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.
Travel Documents & Tour Preparation
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 617-619-1411. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
- Passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date.
- Visa: A visa is required for this tour. Please find additional information below.
- Travel Insurance: All travelers are required to provide proof of international medical insurance. Travelers must bring a certificate of proof of purchase and coverage. Check out the cost-effective Travel Protection, designed to meet the needs of EF travelers here.
A Visa is required for all U.S. travelers going to Kenya. It is your responsibility to apply for this visa and obtain all necessary travel documents. EF Ultimate Break will not complete this process for you, but we’ve provided additional information below regarding this application process:
- You may obtain an e-Visa online through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, using the link here. This is the easiest and most recommended route, and costs approximately $50 - $100.
- You may also 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
- The visa application process can take up to 15 business days or longer to complete so be sure to start this process well in advance.
- Talk with your doctor: It is highly recommended that you talk with your doctor about your travel plans. If you are taking any medications, be certain to bring enough to last throughout your trip.
- Traveling with allergies? Let your Trip Consultant and Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions/allergies and we will do what we can to accommodate for any included meals.
- 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.
- Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan for your mobile device so you can stay connected while on the road. Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
- Get the EF Ultimate Break app: Your trip's group will be able to connect on the app before you meet IRL. Don't miss out! Meet other travelers, get updates from your Tour Director, see flights and accommodations, and more. If you're having trouble, give us a call at 617-619-1411.
Arrival Information, Transportation, & Game Drives
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 canceled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancelations. 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.
- Travel from the U.S. to Kenya is a long process (15-20+ hours total travel time). Bring a book, watch a movie (or five), and drink plenty of water!
Arriving in Nairobi
Congratulations! You’re about to set foot in the #1 Safari Destination of the WORLD. Before you arrive, your Tour Director will communicate through the EF Ultimate Break app, WhatsApp, or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is an important reason to make sure you have the EF Ultimate Break app! Once you arrive in Kenya it will be late evening so you’ll have time to sleep upon arrival.
- If you have booked your own flight arrangements or have extended your travels before the tour dates, you will need to make your own way to the first hotel. Accommodation details will be available in your online account 30 days prior to departure.
Transfers & 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.
Fact: Travel is exhilarating. And FOMO is real. So, we understand why you don’t want to miss a second of the action. But there’s a difference between maximizing your time and spreading yourself too thin. Here are some tips to stay healthy and happy on tour:
- Sleep: Flying across the globe, changing time zones, and being constantly on the move can take a toll on your body. Make sure you get the rest your body needs. If that means missing a night out for some well-earned rest, or having a little afternoon siesta, so be it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Stay hydrated: It’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially after spending all day in the sun!
- Be Prepared: The most prepared travelers will bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
- Take time for yourself: Group travel is an amazing experience, and there’s nothing quite like exploring a foreign country with a group of like-minded people. That said, it’s okay to take time for yourself to relax and reflect on your experience. Here are a few mindfulness apps you can take with you on the road:
- Insight Timer: Meditation apps are very in right now. This one is especially amazing because there are 80,000 free daily meditations to help with sleep, anxiety, and stress.
- What’s Up: If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed, What’s Up can help you manage these feelings with interactive games, forums, and a thought tracking diary.
- Talkspace: No need to make appointments or commute to a therapist’s office. Talkspace gives you 24/7 access to real, licensed therapists. You can talk, text, or video chat with them right from your phone.
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:
- Many parts of Kenya are considered high-risk for malaria. Wear long clothing at night to help prevent being bitten, apply insect repellent to exposed skin, and take anti-malaria pills. Please note that depending on what type of malaria pills you purchase, you may need to begin your regiment before departing the U.S.
- 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 Kenya. 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.
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, 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:
- 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
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411
Same-sex relations are illegal in Kenya, and being found guilty can result in lengthy prison sentences. And though there aren't technically any laws regarding gender identity, this is often conflated with sexual orientation and can also lead to time in prison. Discretion while in Kenya is highly advised.
Packing & Electronics
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.
Soft-sided luggage or duffel bags are preferable to hard luggage for storage on safari vehicles within Kenya. 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
- 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
- Regular medications
- Anti-malaria pills
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Strong insect repellent (20% DEET or greater)
- 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.
Phone & 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
Money & 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.
- Let your bank and credit card companies know your travel plans ahead of time to avoid potential complications while abroad.
Your Tour Guides
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, EF Ultimate Break app, 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.
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:
- Though English and Swahili are the official and most common languages, there's estimated to be over 70 languages spoken throughout the country.
- 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.
- 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.
- Be mindful when photographing local people - always ask permission and be prepare to be asked for payment.
Please note that a majority of the dinners included on this tour will be buffet-style at the overnight accommodation the tour resides for that evening. Travelers will have the opportunity to dine outside of the hotel in certain areas if they wish to try local dishes.
Food & Drink
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.
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.
Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add-ons.
If you have signed up for the Hell's Gate National Park optional, please note that this activity is part game drive, part hike. The hike along the gorges last 1-2 hours over uneven terrain. You will need hiking boots or very sturdy walking shoes. Other recommended items to bring include: plenty of water, binoculars, camera, hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.
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.