This Kenya Safari Requirements information is designed to assist Safari Guru clients in understanding their travel destination before departure and planning for the local conditions. Please take your time to read and ensure you fully understand any local customs, political agendas and the history of your chosen destination. Please note that Africa is in a constant state of change and development; therefore, the information provided should be treated as guidance only and could change by the time of travel.
Kenya Entry Requirements
- Please read the latest Kenya general travel requirement issued on the 9th May 2023, pertaining to COVID-19 Travel Restrictions.
- Following the Presidential directive during the 60th Jamhuri Day celebrations on 12th December 2023 that Kenya will be a visa-free country from January 2024, the Directorate of Immigration Services has developed a digital platform, www.etakenya.go.ke to ensure that all travellers to Kenya are identified in advance through an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) system.
- All travellers arriving into the country through any point of entry shall no longer be required to show proof of either COVID-19 vaccination or a pre-departure COVID-19 test.
- Only travellers arriving at any port of entry into Kenya with flu-like symptoms will be required to fill the passenger locator form on the ‘jitenge’ platform International Travelers Health Surveillance Form. They will also be required to take a COVID-19 antigen test upon arrival at their own cost of 30 USD. Those who tests positive on antigen RDT will be subjected to entry PCR test at their own further cost of 50 USD. Those with severe symptoms shall thereafter be allowed to isolate as per the prevailing isolation requirements for mild, moderate and severe disease.
- To bring a drone or “Unmanned Aircraft System” (UAS) into Kenya one needs to apply for a temporary 30-day permit. You can read about this on the KCAA website. Any unauthorised ‘drones’ bought into Kenya will be confiscated by customs officials.
Requirements to Exit Kenya
- Passengers traveling out of the country, will be required to abide by the particular travel, health and COVID-19 related requirements of the transit and destination country.
- Pre-departure RDT or PCR testing may be considered at the discretion of any of the airlines departing from or terminating in Kenya.
- There are a number of COVID-19 testing facilities throughout the country both in Nairobi and throughout the Safari areas so please feel free to get in touch regarding any COVID-19 testing logistics.
Frequently Asked Questions about Travel in Kenya
Is a formal proof of travel itinerary required to apply for a Kenya tourist visa?
Yes, over and above the itemised travel itinerary from Safari Guru, we will also provide a single-page safari brief with booking numbers and references – this will be used when applying for your visa.
Is a doctor’s letter or proof of recovery from Covid-19 accepted for entry to Kenya?
As of 9 May 2023, foreign travellers entering Kenya no longer need any COVID-19 documentation to enter the country unless they are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Can I use my Cell/mobile phone in Kenya?
In Kenya, you can buy prepaid (pay-as-you-go) SIM cards that are cheap and easy to use. Top-up or refill vouchers are widely available in all hotels, newsagents, supermarkets and shops. North American and Japanese phones may not work in Kenya. Some safari destinations might not have mobile coverage, yet many lodges and camps offer Wi-Fi.
What is the climate like in Kenya?
Kenya lies directly on the equator and has a tropical climate. It is hot and humid in the coastal areas and temperate inland and very dry in the north and northeast parts of the country.
Kenya is a great year round destination, with the main tourist season being in January and February. During this period the weather is hot and dry and is generally considered quite pleasant.
This is also a time when flocks of birds arrive in the Rift Valley, offering a kaleidoscope of colour and sound. Between June and September the weather is still dry, with the rains coming from March to May. During the rainy months things are quiet, with hotels and lodges having many rooms available and prices tend to decrease.
Lions and leopards are just part of the landscape in Kenya, East Africa’s favourite safari destination. More than 40 national parks and nature reserves are scattered between Lake Victoria and the India Ocean, covering every imaginable landscape and featuring just about every animal in Africa: from aardvarks to zebras.
As you might expect, wildlife safaris are the lifeblood of Kenyan tourism, and the infrastructure for travellers is impressive. Jeeps, buses and light aircraft fan out daily across the country to safari lodges and tented camps, some simple and rustic, others lavish and opulent. Refreshingly, you can enjoy close encounters with nature even on a budget, with walking safaris run by tribal guides and economic tented camps that scrimp on creature comforts, but not on creatures.
Most people start their journey in Nairobi, but few linger when there are more attractive cities strung out along the sun-kissed Kenyan coast and dotted around the Great Rift Valley. Whether you pick the interior or the coast, with its beach resorts and Islamic ruins, you can be sure to find a national park or reserve close at hand – Nairobi even has a national park within the city limits, with zebras and giraffes just a stone’s throw from the suburbs.
