Everything you need to prepare before coming on your safari

Responsibility

It is the guest’s responsibility to ensure they meet all COVID-19 related travel requirements and are up-to-date on travel restriction information. The Cottar’s Safari Services team are here to help where we can and support you so your safari is as stress-free as possible. The below document serves to support you in your travels.

Please note that during your safari you will be required to adhere to the following:

  • Wearing a mask is no longer compulsory by law in Kenya, however, it is required while on public transport so please make sure to travel with a mask/s. Masks are usually provided at each of our properties. 
  • Domestic airlines require you to wear a face mask at all times. 
  • Temperature screening in public places stopped
  • International travellers who are fully vaccinated to be exempted from PCR TEST
  • Most public locations such as shops, offices, airlines etc. may still require you to sanitise your hands before entering

Passport

A valid passport and onward airline ticket are required for travel to Kenya. Your passport must remain valid for at least six (6) months from the date of departure. The passport must be signed and must have at least two blank pages left in it after your visas for the trip have been secured (If your passport does not have a number of blank pages left in it, you should contact your nearest passport agency). You’ll have your passport stamped multiple times, particularly if you are flying into and out of other airports, and crossing over borders, so make sure there are plenty of open pages in your passport for these stamps. 

Visa/s

Every country in Africa has different visa requirements for different visiting nations. Most will allow you to obtain a visa on arrival, though some, including Kenya and Uganda, require you to obtain one ahead of time. 

E-visas for Kenya can be applied for by visiting www.evisa.go.ke

Only apply for your E-Visa within a month to a week before you travel, if you do it earlier it just sits in a queue. The process is usually complete within 48 hours of submitting the application; check back into the portal and it is there – they don’t send emails alerting you to status. When filling in the form, you will be required to provide an address of where you will be staying. Cottar’s Safari Services office address is as follows: No.60 Forest Lane, Karen, 00100, Nairobi. This address can be used throughout the application.

A few tips:

  • Apply for a single-entry visa.
  • Make sure you have all the necessary jpegs (it doesn’t accept PDFs or Word docs) before you start, though you can save the document and go back. You will need:
    • any  information about previous trips to Kenya (dates and e-visa number) 
    • photo of your passport biodata page, 
    • passport cover, a passport photo of you 
    • copy of your return airline ticket (put that in the Additional Documents area)
    • copy of your itinerary (for the Hotel Reservation area) 
    • the hotel info (see Cottar’s address above)
    • your point of entry is JKIA Nairobi
  • Print a copy of your application receipt and payment receipt as you wait for your visa as proof of application. 

Print the visa in colour as that is a new requirement.

Single Entry Visas for Kenya

Kenya visas are generally valid for entry within three (3) or six (6) months from the date of issue. A single entry visa should be requested and you should state on the application that your reason for entry is “tourism”. If you will be entering Kenya more than once from inside East Africa, i.e. travelling to Tanzania or Uganda and then back to Kenya again, your single entry visa will suffice. However, you will need to remember to get visas for the other East African countries you will be visiting. 

Multiple Entry Visas for Kenya

These are needed if your itinerary calls for entering Kenya more than once, from outside East Africa. Please note that this visa can take up to 1 month to be approved so it is important to apply well ahead of your intended arrival date.

Health & Vaccinations

Always consult a medical professional about what vaccinations and medications you’ll need or can bring along with you on your trip or have a look at the Center for Disease Control’s website. This will give you information on vaccinations and other health precautions such as safe food, water precautions and insect bite protection.

Yellow fever

Yellow Fever is an immigration requirement for entry to many African countries. Yellow Fever is not required to enter Kenya unless you are arriving from or have transited through a yellow fever endemic country (i.e. most African and South American countries). But it is recommended as Yellow Fever has been detected in parts of Kenya (except Eastern, Nairobi and Mombasa). The vaccination must be done at least two weeks before arrival (as it is only effective after 10 days of having it). When you obtain a yellow fever vaccination you must ask your doctor to provide you with an International Certificate of Vaccination, which should be shown at immigration as proof that you have fulfilled the vaccination requirement. If you do not carry this proof you may be denied entry into the country or requested to repeat the vaccine to allow entry into Kenya.

