Tips for Tourists


Clothing and Money Advice for Safari

Here are some tips for safari clothing from a well known recent book. Adjust them as necessary around your normal attire.

  • Let me just emphasize the importance of travel insurance, to help you in case a flight gets cancelled or luggage is lost, or you misplace a passport. American Express provides it, as does Travelex, and many other companies.
  • Pack light.
  • Carry some cash. You may want to bring a few hundred each in US dollars. You will get the best rate if you cash them in Kenya. 100 dollar bills must be dated after 2006 or you can have trouble cashing them. Travelers checks do not work well in Kenya. It is very difficult to cash them.
  • Do bring an ATM card, and a mastercard. Those both work well. I usually can get money out of the cash machine with my ATM. But it is good to have a little cash just in case.
  • Make a copy of your passport and ticket numbers and store it somewhere safe in case of emergency.
Here are some items to bring:
  • swimsuit for lodge pools
  • Mosquito repellant containing DEET. Very important.
  • wide brimmed hat
  • UV proof sunglasses
  • cool cotton shirts and tshirts
  • long sleeves at night, and one jacket (temperatures can drop at night)
  • cotton slacks.
  • comfortable walking shoes
  • cotton socks
  • thick soled sandals
  • high factor sun block
  • moisturizing cream
  • undershirt cotton pouch for valuables.
  • cheap watch you wont mind losing.
  • Your purse should have a zipper, to discourage pickpocketing, which can be an issue in Nairobi. (Lodges are very safe)
Immigration and Customs in Kenya: What to Expect

You will get off of your plane. You must stop and fill out your visa paperwork. The visa will cost 50 dollars each. You should have that money available in cash, in American dollars. If not, Euros are fine.

Then, you will stand in line for about half an hour. Eventually, your passport will be stamped. You will walk down a short set of stairs. You will wait by conveyer belts for your luggage. There are airport staff people available to assist you in collecting your luggage for a tip of a dollar or two. Place your luggage on one of the free carts, and walk straight ahead to customs.

Tell them you have no gifts, and everything you have is for personal use on safari.

Walk outside the customs area into the main hall, and the company representative will be there to greet you. They will be holding a sign. It is a small airport, so move slowly, and just wait.

You will definitely be picked up. There should not be a problem, but it is crowded, so remain relaxed until the staff finds you.

If there is any problem, make a cell phone call to 722748935 or 720481444. Do not take a taxi, do not leave the lobby. Just call. The lobby has a little place to get coffee or tea, so if there is a problem, sit tight there and you will be found. There is a safaricom cell phone store on the right hand side as you walk out of customs. They can assist you to make a call if there is a problem. Alternatively, you can walk to the information desk and they will assist you.

Vaccinations for Safaris

For an up to date list on required vaccinations, please consult the Centers for Disease Control.

The big issue is to remember to take malaria pills. I do NOT recommend Lariam, because it causes severe depression in some people. Take the alternative.

It is a good idea to get a yellow fever vaccination. It lasts ten years.

For a complete list of recommended vaccinations, check here.

This information is much more detailed and up to date than anything we can give you over the phone.


Information on Camera and Lenses for Safari

Regarding a camera, I recommend a Canon or a Nikon.

Regarding the telephoto lens, here is some information a photographer friend pointed me to.

The Perfect Safari Telephoto Lenses

I often get asked what the best lens is for an African Safari and the answer depends on a number of factors…

Your budget and your purpose with the telephoto lens:

If you are going to go on the occasional safari (or only one) and you practise wildlife photography as a hobby you will have different telephoto lenses requirements to the professional safari photographer who intends to sell the resultant pictures.

The size of the lens:

Because it is relatively difficult to get very close to your subjects (most reserves don’t allow off-road driving), you need to take along a lens with a big magnification. At least 300mm for mammals is adequate (400mm is better) and 600mm for birds.

Continuous predictive auto focus:

The lens should also be able to focus automatically for any action picture opportunities that might come along like a fish eagle catching its prey on the water with talons extended or a lion ambushing an impala in a river bed.

Image stabilization:

Ideally you would want telephoto lenses with image stabilization to prevent blurring so that you can hand hold it when there is enough light (use a beanbag or tripod when there is low light).

One lens is better than two:

Also, because of the dust that is prevalent on an African safari you want to change lenses as little as possible to prevent the camera mechanisms from clogging up and to avoid missing that split second when the leopard yawns to reveal its sizable canines because you were fumbling with another lens.

