Preparing for your trip

Package: Kenya Safari Express

Print this page and refer to it as you prepare for your trip!

Printed 4/23/2019. Please check back for the latest updates.

Checklist

Item Due
Complete your tour registration. A link to this secure form will be included in your booking confirmation email. Within 24 hours of booking
Ensure you have a current passport valid for at least six months after your trip, and that the name on your booking matches your passport exactly. Immediately
Request any additions or changes you may still want to make to your trip. (Fees and/or additional charges may apply.) 75 days prior to travel
Make your final payment, if any balance is due.
75 days prior to travel
Obtain required travel visas and review any requirements for entry. See below
Print your itinerary and other final documents, which we will send you via email 14 days prior to travel. Prior to travel
Print your policy documents, if you purchased travel insurance, and carry with you. Prior to travel
Enroll in The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) if you're a U.S. citizen or national, so the State Dept. can locate and assist you in case of an emergency. Prior to travel

In addition, if you booked flights with your package:

Item Due
Book connecting flights to your departure city, if necessary. (Please confirm your international flight schedule first!) 75 days prior to travel
Make advance seat reservations for your international flight, if you have a preference. After receiving your e‑tickets
Call the airline to confirm your flights and any special meal requests. 72 hours prior to travel
Arrive at the airport, ready for the trip of a lifetime! 3½ hours prior to departure

Documents

Passport, Visa & Entry Requirements for Kenya

U.S. citizens must have a passport which is valid for at least six months after your return date, with at least three blank pages.

U.S. passport holders must have a visa to enter Kenya, obtained prior to arrival through the Kenya eVisa website or through a fee-based visa service such as our preferred provider VisaHQ. Consult the Embassy of Kenya or the U.S. Dept. of State website for more information.

If you do not hold a U.S. passport, you are responsible for obtaining any necessary visas and meeting all entry requirements. If a visa is required, we recommend using a fee-based visa service, such as our preferred provider VisaHQ.

Kenya requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry for passengers arriving from Yellow Fever Endemic Countries (this does not include the US). Find a local vaccination center.

General Requirements & Guidelines

  • It is the responsibility of each traveler to determine passport and visa requirements and comply with them and to secure the proper travel documents. To avoid disappointment and unnecessary expenses, please carefully review the requirements so that you can obtain all necessary documents well before your trip. Requirements are subject to change, often without notice, and we suggest you verify requirements with the relevant embassy or consulate. Airlines and cruises may deny boarding and your trip may be disrupted if your passport and visa are not in order. We will not be held responsible for any charges, trip interruptions, or cancellations due to incorrect or missing visas, nor will travel insurance cover your lost expenses.
  • Any changes in names or passport information should be reported to us immediately.
  • Minors (age 17 or younger) departing and/or returning to the U.S. without parents or with only one parent may be required by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) to present a notarized parental consent letter and/or unabridged birth certificate (more information). Many other countries have similar entry requirements, especially for minors traveling with a parent/guardian with a different surname; check with the consulates of all countries you'll be visiting to learn more.

Final Documents

Your final travel documents will be sent to you via email by 14 days prior to departure. These will include your daily itinerary, hotel and emergency contact information, and other relevant information. Please print your documents and take them with you. If you're departing in less than a week and haven't received your documents, let us know immediately!

Travel Protection Plan

If you purchased travel insurance, please print your policy documents. If you purchased our travel protection plan by Travelex, you can find the full policy here, which varies slightly by state. Carry these documents with you when you travel, as they include contact information for emergency travel assistance and instructions on how to make a claim.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

We encourage all U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free service allows you to receive important updates about safety and security issues in your destination, and makes it easier for the U.S. Embassy, as well as family & friends, to contact you in case of an emergency. To enroll or get more information, please visit the STEP website or any U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Flights, Transfers & Arrival

Land Only: If you purchased this package without flights, you are responsible for booking your own flights in and out of Nairobi. After you book your flights, please send us a copy of your flight arrangements for our records.

For land-only travelers, the touring program will begin at the hotel in Nairobi on Day 2 of the listed itinerary, and end with dinner (or lunch) in Nairobi on Day 7. Generally, hotel check-in time is 3pm and check-out time is 11am.