Malaria risk and preventative measures

The CDC advises that malaria presents a risk to anyone travelling to Africa south of the Sahara Desert. In Kenya, travellers are at risk of contracting malaria in all the areas except for the highlands region (such as Aberdare National Park and Mt Kenya) where malaria is not present due to the high altitude. To all visitors, we recommend that certain preventive measures be followed to minimise your risk of contracting malaria. Preventive measures include avoidance of mosquito bites and taking prophylaxis. Malaria is transmitted by the bites of a carrier mosquito. This feeds primarily from dusk to dawn. Not every mosquito carries malaria, but a single bite can give you the disease. There are four different types of malaria, and several different types of anti-malarial drugs are available. Therefore, every traveller is strongly urged to seek expert advice from their own local physician as to which drugs they recommend you take. They should be up to date with the latest drugs on the market and also your physician will know any health conditions which may affect what you can and cannot take. 

In addition to an anti-malarial drug regimen, personal protection measures must be taken to avoid mosquito bites, especially (but not limited to) between dusk and dawn when malarial mosquitoes are most active. The CDC advises travellers to take an ample supply of an insect repellent that contains no greater than 30% (or for children, just 10% to 20%) of the active ingredient “DEET”. You will find this in the sporting goods section of most department stores. Use a spray repellent if possible and wash your hands after applying it to avoid ingesting any of it. (And keep your camera away from DEET, it is corrosive!) Reapply the repellent every 3-4 hours (or more frequently, if needed.) In addition, travellers should keep covered as much as possible, wearing long pants, socks, long-sleeved shirts etc, especially in the evenings. In most camps and lodges located in mosquito areas spray is provided and they will spray your rooms and put down mosquito nets over the beds in the evening.

Other recommendations

Kenya lies within the “meningitis belt” of Africa and the CDC recommends that travellers consider a meningococcal vaccine. The CDC also recommends that all travellers ensure that their tetanus, hepatitis B and polio vaccines are up-to-date. This again is always changing so please get the latest up to date information from the CDC or your local GP.

In Kenya, larger towns have drugstores and hospitals, but you should carry along

adequate supplies of your own medications. Prescription medications should always be carried in your hand luggage (not in checked baggage) in their original, labelled containers only. It is also advisable to carry the prescription with you if possible.  In case of a possible medication requirement whilst travelling in Kenya we cannot stress more strongly your need to bring with you the following medications of common use. The camps and lodges are far from points of sale, and though trained in first aid; the staff are not qualified to administer medication and will require you to sign a disclaimer on arrival. 

To avoid any complications we would ask you please to bring from home such medication as:

  • Paracetamol
  • Piriton
  • Calpol if travelling with children
  • Dioralyte
  • Epipen if known to have anaphylactic reaction
  • Antiemetic
  • Inhalers if asthmatic
  • A broad-spectrum antibiotic
  • Anti-diarrheal medicine (loperamide) such as Imodium
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Antihistamine cream

Travel Insurance

Prior to travelling, please make sure that you have medical insurance coverage that also includes treatment for COVID-19. Travel insurance is useful in case you have unanticipated medical expenses along the way, need emergency evacuation, your luggage is lost or delayed, your trip is cancelled or portions of your trip are interrupted in any way. We recommend that you add any nonrefundable travel to your plan, especially airline tickets. Please note that most insurance companies require you to purchase insurance within two weeks of purchasing nonrefundable travel.

Flying Doctors

For the starting price of USD $16 AMREF’s Flying Doctors offer a medevac service from rural Kenyan places to Nairobi, which is inclusive of critical/emergency COVID-19 related medical air evacuation to cover travel for a period of 30 days or less. We normally include this in your itinerary for peace of mind.

