Visa is required for some countries, and can be obtained prior to travel. Visa regulations can change so please obtain current visa information directly from appropriate consulates. A few countries issue visas on arrival but these are more costly and could involve long periods of waiting at the airport.
Kiswahili is the national language in Kenya and Tanzania. English is the official language and is widely spoken and understood across East Africa.
Normal precautions as in any other destination worldwide should be taken. Visitors are advised not to leave cash and valuables in their hotel rooms but to make use of safe deposit boxes and safes. One should never carry large sums in cash and women should keep a tight grip on handbags in crowds or busy streets. As in all major cities walking alone or in small groups at night should be considered a hazard and avoided. Reliable taxis are available at all the principal hotels.
It is illegal to feed any animal, make excessive noise to attract their attention, or deviate from designated roads. It is dangerous to get out of the vehicle as the animals are wild although they may seem comfortable near people.
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda enjoy a healthy, invigorating climate and visitors need feel no concern for their general health during their stay. The sun in Africa is hotter than you may imagine. One can get sun burnt even on a cloudy day. Please take care, and on first exposure, use a protective lotion. Piped water supplies are safe practically everywhere but local advice should be taken when on safari. You will find that in most safari lodges, there will be a flask of drinking water on your bedside table. There are small field hospitals and clinics in most parts of the countries, but it is advisable to purchase all your requirements in Nairobi or Mombasa before setting out on a tour. Please remember to take Malaria preventives as prescribed by your local physician for the required weeks after your departure from East Africa.
It is advisable to buy travel insurance covering accidents, illness or hospitalization for the period of your stay. Temporary membership in East African Flying Doctors’ Service is also recommended for safari goers. Members who require emergency medical attention on safari are flown to Nairobi for the best medical attention available in the country.
In generally, the food served in hotels and lodges is European food. Breakfast and lunch will be buffet and dinner is usually a set menu. In Mombasa and Nairobi you will find a variety of restaurants – European, Indian, Chinese, African, and Seafood. The degree of cleanliness in restaurants is very high, as is the quality of food.
Special dietary and travel requests have to be made in advance and in writing. While every effort is made to provide a personalized service, legal liability cannot be admitted or accepted by us if a special request is not carried out to the visitor’s satisfaction or at all.
Drink only bottled water or from flasks. Hotels and lodges usually provide safe water in a thermos flask in guest rooms. Bottled mineral water is available in every hotel and supermarket.
Both mains electricity and generated supply in lodges provide 240 volts AC 50 cycles. Most large hotels and some game lodges provide shaving points with 110v 50 cycles. Sockets are normally three pin and of the ‘square’ variety.
Hard currencies can be exchanged in cash or travelers cheques at banks all over the country, at forex bureaus in the cities and at most large hotels. Visitors may import an unlimited amount of foreign exchange. Only banks, hotels, lodges and forex bureaus are authorized dealers to change money.
US Dollars, Euros and Sterling Pounds are most acceptable and will cause the least delay. As a norm, always ask what commission and charges will be deducted first and prior to transaction. Apart from Nairobi and Mombasa airport banks which are open 24 hours, banks open until 15:00 Monday to Friday and from 09:00 to 12:30 on Saturday.
VISA, MASTERCARD and AMERICAN EXPRESS are widely accepted for tourist services. There’s usually a 5% mark-up on top of the price as establishments are charged a fixed percentage of their transactions. However, many small shops in rural areas will not accept them.
East Africa has a wealth of fascinating curio shops, clothes stores and shops specializing in African designs. In Nairobi, City Market and the streets around the market are main areas to shop in. the major hotels have business centers where variety of items is easily accessible. The Rift Valley has interesting curio shops which are situated along the highway and in the towns. The major credit cards and travelers cheques are widely accepted in all the main shops around the city centers, in hotels and lodges.
Tipping and Porterage
Although hotels and lodges include a service charge, it is customary to tip porters, waiters, taxi drivers and safari drivers/guides.
City and town hotels mostly have telephones and faxes. On the most part international calls are very expensive. Game lodges and camps mostly rely on H.F. radios for communication, which is sufficient for emergencies, but not recommended for a casual call. Recently some lodges have installed telephones, which are usually very expensive. The Kenyan postage system is very reliable but fairly slow; for example a letter to the USA usually takes approximately two weeks. East Africa: Kshs 35.00 Letters (per 10gms) – Africa: Kshs 40.00 Europe and Asia: Kshs 55.00 Far East, USA and Australia. : Kshs 70.00
Although East Africa is considered to fall in the tropics, climate and temperature varies depending on altitude and proximity to the ocean. Coastal regions are hot and humid while the central plateaus are warm and dry, with cool nights. Prepare your clothes accordingly. Informality is the keynote, be prepared for cool evenings at higher altitudes, on safari try to wear neutral colors as much as possible green, beige and khaki are best not to startle the game. A hat and a pair of sunglasses are advisable for protection against the sun. Laundry can be done at most lodges. Light comfortable shoes are important.
Immodest attire, public affection and open anger are perceived as disrespectful to the local people in some destinations. In Zanzibar and Lamu, it is important for women to dress modestly out of respect for Muslim cultural beliefs.
Kenya is considered to be a photographer’s dream destination. The country has panoramic scenery, wildlife, birds to people and colorful people. It is considered rude to take pictures of people without asking them first. Maasai and Samburu warriors will expect payment for posing. Seek the assistance of your driver/guide in this matter. Taking photographs at airports, near military installations, of policeman, the president, the national flag, the State House, state lodges, soldiers, prisons and prisoners is prohibited. Remember to carry binoculars for a closure view.
GMT +3 hours
Baggage space on safari is restricted to one medium suitcase or hold all per person, plus hand baggage. Suitcases can be left at the base hotel. Hotels will normally store baggage at no extra cost. Baggage can also be stored at Mihon Destinations offices. A baggage weight restriction of 15 kg per person applies on air safaris. Where very small aircraft are used this may be reduced to 10kg. Visitors are responsible for any excess baggage charges.