The Best Telephoto Lens For the Occasional Safari Traveller

You want to take some decent wildlife photographs on your safari (it is a once in a lifetime trip after all) that don’t end up as dark blobs in the distance surrounded by a lot of vegetation to show your friends and family back home.

But you don’t want to break the bank in the process and be able to use the telephoto lenses when you are not on safari for other wildlife photography projects (but you don’t sell your photos for a living).

This is my recommendation as the perfect lens for you…

The Canon Powershot S2 IS 36 – 432mm f/2.7-f.3.5 zoom lens.

This monster zoom means you can get close to the wildlife action using image stabilization (you can hold the camera and lens in your hand in many situations) to get excellent quality pictures at a very affordable price.

What makes this even better is that you get a digital camera attached to the lens because it is a compact.

Many of the pictures on this website were taken by me using the Canon Powershot S1 IS which has a slightly less powerful zoom lens than the S2 at 80 – 380mm which is not to be sneezed at either. (I bought the S1 before its bigger brother became available otherwise I would have gone for the S2)

Another advantage of the Canon Powershot S2 IS is the video function which adds an extra dimension to your safari photographing experience. The quality and sound is very good but make sure you have a card with a lot of storage space.

I highly recommend this camera for safari photography.

The Best Safari Telephoto Lenses For the Professional Photographer

You are serious about your safari wildlife photography and want to sell your pictures (or already do) and enter competitions.

My recommendations for the perfect safari lens for you is this…

The versatility/price ratio of the Canon EF 100-400L IS or the Nikon 80-400VR zoom telephoto lenses is hard to beat for a safari trip. Add the extra 50% zoom factor you get with a digital SLR and you have a single lens that runs the gamut from mammals to birds.

If you want to forgo versatility for very high quality (you will have to have deep pockets though) then the prime Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS used with a 1.4X extender is about as good as it gets unless you go into debt for a very long time and stump up for the Canon 500mm f/4L IS.


Kenya Facts and Guidelines

African Wildcats Safaris abides by the rules set down by KATO, EcoTourism Kenya, and the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association. Accordingly, we kindly request that all of our clients adhere to these Kenya Facts. Here are some basic guidelines to follow while on safari in Kenya.

Kenya Facts and Guidelines for Respecting Local Communities
  • Respect local cultures, traditions, customs and traditional livelihoods
  • Stay at lodges and safari camps that take care of their environment and benefit local people
  • Do not take pictures of any person without their consent and always observe the rules of common decency and respect
  • On the coast, please support designated market areas, where traders are making an effort to keep their business off the beaches
  • Please do not give money or gifts to children, which encourages them to stay away from school.
  • Please dress in a respectful way when visiting towns and villages – and never bathe topless on the beach
Kenya Facts and Guidelines for Respecting Wildlife and the Environment
  • Keep to designated roads or tracks when visiting national parks or reserves. Off-road driving can cause extensive damage to grass and woodland habitats
  • Minimize disturbance to animals by: keeping a good distance away from animals, not surrounding animals with several vehicles, keeping noise to a minimum and not attracting the animals attention
  • Stay inside your vehicle at all times, only leave it in designated areas. Remember: wild animals can be dangerous!
  • Do not stand up on the roof, or any external surface of the vehicle, at any time
  • Do not take any pets into the area
  • Never feed any animal, this can upset their diet and lead to an unnatural dependence upon people
  • Please do not purchase, collect or remove any animal products, rocks, plants, seeds or birds’ nests from the wild
  • Take all your litter with you, it is dangerous to wild animals.
  • Please be extremely careful with cigarettes and matches, which can cause major bush fires.
  • Do not cause any unnecessary or undue damage to the environment, whether by ruining vegetation, structures, signposts, or in any other manner.
Kenya Facts and Guidelines for Protecting the Marine Environment
  • Protect the marine environment. Please do not touch or stand on the coral reefs.
  • Take all your litter with you, never dispose of it on the beach or in the sea.
  • Never buy or remove starfish, shells, or any products that derive from turtles, whales or other endangered species.
  • Avoid buying undersized crabs and lobsters and restaurants/hotels that serve them, as they are contributing to the rapid demise of these species.
  • We kindly request all our guests to observe these guidelines as part of your contribution towards preserving the rich cultural and wildlife heritage of East Africa for future generations

Interested in more information on our safaris?