Flights and getting around

It is the guests responsibility to ensure they meet all COVID-19 related travel requirements, and are up-to-date on travel restriction information. The Cottar’s team are here to help where we can and support you so your safari is as stress free as possible. The below document serves to support you in your travels.

1. COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate

All travelers arriving into Kenya through any point of entry must have a certificate of COVID-19 vaccination. There will be no paper verification of COVID-19 test results and vaccination certificates upon arrival into Kenya. Airlines will be ensuring that all travelers have uploaded both documents into global haven before boarding via www.globalhaven.org

  1. The following categories of travellers are exempt from the requirement:
    • Travellers with medical conditions precluding vaccination. Such persons shall be required to provide a letter from a recognized medical practitioner detailing the medical reason precluding vaccination.
    • Travellers who have recovered from an active COVID-19 infection or received convalescent plasma in the preceding 90 days. Such persons shall be required to provide a letter from a recognized medical practitioner showing that the person may have recovered from an active infection in the preceding 90 days.
    • Returning unvaccinated Kenyans who have difficulty accessing vaccines in their current country of residence. Such persons must be prepared to be vaccinated immediately upon arrival and must register for vaccination on Chanjo-Ke platform before departure. Proof of registration shall be required before entry into the country.
  2. All travellers coming to Kenya who are fully vaccinated shall be exempt from the requirement of a PCR test.
  3. All eligible unvaccinated travellers arriving at any port of entry into Kenya, must be in possession of a valid COVID-19 negative PCR test certificate conducted within 72 hours before departure regardless of the route of entry. Children below the age of five (5) years are exempt from this requirement.
  4. Unvaccinated travellers arriving at any point of entry shall be subjected to rapid antigen test at their own cost of 30 USD. Any person who tests positive on antigen RDT will be subjected to PCR test at their own further cost of 50 USD and self-isolate. Travellers below the age of five (5) years are exempt from this testing requirement.
  5. Passengers travelling out of Kenya will be required to abide by the particular travel, health and COVID-19 related requirements of the destination country
  6. Pre-departure testing may be considered at the discretion of any of the airlines departing from or terminating in Kenya.
  7. All travellers to countries requiring antigen testing hours before travel will be required to undertake a pre-travel rapid antigen test at the MOH Port Health facility at the airport and the results uploaded to the Trusted Travel platform.

2. Traveller’s Health Surveillance Form

All travellers will be expected to fill the passenger locator form on the “jitenge” platform. All arriving travellers (including those in transit) are required to complete an online Travellers Health Surveillance Form from the Ministry of Health in Kenya. And thereafter submit daily health information for 14 consecutive days. Passengers will receive a QR code after completing the form, which they must then display to the Port Health Official on arrival and before proceeding through immigration.

Airlines are advised to allow passengers on board to use paper passenger locator forms whenever the “jitenge” platform may be down. Port health officers shall clear passengers upon arrival into Kenya. 

Some airlines are advising that the QR code should be available prior to flight departure. It is our recommendation to complete before flight embarkation.

International Flights

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, East Africa’s major flight hub is located 10 miles outside Nairobi and has good connections to Uganda, Rwanda, the Seychelles, Zanzibar and Tanzania. 

Arrival in Nairobi from outside of Kenya is generally into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), which is located just 10 miles from Nairobi’s city centre. When you arrive in Nairobi, you will proceed through passport control before continuing to the baggage claim and customs areas. Baggage carts are available free of charge and are usually readily available. Look for one as soon as you enter the baggage claim area. Once you have collected all your baggage make your way through to the exit gates where someone will be there to meet you as per your itinerary arrangements.

Flying to Nairobi is a long journey and there is often a certain amount of confusion at the airport (particularly when several large aircraft have arrived at the same time). At that moment, patience is key and try to keep smiling – most African officials speak English and are warm and friendly people. In time, all arrival formalities will be completed.

