Frequently asked questions about Kenya

What is the best time to travel?

The relatively cool and dry period from June to October and the hot dry period from late December to February are the most favourable travel times. Still, every season has its own charm. After the rainy periods the land is green, the trees and flowers are blooming and most young animals are born. Then the savannah acquires its typical gold and yellow colours and the felines become more visible because the long grass is being grazed.

What is the best time to see wildlife?

After the heavy spring rain, the migration begins in June. In July and August the migration heads north and arrives in the Masai Mara in Kenya around September. From November it heads south again, to the eastern plains of the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro reserve. The herds reach the Ndutu plains in December and many animals are born here in a very short time. The animals remain in this area for a couple of months. However, the Serengeti and Masai Mara have a large number of animal populations amongst the densest in the world, whatever time of year you wish to visit and irrespective of whether it encounters the mass migration. Lots of animal species do not migrate or migrate in different patterns, such as buffalo, elephants, giraffes and many species of antelope. The great cats, lions, leopards and cheetahs, also don’t migrate. There is never a bad time to visit these stunning areas, except for the (very) rainy seasons which run from the middle of March to the end of May.

What are the best festivals and when do they take place?

There are a number of important public holidays in Kenya: Madaraka Day (1 June), Nyayo or Moi Day (10 October), Kenyatta Day (20 October) and Jamhuri Day (Independence Day; 12 December).

Can I pre-book transfers and extra nights?

You can pre book both transfers (arrival only) and extra nights at the time of making your reservation.

What about my passport?

You need a passport that is valid at least 6 months at the date of departure. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel.

Do I need a visa?

UK and European citizens need a visa for Kenya, but these things can change so please click here and check out the current situation. You can also check on this website if a visa is required for any other nationality. Make sure you inquire at least a month before departure so you do not run out of time.
If you need a visa, please contact the embassy unless you choose to use a visa service. Shoestring does not organize your visa. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel. You can also obtain the visa through a specialized visa agency like

Do I need vaccinations or malaria tablets?

Please click here for questions regarding vaccinations or malaria tablets for this country and contact after your local practitioner or a specialized health centre and make an appointment to get your shots and pills. Please make sure that you allow at least six weeks for a full program. People who already have had a few shots might do with two weeks. You are responsible for having the right protection when going on tour.

What is the recommended currency for Kenya?

The unit of currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KES), divided into 100 cents. It is not advisable to take Kenyan Shillings out of the country, as they are difficult to exchange elsewhere. Travellers cheques in Sterling or US Dollars are recommended for your trip to Kenya. US Dollars in particular have become commonly used in many of the country's main hotels and safari lodges. Foreign currency can be changed at banks, bureaux de change and hotels; easiest to exchange are US dollars, pounds sterling or Euros. Credit Cards (American Express, Visa and MasterCard) are accepted in the larger hotels and stores, and some camps and lodges. ATMs are widely available in Nairobi and the major towns.

What kind of clothing and other stuff is practical to take?

This tour across the equator will mainly lead through highland and mountains with a moderate climate and nights are sometimes cold. Bring thin, cotton clothes. In the evenings a high-necked long-sleeved T-shirt or a thin cotton roll-neck jersey. Be sure to also have a sweater and a raincoat. A pair of worn-in walking shoes with a good tread and strong soles is essential. Sandals are comfortable footwear on travel days. Other important items are: sunglasses, suntan lotion, toiletries, basic medical kit, sun hat or scarf, photo or film equipment and an adequate amount of film, spare batteries, torch, maybe a pocket knife, alarm clock, stationery. A sleeping mat, sleeping bag with or without sheet bag and a towel, a battery-powered reading lamp.

What kind of luggage should I take?

Your luggage should be packed in an overnight bag or a backpack. Solid suitcases are hard to transport on this kind of holiday. In addition, a small rucksack or shoulder bag is ideal for carrying everyday hand luggage. To keep banknotes and other valuable papers safe, you are advised to purchase a slim cotton money belt that you can wear under your clothes. Be sure to have a change of clothes in your hand luggage and to be able to survive 48 hours without the rest of your luggage in case it is carried to Nairobi indirectly.

What is the situation with electricity in Kenya?

What voltage and plugs are in use in Kenya? Please click here to check what voltage and plugs are in use in this country. You could consider taking a universal electric plug.

Which travel guides and maps?

If you want to take a travel guide or map, we suggest you click on Lonely Planet.

