Preparing for your trip
|Package:||Kenya Safari Express|
Print this page and refer to it as you prepare for your trip!
Printed Mar 26, 2023. Please visit http://static.friendlyplanet.com/before-you-go/?tourId=343 for the latest updates.
|☐||Ensure you have a current passport valid for at least six months after your return date.||ASAP|
|☐||Complete your registration. You'll receive a link to the registration form after you complete your booking.||Within 5 days of booking|
|☐||Make your final payment, if any balance is due.||See your invoice|
|☐||Request any additions or changes you may still want to make to your trip.||by final payment due date|
|☐||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 by 14 days prior to travel.||Prior to travel|
|☐||Print your policy documents, if you purchased travel insurance, and carry them 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:
|☐||Book connecting flights to your departure city, if necessary. (Please confirm your international flight schedule first!)||After receiving your e‑tickets|
|☐||Make advance seat reservations for your international flight, if you have a preference.||After receiving your e‑tickets|
|☐||Confirm your flight times and any special meal requests with the airline, and print and carry a copy of your e-ticket.||72 hours prior to travel|
|☐||Check in for your flights online and download/print your boarding passes (if available).||24 hours prior to travel|
|☐||Arrive at the airport, ready for the trip of a lifetime!||3½ hours prior to departure|
Documents & Entry Requirements
Entry requirements are provided for your convenience. However, unless otherwise stated, it is your responsibility to determine the requirements that apply to you and your trip and to comply with them, including obtaining any necessary visas or other travel documents by the required deadlines and carrying them with you. Especially with COVID-19, requirements are subject to change, so check back for the latest before you depart.
US passengers are required to have a visa to enter Kenya.
Kenya Entry Requirements
Advice from Friendly Planet
COVID-19 Entry Requirements: Digital confirmation of your completed vaccination certificate and your PCR test which must be taken a maximum of 72 hours prior to departure to Kenya. This confirmation can be obtained through the Global Haven website or at https://globalhaven.org/ . Please create an account, enter your travel and personal details, and upload your test result certificate and your vaccine details for verification. After completion, a QR code will be generated for you to download. Bring a print-out or take a screenshot of the QR Code, as this will be requested by the airline and airport officials to facilitate entry to Kenya.
Advice from our partner Sherpa
General Requirements & Guidelines
- In general, you must have a passport to travel abroad, which should be valid for at least six months after your return date. Passports expiring before then should be renewed as soon as possible. Passports contain at least 2 blank pages for each country visited. If your passport does not have this many pages, obtain a new passport as soon as possible.
- if your passport and visa are not in order, airlines and cruise ships may deny boarding, countries may deny entry, and your trip may be disrupted. Travel insurance may not cover such losses.
- Any changes in names or passport information should be reported to us immediately. Airlines and cruise ships may deny boarding if the name on your passport does not match your tickets.
- 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.
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 Insurance Documents
If you purchased travel insurance, please print and carry your policy documents, including contact information for emergency travel assistance and instructions on how to make a claim. If you purchased the travel protection plan we offer, we recommend you print the full policy.
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
Questions about your flights before you depart? Read the information below first. If you still have questions, contact our air specialists at
Tour Only Option
If you purchased this package without flights, you are responsible for booking your own flights in and out of Nairobi. The touring program will begin at the hotel in Nairobi on Day 2 of the listed itinerary, and it will end in Nairobi on Day 7. Please book a flight departing from Nairobi at 10 PM or later on Day 7. Generally, hotel check-in time is at 3 PM and check-out is at 11 AM. After you book your flights, please send us your flight itinerary for our records.
Find out what to do in case of arrival complications.
Flights & Tickets
If you selected flights with your package, we generally book your flights and issue tickets after your final payment due date.
Once we have issued your tickets, we'll send you an "e-ticket receipt" which contains all of your flight information, including times, carriers, an airline booking reference number, and an e-ticket number. If you have not received this, or have questions about the flights we booked for you, please contact our air department. You will not receive paper tickets. We recommend you print and carry a copy of your flight details, including the airline booking reference number and e-ticket number, as some airports require this to enter the terminal. You do not need to reconfirm your flights with the airline prior to your departure, as we will handle this for you.
You may contact Kenya Airways directly for your preferred seating once you receive your electronic tickets via email. Otherwise, seats will be assigned at the airport when you check-in. Kenya Airlines (KQ) Toll-free number is 866-536-9224.
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, in the special requests section, or email us at [email protected] 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.