Flight schedule: If you selected flights with your package, please review the flight schedule. After we issue your tickets, we will send your actual confirmed flight schedule. Please be aware that airlines may change schedules even after flights have been confirmed, and we are not responsible for such changes.

Need to arrange connecting flights? While you may want to book these as soon as possible, we strongly suggest waiting until 75 days prior to departure (and after you make your final payment) to ensure materialization. In addition, your international flight times may change—airlines sometimes change schedules even after flights have been booked. When you purchase connecting flights, always confirm the schedule for your international flights first. Leave at least 3½ hours connecting time between flights, and if you're traveling within a few weeks of Daylight Savings Time changes (in March and November, when flight schedules may change even more dramatically), allow 5–5½ hours between flights. Nobody likes waiting around the airport, but missing your flight is far worse!

Questions about your flights before you depart? Contact our air specialists at 800-555-5765 ext. 208 or air@friendlyplanet.com.

Want to reserve specific seats?

That depends on the airline. You can usually request a window or aisle seat, and sometimes specific seat numbers (but not exit row and bulkhead seats) ahead of time. Many airlines now charge a fee for this, and such fees are not included in your package price. If you have a seat preference, let us know when you book, or email us at air@friendlyplanet.com after you book. Then:

If your airline does not charge a fee to pre-assign seats: We'll happily pass along your seat request to the airline and confirm they received it (though we cannot guarantee it will be honored).

If your airline does charge a fee to pre-assign seats: We'll let you know. You'll need to contact the airline directly to request your seats after we have issued your flight tickets, and fees are payable directly to the airline.

If you do not request specific seats: The airline typically assigns them within 24 hours of departure. If you do not like your assigned seats, you may be able to change them, subject to availability, when you check in online or at the counter. Learn more about Advance Seat Reservations.

Want to request a special meal?

You can enter special meal requests when you book with an agent or complete your online registration, shortly after booking. We will relay your requests to the airlines and our representatives abroad, but we cannot guarantee they will be honored. Please double check meal requests with your airline 72 hours before departure, and with our representatives upon arrival.

Looking to earn frequent flyer miles?

You may be able to earn frequent flyer points for your flights on this package. Contact the airline directly once you receive your tickets to enter your frequent flyer number in your flight record, or enter it when you check in. As you travel, check your tickets or ask the check-in or gate agent prior to boarding each flight to ensure the number has been entered properly. And just to be safe, keep your boarding passes and passenger receipt as proof that you have actually flown the miles you want credited to your account.

Interested in upgrading to business class or premium economy?

Cabin upgrades may be available on this package. Look for "More Flight Options" when you book online, or ask us about price and availability when you book by phone. Please note that our special contracted airfare rates generally do not permit upgrading with frequent flyer points, and that upgrade requests may incur change fees if tickets have already been issued.

Airport Transfers

If you purchased this package with flights, scheduled group airport transfers at the destination are included. When you exit customs, please look for our representative holding a Friendly Planet sign, who will cheerfully escort you to your transfer vehicle and assist with your luggage.

If you purchased this package without flights, transfers are generally not included. In most cases, private transfers are available for an additional fee; contact us for price and availability. Or you may instead arrange your own ground transportation to the touring program start and end points, usually the first and last hotels listed in the itinerary.

Arrival Complications

We make every effort to ensure our tours run smoothly and trouble-free. We don't expect any problems, and nor should you. But when things don't go as planned, here's what to do:

  • You miss your flights, or your flights are cancelled: Please call us immediately. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox, with a phone number at which to reach you, and we'll get right back to you.
  • Your flights are delayed and you're worried about missing your included transfers: Please contact us to let us know about the delay, and we will notify our partners in destination. If you are arriving on one of our group flights, or booked your own flights and supplied us with the details, our partners will be tracking your arrival and will plan accordingly.
  • Your package includes transfers, but you can't find our representative at your destination: Don't panic—they may have been unexpectedly delayed. Wait up to 30 minutes. Then contact our local partners in destination, listed on the emergency contact page of your final documents. If you can't reach them, call us. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox. If all else fails, make your own way to the starting hotel (or cruise port), and we'll refund you the cost of your transfer.

