10 - $15 per person per day
Transfer drivers (e.g. in cities or between airport and hotel/lodge): $2 per person per transfer
Porter: $1 per bag
Ranger or any “ancillary” guides on ad-hoc basis for a specific activity: $3 - $5 per person per activity
General Camp staff (put in a central box in each camp’s main area): $7 - $10 per person per day
Waitstaff in a city restaurant: 10%-15% (large group may incur automatic service charge, please check)

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