Baggage allowances for international flights vary depending on which airline(s), class of service, and routing is used. Despite the information given here, we urge you to double-check the exact baggage and hand luggage regulations.

While 2 checked bags weighing up to 50 pounds (23kg) each are allowed on trans-

Atlantic flights from North America to Europe with most airlines, elsewhere the weight limit of 44 pounds (20kg) of baggage per person is still in effect for scheduled flights and is adhered to very strictly. We urge travellers to adhere to the lower baggage limit (two pieces weighing up to 44 pounds in total, plus one carry-on bag) because that amount of baggage will be accepted on all international scheduled flights. Any baggage in excess of airline limitations may be subject to substantial freight charges by the airline. These charges are the entire responsibility of the traveller.

Domestic flights

Wearing a mask is no longer compulsory by law in Kenya, however, it is required while on public transport so please make sure to travel with a mask/s. Please note that some scheduled flights require you to wear a surgical face mask (not material).

Wilson Airport, a regional airport about 90 minutes by road from Jomo Kenyatta, Wilson is the hub for almost all of Kenya’s internal flights and serves as the gateway to the Masai Mara, Amboseli, Laikipia, Mombasa and Kenya’s beaches. Ensure you have time between your international flight and domestic flight to make the transfer between the two airports, especially as traffic can get bad at times.

Chartered flights are a great way to get around Kenya in a more direct manner, especially to those remote camps and lodges; transfers from airstrips to lodges are conducted in 4X4 vehicles. Your Cottars Safari Services safari expert will gladly provide you with supplementary costs for charter flights within Kenya if this is your preference.

Baggage will be restricted to 1 checked bag plus one carry-on bag with a maximum total weight of 33 pounds (15kg) including camera equipment. This special weight restriction applies to all scheduled flights aboard Air Kenya, Safarilink and to all chartered flights. Exceptions to the 33-pound limit can occasionally be made for privately chartered aircraft if flown with spare seating capacity.

On internal flights, there may be a fee per bag or you may wish to purchase an extra seat for baggage. The maximum dimensions of the soft bags are as follows: 25 cm / 9.8 inches wide x 30 cm / 11.8 inches high and 62 cm long / 24.4 inches long. Luggage with wheels also adds to your total weight. So the rule of thumb for your luggage is: soft, non-rigid bags with no wheels, following the dimensions above. For safety purposes, passengers themselves weighing 100kg / 220lbs or more must advise us in advance so an extra seat for the additional weight can be tallied into the package cost. Please remember that these restrictions are to ensure the safety of our guests.

Any extra baggage can be held in locked storage at our offices in Nairobi until the end of your safari in Kenya. If you will need to store luggage, please let your consultant know or fill in a form upon arrival. The terms and conditions for storage include that each bag/item/piece is stored at a rate of US$5 per day and must be locked and sealed. One hundred percent of proceeds of stored luggage go towards Cottar’s Wildlife Conservation Trust. Cottar’s Safari Services and their respective staff members will not be held responsible for missing items from the luggage or damage to the luggage itself. If luggage remains uncollected beyond the pick-up date, Cottar’s Safaris will do its best to contact the owners. If unsuccessful, luggage will be removed from the premises and the contents donated to charity.

Vehicles

Road transfers from airports and between major destinations tend to use private vehicles, as do scheduled safaris to popular destinations such as the Masai Mara. Once at a destination/property you will usually be in open-sided 4X4s.

Cash and Cards

Most things are pre-paid on safari, so you only need to bring along a minimum amount of money. Cash is better if you don’t plan to spend much time in the city upon arrival. We recommend that you bring cash in small denomination notes as you will mostly be using it for tips and to purchase gifts to take home. Most camps and lodges have safes for the use of their guests.

