If you are to get intricate with the real Africa for a real African experience!
The following are tips to help you get ready for your ‘safari’ to East Africa.
Arrivals and Departures:
Kenya has main ports of entry by air; Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi - located 15minutes from the city center ,Moi International Airport Mombasa and Eldoret international Airport are the main ports of entry. Mombasa is the main port of entry by sea.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi is 15minutes away from and half an hour’s drive from the city center during rush hours, as is JKIA ,Moi International Airport is an international airport in Mombasa and is much closer to the city only 10minutes away on anytime of the day, but most of the tourist hotels are situated much further out along the beachfront. Allow an extra hour for long journeys to the south coast because of the ferry crossing across Likoni.
Please inquire from Travellers Square on this for some airport charges are included in the air ticket.
Export of gold and diamonds is prohibited, as is the export of game trophies and skins, unless in approval of the Government of Kenya. Accompaniment of plant materials, hard drugs and pornographic literature are all prohibited. In many cases one may acquire artifacts, ornamental objects of your likings and more. You may enquire more information from Travellers Square Advisory Team.
Two rainy seasons are experienced in the region, the long rains experienced early in the year in the months of March through to May and the short rains later in the year in the months of October and November. Kenya boasts of one of the worlds largest plateaus where the weather is rather hot and dry with temperatures of between 25 degrees C and 31degrees C through out the year. During the night, temperatures can be as cool as 5 degrees C, during the months preceding the short rains. Inland rainfall ranges from 500mm in the southern regions to 250mm in the northern region. The climate is generally tropical and hot and humid in the Coast of East Africa hosting the Indian Ocean. The average rainfall in Mombassa is 1200mm and the average daily temperature ranges from 27degrees C to 31degrees C. the northern part of Kenya is known to be one of the driest regions in the country if not the driest. Nairobi known to be the ‘city under the sun’ and its environs enjoy a tropical climate with heights of 27 degrees C and lows of 13 degrees C.
Public transportation is easy to access and certainly not expensive. Commuter train services are available to every main city in the country. And for shorter distances public taxis (minibuses commonly known as “Matatus”) are widely used in the cities and towns. The passenger train services between Nairobi and other cities and towns operate on alternate days. These are mainly overnight and depart in the late evenings to arrive the following morning at approx dawn or early morning hours.(First class (2-man coupe) and 2nd class (4-man coupe) fares are inclusive of dinner, beddings and breakfast). Travel by these colonial-time sleepers and get to a glimpse of game as you traverse through Tsavo, the largest park in Kenya while on your way to the coast – an experience to behold!
Kenya/Uganda / Tanzania Visas:
These can be obtained at the border for most nationalities, but you are advised to confirm with the Kenya / Uganda / Tanzania Embassy or consulate in your country or contact Travellers Square before your ‘safari’. If obtainable on arrival at the port of entry, two passport size photos and a passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of travel will be required. For UK and American passport holders, Visas can be obtained upon arrival at a reasonable delay. Visa Fees vary. Please consult Travellers Square for more information.
Voltage in Kenya is 220 – 240AC. An adapter is necessary for appliances which are manufactured in the U.S.A and Canada, and can operate on 110 - 120AC. The sockets are made according to the British system (3 pins).
The main public holidays are: January 1st (New Year’s day), Good Friday, Easter Monday, May 1st (Labour day), June 1st (Madaraka day), October 10th (Moi day), October 20th (Kenyatta day), December 12th (Jamhuri / Independence day), December 25th and 26th (Xmas days), and the Islamic Idd-Ul –Fitr which depends on the sighting of the moon. Whenever a designated date falls on a Sunday, then the next day is normally declared a public holiday.
Both English and Ki-Swahili languages are widely spoken in the three East African countries. English is the official language and Ki-Swahili is the national language in both Kenya & Tanzania. In Uganda, English is the official language and Ki-nyarwanda the national Language. With the inclusion of Rwanda and Burundi the French is gaining acquaintance as is the German language.
The government has done impressively to improve security in all areas. However, as at any other cosmopolitan and busy city, do not carry large sums of money around. Keep a close watch on handbags, luggage and wallets, especially in crowded areas. Lock valuables in hotel/lodge safety deposit boxes and never leave valuables on show in unattended car or tour bus. Avoid walking at night especially alone in the dark alleys/streets although Travellers Square recognizes the beauty of a night walk and thus the introduction of our own service security for such events.
All major towns in Kenya have banks with a Forex bureau (foreign exchange offices). Banking hours are between 09.00a.m - 03.00p.m and 09.00a.m - 11.00a.m on the first and the last Saturday of the month. Banks at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) are 24hrs in operation. Forex bureaus are open from 08.30a.m to 05.30p.m and unlike the banks, usually do not charge commissions. Travellers Square also gives Forex exchange services to our clients.
Kenya currency is based on decimal system, the unit of currency being the shilling; abbreviated by Ksh, which is divided into 100 cents. You are allowed to leave the country with a limited amount of Kenyan shillings.
Kenya lives within the tropics hence the prevalence of cholera and yellow fever. A certificate showing vaccination of these deceases is vital. This should be done 10 days before traveling. Like in any other country within the tropics, Malaria prophylaxis is recommended too. Ensure you get the necessary vaccinations and medical check ups before travel. If one has any special medical case, you may state it to Travellers Square for advice and ensure arrangements are made.
International Driving licenses that are valid are allowed for use in Kenya. The driving code is to keep left while driving always as our roads follow the British architecture. Most if not all vehicles are right hand drives.
Photographs give vivid memories of the sites visited. However some places should not be photographed, video recorded or other due to security reasons and these includes; Police barracks, State House, Police stations, Harambee House, Foreign Ministry building e.t.c. please inquire more on this from Travellers Square, it is important to request / inquire from the locals before taking their photos especially in the villages.
Network Providers are available and with the East African region joined in using one network makes it easier to communicate across borders. It might be easy and cheaper to bring your mobile handset / phone and get a Mobile Network line. International phone calls require a 888 pre-dial while local and regional calls are preceded by an area code.
Tap water is safe for drinking but at times unsafe if the city council and water ministry delays in the treatment of water; therefore bottled water is recommended while on safari to prevent risk,( bottled water can be purchased locally at very reasonable rates).
As is any vacational destination it is not advisable to carry heavy and gigantic suitcases on safari in order to enjoy your travel. Hotels will normally store baggage (while you are away). A baggage weight restriction per person applies on air safaris. Learn more on this from Travellers Square. .
VISA, MASTERCARD and AMERICAN EXPRESS are widely accepted for tourists. There’s usually a 5% mark-up on top of the price as establishments are charged a fixed of their transactions.
Opening and Shopping Hours:
Major stores, tourist services, offices and museums open from 08.00a.m to 05.00p.m in large towns though offices often break for lunch (usually 1300 hrs – 1400 hrs). Hyper markets, supermarkets and malls may be open much later in the evenings.