General Travel Information

 

Health & Safety

Immunization

The correct vaccines for your trip depend on many individual factors, including your precise travel plans. Vaccines commonly recommended for travelers to Kenya are extensive but are mainly intended for long-term aid workers rather than short-term visitors.

Tetanus

Diphtheria

Polio

Typhoid

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis B

Yellow fever*

Rabies

Meningitis

*Yellow fever is the only immunization certificate required for entry into Kenya.

Several of these vaccines require more than one dose or take time to become effective. Vaccine shortages also occur from time to time, particularly with yellow fever. Seek advice on immunization well in advance from a travel or infectious diseases specialist at least six weeks before departure if possible.

Malaria

Malaria is spread by mosquitoes that bite mainly at dusk and at night. Prevention consists of using effective protection against bites plus taking anti-malarial medication. The most suitable choice of medication depends on many individual factors. Travelers need careful, professional advice about the merits of each option. Effective antimalarial preventive drugs in Kenya change over time. Consult your doctor. Visitors to malarial areas are at much greater risk than local people and long-term residents. Do not change or discontinue your malaria medication other than on doctor’s orders.

Water Purification

Drink only water known to be safe. DO NOT DRINK OR BRUSH YOUR TEETH WITH TAP WATER. Use bottled water or canned drinks from well-known brands. Have all bottled beverages opened in your presence. If in doubt, purify water by boiling, adding chlorine or iodine, or using a water purifier. Check that ice is made from potable water.

Insect Precautions

Careful precautions reduce the risk of insect-borne malaria by a factor of ten. At dusk and other times when insects are biting, cover up: wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers, socks and pajamas at night.

Use an insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing.

If you are at a self-catering style campsite use both a pyrethrum-impregnated mosquito net and some form of insecticide during the night.

Ask your hotel to spray your room each evening.

Other Tropical Diseases

Tropical diseases are relatively uncommon in travelers. Most of them tend to be food-borne or insect-borne, so the precautions listed above will prevent the majority of cases.

Bilharzia is a parasitic disease spread by contact with water from lakes, rivers and streams. Regardless of any advice you may receive to the contrary by local people, and even tour guides, no lake, river or stream in Africa is free of risk. Contact should be avoided or kept to a minimum. Chlorinated swimming pools are safe.

Rabies

In Africa, dogs are not pets; avoid handling any animal. Rabies is transmitted by bites, but also by licks and scratches. All wounds need thorough scrubbing and cleansing with antiseptic followed by prompt, skilled medical attention and immunization.

Heat and Sun

Use plenty of high factor sunscreen, wear a hat and protective clothing and avoid exposure to direct sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day. Do not expect that you will be able to acclimatize instantly to the heat as this can take up to two weeks. Avoid physical exertion, keep cool and stay in the shade, particularly during the hottest part of the day.

Increase your salt intake by adding extra salt to your food.

Thirst is a poor guide to how much fluid you need. Drink fluids more often and in greater quantity than you would normally. Avoid or keep to a minimum alcohol, coffee or strong tea; these are diuretics and cause increased water loss.

Preventing HIV and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Kenya regrettably has a very high risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms are widely available, but some travelers have found packs for sale beyond the sell-by date. Never engage in sexual activities without suitable precautions.

Accidents and Injuries

Accidents and injuries kill many more travelers than exotic infectious diseases. Be constantly alert! Risks arise not just from the accidents themselves but also from the scarcity of skilled medical care in remote areas.

Do not drive on unfamiliar, unlit roads at night.

Do not ride a moped, motorcycle or bicycle.

Do not drink and drive.

Do not drive too fast.

Insist that taxi drivers drive carefully when you are a passenger.

Use seat belts and, for children, take your own child seats.

Take special care at swimming pools. Never swim after drinking alcohol. Always check the depth of the pool.

Carry a small first aid / medical kit.

Minor wounds may easily become infected. Look after them carefully and seek prompt attention if necessary.