Kenya is also a great place for cultural encounters, with more than 40 different tribal groups, each following its own unique way of life. The semi-nomadic Maasai, with their multi-coloured, bead-covered adornments, are perhaps the most obvious group, but visiting any tribal village is a fascinating and enlightening experience.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT KENYA:
|8580,367 sq km (224,000 sq miles)
|249,125,325 (UN Estimate 2017)
|79.1 per sq km
|Head of Government
|William Kipchirchir Samoei arap Ruto CGH is the fifth president of Kenya since 13 September 2022.
|Kiswahili is the national language and English is the official language. The terms Swahili and Kiswahili are used interchangeably, though the term Swahili normally refers to the people while Kiswahili refers to the language. There are over 68 ethnic languages spoken, including Kikuyu and Luo.
SOCIAL CONVENTIONS IN TANZANIA
Western European habits prevail throughout much of Kenya as a result of British influences in the country. Kenyans are generally very friendly. The standard greeting of ‘hello’ when addressing an individual is Jambo, to which the reply is also Jambo. People are delighted if visitors can greet them in Kiswahili. Dress is informal and casual lightweight clothes are accepted for all but the smartest social occasions. Because of its Muslim influence, the coast is a little more conservative than the rest of the country. Away from the beach, women and men should dress respectably and cover up bare arms and legs. Alcohol is only available in the tourist areas of the coast.
Plastic Bags: The possession of plastic bags is prohibited in Kenya. Persons who don’t follow the rule of law will be fined for this infringement.
HISTORY OF KENYA
Recent archaeological excavations in northern Kenya suggest that the region was home to hominids like Homo habilis and Homo erectus in the Pleistocene epoch from whom Homo sapiens are possible direct descendants.
Over the past few millennia, Kenya has been settled by a large number of migrants from all over Africa, among the most recent arrivals being the Maasai, who crossed from present-day South Sudan in the 17th century.
The mediaeval Kenyan coast was a prosperous maritime trade centre serving ships from Arabia and Asia. Many modern ports, including Lamu and Mombasa, date from this era. The Portuguese arrived on the coast in the early 16th century, followed by Omani Arabs in the 18th century, and the British in the mid-19th century.
It was only in the 1890s that outsiders penetrated far into the interior, resulting in the British construction of the ‘lunatic line’ from Mombasa to Kampala (Uganda), Nairobi, founded as a staging point along this railway line, became the headquarters of the British colonial administration.
In the early 20th century, the fertile highlands around Nairobi attracted an influx of European settlers. This resulted in a liberation movement demanding greater territorial, economic and political rights for locals. Led by Jomo Kenyatta, the fight for independence gathered pace after World War II, culminating in the 1950s with a bloody three-year guerrilla war between the Mau Mau and the British colonial authorities.
Kenya was granted independence in 1963, and the Kenyan African National Union (KANU), led by Kenyatta, took power. Kenyatta died in 1978, and was succeeded by Daniel Arap Moi, an autocrat who banned opposition parties outright in 1982. A multi-party system was restored in the early 1990s, but Moi remained in power until the 2002 election, which was won by the national Alliance Rainbow Coalition (NARC), led by Mwai Kibaki, who became the country’s third president.
Disputed 2007 elections resulted in widespread violence in which hundreds were killed. Following this violence, international mediators negotiated an agreement retaining Kibaki as president, but installing his main rival Raila Odinga as prime minister. The more peaceful 2013 elections saw Uhuru Kenyatta (son of Jomo), leader of the National Alliance party, elected president.
Some interesting facts
- In 2004 Wangari Mutu Maathai became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to her for her contribution towards sustainable development, peace and democracy. She died in 2011.
- Six out of the world’s 10 fastest male marathon runners and 4 out of the world’s 10 fastest female marathon runners to date are from Kenya.
- Some 2,500 railway workers were killed, many by lions, while building the Lunatic Line in the late 1800s.
KENYA PASSPORT AND VISA REQUIREMENTS
Your passport should be valid for at least six months after the date of your intended departure date from Africa. It is each travellers responsibility to ensure they have adequate passport pages, obtain any visas and satisfy any entry requirements.
We recommend that you make two copies of your first passport page; keep one with you and leave one copy at home in the unlikely event that your passport is lost.
SUGGESTED PASSPORT PAGES – At least three blank “visa” (not “endorsement”) pages are required; and additional pages are advised if visiting multiple countries during your journey.