There are numerous ATMs and banks throughout Kenya but mainly in the big towns and cities. All major credit cards are widely accepted, in particular MasterCard and Visa. Banking hours are from 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 11am on the first and last Saturday of the month for most banks. Kenya’s national currency is the Kenyan Shilling and although foreign currencies such as US Dollars are widely accepted, we’d recommend using local currency to pay for bar bills, souvenirs and meals not included in your itinerary. It is a good idea to alert your bank at home that you are travelling to avoid any issues with withdrawing cash from the ATM or using your Credit/Debit card for desired purchases.

Valuables

Exercise the same precautions throughout your travels in Kenya as you would at home. Unless safety boxes/safes are available in your lodge or hotel, keep all of your travel documents and valuables with you at all times. Never leave them in your room, even in a locked suitcase. This applies to all cash, travellers’ cheques, airline tickets, passports, cameras, etc. We recommend leaving all valuable jewellery at home. Using a money belt or security holster will protect your valuables much better than trouser pockets, backpacks or purses, which are easily picked by light-fingered thieves. In Nairobi, we advise travellers not to walk around the city at night or on weekends (when the streets are deserted). Theft rings have been known to operate around major tourist hotels and taking a taxi which is recommended by the hotel where you are staying, is much safer than venturing out on foot. We recommend that you carry your passport with you at all times. As with any travel, it is good to memorize its number, date of issue and place of issue. It is also a good idea to carry a photocopy (separate from the originals) of the informational pages of your passport (the pages containing your photograph and passport details as well as any amendment pages) and to leave a copy at home. Also, follow the security measures included with your traveller’s checks and leave an additional record of their numbers at home.

Gratuities

Tips are incredibly important to those working on the African safari circuit and make up a good portion of their income. Often, those working at the camps have to travel far to get back home or are away from their family for long periods of time. The money given from tips is a great way to say thank you to those who have made your experience special. Tip based on your satisfaction level. If you’ve had a wonderful experience, reward the people who’ve made it so.

Tipping is not compulsory, nor are there any fixed amounts. The bottom line in determining whether and how much to tip is to ask yourself how much the individual or staff did to make your travels more enjoyable. 

Hotel / Lodge Staff

For general staff tipping, we recommend approximately US$25 per room per day and in most lodges, this is put into a “box” and shared out between all the various staff members (including those at the back of the house). If one particular member of staff has especially impressed you, please feel free to tip them personally.

Guides / Drivers

Please tip them individually. We leave this up to your discretion, as this will depend on how long you stayed, how much time you spent with them and how much they impressed you with their wealth of knowledge and experience. As a guideline, we would recommend US$15 per guest per day for the driver guide and US$10 per guest per day for the spotter/driver assistant.

Spa Therapist

Again, at your discretion please tip them individually but a guideline would be US$5 per treatment.

A 10% tip is customary in city restaurants and bars when a service charge is not included.

Please note that tipping amounts are given in US dollars to provide easy reference for our clients, but do remember that it is entirely optional and if you do tip you can do so in any currency. It is preferable that tips are given in cash at the properties because credit card payments have tax implications. If tips are paid for by card, the intended recipients will get 30% less of the amount. Due to taxation.

For in-depth tipping guidelines, enquire with one of our Africa Safari Experts – they’d be happy to share their knowledge with you.

Climate

Average summer temperatures: 20°C / 68°F to 34°C / 93°F

Average winter temperatures: 18°C / 64°F to 29°C / 84°F
Rainy season: mid-March to June (‘long rains’) and October to December (‘short rains’)

Language

English is widely spoken and understood in Kenya, although Swahili is the official language. A few useful Kiswahili words and phrases are below:

English Kiswahili

  • Hello –  Jambo
  • Goodbye –  Kwaheri
  • How are you? –  Habari?
  • Good, fine – Mzuri
  • Please – Tafadhali
  • Thank you – Asante
  • Yes –  Ndio
  • No – Hapana

​​Etiquette

By and large, the people of Kenya are easy-going, amiable, humorous and helpful, making travelling and interacting with them a real pleasure. Make sure your cultural interaction genuinely benefits the local community and is an experience that is both meaningful and impactful. We’ll recommend accommodation and operators that do it the right way.