Flight Schedule

The flight schedule(s) below are for general planning puposes, and we try to keep them up-to-date. After we issue your tickets, we will send your actual confirmed flight schedule. Airlines may change schedules at any time, even after flights have been confirmed, and we are not responsible for such changes. Please confirm your flight schedule prior to booking any connecting flights and again prior to departure.

Questions about your flights before you depart? Contact our air specialists at 800-555-5765 ext. 208 or air@friendlyplanet.com.

Sample Flights from New York (JFK) for 2019:

Kenya Airlines (KQ) Toll-free number is 866-536-9224.

Feb 2019 departures

DEPARTURE
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
KQ 003 New York (JFK) Nairobi (NBO) 12:00 PM 10:30 AM (next day) 14.30 hrs
RETURN
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
KQ 002 NBO JFK 11:25 PM 6:25 AM (next day) 15 hrs


Departures March - September 2019

DEPARTURE
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
KQ 003 New York (JFK) Nairobi (NBO) 1:00 PM 10:30 AM (next day) 14.30 hrs
RETURN
Flight From To Depart Arrive Flight Time
KQ 002 NBO JFK 10:55 PM 6:25 AM (next day) 15 hrs

 

 

Packing & Luggage

Baggage allowance: In general, our tours & packages allow per person: one checked bag, not to exceed 44 pounds; one personal item such as a purse or camera bag; and one carry-on bag, which should fit under your seat or in the overhead compartment. If your trip includes domestic flights within your destination and/or travel by motor coach, your carry-on should also fit should also fit under your seat or in the overhead bins on those flights or coaches.

Please Note: Due to the limited space in safari vehicles, please pack lightly and we recommend that you bring a soft sided bag. Excess baggage will be stored and collected in Nairobi.

Learn more about Baggage Allowances on your international flights. Note that our baggage allowances may be less than those for your international flights. If you exceed the baggage limits, you may be subject to excess baggage charges levied by the airlines and/or by Friendly Planet.

Regardless of the limits—we recommend a smaller size and weight for both your checked and carry-on bags than what airlines typically allow. It's so much easier and faster to get around when you have fewer, lighter bags! For your carry-on, consider a soft-sided bag such as a duffel rather than a hard clamshell-type case, which may not fit as easily into overhead compartments or under your seat.

Luggage tags: We will mail you Friendly Planet luggage tags with your invoice. Fill in the luggage tags with your name and contact information and attach to each bag, including carry-ons and camera cases, so that your luggage can be identified should it get misplaced during your trip. However, we are not responsible for lost or damaged luggage.

What to pack: Check out our blog post on our Top 10 Must-Haves for International Travel. Pack smart: put your travel documents, medications, one change of clothing, and other essentials in your carry-on, in case your checked baggage is misplaced. And pack light, for your own comfort and convenience. For clothing, we suggest packing a variety of separates with climate and comfort in mind.

What not to pack: U.S. law forbids you to carry hazardous materials aboard aircraft in your checked or carry-on baggage or on your person, including explosives, compressed gases, flammable liquids & solids, loaded firearms, poisons, corrosives and radioactive materials. Common examples include paints, lighter fluid, fireworks, mace/tear gas and oxygen bottles. Restricted materials may vary by airline and destination. Some items, in quantities of no more than 70 ounces total, may be carried within baggage, including medicinal or toilet articles such as hairspray, perfume and certain medicines that are necessary during your journey. Please check with the airline and/or visit the FAA website prior to travel if you have any questions.

While on Tour

What to Expect

This fast-paced, partially escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations, sometimes on bumpy unpaved roads and may have limited rest stops.

Please remember that you are traveling as part of a group, and your personal cooperation to be on time for group activities will make the trip better for everyone. Also, please note that smoking is not permitted on our tour buses.

