Vaccinations and health
A yellow fever vaccine is not compulsory on entry into Kenya
– unless you come from a country where there is a risk of
yellow fever. Typhus/para typhus, cholera and infectious liver
disease can to a certain extent be prevented by innoculation.
While no compulsory vaccinations are required, an efficient
tetanus vaccination is recommended and inoculation for tetanus
and hepatitis may be considered. Anti-malarial prophylactics
are recommended for the stay in Kenya. We suggest you
consult your own doctor well in advance of departure in order
to discuss vaccinations and other matters of health.
Pharmacy to go
In addition to any prescribed medicines your toiletry bag
should always include the following: Malaria tablets, Interflora
pills, diarrhea medicine, (eg. Loperamide/Imodium),
headache pills, throat lozenges, (Strepsils, Vicks), Samarin,
laxatives, lip ice, creams or solutions for itching and burns,
wet wipes and plasters.
Normal summer clothes are perfectly fine in the warmer
months (October – May). A woolen jersey and a wind/water
proof jacket are always adviceable. A good pair of walking
shoes, sandals, swimming gear and a sun hat are other
recommended items. A pajamas or jogging set may be perfect
to sleep in, as the night temperatures are low. June – August
are normally the coolest and most overclouded months in
Nairobi, but there is only a slight risk of rain.
No formal attire is expected on safari except for fine dining in
Nairobi. A pajamas or jogging set may be perfect to sleep in,
as the night temperatures are low. June – August are normally
the coolest and most overclouded months in Nairobi, but
there is only a slight risk of rain. No formal attire is expected
on safari except for fine dining in Nairobi.
Do not ever travel without insurance. Hemingway’s recommend
purchasing travel insurance at time of confirmation. Valid
travel insurance is the traveller’s own responsibility.
Currency & payment
The Kenyan shilling (KES) is divided into 100 cents. Kenyan
currency may not be imported nor exported. During your stay
currency exchange must be processed via authorized institutions.
Save at least one receipt for possible return exchange.
Common currencies such as US$, GBP and EURO are
exchanged in all hotels and lodges. At the moment USD 100
equals KES 6,735 and EURO 100 equals KES 9,917.55.
Please note that it may be a long and troublesome process to
exchange excess shillings at the airport. International credit
cards may be used in most hotels and restaurants. All major
cities have cash dispensers (ATM).
US Dollars are widely accepted though you should ensure that all US Dollar are newer than the year 2000. In the larger towns there are ATM machines to use anytime and in most bigger hotels and restaurants you can also use a Visa or Master card for payment. Tipping is voluntary, but a small tip (10%) is often very much appreciated. As in most countries around the world, exchanging currency on the black market can be risky. Travellers cheques are still a viable option, though cashing them in at a bank in Kenya can sometimes be a tedious affair.
Please note that in Kenya you drive on the left hand side of
the road. In the national parks conservation is laid down by
law in each specific case, which entails that human occupation,
park officers and visitors excepted, is not allowed. For game
reserves the law of preservation is decided locally, and the
local peoples´ settlements are accepted as long as these do not
cause serious damage to the game.
For both national parks and game reserves it is a rule that exit
from the vehicle may only take place by direct instruction
from chauffeur or tour guide, as it is not allowed for visitors
to move by foot in these areas beyond certain marked out territories.
A small safari bus has room for max. 7 passengers if
all are to have a window seat. The roof can be opened, which
gives perfect photo options. The combination of plastic seats,
shorts and heat can be unpleasant and a good advice would
be to bring a small towel to sit on. When you travel in a Land
Cruiser or Land Rover it involves 4-wheel driving and the
vehicles have high seating of 6 – 9 pax maximum, forward
pointing seats and photo hatches or open sides.
A lodge is a safari hotel where the accommodation will
either be in small huts (‘bandas’) or in stationary tents with
fixed cement or wooden flooring, canvas or thatched shading
or roofing, electricity and private shower and toilet. In a
mobile safari camp a large professional staff is on hand to to
take care of all matters of a practical nature. The large safari
tents have full standing height and are equipped with made
up beds, chairs, luggage rack, lights, water bowls, mirror and
en-suite shower and toilet-tent. Al though all reservations are
confirmed and changes ought not to occur, this can never be
prevented on safaris. Alternative accommodation is always
offered in the same quality category.
