1. Planning your safari
The best way to get the most out of your safari is by proper preparation and planning way before your preferred dates of travel. This enables you to research and learn all you need to know about the safari route, the tour operator / contractor or the destination. Plan your safari at least a month or two before arrival. You can also arm yourself with vital knowledge about the animals, birds, reptiles and other species by preparing your own animal or bird check list.
2. Travel documents
You definitely need a passport which should remain valid 6 months after the day you plan to depart from East Africa after your safari. You will also need a visa to enter your destination country or to travel from one country to another. Visas are obtained at the airport counters; or at the high commission offices in your country. Visas cost between $50 and $100 depending on citizenship.
b) Flight ticket
To avoid problems when checking in for you flights, make sure to obtain a printed ticket with matching names on the ticket and names on your passport.
c) Booking confirmation voucher
Ensure that your tour operator / contractor / travel company has provided you with a detailed itinerary or booking confirmation with all inclusions and exclusions of the safari. There should also be contact information which will help you get in touch with your handler if there are any problems such as flight delays or cancelled flights.
d) Travel insurance
The main travel insurance provider in East Africa is the AMREF Flying Doctors Service which is based in Nairobi, Kenya. This insurance covers you locally in case of any accidents or illnesses which may require airlifting. Once the AMREF doctors evacuate you from site and transfer you to your preferred healthcare centre, the rest is handled by your home insurance which takes care of your hospital bills. Always insist on travel insurance coverage before arriving for your safari.
3. Local currency
You can get local currency from the airport counters or at the exchange bureaus located in the city centers. It is always advisable to obtain local currency which will be used to pay for small expenses and tips or to make purchases locally because using foreign currency always puts you at a disadvantage due to higher exchange rates. You get the best exchange rates for foreign currency in high denominations as compared to smaller bills. You may get less when exchanging travelers cheques and even lesser when using credit cards.
It is customary to tip your guide after your safari. A normal tip is $5 per person per day (or equivalent in local currency). The amount is not limited but can be added depending on a client's wish. The tip is given to the driver at the end of the safari.
East African countries are tropical countries where diseases that you are likely to catch are different from other parts of the world, e.g. malaria. Consult your local doctor at least a month before traveling to make sure you have appropriate vaccinations and protection against various diseases. The most important and mandatory vaccine while visiting East Africa is the yellow fever vaccine. Your health provider will also recommend other vaccines depending on your country of origin.
6. Meal plans
It is important to always confirm your meal preferences during your early safari preparations before your accommodation is reserved for you. All hotels, camps and lodges have meal arrangements for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Also find out how many meals per day you are entitled to e.g. lunch, dinner, breakfast and teas. Some hotels, camps and lodges offer meals on all inclusive basis, meaning that alcoholic, non-alcoholic beverages, snacks and cocktails are offered at no extra charge. BuyMore Adventures will always provide our guests with bottled drinking water during your game drives at no extra cost.
7. Photography and filming
Do not take pictures of people without asking. Also do not take pictures of the police, military, airports, bridges or government offices because this may cause conflict. If you intend to do filming, a license is issued by the Kenya Filming Federation at an agreed cost depending on your area of interest and purpose of the film. Please contact your tour planner for more information about filming as well as updated rates for filming in East Africa.
8. Luggage and baggage
Pack wisely depending on your safari type e.g. beach holiday, mountain climbing, jungle safari, e.t.c. and according to the prevailing weather conditions. It is also recommended that you also bring a pair of binoculars or a camera. Normal safari luggage includes clothes, spare shoes, toilet kit, medical kit and reading material. All these should weigh between 10kg and 20kg. Other fragile luggage such as binoculars, laptops, cameras or snacks should be carried in your hand luggage. Please refer to our proposed luggage list for your safari. Please note that the list may change from time to time depending on your type of safari e.g. mountain climbing, beach holiday, business tour, water rafting and others.
Recommended luggage list for your safari: Underwear, socks, t-shirts / tank tops, shirts, warm sweater, windproof jacket, shorts / skirts, trousers / light dresses, sandals, shoes, hat, swimwear, camera, binoculars, film, memory cards, spare batteries, chargers for your phone, camera, e.t.c., sunglasses, alarm clock, flashlight / electric torch, pocket knife, toiletries, medical kit, sun block, mosquito repellent, wet wipes, telescope / video camera (for filming tours), maps / compass, MP3 player, books on wildlife and birds, Swahili phrase book, notepad and pen, some snacks and a whistle for attracting attention in emergencies.
9. What to wear
Some hotels, lodges and camps have a strict dress code for dinners. It is important to find out the dress codes for every lodge / camp that you will spend the night to avoid embarrassment. Most hotels, lodges and camps encourage casual wear / normal clothes. Khaki is the best to wear due to its inability to show dirt and dust. Bring a warm sweater for the evening or for early morning game drives. Laundry services are offered in most hotels, camps and lodges at a small extra fee.
10. On arrival
BuyMore Adventures’ dedicated staff will be waiting for you at the arrivals hall when you land in Kenya, Uganda or Tanzania. We will be there for you at odd hours of the night or even if your flight is heavily delayed because it is our job to meet you. We will handle your airport transfers free of charge if you are taking your safari with us. Our staff will ensure that you get all the help you need with visa application, money exchange or any other information that you may need to ensure your smooth arrival. On the other hand, if you are traveling on a private arrangement and do not have a transfer booked in advance, there are taxis and airport shuttles waiting to take you from the airport to your desired hotel or residence.
11. Mobile phones and internet
Our visitors are provided with a local SIM card on request for use while on safari, if need be. The SIM card is given to you on arrival at the airport with a little amount of airtime provided. Once you exhaust the airtime, you can purchase the same from your hotel or on your way to the game parks / national reserves. Some of the lodges, camps and hotels have internet access available free of charge in your rooms; while some do not have the facility. It is advisable to confirm with your tour planner if you need to access these facilities.
12. Airports in Kenya
Kenya has a number of airports which ensure smooth air transport and operations between itself, the local domestic world and the international world as well. The major international airports include the following:
- Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi
- Moi International Airport in the coastal town of Mombasa
- Kisumu International Airport in Kisumu City
Other local but equally important airports include the following:
- Wilson Airport in Nairobi
- Malindi Airport in the Coastal Town of Malindi
- Eldoret International Airport in Eldoret Town
- Wajir Airport in Northern Kenya, Wajir
- Lokkichogio Airport in Lodwar Town towards the border of South Sudan
- Isiolo Airport in the Northern frontier of Kenya which is soon becoming an international airport
We also have a few small airstrips which cater for visitors who want to visit the coastal towns, national parks and game reserves using chartered flights, scheduled flights or private jets. Such include:
- Manda Airstrip in Lamu Island
- Ukunda Airstrip in Ukunda Town, a coastal town near Diani Beach
- Keekorok Airstrip in Masai Mara
- Ole Kiombo Airstrip in Masai Mara
- Kichwa Tembo Airstrip in Masai Mara
- Amboseli Airstrip in Amboseli National Park
- Kilaguni Airstrip in Tsavo West National Park
- Mara Serena Airstrip in Masai Mara
- Naishi Airstrip in Lake Nakuru National Park
- Samburu Airstrip in Samburu National Park
There is only 1 military airport in Kenya which is Moi Air Base, located in Eastleigh town within the city. This is strictly used by the Kenya Air Force for military operations.