In General: Kindly exercise caution and sensitivity to the local customs, as many activities may be conducted differently from our own country. You will find that a polite, gentle approach and a friendly, positive demeanor will help you achieve the best results as you travel in Kenya. Many people speak English, but it is best to reconfirm with your guide, the hotel clerk, the waiter or any other service providers that what you have asked for or said has been understood. Remember that you are visiting a country where rules and regulations are taken very seriously. It is easy to get into trouble by not stopping to think before acting.  Exercise caution, and check with your guide before you do anything that might create a problem or spoil your trip. 

While we have made every effort to secure comfortable accommodations, transportation, restaurants, etc. we ask you to keep in mind that occasionally, the standards you encounter may be different from those you are used to at home. This is primarily due to the fact that the tourism infrastructure, while extensive, is still in the development stages, and therefore somewhat limited in certain areas. For example, on touring days you may encounter some delays due to the tremendous congestion and traffic in and around the city. Some days will require long scenic drives between destinations, sometimes on bumpy unpaved roads and may have limited rest stops. Your patience and understanding are appreciated, and if you are uncomfortable or unsatisfied at any point, please let your guide or tour director know and they will address it immediately.

Water & Produce: As noted below in the accommodations section, the water in your hotel (from the tap) is not potable. Even if the hotel posts a sign that it is safe to drink tap water, please do not drink it. Make sure to only drink water and other beverages from sealed bottles or cans. The rule for water also pertains to ice, as it is commonly made from unfiltered, tap water. At included meals, you may enjoy the cooked fruits and vegetables, but stay away from raw items unless you can peel them. Most of our intestinal systems are not accustomed to the micro-organisms in the raw foods and water of other countries. Please do not hesitate to enjoy some of the very fine restaurants in the locations you will be traveling. There will be many, and if you exercise caution, you will avoid getting sick.

Game Reserves: The highlight of your trip will be various safaris through the different Game Reserves. Please keep in mind that wildlife viewing is a matter of luck, and there are no assurances that you’ll view all of the animals you would like to see. However, the experience of taking the game drives is wonderful, no matter which animals you encounter!

Your Schedule:  On several days during your trip, a considerable driving distance between the various National Parks is involved. Please note that due to poor road conditions in some of the areas visited, some discomfort during those days should be expected.  Your patience and understanding are appreciated.  

Remain Watchful & Enjoy: You may have read about the spreading crime in some of the larger urban areas of Kenya, primarily in Nairobi. While your Nairobi hotel is a deluxe property which has excellent security, please exercise caution and care. Whenever in doubt, please ask your tour guide.

Kenya Plastic Bag Ban: In an effort to curb litter and support environmental sustainability, Kenya has banned the use of plastic carrier bags and other certain plastic bags, including duty free carrier bags, general shopping bags, bin liners (used to protect luggage from the rain), and dry cleaning bags (commonly wrapped around clothing). Those arriving in Kenya via airports or land borders will be required to leave prohibited bags at the point of entry. You will not be fined, as long as you surrender the plastic bags. Suitable replacement options for your travel needs can be: paper bags, durable and reusable shopping bags or totes, and/or bags made from cloth, woven grass, or sisal.

Please Note: The zip-lock bags given by the airport to carry your liquids through security are classified as durable plastic bags and are allowed as it is part of the security process.

Accommodations

Our hotels are all Western-style, and your room will, of course, have a private bathroom. The water in the hotel tap system is usually not potable. Hotels will normally provide bottled or thermos water, which has been boiled. However, any water that you consume from the hotel mini-bar will be charged to your room, and you will be responsible for payment. Electrical current is 220v with 50 cycles. Wall sockets will vary. Take a travel converter/adapter kit with you, as these are not readily available.

Meals

The meals included with your package are listed in the itinerary.

Non-Included Meals: The average cost for dinner (not including drinks) in the hotel coffee shops will average about $20 - $40 per person, per meal. Your hotels accept credit card payments for not-included meals.

Please see above for special meal requests.

Tipping

You will be traveling through Kenya in the company of a professional National Guide and driver who are very committed to making your tour the dream vacation you are counting on. These people feel great pride in being given a chance to show foreign visitors their country. If your guide, driver and others with whom you are traveling are doing a good job, please take our suggestions for tipping seriously. Naturally, tipping is personal and completely voluntary, and if you have not received good service, your tip should reflect this fact. (You should also let us know without delay.) But just as you would never think of having dinner at a restaurant without leaving an appropriate tip, you should apply the same thinking to tipping as you travel.