Tourist Visa 90 Days | Single Entry: Kenya ETA is an Electronic Travel Authorization to enter Kenya for Tourism purpose. Applicants can obtain Kenya Electronic Travel Visa by completing a simple & easy eVisa application online. Kenya ETA is valid for 90 Days or 30 Day depending on type of applicaiton selected. Applicants can obtain approved Kenya ETA in 2-3 days. It is mandatory for passport to be vaild for 6 months from the date of arrival. Please check list of country eligible for Kenya ETA before applying.
Please note that Kenya does not allow visa on arrival and it is mandatory to obtain new ETA 2024 before travelling to Kenya.
Immigration and Customs
Please note: Kenya is plastic bag free and Kenyan immigration will not allow plastic bags.
MEDICAL, IMMUNISATIONS & SAFETY
If you have recently travelled to any of the countries listed below* you will be required to show proof of yellow fever vaccination when you enter Kenya.
There is a low risk of yellow fever in this country; however, there is a certificate requirement.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), from 11 July 2016 (for all countries), the yellow fever certificate will be valid for the duration of the life of the person vaccinated. As a consequence, a valid certificate presented by arriving travellers cannot be rejected on the grounds that more than ten years have passed since the date vaccination became effective, as stated on the certificate; and that boosters or revaccination cannot be required.
For others, please note that while proof of yellow fever vaccination is not required upon arrival into Kenya, IT IS LIKELY THAT YOU WILL NEED TO SHOW SUCH PROOF WHEN YOU RETURN TO YOUR HOME COUNTRY, as you will have stayed in Kenya for more than 12 hours.
Please note that yellow fever vaccination certificate becomes valid 10 days after the inoculation.
If you plan to present a yellow fever vaccination waiver, please contact us at least one month prior to arrival in Kenya.
If you are entering from any of the following countries, you will be asked for proof of the Yellow Fever vaccine:
AFRICA – Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Uganda.
AMERICAS – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.
For immunisations including malaria and zika, please consult your medical practitioner or a travel medical centre for advice on medical issues related to your travel. The following websites may be helpful to you: British: travelhealthpro.org.uk, Australians: smartraveller.gov.au and wwwnc.cdc.gov for American travellers.
Please note that many immunisations require administration some weeks prior to travel in order to be effective. During your trip, should emergency assistance be required, each game-drive vehicle has radio contact with the camp and each camp has 24 hour radio contact with their base support headquarters. Medical emergency evacuation will be arranged if necessary.
Take enough legal prescription medicine with you to last for the duration of your stay so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you’ll take and that it’s for personal use only.
Malaria can occur in very limited areas of the country, especially during the rainy season. You can consider taking malaria prevention medication and seek medical advice if you have a fever, muscle pain, rash or severe headache.
Other mosquito-borne diseases (including filariasis) also occur.
Protect yourself against insect-borne diseases by using insect repellent and wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing.
It is a pre–requisite of travel that all clients obtain comprehensive travel insurance cover at their own expense. it is always advisable to furnish your booking agent with your travel policy details – if applicable.
Your Health (Food & Water)
In Kenya, local tap water is generally not potable for foreign travellers.
Sealed bottled water is safe to drink, and reputable brands can be purchased in hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores. You will be supplied with water at your camp, which has been filtered through a reverse osmosis process.
It is essential that you drink plenty of water each day (a minimum of 2–3 litres). The dryness and heat will dehydrate you very quickly. If you are feeling lethargic or have a headache, there is a good chance it is simply dehydration, so make sure you increase your water intake.
It is a good idea in the warmer months to travel with spare rehydrate sachets.
The water used for washing salads and making ice has also been filtered.
Cash and Credit Cards, Tipping & Other
The country’s currency is the Kenyan shilling (KSh) and is used to purchase items locally, although USD are accepted for tipping. Exchange services for foreign currency and travelers cheques are available at the airport and at banks. ATMs are available in Nairobi. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted. American Express and Diners are less widely accepted.
Personal expenses in the camps, such as souvenirs from the camp shop, can generally be paid with Visa or MasterCard or in the local currency. A surcharge may be levied on credit card transactions. Be sure to contact your bank before departure if you plan to use your credit card in Africa. When carrying USD cash, taking small denominations is a good idea as it is often difficult to get change. Generally, check that USD notes are 2010 or newer and not damaged or marked.
Please consider carrying cash for tipping, most notably for luggage porterage, road transfers, lodge staff and guides.