Electricity

Electricity in Kenya runs on 240 volts. The most common sockets used are those with three rectangular prongs (British system) and all “two pin” plugs can fit into these as well. The majority of camps and lodges do have generators or some form of power, so generally, batteries can be charged whilst there. If you do bring electrical chargers it is a good idea to bring your own international travel adaptor just in case your equipment does not fit the available sockets.

CUSTOMS INFORMATION

Visitors are permitted to enter Kenya with up to 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 200 grams of tobacco, plus one bottle of wine or liquor, in addition to their personal effects. There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency that may be imported into Kenya, and it is no longer necessary to declare foreign currency on arrival. Arriving visitors are however required to complete an immigration card. Under no circumstances should sheath knives or small arms be taken on safari. A ban on using plastic bags, shopping, carrier and garbage bags, has come into force in Kenya, which means travellers coming into Kenya with duty-free plastic shop bags will be required to leave them at the airport. Please do not bring them in your luggage. Under the new rules, anyone found selling, manufacturing or carrying them could face fines of up to US$38,000 (£30,000) or prison sentences of up to four years. Kenya’s ban is seen as one of the toughest in the world, although officials say that for now, ordinary shoppers will be warned and have their bags confiscated. Shoppers can buy bags made from fabric for 10 Kenyan shillings (10 US cents; 7 British pence) and woven baskets are the tradition. In Rwanda, plastic bags are illegal, and visitors are searched at the airport.

Please note that Kenyan Customs prohibits the export of any items made, in whole or in part, from any type of wildlife and UK customs prohibits importation of any products made from endangered species of wildlife. You should check with your local customs office for the duty-free regulations applying to you on your re-entry home.

KENYA’S TOBACCO CONTROL ACT 2008

In Kenya, there is a law banning smoking in many public and private places across the country. Aside from bars, offices, theatres, streets and places of worship, smoking is also banned in parks and markets. The law sets out hefty penalties for those caught in breach of the rules – prison terms of up to three years and a maximum fine of $46,000 (£23,000). Smokers are advised to seek a safe smoking etiquette from our staff and guides.

PACKING FOR YOUR TRIP

Before you come please check with your airline for all luggage and hand baggage restrictions as allowances vary with each carrier. Be prepared to repack your baggage upon arrival in Nairobi to meet internal baggage restrictions. Any extra baggage can be held in locked storage at our offices in Nairobi until the end of your safari in Kenya. If you will need to store luggage, please let your consultant know or fill in a form upon arrival. The terms and conditions for storage include that each bag/item/piece is stored at a rate of US$5 per day and must be locked and sealed. One hundred percent of proceeds of stored luggage go towards Cottar’s Wildlife Conservation Trust. Cottar’s Safari Services and their respective staff members will not be held responsible for missing items from the luggage or damage to the luggage itself. If luggage remains uncollected beyond the pick-up date, Cottar’s Safaris will do its best to contact the owners. If unsuccessful, luggage will be removed from the premises and the contents donated to charity.

Key things to think/enquire about

  1. Always pack light
    The small, local flights that take you between different parks and camps usually have a weight restriction of 15kgs including hand luggage. We also recommend that you use
    Primary bag: a light, soft duffle bag
    Hand luggage: a backpack

It is better to use two smaller duffle bags than one large hard-framed suitcase – soft-sided luggage is essential.

Laundry is possible and often included in most camps and lodges. Due to cultural beliefs, sometimes the laundry will not accept underwear, in which case some hand wash soap is provided in the room. 