In what kind of accommodation do we sleep?

You will stay in twin share tents on campsites with restaurant on premises.

How is accommodation arranged if I book alone?

If you book alone you will share your room with a fellow traveler (same sex when possible) unless you have booked a single room. In the case that we go camping, you could decide to take a small tent if you want to sleep alone. In case this involves extra camping fees (never very much), your tour leader will tell you and collect the extra fees.

What can I expect for camping facilities?

Camping is quite popular in Kenya, particularly in the wildlife parks. It can be very exciting; all kinds of wild animals will often walk among the tents at night. This sounds more dangerous than it really is. You will probably be bothered most by obtrusive monkeys. Especially in the wildlife preserves camping facilities are very basic. There are often hardly any water and sanitation facilities or none at all. The lavatory is a hole in the ground, the so-called ‘pit latrine’. You are also expected to lend a hand with household tasks like washing up and preparing meals.

Do I need to take a mosquito net?

Yes, it is advisable to prevent being stung from the mosquitoes. Mosquitoes cannot be entirely avoided in this part of the world, but there are some measures that will considerably reduce the inconvenience. Just as effective is the “mosquito coil”, green spiraling incense that will keep the mosquitoes at bay for about eight hours. Finally, it helps to wear trousers and a close fitting long-sleeved roll-neck T-shirt in the evenings.

Do they cater for vegetarians in Kenya?

The kitchen of mainland Kenya is no great attraction for gourmets. You will find some expensive restaurants in the larger cities, where you can order a meal comparable to those served in Europe. There are also Indian restaurants. At markets, a huge variety of fresh produce is available. The assortment of tropical fruits is especially large: mangos, papayas, pineapples, guavas, bananas, coconuts, oranges. As long as you buy it unskinned, fruit can be safely eaten .Vegetarians will have some choice but it will be limited as a great deal of the meals will be meat based.

What kind of transportation is used?

You will be transported in well maintained overland trucks.

Is Kenya dangerous?

In Nairobi and Mombasa, street robbers are especially active at night. Do not walk the streets after dark. In the daytime, too, some care should be taken: don’t show large amounts of money, be sure to hide your camera when it’s not being used and do not wear conspicuous jewellery. Those traveling through Kenyan airports should be vigilant, as recent security incidents have taken place at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
If you are interested what the Foreign Office has to say, please click here.

What local customs do I need to keep in mind?

When people meet it is the youngest or lowest in rank that greets first, often bowing. The greeting is followed by a handshake, always with the right hand. It is considered very polite to put your right hand on your heart after shaking hands. When visiting someone the visitor is the first to greet; at the end of the visit the visitor also is the first to say goodbye. Kissing in public is another sign of bad manners. In general, people do not like being photographed, so always ask their permission first.. The taking of photographs of official buildings and embassies is not advised. It is illegal to destroy Kenyan currency. The coastal towns are predominantly Muslim and religious customs and sensitivities should be respected, particularly during Ramadan; dress should be conservative away from the beaches and resorts, particularly for women. Smoking in public places is illegal in Nairobi, Nakuru and Mombasa.

Are there opportunities to snorkel or dive?

Yes, on the South Beach, in a beautiful tropical resort on the coast just south of Mombasa. You have time to enjoy the relaxed beach life and you can skin-dive around the beautiful coral reef.

Are there opportunities to swim?

Yes, the beautiful azure Indian Ocean is perfect for swimming

What are other activities and sports I could do?

Kenya has a variety of wild animals and Big Five viewing opportunities and safaris are the country's greatest attraction. The Great Rift Valley is scattered with alkaline lakes that attract flocks of flamingos, as well as a variety of game.

How are communications in Kenya?

The international access code for Kenya is +254. The outgoing code is 000 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 00027 for South Africa), unless dialling Tanzania or Uganda when the outgoing codes are 007 or 006 respectively. City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)41 for Mombasa and (0)20 for Nairobi. International Direct Dial is available throughout most of the country, but the service is expensive and inefficient. Hotels usually add a hefty surcharge to their telephone bills; it is less expensive to either call from one of the international phone services, which are available in larger towns or buy a pre-paid calling card for use in the public telephone booths. For international operator-assisted calls call 0196. All major urban areas are covered by the mobile network; the local mobile phone operators use GSM networks that have roaming agreements with most international mobile phone operators. Internet cafes are widely available in most towns and tourist areas..

What is the time difference?

Please check the world clock in order to find out the exact time difference.

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