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Africa tour and safari in Kenya: What are your questions and fears?
It is strongly recommended that all travelers are individually insured. The travel insurance should cover personal accident, medical expenses and repatriation, trip cancellation and loss of personal effects. Make sure your insurer is aware of the type of travel to be undertaken.
A tourist visa is required for entry into both Kenya and Tanzania. There are two options for purchase: 1) In advance by applying through your local Kenya and/or Tanzania embassy (allow 4-6 weeks). 2) Upon arrival in Kenya at the airport (Nairobi) and Tanzania at the border. Each visa is USD and is payable in cash only (bill denominations must be USD or less). Allow 30-45 minutes in Nairobi, and about 10-20 minutes at the Tanzania border.
Best time to view game
In general, the best times to see game are early morning and late afternoon. In the midday heat, animals frequently retreat to the cool of thick undergrowth, where they cannot be seen. Another benefit to morning and afternoon game drives is witnessing unforgettable sunrises and sunsets.
There are two rainy seasons - the "Long Rains" from mid-March to June, and the "Short Rains" from mid-November to mid-December. The Short rainy season and is only called "short" because of the duration not the amount of rain. Even though they are called the rainy season, there are still wonderful sunny days during that time. It might open up a huge downpour for an hour or so, but other than that you will be fine. Morning and afternoon game drives are usually not affected. You can usually save up to 20% on your tour by booking during these times.
Why Kenya and/or Tanzania
Hundreds of thousands of people travel to Kenya and Tanzania every year just to see the animals. There are lions, leopards, elephants, cape buffalo, rhino, giraffe, gazelle and wart hogs, just to name a few, that are alive and well and walking around in the game parks. Although you can no longer kill them, you can get mighty close to them to either photograph or just enjoy watching them go about doing whatever it is they do. There is also a huge variety of bird life. To add to all that, the land itself is some of the most gorgeous on the planet and extremely varied. There are mountains, deserts, savanna's, rivers, oceans and forests. The air is clean, the scenery fantastic and the joys of getting that close to nature is hard to describe. Just being there seems to do something to many a visitors soul.
What about bugs?
There are insects of all varieties in Kenya/Tanzania and of course there are mosquitoes, mostly on the Coast however, but nothing worse then you have seen anywhere else. If the sight of a gecko sends you flying though, maybe a trip to Kenya/Tanzania is best avoided. You will not however, walk into huge swarms of killer bees or step across acres of crunching bugs under your feet. Snakes do exist of course, but are rarely seen. By anyone.
Internet access while on safari
While communications in remote camps will be limited, most major hotels and lodges offer Internet services as well as international telephone and fax services. Additionally, private communication centers and cyber cafes in larger towns enable tourists to stay connected. Some centers may close on Sundays and public holidays. The cellular networks in Kenya & Tanzania cover most large towns and tourist areas. There are post offices in many towns, and stamps are also sold in many shops in tourist lodges and hotels.
Safe water to drink.
The quality of tap water can vary by destination. It is best to drink bottled water.
Basic precautions should be taken in all countries. Tour guides are highly experienced in navigating each destination, but visitors should always be aware of their surroundings, especially in any rural villages that may be wary of foreigners. In less-developed areas where many people live in poverty, crimes of opportunity can occur, such as petty theft. Visitors are advised to stay alert and use common sense. Safari guests should limit the amount of cash they carry and lock valuables in a hotel safe or other secure place. Lock hotel rooms when you leave. Do not walk alone in deserted areas at night. Take extra care of purses, bags and wallets in crowded places.
Malaria is spread by mosquitoes, which bite mainly at dusk and at night. You can only contract malaria if you are bitten by an infected anopheles mosquito. It is best to use insect repellent containing DEET (sprayed on clothing and any exposed skin), to keep arms and legs covered as much as possible, and to avoid the use of perfume, hairspray and other scented products that might attract mosquitoes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends that visitors to Kenya & Tanzania take anti-malarial medication. Consult a physician or travel clinic before your trip so that he or she can prescribe the appropriate drugs. Anti-malarial medications are generally taken prior to your departure, during your trip, and after you return home for periods determined by your doctor. Symptoms of malaria include aches, chills, headaches and fever, and may not appear until after your trip. Treatment is widely available, recovery times are fast, and with basic precautions, the risk of infection is minimal.
Entry into Kenya
U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport, visa, and proof of onward passage.
Are there any health precautions I should take?
According to the World Health Organization, Malaria risk exists throughout the year in the whole country. There is normally little risk in the city of Nairobi and in the highlands (above 2500 m) of Central, Eastern, Nyanza, Rift Valley and Western provinces. Recommended prophylaxis: mefloquine. Consult your doctor about taking additional vaccinations for polio, typhoid, and hepatitis.
CDC Website link: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/eafrica.htm
WHO website link: http://www.who.int/ith/countrylist07.html#107
The currency in Kenya is the shilling. One American dollar equals approximately 80 shillings. Click here for updated currency information.
ATMs: ATMs are everywhere in most cities.
Tipping: Add 10% to the bill in restaurants, except where a service charge has been included. Tip bellhops 20 KSh per bag.
Best items to shop for in Kenya
Shop for wood carvings of animals and people, sisal baskets, Maasai and Kikuyu beadwork, hand-woven sarong fabric, soapstone, gourds, ebony carvings, batik wall hangings, tanzanite gemstones, and malachite. Some of the best handcrafts of Kenya and other countries in Africa are sent to Nairobi. Visit artist cooperatives to buy directly from artists. Note: There have been problems with not receiving souvenirs shipped home, so I advise you carry them home in your luggage.
Voltage requirements in Kenya
Voltage: 240 V; Plug G. You will need a voltage converter, and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit. Click here for more information about electrical standards around the world.
About the Author: Robert is a tour consultant in Kenya and has planned business and vacation safaris for over 10,000 tourists in the East African region. He is a tour operation- major and involved in National tourism policy development in Kenya.
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