Time: Local time is GMT +3.
Electricity: 240 volts, 50Hz. UK-style square three-pin plugs are used.
Language: English is the official language but Swahili is the national language.
Visa: A visa is required prior to entry into Kenya. A single Entry Visa (valid for three months from date of issue) will cost US$ 50. A transit visa will cost US$ 10. No Visa is required for persons aged 16 years and below. Citizens of the following countries need to have a visa prior to arrival in Kenya: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Iraq, Korea, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, Nigeria (residing outside Nigeria), Senegal, Somali, Syria, Tadjikistan.
Climate: With Mombasa at sea level, the top of Mount Kenya over 17,000 feet above it and everything else in between, the climate is varied. However, much of the country is blessed by a comfortable, temperate climate with most of the places you will visit enjoying warm sunshine during the day and cool, pleasant temperatures during the night. January and February are generally the hottest months with long rains expected between April and June.
Health/Medical advice: Malaria fever is common in various parts of the country and you are recommended to visit your doctor at least 3 weeks before your departure and get a prescription for malaria pills (prophylactics). No immunizations are required by law to enter Kenya if you are travelling directly from Europe or the US. If you are travelling from a country where Yellow Fever is present you will need to prove you have had the inoculation. Several vaccinations are highly recommended including Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Water is of variable quality and visitors are advised to drink bottled water. There are several excellent hospitals in Kenya with modern facilities and very high standards of professional health care. Most medicines are available at the numerous chemists found in the major centres. We strongly advise taking out comprehensive travel insurance before your departure.
What to wear: Good quality, light-weight cotton clothing is ideal for Kenya provided you also pack a couple of warm sweaters for the cool evenings and early morning game drives. Don’t forget you are on the Equator so the sun is very powerful and a wide brimmed hat an essential item on your list. A good pair of sunglasses is also recommended.
What to carry: Sun block and high factor sun lotions are essential items, as is insect repellent. A good pair of binoculars is a must.
Local customs: Kenya is a photographer’s paradise. However it is not advised to photograph official buildings, military installations, airfields and could lead to detention. It is also advisable not to photograph people without first gaining their permission. It is illegal to destroy Kenyan currency. The coastal towns are predominantly Islamic and dress should be conservative away from the beaches and resorts. Smoking in public places is illegal other than in designated smoking areas. Tourist guides and safari drivers will expect some kind of gratuity at the end of the tour. In most restaurants a service charge of 10% is often added to the bill along with the 16% VAT and 2% catering levy. If this is not the case and if you are pleased with the service, a small tip is recommended.
Money: The unit of currency is the Kenya shillings. Virtually all banks in Kenya now have ATMs at most branches, but their usefulness to travelers varies widely. Barclays Bank has easily the most reliable machines for international withdrawals. While most major currencies are accepted in Nairobi and Mombasa, once away from these two centres, carrying US dollars is a better option. Travellers cheques are widely accepted as are Visa and MasterCard credit cards.
Safety: Make a copy of your passport and keep it in your luggage. Avoid walking on your own at night. Don’t keep too much cash on you. Don’t carry a lot of camera equipment especially in major cities.
Telecommunication: The international access code for Kenya is +254. The outgoing code is 000 followed by relevant country code. For Tanzania and Uganda the outgoing codes are 007 and 006 respectively. Area codes are in use for example (041) for Mombasa and (0)20 for Nairobi. Kenya has a good network of telephone, cellular and satellite connections. If you have a mobile phone with roaming, then you can make use of Kenya’s excellent cellular networks which cover most larger towns and tourist areas. Email and Internet services are offered by most hotels and lodges and there are many cyber cafes in most towns offering email and internet access.