Three giraffe on Kilimanjaro mount background in National park of Kenya, Africa
Here are some tips for traveling to Kenya & Tanzania.
Cell phone
Turn the data plan off. When Wi-Fi is available, turn your phone on to receive messages. Check with your cell phone provider for the best international plan.
Credit cards
Visa and Mastercard are widely used, except on several occasions when trying to use the card we our card was declined. On return to US when checking with our credit card company, we were told the charges were accepted and then later reversed. Beware of a 3% foreign transaction fee if your credit card does not accept international charges free.
Electricity
220 volt. The converter is 3 prong.
Money
It is not necessary to exchange USD to the Kenyan or Tanzanian currency as the locals prefer USD. Make sure to bring crisp new bills of money printed after 2010 is only accepted. $100 in $1.00 bills and $100 in $5.00 bills should be sufficient along with a few $50 and $100 bills. Since all meals are included while on safari, you will not need to bring a large amount of money. Small bills are recommended when bartering for souvenirs and tips.
Packing
Soft sided suitcases are necessary since the jeeps have little room for luggage. Pack light as you will not need to bring near the clothing you think you will use. Laundry service is available in the hotels and tented camps for a small fee. Because you will be in the jeeps during the safari, hiking boots are not necessary. Be comfortable and casual. Do not bring any fancy clothes as there is no place to dress up. You will usually return to the camps around 6:30pm with dinner at 7:30pm. You only have time to wash up before heading to dinner. Deet is recommended however, for us mosquitoes were not an issue.
Restroom facilities
In the countryside or on safari, the side of the road is your best option. Restrooms at rest stops consisted of a bathroom with either one toilet or a hole in the ground. Bring plenty of kleenex and hand sanitizers.
Roads in Kenya & Tanzania
Few paved roads and they are very rough. At times it was so bad it felt as if we were driving on a washboard. In the countryside it is not unusual to stop for a cow and goat crossing. You will even find cows on the main roads in center of Nairobi. There are no paved roads within the game parks. If you have back issues, it is advisable to bring a pillow along for comfort. The roads in Tanzania were a little better, but not much.
Shopping
Shops along the side of the road will only take cash and are unable to ship back to the USA. There are a few shops that will ship FedEx or DHL for a considerable fee. If you ship a large item worth over $800, you will have to pick up that item at customs in Chicago. There may be additional fees to pick up your item. Inquire when shipping. Don’t forget to barter!
Tented Camps
Very comfortable with private shower and bathroom facilities. Bottled water is included in every room. Hair dryers are in most rooms or you can get one at the front desk.
Time change
Kenya and Tanzania are 8-9 hours ahead of USA central time. (depending on daylight savings time).
Travel Time
From Chicago, approximately 8 hours to Europe and then 8 to 9 hours to Nairobi. If you have a long layover in Europe, it is worth to purchase a lounge pass, good up to 3 hours. The lounge offers complimentary wi-fi, complimentary food and drink, and comfortable chairs. It is a quiet venue, as you will not hear any airport announcements. The lounge pass may be booked through Travel Bound.
Vaccinations
Yellow fever is required. Check with your local health department. Malaria pills are also highly recommended and come in a variety of doses. Your doctor will determine the best type of malaria pills to use. Typhoid vaccine is also recommended but not required.
Visa—Kenya
$50.00 cash with a bill not printed before 2010
Visa—Tanzania
$100 cash with a bill not to be printed before 2010
Water
Bottled water is provided on safari and in the tented camps. It is advisable NOT to drink the water and to only brush your teeth with bottled water.