Going Home

Traveler malaria can occur if you stop taking anti-malaria drugs as soon as you get home. Tablets should be continued as instructed at least four weeks after leaving a malarial area, except for Malarone, which can be stopped after one week. Symptoms of malaria and other tropical diseases may not appear until long after your return home; you may not necessarily associate them with your trip. Always report any symptoms to your doctor. Make sure that your doctor knows you have been to Africa, even up to 12 months after your visit. Demand a blood test for malaria.

Kenya Visa

Visitors holding a re-entry pass to Kenya, citizens of Ethiopia and San Marino and citizens from certain former British possessions do not need a visa. Visas are required for citizens of all other countries. The list of countries whose nationals do not require a visa and the requirements to obtain a visa are located at https://immigration.go.ke/Information.html. A visa can be obtained on entry. However, we recommend you obtain one before arrival to avoid lengthy queues at the airport. Visa application forms are available online at https://immigration.go.ke/downloads/Form-22-Application%20for%20Kenya%20Visa.pdf.

The reciprocal visa abolition agreements with Germany, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Spain and the Republic of Ireland are no longer in operation. Nationals of these countries must have a visa.

Visa Requirements

Passport must be signed, valid for at least six months and hold blank pages for visas and other endorsements.
Two copies of the visa application form completed and signed by the applicant.

Two recent passport size photographs attached to the application form.
Valid round trip ticket or a letter from your travel agent certifying that the applicant holds prepaid arrangements.
A self-addressed stamped envelope for express mail, courier, registered mail, etc., must be included if the visa is urgently required. Metered stamps are not acceptable.
Home and work telephone numbers.
Standard Visa fees payable by cash to the Embassy of Kenya.
Multiple entry visa: US$100 (normally issued for a period of six months)
Single journey visa: US$50
Transit visa issued at entry: US$20

Please fill out the form correctly and enclose the photographs and payment to avoid delay and disappointment.

Kenya Wildlife Parks, Reserves and Conservancies

Abedare National Park

Nestled between 7,000 and 14,000 feet in the Abedares, a mountain range in central Kenya, the park includes alpine moorlands, untouched forests and numerous streams. Wildlife is abundant in the park, including the rare golden cat and the forest-dwelling bongo (antelope). Leopards, African hunting dogs, many antelope species, olive baboons, black and white colobus monkeys and over 250 species of birds are only some of the inhabitants frequently seen. Four of the Big Five live here: elephants, Cape buffalo, black rhinos and leopards. The resident lions were moved to protect the bongo Two tree hotels, Treetops and the Ark, offer splendid nighttime viewing of animals attracted to the waterholes and salt deposits.

Amboseli National Park

Amboseli is a relatively small park but its diverse flora and fauna have led to its designation as an International Biosphere Reserve. The park lies northwest of Mount Kilimanjaro; this tallest of all solitary peaks in the world creates a breathtaking backdrop. The open savannah includes wooded areas and swamps among gentle hills. The much larger Amboseli ecosystem that the park is carved from offers permanent and seasonal water sources, attracting an unbelievable variety of animals for such a small park. More than 50 species are seen regularly, including cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, impalas, gazelles and hyenas. All of the Big Five except leopards are found in Amboseli. The park is a birder’s paradise with about 425 different species. Camps and lodges in the park and adjoining conservancy offer overnight accommodations.

Chyulu National Park

Chyulu National Park was established in 1983 in an area adjoining Tsavo West that covers territory known for old lava flows, lava tube caves and volcanic cones. While game is somewhat sparse, guides can help visitors spot the Big Five, cheetahs, zebra, wildebeest, varieties of antelope and many other large and small mammals that call the park home. The green hills and unspoiled savannahs make Chyulu one of the best locations for viewing distant Kilimanjaro. There is no lodging within the park, but nearby camps operated with local Maasai partners offer comfortable accomodations

Hell’s Gate National Park

Just south of Lake Naivasha and northwest of Nairobi, Hell’s Gate is primarily a savannah ecosystem hosting a wide variety of wildlife. The 100-plus bird species in the park include Verreaux’s eagles, swifts and augur buzzards. Plains game such as Cape buffalo, zebra, eland, hartebeest and Thomson’s gazelle are common. The park is also home to klipspringer antelope, Chanler’s mountain reedbuck and the small cats called servals. This small park is named for a deep gorge and includes the Maasai Cultural Centre.