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.
You may be able to earn frequent flyer points for your flights. 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.
Cabin upgrades may be available on your flights. Ask us about price and availability when you book online, in the special requests section, or contact our air department after you book. 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.
If you selected flights with your package, you may review the sample flight schedule(s) below. This information is for general planning puposes. You will receive your actual flight schedule by email once we issue your tickets.
Airlines may change schedules at any time, even after flights have been confirmed, and we are not responsible for such changes. Please check for updates to your flight schedule prior to booking any connecting flights and again 72 hours prior to departure.
Sample Flights from New York (JFK):
Kenya Airlines (KQ) Toll-free number is 866-536-9224.
|KQ 003||New York (JFK)||Nairobi (NBO)||1:45 PM||10:30 AM (next day)||13.45 hrs|
|KQ 002||NBO||JFK||11:35 PM||6:35 AM (next day)||15 hrs|
If you plan to purchase connecting flights to your departure city, we strongly suggest waiting until after your final payment due date and after you receive the e-tickets for your international flights, to reduce the chances that that your departure might be cancelled or rescheduled or that your international flight times might change. Before purchasing connecting flights, verify the times for your international flights. 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!
Scheduled group airport arrival and departure transfers are included with this package. 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 not included. In most cases, private transfers are available for an additional fee; contact us for pricing and availability. Or you may arrange your own ground transportation to the start and end points of the touring program, usually the first and last hotels listed in the itinerary.
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.
Packing & Luggage
Baggage allowance: Due to the limited space in safari vehicles, please pack lightly and bring a soft sided bag not exceeding 15 kgs or 33 pounds and 65 x 46 cm in measurement. Excess baggage will be stored and collected in Nairobi. Medications and other essentials should be packed in your carry-on luggage.
We highly recommend that you bring toiletries as those available locally may not be of the same quality you are accustomed. We also recommend that you bring insect repellant with Deet, sunscreen, common drugs and vitamins you normally take as well as binoculars, small flash light, and extra batteries and chargers for your electronic devices as these may not be available in the places visited on this tour.
We suggest bringing clothes made of cotton, preferably in neutral colors for game drives. Avoid wearing dark colored clothes, especially during your stay at the game reserve, as dark colors attract mosquitos and other insects. A wide brimmed hat to cover your face and back of your neck, sunglasses, and scarf 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. We also suggest to bring a pair of swim shoes, a swimsuit and at least one smart casual outfit if an occasion arises. Packing to dress in layers is another 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.
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. It's so much easier and faster for you 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, especially on buses. For your protection, we suggest your checked luggage have a TSA-approved lock.
Luggage tags: For your safety, we are no longer mailing Friendly Planet luggage tags to you. We encourage you to use your own. 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.
What to pack: Check out our list of top 10 must-haves for international travel, as well as what not to pack. 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.
Game Reserves: You will enjoy various safaris through Game Reserves. While you will undoubtedly witness incredible scenery, birds and many animals, wildlife viewing is a matter of luck, and there is no guarantee you will see every animal you hope to. No matter what animals you do see, game drives are a wonderful and exciting experience.
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.
Your Schedule: On several days during your trip, you will drive a considerable driving distance between the various National Parks. Please note that due to poor road conditions in some of the areas visited, parts of your drive will be bumpy and somewhat uncomfortable. This is due to the infrastructure in many developing countries and cannot be avoided. Your patience and understanding are appreciated.
Kenya Plastic Ban: In an effort to curb litter and support environmental sustainability, Kenya has banned single-use plastic water bottles as well as single-use plastic bags, including duty free bags, general shopping bags, bin liners, cling wrap used to protect luggage, and dry cleaning bags. 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 include: 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 for carrying your liquids through security are classified as durable plastic bags and are allowed, as these bags are part of the security process.
Remember that you're a guest in someone else's homeland, and that you're traveling to experience their country and culture. Be sensitive to local customs and manners, as many things may be done differently than what you're used to. And while we have made every effort to secure modern and comfortable accommodations and transportation, please note that the standards in other countries may be different from those you are accustomed to at home. Overall, you will find a polite, positive, patient, and open-minded approach generally yields the best travel experience!