A small gratuity to your guides and drivers will be greatly appreciated by them. The recommended amounts are as follows: $7-10 per person per day for your Safari driver/guide/game spotter; $3 gratuity to restaurant staff per meal (lunch/dinner); and $1 to hotels/lodges porters upon arrival and departure is also appreciated. It is also customary to tip the hotel staff. Our recommended amount is $1 per person per day for housekeeping. As always, gratuities are an individual expression of thanks and should be based on the level of service provided.

Optional Excursions

To enhance and make your visit to Kenya more complete and memorable, your local guide will offer optional excursions. Payments for these tours should be made directly to your guide via cash in U.S. dollars or by major credit card. Please note, payments made by credit card are subject to a 4% service charge. Optional tours are subject to a minimum number of participants and may therefore be canceled if this minimum is not met.

Independent Activities

You can leave the group and explore on your own while in major cities, such as Nairobi; however, please make sure to inform your National Guide, and/or Local Guide in advance and seek their advice. There is NO refund for unused group arrangements. We recommend that you ask the front desk for a business card of the hotel with the address and local phone number in both the local language and English. Or take the name of the hotel and phone number - written in the local language and in English - with you so that you can communicate with taxi drivers. Your hotel staff will gladly assist you with these translations.

In Masai Mara and other national parks, there is no opportunity for self-exploration because it is not permitted by park management. Should you decide to opt out of a group activity, you can remain at the hotel/lodge and enjoy other activities offered on the premises.

Special Needs & Requests

Please see above for special meal requests and seat requests. If you have any other special requests, including wheelchair or electric cart assistance, please mention your request when you book. We will do our best to accommodate them!

Country FAQs

Fast Facts about Kenya

Overview

Capital: Nairobi
Population:  46 million
Currency: Kenyan shilling (KES)
Languages: Swahili and English
Drives on the: Left
Time zone: GMT/UTC +3

Health Precautions & Vaccinations

The CDC recommends for anyone traveling to or coming from a yellow fever endemic country to take the Yellow Fever vaccine prior to travel. Yellow fever is a risk in certain parts of Kenya, so vaccination against yellow fever is recommended for travelers to these areas. In addition, if you have recently traveled to a Yellow Fever Endemic Country, you must show proof of yellow fever vaccination for entry into Kenya and/or another country (such as Tanzania, for example). Find a local vaccination center. Travelers may be denied entry for not having sufficient proof of immunization. An exemption may be granted under certain medical circumstances, so be sure to discuss this issue with your physician.

According to the WHO, malaria risk exists throughout the year in the whole country. There is normally little risk in the city of Nairobi and in the highlands (above 2500 m) of Central, Eastern, Nyanza, Rift Valley and Western provinces. Please consult with your personal physician or local public health authorities regarding taking anti-malaria pills.

Consult your doctor about taking additional vaccinations for polio, typhoid, and hepatitis.

Center for Disease Control 
World Health Organization

Weather

With the exception of the months of April and May, which are very wet, Kenya is a year-round destination. Most of Kenya is at higher elevations which alleviates the heat. Generally speaking, the weather is temperate with average daytime temperatures in the 60's-80's. However, in higher elevations you may experience cooler temperatures. In the arid, desert- like region of Samburu National Park, temperatures may be hotter.

What to wear

We suggest bringing clothes made of cotton, preferably in neutral colors (especially for game drives). A hat, scarf, sunscreen and insect repellent are also valuable accessories for your trip. If you have two pairs of comfortable (broken in, not brand new) walking shoes, by all means, take both pairs. Since weather can be unpredictable anywhere in the world and to be sure you are comfortable during your trip and prepared for all types of weather possibilities, we recommend that you carry a small folding umbrella (or poncho) and take with you a light jacket or sweater.  Packing to dress in layers is the best way to prepare for a variety of weather conditions. Finally, remember that the countries visited on this tour are casual, and comfort should dictate your wardrobe for the tour. Binoculars are also suggested.