  1. Layers are essential due to the differing temperatures throughout the day
  2. Some camps can’t accommodate high voltage items like shavers, hair straighteners or blow dryers
  3. Most camps will offer insect repellent, shampoo, conditioner and soap, it’s worth enquiring about this so you don’t need to pack it
  4. Trek-specific gear items may be required (e.g if gorilla trekking or planning on doing a lot of walking) 
  5. Most camps will provide night torches, however, head torches can be extremely useful, but not essential.

Packing List

Suggested Packing List

  • Travel documents (passport containing your visa, inoculation certificate if required, air tickets, cash, traveller’s cheques and major credit cards, travel vouchers)
  • Prescription medication and common medications e.g. paracetamol, piriton, calpol if travelling with children, oral rehydration sachets, epipen if known to have anaphylactic reaction, antiemetic, inhalers if asthmatic, a broad spectrum antibiotic, anti-diarrheal medicine (loperamide) such as imodium, hydrocortisone cream and antihistamine
    Anti-malarial medication containers
  • An extra pair of prescription glasses and sunglasses, contact lenses (and ample cleaning solutions as it can be very dusty)
  • Swimsuit
  • Lightweight fleece or jacket
  • Scarf
  • Sports bra/s
  • Pyjamas
  • Trousers
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Short-sleeved shirts
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Sandals / Flip flops
  • Hiking boots / closed shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Raincoat
  • Sunblock
  • Insect repellent
  • Shampoo / Conditioner (or all-in-1)
  • Soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Moisturizer
  • Sanitary products
  • Hairbrush
  • Contact solution
  • Chapstick
  • Binocular
  • Camera
  • Extra batteries
  • Phone
  • Phone Charger
  • First aid kit
  • Prescriptions
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sleep aids
  • Mask/s

Extra Items to consider

  • Lip balm and moisturizing lotion for the dry climate
  • Playing cards or travel games
  • Wet wipes or hand sanitiser
  • A journal/Diary to document your days on safari
  • A good reading book for those lovely afternoons in camp after an early morning

We will provide you with a refillable water bottle so there is no need to bring your own. Please note that plastic water bottles are illegal in the Masai Mara and in most of the other reserves in Kenya.

PRINT EVERYTHING OUT

Always bring printed colour copies of all your travel documents with you. 

  • Tickets
  • Colour print-out of eVisa
  • Covid-19 negative test
  • Itinerary
  • Points of contact

FOOD AND DRINK

Kenya surprises a lot of people by the abundance, variety and quality of food served. Most fruits and vegetables are grown locally. A full English breakfast is served on safari each day, usually after you return from your morning game viewing drive. Alternatively,  sometimes a brunch is organized if you plan to be late back. For lunch you may be served a hot meal or a large and varied buffet of cold salads and meats. Dinner on safari may include anything from fresh and delicious local seafood to an English roast. This is followed by pastries, cakes or other tempting desserts. Kenyan coffee and tea are excellent and many varieties of soda and fruit juices are available. The local beers, Tusker and White Cap are very good lagers. Wines and spirits are generally all imported, so most brands are available.

We always send out a pre safari questionnaire and request that you please advise us of any dietary requirements, allergies or preferences so that the camps and lodges can prepare in advance and ensure that they have exactly what you would like for your stay. Travellers are advised not to drink or brush their teeth with any tap water. Bottled mineral water is provided in your room at all camps and lodges on safari. At the lodges and camps on safari, purified water is also used to make ice and for washing fruits and vegetables.

PHOTOGRAPHY

We recommend bringing all the photographic equipment you will need from home and having your equipment insured before you depart. For photographing birds and game, a telephoto lens is indispensable. We recommend a 70mm to 300 mm lens as well as a wide angle lens. Tripods are generally impractical, because your shots are taken from inside your safari vehicle. A beanbag for resting your lens on the edge of the roof hatch or car window is much more useful. Film and memory cards are expensive in Africa and selections are limited. Outside of the major cities, they are not usually available at all. Because many travellers take more photos on safari than they do on other trips, we strongly recommend that you bring more film/memory with you than you think you will need. In addition to bringing all your own camera equipment and film from home we urge travellers to bring an additional set of camera batteries (which may be difficult to buy on safari) and some zip lock plastic bags to protect equipment from dust.