Please keep in mind that you'll be traveling with a group. Sharing your explorations with like-minded folks can often be a source of joy, and some of our travelers become lifelong friends. But traveling with strangers can also sometimes be challenging, especially in a foreign country. We ask that you be patient and respectful with your fellow travelers, including their needs and preferences. Also remember that you have responsibilities to the group—please be prompt for group activities so you don't keep everyone else waiting. Lastly, please defer to your tour leader, guide or manager. They are there for your safety and wellbeing, and to ensure the journey goes smoothly for everyone. If you have a problem with one of our tour guides or managers, please let us know, either while you're on tour or after you return, and we'll make sure your concerns are addressed.
The lodges in the Masai Mara turn off electricity at night and during most part of the day when guests are on game drives. Arrangements can be made to keep the electricity on overnight for essential medical devices, such as a CPAP machine. Please inform us in advance if you will be bringing essential medical devices that require the use of electricity.
Eating & Drinking
The meals included with your package are listed in the itinerary.
Non-Included Meals: The average cost for dinner in Nairobi (not including drinks) is about $20 - $40 per person, per meal. Your hotel and major restaurants accept credit card payments for non-included meals.
In an effort for continued environmental conservation and sustainability, the Kenyan government has banned the use of single-use plastics, including water bottles, in national parks and protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing a non-plastic reusable water bottle, preferably with wide rim and covered drinking spout. Our touring vehicles are equipped with large sanitized canisters of fresh filtered water, where you can refill your personal water bottle.
Please see above for special meal requests.
You will be traveling through Kenya in the company of professionals 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 voluntary, and if you have not received good service, your tip should reflect this fact.
The recommended amounts are as follows:
- Safari driver/guide/game spotter: $10-12 per person per day
- Transfer driver: $2-3 per way
- Excursion driver guide in Nairobi: $3-5 per person
- Restaurant staff: $1-2 per person per meal
- Hotel/lodge porters: $1 per bag upon arrival and departure
- Housekeeping: $1-2 per person per day
- Balloon safari pilot (if taking the optional Hot Air Balloon Safari tour): $5-10 per person
- Masai Villagers*
*During the safari, other services might be provided such as a visit to a Masai village. Tipping at these places is not required but it is expected and you may choose to provide a small tip at your discretion. Should you wish to photograph local people outside of organized visits, you should remember to ask permission. A tip of $1 or $2 per person is generally expected.
To enhance and make your trip more complete and memorable, we offer optional activities that can be prepaid. There are no vouchers needed for the prepaid optional excursions. The guide will have a list of passengers who prepaid the optional excursions. If you did not prepay the optional excursion and prefer to purchase them locally, space will be subject to availability and the local selling price may be higher. Payments may be made directly to the guide by cash in US Dollars or Kenya Schilling or by credit card, Visa or MasterCard. American Express is not widely accepted. Charges may apply for using credit cards.
Due to the comprehensive nature of this tour and the location of your lodges in the national parks, there is no opportunity for independent self-exploration. The park management does not permit self-exploration for safety and conservation concerns. Should you decide to opt out of a group activity, you can remain at the hotel/lodge and enjoy activities offered on the premises. Based on availability, your safari lodges may also offer a private game drive for an additional fee. You can arrange and pay for this additional service directly with the lodge.
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 with an agent, or in the special requests section when you book online. We will do our best to accommodate them!
Kenya Fast Facts
|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. The CDC deems certain parts of Kenya to be at risk of yellow fever. Please click on the link below to view the CDC map which indicates the areas that may require the yellow fever vaccine: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/infectious-diseases-related-to-travel/yellow-fever-malaria-information-by-country/kenya#5323. 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. Please consult with your personal physician or local public health authorities regarding taking anti-malaria pills. You may wish to consult your personal physician or local public health authorities as to their suggestions on other health concerns or requirements.
Since Kenya is located on the Equator, the weather is temperate with average daytime temperatures in the 60's-80's. However, in higher elevations you may experience cooler temperatures enough for a sweater at night year-round. In the arid, desert like region like Samburu National Park, temperatures may be hotter.
|Money & Credit Cards||
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 2012 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.
There will be some opportunities to shop for souvenirs, including artwork and handicrafts. Cash may be the only form of payment accepted for shopping in Kenya, particularly throughout the Masai Mara and at the Masai Village. 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.
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. The negotiations should be done in a respectful way. Kindly note that most hotels and 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.
Learn more 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? Read up on using your cell phone abroad and the 5 ways to get Internet abroad.
Cameras and video recorders are permitted, and photography is generally permitted everywhere except at airports and military installations. Memory cards for digital cameras will be available in major cities.
|Did you know?||
Frequently Asked Questions about Kenya
- 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
Terms & Conditions: Please review our 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.