In most hotels and lodges there are 220 Volt outlets in the rooms or in the main buildings. Depending on which country you are from, a plug-in adaptor can come in handy, though if you are from Europe a simple screwdriver or small stick can do the “trick” converting the European two-legged plug to fit the Kenyan three legged power outlets. In some smaller lodges and in the countryside, gasoline powered generators are sometimes used to produce electricity and there may be some restrictions as to which time of the day (or night) electricity is available.
Guide to tipping on safari
Although tipping is a safari tradition, it is never compulsory and should only be done if you have received good service. The staff very much appreciates receiving gratuity from you, our guests, because it is one way of assuring them they are doing a good job.
Most lodges have a staff tip box located at reception, or a central location. We recommend $3-5 per client per day in the tip box. Tips left here will be divided amongst the porters and waiters and all other lodge staff. If you are particularly satisfied with assistance received from someone, a personal tip is also acceptable. In most lodges the driver/guide is tipped individually.
It is not acceptable for staff to ask you for a tip or for a present for their family to be sent from home, etc., and we would appreciate it if you reported any behaviour of this sort.
Dangers and annoyances
Kenya is a safe and wonderful country to visit and you will be surprised over the hospitality and friendliness of the fellow kenyan. Like in any country there are crime and also one should keep in mind that Kenya is a developing country. At places where tourists visit, some locals can be quite persistent in offering their goods or services, and some might have some beautiful things for sale and a good deal to offer and you might make him or her able to feed their family for a week if you buy something. If you are not interested, a friendly but firm “no thank you” should be sufficient to let them know your intentions and since they are just trying to make a small profit, there is no need to get annoyed. Some bargaining is something you should allow yourself to get into, if not to make a purchase then for the fun of it because Kenyans love to bargain and they will definately try to make you smile while putting his sales arguments into the conversation. Obviously some might start out with a Mzungu price when they see some tourists and depending on the starting out price, the actual value of the item and your bargaining skills and style, you might end up paying maybe one tenth of the original price. In Nairobi some petty theft, street scams, muggings and even carjackings has been a quite serious problem and the city has by some been nicknamed “Nairobbery”. However, due to strict law enforcement and plain clothed police officers observing the streets especially the city centre of Nairobi has in recent years become quite safe. Yet some areas are not too safe so especially at night it is advisable to always ask for local advice on where it is safe to walk around and most often it is probably the safest advise to just take a cab, even for a few hundred metres. It only costs a fraction of what it costs in the northern hemisphere anyway and the taxi drivers are friendly and most informative about pretty much anything going on in the big cosmopolitan city with a strong African vibe. there is people in their shops, in all the small streets both day and most often at night too. What make Nairobi such an interesting place to be in is the way people speak, what they speak about, how they express themselves, what makes them laugh, dance, love.
Towns like Nakuru, Kisumu and Mombasa sees less crime than the capital but a general rule when you travel is to always carefully look after your belongings especially when using public transportation. As an overall rule it is advisable to check up on the current travel information from the foreign ministry in your own country, prior to departure.
Amongst other things sunscreen, films and batteries may be
expensive in Kenya. It is recommended to bring these products
from home, where you may find a wider and cheaper selection.
On a tented safari a flashlight is imperative, however it
may also be useful on a lodge safari.
Personal effects such as clothes, shoes, toiletries etc. can be
imported duty-free in reasonable amounts. This also includes
photo-, video- and sports equipment. Equipment for professional
film- and sound recording is only allowed imported if the
customs duties are deposited.
Duty-free you may import into Kenya 200 cigarettes or 250
gram of tobacco or 50 cigars in addition to 1 bottle of spirits
or wine. The control is gentle. At departure from Kenya it is
an option to shop at the well-assorted duty-free stores in Jomo
Kenyatta International Airport.
If you are aged above 17 you may import duty-free into Sweden:
200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 100 cigarillos or 250 grams
of tobacco. 1 liter of spirits or 2 liters of fortified wine, such
as sherry or port: 500 grams of perfume and 250 ml. of eau de
toilette: 500 grams of coffee and 100 grams of tea.
