From USA To Kenya: How to Plan The Best Kenya Wildlife Safari from Abroad
What you need to do for a successful Kenya vacation from the diaspora | things to consider when crafting a safari holiday to Kenya from the USA | scheduling the perfect safari from abroad
The ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic on the hospitality industry aside, a Kenya safari is still a possible and memorable experience for vacationers.
The country has many exciting and appealing holiday activities for all age groups—these range from game drives, walking safaris, camping, watersports, and cultural tours.
Nothing beats the thrill of immersing yourself in nature at the Maasai Mara or kicking back and relaxing at the Kenyan coast.
For people in the diaspora, organizing a wildlife safari can be a hassle-free and pocket-friendly experience, as long as you know what to look out for when doing your planning.
Here are the five most critical points to bear in mind as you schedule your trip:
- Choice of a travel agent
An experienced and professional tour agent will save you from handling most logistics.
Depending on the level of engagement you want to delegate, they can handle all the accommodation, meals arrangement and parks fees, leaving you to only worry about minor details such as wardrobe choices.
Travel agents also provide the safari vehicle you will be using for your trip. In this case, you have two options. The first is the 4×4 safari vehicles, mostly toyota land-cruiser, jeep wrangler, and land lovers. These are mostly used for luxury kenya safaris. The second and budget friendly option is the safari vans; mostly Toyota Hiace or Mazda Bongo with open roof for game viewing.
Better yet, Kenya now boasts of native travel agents and tour guides who intimately know the country and all its sweet spots.
The agent will help you design a customized itinerary that guarantees you a thoroughly fulfilling holiday based on your preferences.
The other benefit of engaging an agent is the discounts you enjoy since different stakeholders often offer most tour companies better deals. These include lower prices on accommodation and even transport services.
You will also need to be clear about the sort of activities and attractions you look forward to enjoying.
Having a rough idea of the kind of wildlife safari you want informs the choices of destinations you can elect.
For instance, wildlife enthusiasts may consider a wildlife safari aboard a hot air balloon in the Maasai Mara. While at it, they may include game drives and walking safaris in the Mara.
Besides the Mara, you could also consider touring some other parks and museums dotting the country’s landscape.
Here, some of the top choices include the Nairobi National Park, the Samburu National Reserve, Tsavo East National Park, Tsavo West National Park, Amboseli National Park, and Lake Nakuru National Park.
If the beach enthralls you, you may consider a trip down to Diani, Lamu, Watamu or Malindi and slot it in your itinerary.
Some of the awesome things you can do down at the coast include snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, dolphin watching/ swimming with dolphins, scuba diving, kite surfing, and swimming with turtles.
Visitors interested in historical attractions will especially love Lamu, the oldest continuously inhabited town in Kenya.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most eco-friendly settlements in East Africa. Save for one or two government vehicles, the idyllic town has no cars, and movement is either on foot, boat, bicycle, or donkey.
- Health requirements
There are a few health requirements that all inbound travelers to Kenya must meet.
These are relatively easy to abide by and include a yellow fever certificate, negative Covid-19 results certificate, and a Covid-19 vaccination certificate.
Yellow fever jabs can be procured from a health facility near you. As for the Coronavirus tests, you need to have a PCR test administered at least 96 hours before your date of travel.
After that, you must upload your negative Covid-19 results certificate on Kenya’s Ministry of Health website.
Please note that children under the age of 5 years are exempted from this mandatory testing.
Upon uploading your results certificate on the ministry’s website, you shall be issued with a QR code, which immigration officials at your port of entry will demand to see.
Therefore, visitors need to abide by these requirements lest they find themselves having to bear the hefty costs of testing and mandatory quarantine (in the event they generate positive results) upon landing.
Other non-mandatory yet advisable vaccinations you may consider getting before travel include Hepatitis A and B and meningitis.
4. What to Pack
Being a tropical country, Kenya has warm temperate weather for most of the year.
Consequently, your wardrobe choices should mainly comprise garments made from lightweight, breathable fabrics. Cotton outfits are an excellent choice.
For visitors looking to tour the wildlife attractions, your clothes’ colors also matter. When in the wild, your outfits ought to blend in with the environment as much as possible.
Therefore, tan-coloured garments, browns and khakis are your best bets. Please avoid bold choices such as reds, as these make you stand out and might intimidate some of the animals (thus diminishing your chances of seeing them).
Most outlets offering tourist-related services accept the major credit cards, with VISA being the most widely accepted.
However, if you intend to rely on credit cards as your preferred mode of payment, it is advisable to carry a variety of cards with you just in case one fails.
Also, do note to alert the bank of your intended travel lest they suspend your card when they notice it’s being swiped in a foreign jurisdiction (and suspect fraud).
Just as important is to inquire from your bank about the credit card fees applicable per transaction. That will allow you to make an informed decision whenever you swipe that card abroad.
Still on payment methods, it is advisable to avoid traveler’s cheques as they aren’t widely accepted in East African countries.
Whether you opt for card purchases or cold hard cash, please ensure to travel with some money in KES in your pocket (e.g. a week’s worth of pocket money) to cater for any eventualities.
A vacation is a chance to bond and create priceless memories for yourself and your loved ones. Accordingly, remember to bring your camera along and capture these moments for posterity.
Just as important is to include your gadget’s batteries, memory cards, and chargers.
Electrical outlets in Kenya fall within the 220 -240V/50Hz AC power range. If your device’s plug has a different configuration, you might need an appropriate adapter.
Kenya is a safe country for travelers.
However, you might need to take out a health insurance cover (if you do not already have one).
Travelers’ insurance policies are meant to cater to any eventualities that you may suffer in your travel.
While such risk rarely arises, the policy will give you peace of mind knowing you can get healthcare should you need it. That is a perfect guarantee to have if you happen to be traveling with kids.
Still, on the safety front, travelers on prescription drugs are advised to have their prescription medication with them when they travel.
Similarly, if you or your travel party is prone to allergies, carry some antihistamines along.
By James Gatheru,
Managing Director AJ Kenya Safaris,
Mobile: +254 (0) 719222430
From USA To Kenya: How to Plan The Best Kenya Wildlife Safari from Abroad