PHOTOGRAPHY ETIQUETTE

When you are photographing people always ask their permission first. The only exception to this is when you are photographing a public scene with a lot of people in it, aiming at no one in particular. Because so many local people are asked for permission to be photographed, many will expect a tip or an outright fee for this. (Some professional posers even make a living this way). Always be considerate of anyone’s desire not to be photographed. Under no circumstances should you take photos of any airports, government buildings and installations or of military or police personnel. Taking photos where permission is not granted is inconsiderate at best and may result in the confiscation of your camera. During game viewing in the parks and reserves, some travellers get caught up in the excitement of the moment to the point of losing their sensitivity to the game they are observing and to the other people in other safari vehicles. Please be conscious of sharing the best photographic views with others and do not disrupt the game viewing pleasure of others by making unnecessary noises or commotion. Remember to always respect the wildlife and the fragility of the ecosystem you have entered and remember it is our duty to ensure these remain undisturbed by our presence.

SOCIAL MEDIA

If you plan to document your trip on social media, please remember to tag us
Instagram: @cottars.safari.services
Facebook: @CottarsSafariServices 

COMMUNICATIONS

WiFi is available in most camps and lodges, but sometimes only in the main mess areas and other times only in the rooms, the signal strength may vary in each location. These days our mobile networks are fairly comprehensive and chances are that a mobile signal is available in a lot of places that you visit. However safari etiquette requests that if at all possible please leave your mobiles on silent or switch them off all together whilst out on a game drive or in any public areas. Most camps/lodges also have satellite or mobile phones and HF radio for emergencies and for your use if you wish to contact home or the office and cannot get a signal on your own mobile (this might incur an extra cost if used). Each car is equipped with a VHF radio that enables the guide to alert the other vehicles when something interesting is spotted or again for an emergency or breakdown. Mail from Kenya to America and Europe takes two (2) weeks or more and is impractical for most travellers. 

GIFT GIVING

Many travellers take pleasure in passing out little gifts (such as pens and sweets) to  the Kenyan children they encounter on safari. This is something which, although well- intended has created a begging problem of serious consequences to the children. Village elders are now becoming very disturbed by the truancy rate among their school-aged children, who have begun to skip classes so they can stand around tourist areas and wait for presents. They are also disturbed by the overall effect that begging is beginning to take on their social traditions. Therefore we urge all travellers to refrain from passing out gifts directly to any children in Kenya. 

Cottar’s Safari Services is involved with community, conservation and sustainability projects and we welcome your participation. 

Should you wish to receive more information on what would be advisable to bring or what projects you can get involved with during your safari, please let your safari expert know.

TIA (This Is Africa)

You can be assured that every effort has gone into the planning of your safari to ensure a safe and smooth operation. However, we want to prepare all travellers for the somewhat adventurous nature of an African safari and request your flexibility and tolerance should the unexpected occur. Those who have travelled to third world countries are already aware of the inconveniences sometimes associated with it; selections may not always be as varied as you would like, bureaucratic procedures sometimes cause delays and standards may vary etc. If you are travelling by land to any parks and reserves you should be prepared for the possibility of poor road conditions.

Even though we made every effort to provide you with the information you will need to prepare for your safari in Kenya, you may still have questions. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you do have any additional questions or requests.

EMERGENCY CONTACTS

Sasha Cork: cssmanager@cottarsafaris.com +254 714 896 672

Office: +254 733 773 378

Louise Cottar: louise@cottarsafaris.com  +44 795 826 9958 

Calvin Cottar: calvin@cottarsafaris.com  +254 733 468 180