Laikipia

The Laikipia plateau is an area the size of Wales in central Kenya that has steadily moved from being mostly ranchland to holding many conservancies preserving an animal population almost as dense as the Mara. The region stretches from the edge of the Great Rift Valley to the peak of Mount Kenya, filled with savannahs, arid plains and rocky hills replete with rivers and waterholes. The Big Five—rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and Cape buffalo—can be found in this region along with many endangered mammals, including half of Kenya’s black rhino population and the only Jackson’s hartebeest in the country. Wild dog, leopard, lion, cheetah and other predators hunt the plentiful plains game: impala, gazelle, reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, Somali ostrich, Beisa oryx and gerenuk (Waller’s gazelle). More than 40 private ranches, camps and lodges allow visitors to experience the hospitable way of Kenyan life.

Lake Nakuru National Park

This soda lake is part of the Rift Valley system that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With more than 50 mammal species and 450 bird species, the diversity in this small park is astounding. The lake is best known for the hundreds of thousands of greater and lesser flamingos that line the shores. This park also contains a sanctuary for black and white rhinos and a herd of Rothschild’s giraffe. Leopards can be found lounging in the acacia forests near the lake. The woodlands also host colobus and vervet monkeys while the grasslands are inhabited by Thomson’s gazelles, impalas, Grant’s gazelles, waterbucks, reedbucks and buffalos. Other predators include striped hyenas, lions, wild cats and golden cats. Two lodges inside the park provide accommodations.

Lake Naivasha Area

Lake Naivasha, one of the Rift Valley lakes, sits west of Nairobi adjacent to Hell’s Gate. Papyrus fringes the shore of the shallow, broad lake. Just off shore yellow-barked fever trees provide ample habitat for the abundant bird life, including multiple species of cuckoo, shrike, warbler, woodpecker and honeyguide. Large game such as giraffes and buffalo visit the lake, which is home to a large hippo population. Boat trips are very popular. The lake is under intense pressure from the booming cut flower farming in the area. Visitors can help by learning about this bountiful jewel that shines brightest at sunset. Several lodges offer overnight stays.

Lake Baringo

Baringo is, like Naivasha, a freshwater lake in the Rift Valley. Situated in northern Kenya, Baringo has a timeless quality echoed by the paleontological finds in the adjoining Tugan hills. Birders will find some 470 species, including many migratory populations. Large hippo and crocodile populations occupy the lake. Ol Kokwe Island, a volcanic island home to Njemps villages, has a well-appointed camp that allows visitors to stay overnight to catch wildlife activity in the morning on a boat excursion.

Lake Bogoria National Park

Occupying the bed under a massive cliff, Lake Bogoria’s west side contains many geothermal features, such as geysers and hot springs. Migrating flamingos can come in the millions to eat the lake’s algae. Most notably, the rare greater kudu, a large antelope with distinctive markings and long spiral horns on the males, make their home on Lake Bogoria’s shores.

Masai Mara National Reserve

The Mara Reserve forms the northern end of the Serengeti eco-system, a habitat that the Maasai rightly called “Maa” or “spotted” for the savannah dotted with trees, cloud shadows and scrub. The Mara supports a vast, diverse animal population. Arguably the best game viewing in Kenya and the best year round, many big cats and antelope of every kind reside in the Mara. Elephants, Cape buffalo, giraffes, gazelles and topi (a strikingly-colored antelope) are permanent residents. From July to September, the wildebeest and zebra migrations, the world’s greatest wildlife spectacle, flow into the Mara like a great flood. Not to be outdone, birds of all sizes and shapes inhabit the reserve. Coupled with a range of accommodations, the Mara has it all.

Masai Mara Group Ranches

Not all camps and lodges in the Mara are within the national reserve. Many ranches support large and small camps. From these group ranches or conservancies, game drives can be taken on the property or inside the reserve (a park fee must be paid). Many group ranches are now charging game viewing fees and their existence is a relief to the main reserve. Accommodation varies from stylish lodges to luxury and standard tented camps, as well as a few ranch homesteads. Most lodges offer the opportunity to take a hot air balloon safari in the early morning.

Meru National Park

Meru, in the Northern Frontier district, has a unique beauty fed by 13 rivers supporting doum palms and many mountain streams gushing from the higher woodlands into the savanna. This untamed area provides plentiful game viewing with many big cats (lion, cheetah and leopard) and rare antelope (lesser kudu, duiker and dik dik). Some of Kenya’s largest herds of buffalo compete with elephants in the grasslands, while the rivers abound with hippo and crocodile. Over 300 species of birds have been sighted including kingfishers, rollers, bee-eaters, starlings and weavers. The Park’s most famous resident was Elsa, the lioness at the heart of Joy Adamson’s book “Born Free.”

Mount Kenya National Park

Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest mountain, with its abundant water resources, varying ecosystems (alpine, montane and bamboo forests and grasslands) and religious significance, is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many smaller mammals and herbivores reside on the slopes of Mount Kenya: hyrax, white tailed mongoose, suni, black fronted duiker, bushbucks, water buck, elands, bongo, giant forest hog and rhino. The adjoining Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve are home to the largest resident population of Grevys’ zebra in the world and straddle the migration route for elephants. An impressive array of birdlife includes green ibis, various predatory birds, numerous sunbirds and the scarce swift and near endemic alpine swift. Due to the fragility of the habitats and density of the lower forests, nature walks rather than game drives introduce you to the spectacularly diverse flora and fauna of Mount Kenya.

Nairobi National Park

This small park, Kenya’s first, contains an astounding array of animals native to the savannah and dry woodlands, making it the premier site for visitors to and schoolchildren in Nairobi. Among the species inhabiting this suburban oasis are Burchell’s zebra, cheetah, Coke’s hartebeest, Grant’s gazelle, leopard, Thomson’s gazelle, eland, impala, Masai giraffe, ostrich, and waterbuck. Zebra and wildebeest pass through during the Great Migration. This gem includes a world-renown black rhinoceros sanctuary and an orphanage that rears baby rhinos and elephants among others. Water features help to attract over 500 resident and migratory birds.

Ol Donyu Wuas Conservancy

Located between Amboseli and Tsavo on the western slopes of the Chyulus, the Mbirikani Maasai work with Richard Bonham to preserve this area and its diverse wildlife, including a Predator Compensation Fund that provides for losses when carnivores attack livestock. In addition to the Big Five, visitors will find giraffe, bat-eared fox and varieties of antelope on game drives, nature walks, horseback riding or mountain biking. Kilimanjaro reigns in the distance.

Samburu National Reserve

The Buffalo Springs Reserve and the Samburu Reserve are bisected by the Ewaso Ng’iro river that is lined with doum palm trees. Thorn trees, acacias, bush and grasslands provide habitats for a wide variety of species, including reticulated giraffe, Beisa oryx, Grevy’s zebra, Grant’s gazelle, tiny dik-dik and long-necked gerenuk. Lions, leopards and cheetahs prey on these herbivores. Samburu also lays claim to a fascinating selection of birds, including eagles, vultures, bee eaters, sunbirds, hornbills and the regal secretary bird. Several high-quality lodges and tented camps provide accommodations.

Selenkay Conservancy

Selenkay Conservation Area, a private game reserve near Amboseli and owned by the Kisonko Maasai, is a Lion Guardians site focusing on eco-tourism and Maasai culture. Apart from large plains game like elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, giraffe and zebra, there are less common species such as caracal, African wild cat, civet, gerenuk, lesser kudu and striped hyena. Wonderful views of Kilimanjaro.

Shimba Hills National Park

Shimba Hills lies just 33 km (20 miles) from Mombasa but seems worlds away. The park boasts tropical forests containing half of the endangered plant species in Kenya and the only population of sable antelope in Kenya. The elephant population has been too successful, requiring relocation of some of the herd to a nearby sanctaury and to Tsavo. The many birds and butterflies vie with orchids for attention.

Shompole Conservancy

The Shompole group ranch, a 35,000-acre conservancy owned by the local Maasai, sits at the southern end of the Great Rift Valley just north of Lake Natron and the border with Tanzania. A high escarpment flows into the nearby dry plain watered by the Ewaso Ng’iro river to create muddy, swampy areas favored by giraffe, zebra, antelope and warthogs. The heights of the escarpment provide a wondrous view of the flamingos stopping at Lake Natron during migration.

Taita Hills Sanctuary

Taita Hills is a private 110-square-kilometer game sanctuary started by the Hilton Group in the 1970s. While rhinos are absent, the other four Big Five are well-represented along with hartebeast, dik-dik, lesser kudu, impala, Thompson’s gazelle, many smaller mammals and a wide variety of birds.Accommodation is available in a small tented camp, at the main Taita Hills Lodge or the unique Salt Lick Lodge built on stilts.

Tsavo National Park, East & West

Tsavo, the largest park in Kenya, is split in two by the main Nairobi/Mombasa highway. Tsavo East contains dry plains, the Yatta plateau and the Galana River. In Tsavo West, the terrain is hilly and wetter, including Mizma Springs. The diversity of mammals, from the Big Five to ground squirrels and porcupines, is breathtaking, making the park a beacon of biodiversity. Maneless Tsavo lions and a black rhino sanctuary are just two of the unique features of Tsavo. Moreover, at least 500 bird species, from kestrels and kingfishers to ostriches and secretary birds, call the park home. A wide range of lodgings exist since visitors need to spend some time to soak in this great region.

Weddings & Honeymoons

Southern Sky can help you plan a perfect wedding in Kenya. Many hotels on the coast host wedding ceremonies on the beach or in their tropical gardens. For your honeymoon, exclusive beach hideaways offer a Robinson Crusoe experience with champagne and canapés whilst private ranches up-country will pamper you with home-like care.

Marriage is one of the highest commitments that you and your partner can undertake and we will ensure that your special day is one to remember forever. We arrange everything for you: the wedding ceremony, flowers, photography, wonderful accommodation and a honeymoon safari for adventure, game viewing or beach relaxation.

Southern Sky will arrange a wedding ceremony and safari to your requirements. Our scheduled safaris that include the coast make a wonderful honeymoon. Please enquire with details of what you want to receive a quotation for your personalized arrangements.

Marine Parks in Kenya

The Kenya coast stretches for some 500 kilometres. Most of it is beach. All of it is protected by coral reefs. Much of it provides unspoilt diving conditions with numerous exciting dive sites that include wrecks and caves. Opportunities for snorkelling are endless.

Three Marine Parks have been created as public areas set aside for the protection of coral and fish and for the enjoyment of visitors. A small fee of $5 per adult and $2 per child is payable to the Kenya Wildlife Services for the privilege of snorkelling and diving there.

Malindi and Watamu Marine National Parks. 261sq km

Both marine parks are incorporated in the same Marine National Reserve which have long stretches of casuarinas fringed white sandy beaches. Both Malindi and Watamu are world class for accessibility, beauty and diversity of marine life which live just off-shore on Barracuda and North Reef coral reefs and Turtle and Whale Islands.

Watamu Marine National Park includes the Mida Creek mangrove forest where young coral begins its existence before the tides take it out to the reefs beyond. The forest roots are rich in fish, crabs, prawns and oysters and are also excellent for birdwatching.

The coral reefs are home to over 140 species of hard and soft corals and are the breeding grounds for fish and other marine life. Coral is a vital barrier against the force of the sea, protecting marine organisms and tourists, they keep out dangerous sharks common to the deeper waters, and their colour and the exotic coral fish they support provides a major attraction for tourists.

Tewa Caves, near the mouth of the creek, are partly underwater where Giant Groupers (up to 800lbs) co-exist with many other tropical fish species. Floating slowly over the coral beds you may see brilliantly coloured marine fishes of bizarre shapes, spiny fish urchins, brightly hued seas slugs, crabs and starfish.

Shore birds include; sanderlings, curlew sandpipers, little stints, whimbrel and greenshanks and three species of plovers: grey, great sand and mongolian sand.Non-breeding visitors include terns and gulls. They are; swift, lesser crested and saunders’ little terns and the sooty or hemprich’s gull.

Mombasa Marine Reserve

Mombasa Marine Reserve was formed first, to protect the coralheads and their resident marinelife from damage by over-fishing and trophy collecting (relics, shells, coral etc). Coral species include: branching (acropora), encrusting (turbinaria) and massive (porites). The National Park opened with the support of local hoteliers to prevent further stripping of the natural treasures from the reef in order to preserve its ecological and tourist attraction. The beaches with marine park access include Nyali beach Bamburi beach and Shanzu beach.

Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park 28 sq km

At the southernmost point of Kenya’s 500kms coastline lie some of East Africa’s most colourful coral gardens. Located 4-8kms. Out to sea from Shimoni and next door Wasini Island, noted for its coral gardens, the Kisite Marine Park is beautiful and intact.

The entire Marine Park is in shallow water. It can be reached easily, by motor boat or traditional dhow from Shimoni. The Kisite coral reefs are estimated to be 3-4kms long running along the near and outer edges of the reefs from Mpunguti Island to the tiny coral island of Kisite itself. The reefs at Kisite and Mpunguti Marine National Park are scientifically important habitats, one of the most complex eco-systems on this plant.

A large number of coral varieties have so far been identified including: staghorn, brain, mushroom and pencil species which are easy to goggle over and deep enough to avoid damage from human contact. The sheer numbers of fish (over 250 species recorded) feeding around the coral is an amazing sight. Kisite is a feast of colour and movement with eye-catching coral fish including butterfly, parrot, rockcod, angel fish and rays.

Dolphins are common, as are big shoals of bonito and frigate mackerel. Nearby, Shimoni is home to many families of porpoises which cruise in and out of the Kisite Marine Park and are frequently seen in the channel between the mainland and Shimoni. “Shimo” means hole or cave in Swahili and historically these caves were used by smugglers and slavers. Some caves have freshwater springs flowing into the sea reputed to come from Kilimanjaro, 100 miles inland.

Packing – What to bring with you on an African Safari

Binoculars and a zoom camera are recommended.

A Safari in Kenya takes you away from cities and stores. As a precaution travel with remedies such as antacids, painkillers and anti-histamines, Imodium and oral rehydration sachets especially if traveling with children. However these are normaly available in camps and lodges.

Also include first aid items such as Band-Aids, antiseptic, scissors, tweezers, and thermometer, lip salve, sun block, water purification tablets or drops, as well as your preferred brands of toiletries and cosmetics. If you wear spectacles or contact lenses, take spares. Also take a torch and a pocket knife.

Clothing is according to taste and if you plan a formal bush dinner pack your tuxedo! At the coast clothing is minimal. If you do not actually want to sunbathe, it is best to wear light clothing, preferably cotton which should cover you as much as possible to protect against sunburn. In the evenings it is best to cover up well because the best protection against malaria is to avoid being bitten by the mosquitoe. Up country light clothing is also adequate but a jacket or sweater may be needed for the cooler evenings. Early morning game drives at up-country parks can be quite cold.

Walking shoes or heavy canvass sneakers are good.

Visiting Kenya

Kenya is part of East Africa and borders Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda and South Sudan with shores on Lake Victoria and the Indian Ocean. Many features of Kenya are simply among the best in the world…..the glorious weather, genuine hospitality, fabulous beaches, amazing landscapes, beautiful lakes and magnificent wildlife.

For the first time visitor, these delights can be disturbed by the realities of poverty endemic to the region. Guests may see villages made of sticks and mud, street-boys begging next to buses belching black smoke, potholes in the road that grow to crater size, overloaded handcarts pulled by straining workmen and other reminders that Kenya is part of a developing continent.

Kenya, however, has a long history of tourism with a sophisticated infrastructure of well-maintained game parks and private conservation areas. Your holiday in Kenya will help the government provide for the needs of its citizens and environment through taxes. Staying at a private conservation locale brings direct improvements to local communities.

If you are familiar with a certain well-known animated film and stage musical, you will know that in Kenya we say “hakuna mutata.” No worries. The beauty of Kenya and its people rarely fails to charm. This page is to help you with your stay with us. Learn a few words of Swahili or just check the time zone. The more you know beforehand, the more relaxing your holiday will be.

Please read carefully to get the best from your holiday.