While gratuities are not compulsory, they do make up a significant portion of income for local staff.
|There will generally be a communal staff tip box at all the camps, or if not, the manager will inform you how best to offer any gratuity. The usual gratuity for camp staff is USD20 – USD40 per guest per day
|Safari Guides and Butlers, it is USD20 – US50 per person per day, given directly to the person at the end of your stay at each camp
|USD5 per person given directly at the end your stay
|We recommend about USD5 – USD10 per treatment
|Baggage porterage is usually tipped (about USD2 – USD3 per guest per movement, depending on how much luggage). Tips for housekeeping are generally not expected unless significant services have been provided
|E.G. airport–hotel: We recommend around USD5 – USD10 per guest per movement, minimum USD5 total
Safari Guru would like to emphasise that tipping is definitely not a requirement and should be undertaken only by choice, dependent on the service received.
Climate, Clothing and Luggage
Kenya lies across the equator in east-central Africa, on the coast of the Indian Ocean. It is twice the size of Nevada. In the north, the land is arid; the southwest corner is in the fertile Lake Victoria Basin. A length of the eastern depression of the Great Rift Valley separates western highlands from those that rise from the lowland coastal strip.
Kenya is divided by the equator and enjoys a tropical climate. It is hot and humid at the coast, temperate inland, and very dry in the north and northeast parts of the country. The hottest period is in February and March and the coldest in July and August. The long rains occur from April to May and short rains in November. Rainfall is sometimes heavy and tends to fall in the afternoons and evenings. Conditions in East Africa are ideal in most areas, although the coast can be humid and there are hot desert conditions such as around Lake Turkana.
Neutral coloured casual clothing (shorts/shirts) for everyday wear, one pair of stout shoes (with soles thick enough to protect against thorns and for walking), one pair of open sandals, a light waterproof jacket for summer, warm jumper/ fleece for winter, warm long trousers for winter, two sets of good casual clothes for evening dining where appropriate, swimming costume, a pair of sturdy gardening gloves if camping – very useful for collecting firewood etc. A small day pack is also useful to take with you on day hikes etc.
Luggage, including camera equipment and hand luggage, is restricted per person travelling on seat rates to 15kg (33lbs). This includes carry–on luggage and camera equipment. ALL bags must be soft–sided as they have to be manoeuvred in and out of light aircraft holds. Maximum dimensions 30 cm (11.8in) wide x 35 cm (13.8 in) high and 70 cm (27.5 in) long. Please keep in mind that the baggage compartments on the light aircraft are small and often an irregular shape, so the pilots must have the ability to manipulate the bag into the compartment. PLEASE DO NOT USE HARD CASES. Hard suitcases and bags with wheels cannot physically fit into the aircraft.
We would also recommend waterproof or water-resistant duffel bags, as the game vehicles in which the luggage is transferred from the airstrip to the camp and vice versa don’t always have any rain protection and the loading and unloading of bags can occur on wet or damp remote airstrips and runways.
Cell Phones, Power, Photography and drones
Tri–band cell phones on global roaming generally work in all major urban centres. However, they do not work in the majority of safari camps.
Camps are powered by regular electrical power, solar power or generators. Voltage is 220–240V. There is usually ample electricity to charge batteries for digital and video cameras, iPods etc., but not for use of hair dryers and electric shavers etc. In some camps, the facilities for charging batteries are in the main camp area rather than in a room. Many camps have an array of adaptor plugs.
Where outlets are available, the plug type G is used (UK style). The voltage (220–240V) is similar to most of the world (excluding USA) and a voltage converter will generally not be required, unless you’re travelling with 110V (i.e. USA) appliances. A socket adaptor is usually all that is needed.
You are advised to bring a spare battery for use while the other one is being charged, a power converter/adaptor if applicable, cables for computers or cameras and additional flashcards. Serious digital photographers may wish to bring a mobile device for the downloading of images.
To bring a drone or “Unmanned Aircraft System” (UAS) into Kenya one needs to apply for a temporary 30-day permit. You can read about this on the KCAA website. Any unauthorized ‘drones’ bought into Kenya will be confiscated by customs officials.
For further research, please see Drone Laws by Country
Drone laws are continually changing, and if you are interested in bringing a drone on your trip, we recommend double-checking the rules for each country you will be travelling through immediately before departure.
Safari Guru’s Kenya Safari Requirements and Packing List
Understand more about Packing for an African Safari, with a checklist of packing items, or download Safari Guru’s Kenya Safari Pre-Departure Information Document.
PDF Download – Kenya Safari Pre-Departure Information Document
DISCLAIMER: Please note that whilst we take every care to ensure the information contained herein is accurate, we cannot in any manner or form guarantee the accuracy and correctness thereof. The information is taken directly from relevant country government sources and the IATA travel centre, and can change at any time and without notice. You are therefore advised that any information contained herein should not be construed as a representation made by Safari Guru or its network of suppliers and ground handlers and it remains a travellers sole and absolute duty to double-check current information at the time of undertaking any travel.