Safari Dos and Don'ts

1. Arrival

Get some rest on the first day in Nairobi.  The elevation is 5,000 feet and you are in a different time zone.

2. Currency Declaration

Unlimited foreign currency can be brought into the country but a certain amount can be exported – check the banks and Foreign Exchange bureaus.  Unspent Kenya Shilling may be re-converted at any Foreign Exchange bureaus and banks. We recommend you change only what you intend to spend.

3. Money Exchange

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 bureaux in Nairobi offering competitive rates.

4. 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 your vehicle.  You can keep valuables in security boxes at the hotels and lodges.  Be especially careful whilst in camps, hotels and lodges and on special excursions such as boat-rides.  Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.

5. Banking hours

Banking hours are from 0900 – 1600 Monday through Friday and 0900 – 1200 on Saturdays.  Banks at Airports remain open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

6. Credit Cards

Credit cards such as American Express, Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in most camps, hotels  and lodges.

7. Security

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 do in any other part of the world.  

8. Communications

You may make international telephone calls home.  Do not however, expect all hotels, lodges & camps to be able to get through.  Nairobi is the best place to make these calls.  Lodges/Camps/hotels have facsimile and internet services.

9. Spectacles & Contacts

On safari be prepared for bumpy and dusty roads.  These can be an irritant to contact lens wear.  Eyedrops and a spare pair of glasses are a sensible precaution.

10. Packing 

Pack light, Laundry facilities are available throughout your safari.  Remember your 20 kg limit (30 kg for first and club class travelers) on your return from East Africa.  Excess baggage  charges may apply.

11. Luggage Allowances

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, you are restricted to a maximum of 15 kgs, including hand luggage.  

12. Clothing

Safari attire is casual and comfortable.  Dress mainly for outdoor comfort with a change of informal clothes for the evening.  Evenings and early mornings 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, some Clubs and restaurants in Nairobi and on safari do require gentlemen to wear a tie and jacket for dinner, and ladies, equivalent evening attire.

13. Luggage tag

Place the safari luggage tags we  have provided on your baggage.  These are used to identify your bags by your driver-guide.

14. Punctuality

Please be on time when you meet at your mini-vans or land cruisers  for game drives.

15. Sun

Our equatorial sun is strong.  Too much can cause dehydration, nausea, dizziness and headaches.  We recommend that you wear sunscreen 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 use common sense.

16. Drinking water

In Nairobi and on safari, we recommend that you do not drink the water from the taps and even out of the thermos or flasks provided.  We recommend instead that you purchase bottled water at the lodges, camps & hotels.  Use mouthwash to brush and wash your teeth.  Ice is generally frozen from boiled water and is ok for consumption.

17. Food

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.  Kenyas’ 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 travelers diarrhea, 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.

18. Spirits, beers, wine and cigarettes

All are available in Kenya.  The price of soft drinks and beer is reasonable, whilst imported spirits, wine and cigarettes tend to be on the expensive side.

19. Meal plan

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.

20. Anti-malaria medication

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.

21. Medical services

The larger towns in Kenya 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.

22. Hospitals

There are several hospitals in Nairobi and Mombasa staffed by internationally recognised doctors.  Most Nairobi and Mombasa hotels have their own house doctors for emergencies, appointments can be made if a doctor is necessary.

23. Electricity

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 1830 to 2230 hrs.  The voltage is 220-240 AC, suitable for appliances with the exceptions of those manufactured in the USA and Canada.

24. Photography

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.

25. Wild animals

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.

26. Game viewing

Carry binoculars for added pleasure whilst game viewing.

27. Tipping

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 host for advice.

a) Restaurants

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.

b) Drinks

When ordering from the bar waiter, a 10% tip is fair.

c) Driver-guides

Ever since the early days of safari-ing, driver-guides  in Africa have had their expert bush skills acknowledged in the form of tips.  We recommend   5  dollars per person per day.

d) Safari guide

The tip for your safari is entirely discretionary.  A good tip for the guide is determined by the numbers in a group.  We recommend 5 dollars per person per day. These tips are payable on the final day of your safari program.

28. Driver-Guide/Safari Guide

Get to know both your driver-guide and your Safari  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 guide.

29. 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.

30. 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.  

31. The safari experience

Please look at any inconveniences with a positive attitude.  Flat tyres and a few unexpected delays are all part and parcel of the safari experience.