To take a luxury tour to Kenya is to make an excursion into a new world. The lush plains and unique safaris offer a glimpse at nature that you can’t get anywhere else, as well as an opportunity to see some of the world’s most exciting animals up close. African safari tours offer a peek at the world as it once was, a freeform landscape dotted by compelling creatures.
For those who find urban environments more inviting, Nairobi is the place to be. One of the region’s largest cities, it offers a cosmopolitan, multicultural environment that both embraces diversity and retains the powerful cultural elements that make Kenya a unique nation.
Take a private safari tour of Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park is a go-to for those looking for private African safari tours. Not only is it a wonderful opportunity to see rare animals, it also provides some of the best views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
In addition to those views, the park is much-renowned among lovers of elephants. The animals roam freely, allowing visitors to get close and observe their majesty in its natural habitat. The region’s long dry spells lead to vegetation that is sparse and uneven, making it a perfect vantage point from which to watch a number of animals, including cape buffaloes, cheetahs, plain zebras and Masai giraffes.
To protect the wildlife of the area, the park has several rules for its guided tours. The safety of the animals is paramount, so they always have the right of way and must never be harassed. Off-road driving is strictly prohibited, to ensure that the habitat remains as natural as possible. These guidelines have helped preserve the safari for both the animals and those who want to witness them.
Visit the Maasai Mara plains
For a truly immersive Kenyan experience, a tour should include a visit to the Maasai Mara plains. Located just north of the National Reserve in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, the Mara plains appear unassuming at first blush, simply a collection of seven tents surrounding a main camp area with rough-hewn floors.
Step inside, however, and it becomes clear that it is a location of great elegance and beauty. Filled with a collection of local art and furnishings, it is a testament to Kenya’s Swahili and Maasai roots. At the same time, it is the result of an ambitious conservancy project, one that centers the natural world and reaffirms the human role as spectator, rather than influencer. For this reason, it offers an opportunity to see Kenyan wildlife in a riveting way, from thundering wildebeest to birds with plumes in every color of the rainbow.
Learn Maasai culture
In an increasingly modern, connected world, the Maasai people of Kenya represent a strong connection to antiquity. Originally from the lower Nile Valley, they began to settle in Kenya in the 17th and 18th centuries, and continue to follow many of their original customs even today.
As a semi-nomadic tribe, many of their cultural rites center around cattle, which provide meat, milk and social standing. The Maasai are also known for their spiritualism, which includes divine prophecy and shamanistic healing. They produce beautiful jewelry, which is renowned around the world for its intricate design and attention to detail.
Visitors on tours to Kenya have the chance to see and learn from the Maasai people, as many local tribes are happy to open their villages to foreigners. The Maasai take great pride in the customs they have painstakingly maintained, and to experience the culture firsthand is to gain a deeper understanding of why.
See unique species at Lewa Conservancy
When it was first formed, the Lewa Conservancy was a simple cattle ranch. As the number of black rhinos left in the world dwindled, it became a sanctuary for the endangered creatures. Since then, it has expanded its scope and is now the headquarters of an official conservancy, which works tirelessly to protect some of the most rare and threatened animals in the world.
Safari visitors can see these unique species, which include black rhinos, zebras and sitatungas. Befitting of its roots, Lewa Conservancy has more than 12 percent of Kenya’s eastern black rhinoceros population, a testament to the tireless efforts to preserve a species that many worried would be extinct before the millennium. These animals are protected by a well-trained and motivated ranger force, who work not only to educated those visiting but also to preserve the integrity of the land and the safety of the animals.
Journey on bicycle or horseback through Chyulu Hills
For an active Kenya excursion, saddle up and travel on bicycle or horseback through the rollicking Chyulu Hills. This mountain range, which reaches a peak elevation of over 7,000 feet, divides the Tsavo and Amboseli plains, offering visitors an opportunity to visit the Maasai and Kamba peoples.
The mountain range also provides the chance to journey through wildlife-rich areas, with cheetahs, lions and leopards all found throughout the range. Chyulu is also an area known for volcanic activity: Hidden within the hills is one of the longest lava tubes in the world, known as the Leviathan Cave.
A passport that is valid for at least six months after the end of your trip is required for both U.S. and Canadian citizens to enter and depart the country. Please ensure that the name on your passport matches all travel documents we have issued. If this is not the case, please contact us immediately. Your passport must have at least two blank pages for the entry stamp. This cannot include the ‘endorsement’ page at the back.
Please make a photocopy of your passport’s identification page and keep it separate from your original. It’s also a good idea to leave a digital copy with someone at home. This may speed up the replacement process should you lose your passport.
A visa is required prior to entry into Kenya.
You can obtain a Kenyan Tourist Visa upon arrival at the airport in Nairobi. The cost of the visa is $50 USD per person and must be paid in CASH only. You can also obtain a Kenyan Tourist Visa ahead of time through an online application portal by visiting: https://www.ecitizen.go.ke. The online visas will be processed and sent to the applicant(s) online who are then required to print out the approved visa and present it to an Immigration officer at the point of entry. For step-by-step instructions visit, http://www.magicalkenya.com/wpcontent/uploads/2014/07/visa.jpg
Visa fees for children less than 16 years are waived indefinitely from 1 February 2016.
