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Kenya Travel Tips

Written by  Joomla! Jan 01, 2011

Visas

Foreign travelers must have valid passports; a visa valid for not less than three months is required for non-citizens of the commonwealth countries if they are to enter Kenya. Currently citizens of Germany, Denmark, Norway, San Marino, Sweden, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Finland, Spain, Turkey and Uruguay do not require visas but this does not exempt a potential traveler from consulting a Kenya Embassy or High Commissions in their country for more information since changes may occur anytime, a midst planning a tour. Travelers with proper documents and possess onward or return tickets may be given visitor's passes at a refundable deposit of Kenya Shillings 5,000 on arrival at any Kenyan point of entry.

Climate

The climate of Kenya varies by location; from mostly cool every day, to always warm/hot. The climate along the coast is tropical. This means rainfall and temperatures are higher throughout the year. At the coastal city of Mombasa, the air changes from cool to hot, almost every day. The further inside Kenya, the more arid the climate becomes. An arid climate is nearly devoid of rainfall, and temperature swings widely according to the general time of the day/night. For many areas of Kenya, the daytime temperature rises about 12 C (corresponding to a rise of about 22F), almost every day.
Elevation is the major factor in temperature levels, with the higher areas, on average, as 11°C (20°F) cooler, day or night.The many mile-high cities have temperature swings from roughly 50–79 °F (10–26.1 °C). Nairobi, at 1,798 m (5,899 ft) or 1.798 km (1.12 mi), ranges from 49–80 °F (9.4–26.7 °C),and Kitale at 1,825 m (5,988 ft) or 1.825 km (1.13 mi), ranges from 51–82 °F (10.6–27.8 °C). At night in the highlands, temperatures drop to about 50–54 °F (10–12.2 °C) every night.

At lower altitudes, the increased temperature is like day and night, literally: like starting the morning at the highland daytime high, and then adding the heat of the day, again. Hence, the overnight low temperatures near sea level are nearly the same as the high temperatures of the elevated Kenyan highlands. However, locations along the Indian Ocean have more moderate temperatures, as a few degrees cooler in the daytime, such as at Mombasa.

There are slight seasonal variations in temperature, of 4 °C or 7.20 °F,cooler in the winter months. Although Kenya is centered at the equator, it shares the seasons of the southern hemisphere: warmest summer months in February-March and the coolest winter months in July-August, although only a few degrees cooler.

On the high mountains, such as Mount Kenya, Mount Elgon and Kilimanjaro, the weather can become bitterly cold for most of the year. Some snowfall has occurred on the highest mountains.

Currency

The Kenya shilling (KSH)is a stable currency and used in both notes and currency. There are no legal restrictions of foreign exchange transactions and the shilling is fully convertible (you can buy Kenya shillings with US dollars or US dollars with Kenya shillings). Smaller US bills from 20 and below attract a much lower exchange rate than larger bills (for example; US$50 and US$100 notes).
Dollar notes dated 2001 and earlier are not accepted by some Bureau de changes thus, it is better to carry later notes.
The United Kingdom (England) pound is also accepted at Bureau de changes stops.
Don’t change money in the street.

Banks open from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm Nairobi time- Monday to Fridays and from 9.00 am and 11.00 am on Saturdays.

Credit Cards

VISA, MASTERCARD and AMERICAN EXPRESS are widely accepted for tourist services. There is usually a 5% mark-up on top of the price as establishments are charged a fixed percentage of their transactions.

Health

Yellow Fever Vaccination is now REQUIRED. Malaria risk is general, and a prophylaxis should be taken: use insect repellent, cover up at sundown, sleep under a mosquito net and take anti-malaria prophylactics as prescribed by physician. Bring prescription medicine, spare glasses, contact lenses and solution as well as sunscreen and cream for bites/stings. Drink only boiled and bottled water, canned drinks, avoid ice cubes and salads. HIV/AIDS is widespread; therefore we strongly recommend the use of condoms.

Drinking Water

Drinking water from the tap must be considered risky. Hotels and lodges usually furnish safe water in a thermos flask in guest rooms. Bottled mineral water is available in every hotel and supermarket.

Security

Normal precautions as in any other destination world-wide should be taken. Visitors are advised not to leave cash and valuables in their hotel rooms but to make use of safe deposit boxes and safes. One should never carry large sums in cash and women should keep a tight grip on handbags in crowds or busy streets. Jewellery snatching is quite common in city streets. As in all major cities walking alone or in small groups at night should be considered a hazard and avoided. Reliable taxis are available at all the principal hotels. Taking photographs at airports, near military installations, of policeman, the president, the national flag, the State House, state lodges, soldiers, prisons and prisoners etc., is prohibited. Before photographing local people, permission should be obtained and a fixed price agreed. Seek the assistance of your driver/guide in this matter.

Most of Kenya is perfectly safe for foreign tourists, and certainly we have never encountered any problems. On some routes in the south, notably between Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks you are advised to take advantage of the local armed guards who will travel with you to deter bandits. The North of the country is a very different matter with frequent bandit attacks near the borders. In fact Kenya currently has a problem with militia groups from Ethiopia crossing the border and terrorizing Kenyan villagers. We are on the side of caution and avoid travelling in these northern border areas.

Voltage

Both mains electricity and generated supply in lodges provide 240 volts AC 50 cycles. Most large hotels and some game lodges provide shaving points with 110v 50 cycles. Sockets are normally three pin and of the 'square' variety.

Language

English and Kiswahili are the official languages, several indigenous language are all over the rest of the country.

Mails and Calls

Keeping in touch by mail and telephone is generally easy. Direct overseas dialing is possible from major centers and increasingly from remote places such as game lodges. Call home bureaus are in plenty in Nairobi as are the Cyber cafe for e-mail and Internet access in the towns throughout the country.

Getting There
Kenya has two main Airports namely; Jomo Kenyatta International Airport which is located 16 km from Nairobi city center and Moi International Airport which is located 12 km from Mombasa town center. Mombasa port at the cost with Indian Ocean is the major entry by Sea. International Airport departure tax equivalent to US$ 30 per person is payable on departure from the International airports. A local airport service charge is also payable on departure for domestic flights. This varies from country to country.

Shopping In Kenya

The tourist areas and hotels sell a wide range of souvenirs, jewelry and trinkets. Don’t be afraid to haggle at roadside stalls.

Some people do find the attention of hawkers selling fruit, masks, animal carvings, souvenir spears and shields rather intimidating. We find that simply saying "no thank you" in a polite, friendly but firm tone does the trick. Having a small stock of biros, which can be given to children, helps smooth the way. Other than that we have relied on the advice and good sense of our local guides to provide advice on where to shop and what to watch out for.

Luggage to Carry on a Kenya Tour

On most flights, airlines allow 20-40kg of luggage, or two pieces. We prefer that clients use soft luggage since space for luggage is limited in safari vehicles.
We can arrange for the storage of items that you will not be using while on safari.

Tipping

Not obligatory, but a tip for exceptional service would be appreciated. If you are on a camping safari, the suggested minimum tip for your cook is $5-10 per day. Regarding other activities such as, a canoe safari, bike ride, cultural visits, name it, each particular guide or company has been paid by Avian Safaris but in some cases you might feel compelled to offer a tip for exceptional service In that case, it is purely a personal decision but you might think of something in the range of $5 to $20 per group depending on the amount and level of service. These are general guidelines and you should feel free to tip as you see appropriate. Ask your guide in other instances if you are not sure whether to tip.

Last modified on Thursday, 30 April 2015 00:01

Shoebill Balaeniceps rex

Diet: Lungfishes, Catfish, Tilapia, Frogs, Reptiles, and small mammal

Habitat and feeding: Swamps, marshes, particular floating vegetation, generally muddy areas on fresh water bodies

The Shoebill is a massive bird, growing to heights of 3-1/2ft to 4-1/2ft tall.

The birds nest solitarily, laying one to three eggs in a large flat nest built amid swamp grasses or sedges, usually in remote areas. These eggs measure 80 to 90 mm high by 56 to 61 mm and weigh around 164 g. It takes 140 days of nest-attendance to get from new-laid egg to independent offspring and it takes three to four years to get from newly independent offspring to mature adult.

This species is considered to be one of the five most desirable birds in Africa by ornithologists.

Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta)

This sedentary medium-sized wading bird of 56 cm long, weighing 470 gm  is know to occur from Africa to coastal southwest Arabia wetlands.

Hamerkops feed during the day, the main diet consists of amphibians and fish. Sometimes, they eat shrimp, insects and rodents. They walk in shallow water looking for prey, shuffling one foot at a time on the bottom or suddenly opening their wings to flush prey out of hiding.

Hamerkops, of all birds make the biggest nest in the trees, sometimes more than 1.5 m across, comprising perhaps 10,000 sticks and strong enough to support a man's weight. A mud-plastered entrance 13 to 18 cm wide in the bottom leads through a tunnel up to 60 cm long to a nesting chamber big enough for the parents and young.

They lay 3 to 7 eggs that start white but soon become stained. Both sexes incubate for 28 to 30 days. The chicks leave the nest at 44 to 50 days.

In culture, the bird is associated to bad omen; Some cultures in Uganda believe, when the bird patches on ones house then they are likely to be struck by lightening. In some places, when it calls over the house, people know that someone close to them has died. The Kalahari Bushmen believe that the inimical god Khauna would not like anyone to kill a Hamerkop. According to an old Malagasy belief, anyone who destroys its nest will get leprosy, and a Malagasy poem calls it an "evil bird". Such beliefs have given the bird some protection.

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