Money

The local currency in Kenya is the Kenyan shilling. Hotels and some stores accept major credit cards. However, for "street shopping" you will need local currency. Your hotel will be able to exchange your cash to local currency.

Credit cards are the most convenient way to pay for items you purchase as you travel. Be sure to call your credit card providers to let them know you will be traveling abroad, the places you’ll be visiting and the dates of your trip. This is important for your own protection. We suggest that you bring along cash in small denominations and we highly recommended that you bring crisp, new bills. If you wish to exchange U.S. dollars to the local currency, new, crisp U.S. dollar in large bills ($20, $50, $100) are preferred. Old, torn, crumpled bills & US dollars printed 2000 or earlier are not accepted in East Africa. Travelers’ checks are not accepted in Kenya.

Always notify your bank prior to departure to avoid any problems using your credit or debit card abroad.

Shopping

Shop for wood carvings of animals and people, sisal baskets, Masai and Kikuyu beadwork, hand-woven sarong fabric, soapstone, gourds, ebony carvings, batik wall hangings, tanzanite gemstones, and malachite. Some of the best handcrafts of Kenya and other countries in Africa are sent to Nairobi. Visit artist cooperatives to buy directly from artists.

While we take great care in arranging the components of your tour, we have no relationship with the shopping venues you’ll encounter, and we cannot be liable for any purchases you make. Please keep in mind that many, if not most stores outside the U.S. will not allow exchanges or refunds for your purchased items.

Cash may be the only form of payment accepted for shopping in Kenya, particularly throughout the Masai Mara and at the Masai Village. 

There have been problems with not receiving souvenirs shipped home, so we advise that you carry them home in your luggage.

Please Note: Strict conservation laws in Kenya make it illegal to purchase coral, shells, ivory, or the skins of endangered species. The penalties for trying to transport or smuggle these items out of the country may be severe.

Tips for Bargaining: Bargaining is a way of life in Kenya. If you want to purchase something, and you think the price you’ve been quoted is too high, thank the vendor and walk away. Generally, he/she will come after you with a lower price. It is usually considered good bargaining policy to offer half the asking price, and negotiate from there. But the negotiations should be done in a respectful way. Kindly note that most hotel shops maintain fixed prices.

Electricity & Power Adapters

240 volts. Plug G. You will need a voltage converter and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit. View more information about electrical standards around the world.

Cell Phones & Internet

Want to take your cell phone, tablet or laptop, but not sure how to get cell service or wifi? See our blog posts on using your cell phone abroad and the top 5 ways to get Internet abroad.

Photography

Cameras and video recorders are permitted, and photography is generally permitted everywhere except at airports and military installations. It is always polite to ask before taking a picture of a person. Memory cards for digital cameras will be available in major cities. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Kenya

  1. I heard Kenya has banned plastic bags?

    [September 2017] In an effort to curb litter and support environmental sustainability, Kenya has banned most single-use plastic bags. Those arriving in Kenya via airports or land borders will be required to surrender any prohibited bags. (You will not be fined as long as you comply.) The Ziploc® bags used to carry liquids through security are exempt from this ban. The following sorts of bags will not be permitted:
    • Duty-free carrier bags
    • General shopping bags
    • Bin liners (sometimes used to protect luggage during rain)
    • Dry cleaning bags (commonly wrapped around clothing)

    Some suitable & allowed replacements:

    • Paper bags
    • Durable, reusable shopping bags
    • Bags made from cloth, woven grass or sisal

Fine Print

Terms & Conditions: Please check out the terms & conditions for this package.

Cancellations: If something comes up and you need to cancel your trip, please let us know as soon as possible. All cancellations must be made in writing. Cancellation fees vary by package; please see the cancellation fees for this package.

Materialization: This package may require a minimum number of passengers to operate. In the unlikely event that your departure must be cancelled due to lack of participation, we will notify you prior to the final payment due date, and offer alternate dates of travel or a full refund. Please do not purchase any domestic connecting flights, or other services which are dependent upon the operation of your package, until this time.