Kenya: African Safari
Know Before You Go
For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.
Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 800-766-2645. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
- Verify your passport: In order to enter Kenya, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date of at least six months after the date of re-entry. A visa is also required - see Visa Information below for more information.
- Join the Facebook group: Join your private Facebook group as soon as it opens! It’s how you can meet other travelers and see announcements from your Tour Director. Call us at 800-766-2645 if you’re having trouble joining.
- Request a roommate:: Double check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
- Personalize your trip: Travel Insurance is not available for purchase on tour, and the price of Optional Excursions increases after departure. We suggest logging in to your Online Account now to add these items.
- Call your bank: Let your bank and credit card company know of your travel plans so you can withdraw cash and use your debit/credit cards abroad. Otherwise, you risk your account being blocked.
U.S. and Canadian passport holders must obtain a visa in advance in order to enter Kenya. You may purchase an e-Visa online through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (approximately $50 - $100) or submit a request for a paper visa by visiting your local embassy. (Please note: The consulates in the U.S. and Canada have no jurisdiction over the e-visa process). You will also need to have your visa receipt with you upon arrival in Kenya. EF Ultimate Break will not complete the Visa process for you, but we’ve provided additional information below:
- You can also purchase your visa by using a visa provider, such as our partner VisaCentral. More information on this method will be provided by your Trip Consultant
- It is less expensive (approximate total cost $100) to complete the Visa process on your own with Kenya’s e-Visa site listed above, or with your local embassy.
- The visa application process can take 15 business days or longer to complete so be sure to start this process well in advance.
Note: EF Ultimate Break cannot complete the Visa process for you, but we are happy to provide additional information or guidance to help you through the necessary steps.
Stay Healthy Abroad
There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Kenya, but we strongly recommend you consult your physician or local travel clinic, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) at lease 60 days prior to departure for the latest updates and entry requirements. See more tips below for staying healthy in Kenya:
- Local governments may require proof of a yellow fever vaccination (often referred to as a yellow card ) or a statement of medical exemption from the vaccine. This is only required of travelers arriving from a country with a risk of yellow fever virus transmission (Please note: This does not include the U.S. or Canada). Visit cdc.gov/yellowfever for more information.
- Drink bottled water only. Avoid tap water even when brushing your teeth or showering. We recommend travelers purchase bottled water when given the chance. DO NOT refill your water bottle with tap water.
- Take proper care with sun exposure, the sun is very strong in some of the areas you are visiting
- Travelers’ diarrhea is a fairly common illness among travelers to East Africa. Bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
- Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless you can peel them yourself or wash them in bottled or disinfected water.
- Certain medications (both over-the-counter and prescription) are banned in foreign countries. Consult your physician at least four weeks prior to departure to make sure any medications you want to bring with you are legal.
- Public restrooms in Kenya can be quite bare. We suggest carrying bathroom tissue and hand sanitizer with you.
Packing List & Tips
Kenya is a conservative country so travelers should dress modestly, covering shoulders, cleavage, and knees. T-shirts, long pants, and long skirts are recommended in many areas, but less conservative clothing can be worn in beach or touristy areas.
Your airline ticket includes one checked bag (typically 27" x 21" x 14") but double check the luggage size requirements on your airline’s website. We recommend traveling with one small backpack or purse, and a smaller carry-on suitcase (22” x 14” x 9”) or bag. Soft-sided luggage or duffel bags are preferable to hard luggage for storage on safari vehicles within East Africa. Large suitcases of dimensions greater than 24"x 17"x 7" are impossible to store in safari vehicles and should not be used. See more packing tips below to help you become a professional carry-on traveler:
- 1 light jacket or rain jacket, neutral colors
- Comfortable closed-toe walking shoes/light hiking shoes
- Comfortable sandals for the beach
- 2-3 pairs long pants
- 1-2 long skirts or dresses for female travelers
- 2-3 shirts / t-shirts
- 1-2 nicer outfits for your Welcome Dinner and Farewell Dinner
- 1-2 bathing suits as some of the hotels have pools
- Beach/Bath towel – we love the Microfiber travel towel ($5-$20, Amazon.com)
- Underwear and socks
- Toiletries, medicine
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Mosquito repellent, binoculars, and a flashlight are highly recommended
- Reusable water bottle
- Phone or camera
- Passport, Visa
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
- Adapter / Converter – type “G”, or universal
- The Kenyan government has a strict ban on plastic bags. It is illegal to use, sell, or carry plastic bags anywhere in the country under the new law, and violators will face charges including high fines or imprisonment. Please bring reusable cloth bags if you plan to go shopping on tour, and do not pack any plastic bags, including small resealable bags.
Hot Temperatures and Game Drives: Weather ranges from 75-80 degrees (F) in June-September; Loose-fitting, breathable layers are best for this climate. This season is also the best time for animal-spotting, and we recommend muted colors as bright clothing may scare animals away, and blue or black clothing attracts tsetse flies.
When preparing for your international flight to Nairobi, check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. With this information, you can check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.
- If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get re-booked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time
- If you slept in and missed your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.
- Long Flights: Travel from the U.S. to East Africa is a long process (15-20+ hours total travel time). Bring a book, watch a movie (or five), and drink plenty of water!
Note: Travel from the U.S. to East Africa is a lengthy process (20 – 30+ hours travel time total). Read a book, watch a movie (or five), and drink plenty of water!
Arriving in Kenya
Congratulations! You’re about to set foot in the #1 Safari Destination of the WORLD. Before you arrive, your Tour Director or Trip Consultant will communicate on Facebook or email about where to meet a representative at the airport. This is another reason you should join your Facebook group! Once you arrive in Kenya it will be late evening so you’ll have time to sleep upon arrival.
Note: If you have difficulty finding your group or representative to bring you to the hotel, just give our team a call at 800-766-2645.
Your guide for this tour will be different than a typical EF Ultimate Break Tour Director. You will be met by a representative from EF Ultimate Break upon arrival and will then meet your guide the morning of your first full day on tour. He or she will act as both your tour guide and driver for the duration of your tour.
Your tour guide will tell you best way to communicate with them during the trip (WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.). They will be with your group from start to finish so if there is anything you need, connect with them. Concerned about international cellular data and staying in touch with your group? Check out “Phones and Electronics” further down in this guide.
Use Your Phone, Internet, and Electronics
We recommend you get an international data plan from your cell phone provider for this trip. The most common options are the Travel Pass with Verizon, or purchasing a personal hot spot with your carrier. Read on for additional connectivity must-knows:
- Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars, though charges may apply and it may be slower than in the U.S.
- Wi-Fi is not available in the safari vehicles. More reason to enjoy the views around you!
- For your cell phone and any other electronics you bring abroad, you will need a converter/adapter (type G)
- Cameras and phones are allowed on safaris, but you are required to silence your devices so that you don’t startle or disrupt the animals
Note: You will need a type “G” adapter / converter on this tour. A staff favorite is also the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)
On The Ground
Money and Tipping
The currency of Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling; Although US Dollars are widely accepted, we recommend using local currency to pay for bar bills, souvenirs, and non-included meals on your trip. You should order some local currency from your bank before this trip, and we also recommend you bring a debit/credit card with you, which you can use to withdraw cash at local banks or ATMs if needed. See more information about money abroad below:
- While better exchange rates are usually found overseas, it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive
- US Dollars are accepted in Kenya, but note that no bills printed before 2003 are accepted due to a high number of fake notes in circulation
- It’s extremely useful to have supply of U.S. currency and local currency in small denominations for this trip
- Budget around $40-$50 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities
- We recommend tipping your Tour Guide $44-$66 at the end of the trip, plus additional tips ($1) for local guides. Tipping is an important part of Kenya’s local economy, and a 10% tip is customary in city restaurants and bars when a service charge is not included.
Note: Let your bank and credit card companies know your travel plans ahead of time to avoid potential complications while abroad.
Transfers and Game Drives (Safari)
On this trip, you’ll drive via private vans, safari vehicles, or bus between cities which can take anywhere between 2-8 hours depending on distance, local traffic, and bathroom or photo-stop breaks. Note that the road conditions in Kenya can be rough at times, and some stretches of roads may be dirt.
Game drives are drives or safaris through the wild to see animals in their own environment. During game drives your group will be in safari vehicles, which are usually a 4x4 jeep, van, or Land Rover-style vehicle that can handle the off-road terrain. These vehicles typically accommodate 4-10 people so your group may be split up when driving.
- If you’re prone to getting car-sick, please bring motion-sickness medicine like Dramamine with you
- Remember the days can be hot and the nights are chilly, so pack your layers and sun protection!
- Bring your camera or phone fully-charged on game drives, along with a water bottle and anything you need to be comfortable. Safaris can last 2-3 hours, 4 hours at the most.
- Game Drive vehicles are open, allowing for panoramic views. Window seats are guaranteed for all travelers.
- Transfers between parks are long and cross bumpy terrain, so we recommend bringing a small pillow to ease the ride.
Optimize Your Free Time
We’ve packed a lot of activity and sightseeing into this tour, which means there is less free time than a typical Ultimate Break trip. Plus, many of your accommodations are in National Parks/Reserves, rather than major cities or hubs. We recommend purchasing the EF Ultimate Break optional excursions for this trip in order to make the most of your time in Kenya, and avoid experiencing FOMO!
Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add ons.
As you prepare to spend time in a new culture, here are some expert tips to help you understand the ins and outs of East Africa, and feel like a local Kenyan:
- Tap water is not safe to drink. Instead, stick with bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth
- Local culture dictates you always eat with your right hand - do not touch food with your left
- Animal protection efforts are strong in Kenya, so keep this in mind when buying souvenirs and observing animals in their local habitats
- Avoid walking on your own at night in major cities or at your safari camps. In safari camps, the staff at the accommodation will likely not allow you to wander camp grounds unsupervised due to animal precautions
- Kenya is a fairly conservative society, especially where Islam is practiced. Courtesy and manners are highly valued
- Kenya is the world’s top safari destination - get your contact lens renewed and your camera film ready.
- Avoid wearing flashy jewelry or carrying large sums of cash with you in order to avoid unwanted attention or suspicion
- Be mindful when photographing local people - always ask permission and be prepare to be asked for payment
Wine and Dine
Cuisine in your game lodges reflects the region’s British colonial influence—you may find that many locals pause for afternoon tea, most restaurants offer curries and other South Asian cuisine brought over by the many Indian immigrants. Maize, sweet potatoes, and pineapple were brought over by the Portuguese, and beef has been a staple since the 1600s. You’ll sample a variety of local dishes on your trip, but read on for tips, tricks, and delicacies you must try.
- Ugali: A staple of Kenya, this is a maize and cassava flour combo typically eaten with your hands
- Mushy Peas: Irio is a mix of mashed peas and potato. A famous dish in Kenya, this is best served with roasted meat or some sort of Kenyan-style stew
- Githeri: Otherwise known as beans and corn, this dish keeps things simple.
- Kenyan Pilau: A glorified combo of rice and spices is great with stew, tomatoes, and onions!
- Wali wa Nazi: Aka, coconut rice. Need we say more?
- Kenyan Stew: This typically includes different meats (goat, beef, chicken) as well as carrots, peppers, or potatoes, plus a tomato base and mchuzi mix!
- Nyama Choma: Nyama Choma, or, roasted meat. Enough said.
- Mandazi: Kenyan donuts! Not your average donut, these are best served with a cup of chai.
Note: Vegetarian options will likely be available but let your Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions ahead of time so they can plan accordingly.
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. But, it’s equally important for you to maintain your health and safety while abroad. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, drink plenty of water, get sleep when you can, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:
- Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
- Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
- Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
- At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi, and always have cash on hand.
- Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411
We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.