Locally you will be able to buy wooden sculptures and
masks, basketwork, various traditional articles for everyday
use, soapstone sculptures, precious and semi precious stoned,
jewelry, clothes and fabrics, coffee and tea, Africana and
other imported items.
No articles made from wild animal skin, fur or similar may
be bought, swapped or removed from Kenya unless it has a
verified certificate. A large amount of these articles are often
offered confidentially for sale at tempting prices, but export is
obviously not allowed and attempts at this will be considered
a serious offence.
It is generally easy to socialize with the African population
without barriers of formality. ‘Jambo’ means ‘hi’ and is
replied to likewise, while the phrase ‘habari?’ means ‘how
are you?’ to which the answer in any case should be ‘mzuri’
Remember that while Africans do not use thanks ‘asante’ as
commonly as Europeans, it is nevertheless, expected from
yourself on the same scale as at home. In placing an order importance
is also attached to the little word ‘please’. English is
understood and spoken in almost all places, which the tourist
would normally visit.
The kitchen is generally international with an English imprint,
and there is usually a good choice at all meals. Vegetarians
are widely accommodated without any problems. On a
tented safari, food is prepared in a field kitchen. In spite of the
rather simple conditions the chef is nevertheless successful in
preparing tasty as well as varied meals of some mode of sophistication.
All lodges have wine and spirits available. Soft drinks except
from imported brands come at a very fair price. Tea and coffee
are mostly of high quality, milk sometimes found as condensed
or powdered milk. We advise you to be careful (with regards to
your stomach) when drinking iced drinks during daytime.
The tap water is drinkable at most places. Where it is not drinkable,
there will often be thermos or a jug of drinking water in
the bedrooms. As the natural bacteria and mineral composition
is different from yours, it is recommended that you are careful,
particularly at the beginning of your stay.
It should be stressed, that tipping is not compulsory, but it is
still accepted practice to pay tips and gratuities in Kenya.
At the hotel, the room attendant expects to receive approx.
50 – 100 Ksh per person per night. Porters are paid approx.
50 Ksh per piece of luggage. At restaurants it is likewise a
custom to leave a gratuity. If you stay full board, leave 100
Ksh by the table setting when you leave the table. At an a lá
carte restaurant approx. 10% of the check value, unless an
automatic service charge has already been added to the check.
On safari your driver/guide would expect approx. EURO 30/
USD 45 per day shared between the numbers of passengers
in his safari vehicle. It is customary to tip the chauffeur at the
end of the safari.
Measurement and weight
The metric system is used
GMT +3. During the period of summer light saving, Kenya
is 1 / 7 hours ahead of respectively Europen continental time
and US East Coast Time.
Monday – Friday………………………………………09h00 – 14h00
First and last Saturday of the month……………08h30 – 11h00
Monday – Friday……………….08h30–12h30 & 14h00–17h00
Monday – Saturday…………………………………….09h00-18h00
(Some shops close for lunch 13:00-14:00)
The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya
United Nations Avenue
P. O. Box 606,
Village Market 00621
Tel: (254 – 2) 240290
Web Site: https://usembassy.state.gov/nairobi/
Office Hours: Monday – Thursday 07h15 – 16h00/Friday
07h15 – 12h15
A visa for entry to Kenya is required for US citizens. It may
be obtained upon arrival in Kenya for a fee of US$ 50 or
EURO 40 in a simple and swift procedure. In case you wish
to obtain your visa in the US already before departure, we
recommend you contact:
Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in Washington D.C: 2249
R Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20008 U.S.A. Tel: (202)
387-6101. Fax: (202) 462-3829. E-mail: immigration@kenyaembassy.
Consulate General of Kenya in Los Angeles: Park Mile Plaza,
Mezzanine Floor 4801, Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles,
CA 90010, U.S.A. Tel: (323) 939 2408. Fax: (323) 939 2412.
Consulate General of Kenya in New York: 866 UN Plaza
Suite, 4016 New York, NY 10017 U.S.A. Tel: (212) 421
4741. Fax: (212) 486 1985. E-mail: newyorkconsulate@
For a fee of US$ 50 visa is issued within 10 working days
from date of application and 12 – 16 working days during the
peak season of May – August.
Contact us for any inquiry about your next safari or holiday in Africa: