When traveling to Kenya for a safari it is wise to plan in advance. A trip to Kenya is a lifetime holiday experience. There is so much to see and do that one can get easily overwhelmed by the different places to visit, activities, sights and sounds to be experienced. I intend to provide some useful tips that will assist you when planning your safari to Kenya.
While packing your luggage keep in mind Kenya is located near the equator and has a temperate climate. The weather in January to early March is warm and dry with long sunny spells during the day and cool nights. Late March to early May is wet days and nights with sunny spells in between. Nights are cool with light winds. May to October is warm and dry with a cold spell in July to August. The short rains start in late October ending in early December, so when packing keep in mind the weather for your travel season.
Most citizens of Europe and the United States and Middle East countries need a visa to enter Kenya. Visa fee is 50 US Dollars. You can get the tourist visa on arrival at the airport or at the Kenya embassy in your country. Visa information is outlined on the Kenya embassy website in United Kingdom this will help you in confirming whether you have fulfilled all requirements to qualify for a Visa. Alternatively, a visa tourist will be issued at the customs desk at the airport, please note you should not have a tight schedule as this may take some time if there are many people on the queue.
Contrary to popular opinion, Kenya is a relatively safe travel destination. While in the major cities of Nairobi, Mombasa or Kisumu, it is important to be alert and conscious of your environment and act as you would in any city in the world. Avoid displays of large amounts of cash and keep your camera close to you. Avoid strolling at night and take a cab, keep your passport, cash and other valuables close to yourself if possible in a hand bag or belt. Kenyan people are very friendly and helpful. Wherever you go whether on safari or on the beach you will make many friends and meet lots of people, of course follow your instincts, amongst the many persons you meet will be some bad apples. If something does not seem right follow your instincts and avoid getting into any sticky situations.
Africans love to bargain, do not purchase an item at the stated price feign disinterest and move away, most of the time, the seller will call you back and offer a lower price, practice your bargaining skills and be a tough customer. Do not buy stuff to please the seller. If you stick to your guns you will most of the time walk away with a great souvenir for half the price initially quoted.
While on safari it is important to discuss with your guide of the next day’s activities over dinner. This is because most people assume driving around the Masai Mara or other national parks throughout the day will ensure you see most wildlife. This is a false premise. Wildlife generally tends to feed during the cool hours of the morning and evenings, this is true especially for carnivores. Your guide will most likely consent to your request to have a full day game drive so as not to offend you but you end up in the sweltering heat, seeing very few animals and quite cranky before the sun goes down.
It’s best to take an early morning game drive starting at sunrise and ending as soon as the sun starts getting warm and an evening game drive two hours before sun set. You are assured of seeing a lot more wildlife than on a full day wild goose chase! National parks are not zoos, it takes patience and a n experienced eye to see a camouflaged leopard lurking 20 feet above ground on a bushy thorn tree. The last place a novice would look for him.