These requirements change often and therefore it is recommended that you check with the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya for the most up- to-date information.
Cancelation and Medical Insurance is highly recommended as it can safeguard against the expenses associated with in-country medical emergencies, lost or delayed baggage and emergency cancelation or interruption of your trip. Please ensure your policy will provide you with upfront medical coverage so that you are not responsible for a hefty doctor’s bill while away. Insurance can be purchased through us.
Some vaccines require more than one dose or a major length of time to be effective. For that reason, it is recommended to see your doctor or health provider at least 6 to 8 weeks before your trip. For all vaccinations and health requirements, you can also refer to the recommendations from:
World Health Organization (WHO): http://www.who.int
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) http://wwwnc.cdc.gov.
Currently Required Vaccinations: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travelers over one year of age arriving from infected areas. It must be given at least 10 days before your trip in order to be effective. A yellow fever shot is NOT required for visitors from U.S. and Canada direct, however if you are travelling through Kenya into Tanzania and/or Zanzibar, you will need the vaccine.
Other vaccines to discuss with your doctor or travel health professional:
Remember that the best precaution is the preventative kind. Wearing long sleeves is a good idea. To reduce the risk of contracting yellow fever, dengue fever and malaria, liberally apply mosquito repellent that contains DEET to your skin and clothes, and wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers/slacks especially in the evenings.
If there are any medical items essential to your health, such as prescription drugs or corrective eye wear, bring duplicates and divide them between your checked bags and hand luggage. While non-prescription drugs such as aspirin are generally available, it is difficult to replace prescription items.
Other recommended Items:
Kenya’s climate is warm and humid at the coast, cool and humid in the central highlands, and hot and dry in the north and east. Since Kenya lies on the equator, daytime temperatures in most parts are consistently warm all year. Kenya has a long rainy season from April to June, and a short rainy season from late October to mid-December. The best game-viewing is during the dry winter months (May – August) and warmer spring months (September & October). For up-to-date forecasts, check www.weather.com.
It is important to pack clothes for warm days and cool evenings, as well as a warm jacket for early morning game drives. Light, quick-drying, practical clothes are advisable. Non-synthetic, comfortably fitting, cotton clothing breathes more easily and will keep you cooler under the hot African sun. Shorts and T-shirts are normally the order of the day, and are replaced with long-sleeved shirts and trousers at night for warmth and protection from insect bites.
Preferred colors on safari are khaki, beige, olive green and brown. You are less visible in the African bush and therefore less threatening to the animals. These colors also help to deflect harsh sun and are less likely to attract mosquitoes.
Other essential items:
FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS: Video camera, camera with zoom lens in a dust-resistant case, sufficient memory cards, a spare camera battery and charger, binoculars, bird and animal check lists
Electricity: Electricity in Kenya is 220/240 volts and 50HZ. Plugs have three rectangular prongs that form a triangle. To conserve power in environmentally sensitive areas lodges may turn off electricity overnight. If you have a medical device that requires 24 hour electricity please contact your travel consultant.
Phone: Your cell phone will work in most areas while on safari if you have a “Smart Phone.” However, roaming can be quite expensive so we do strongly recommend that you pre-purchase a data and roaming plan with your carrier before travel.
Internet: Local connections are exceptionally slow and can be costly (as much as $5-10 per half hour). “Smart” phones such as BlackBerrys and iPhones will actually download data much faster than computers. Again, roaming and data charges can be exceptionally high – so please talk to your phone provider to pre-purchase a data plan for when you are on safari.
Internet cafés and wireless access are available in most urban areas, airports and hotels. Please note that wi-fi and internet service provided in properties is at the discretion of each establishment and Kensington Tours has no control over this. Please feel free to check with your Sales Consultant before travel if you’d like to know internet set up at each of your properties or contact the properties directly so you are aware of their internet policy if this is important to you. You may like to speak to your internet provider prior to travel to arrange a roaming package.
The currency in Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KSh), divided into 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of KSh1,000, 500, 200, 100 and 50. Coins are in denominations of KSh20, 10 and 5. Bring plenty of cash, an ATM card and a credit card (see below).
Be sure to have a combination of 1’s, 5’s, 10’s and 20’s and 50’s. Larger bills can be used for your visas and to tip guides, while smaller funds are used to make small purchases or tip service providers.
How much money to bring: Generally speaking we advise bringing at least $500 - $700 USD per person to cover visas, tipping and spending money. The official exchange rate is published daily in the newspapers and online at www.xe.com.
Note: Only newly printed USD (currency printed 2006 or later) and local currency will be accepted in East Africa. Any USD currency printed without the new security measures will not be accepted anywhere.
Language: The national language is Swahili (locally referred to as KiSwahili) although English is widely spoken. You’ll also find numerous indigenous languages.
Currency: Kenyan Shilling (KES) divided into 100 cents, but U.S. dollars are accepted everywhere.
Religion: Predominantly Christian. Other faiths include Baha'i, Hinduism, Islam, and traditional African religions.
Time Zone: GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) + 3 East Africa Time.
Electricity: 220 Volt, 50 Hz.
Telephone: Country code for calling is 254. Calling North America: Dial 011 plus area code and your 7-digit number.
Emergency number: for police, fire brigade or ambulance service, dial 999.