We’ve put together this travel checklist to help you plan for your trip in Africa and stay safe and comfortable whilst you are there.
• Make sure you fill in the emergency contact details in your passport.
• Find out where the nearest embassy will be – check their website to find out what services they offer and their opening times
•Check with your doctor as soon as possible to find out if you need any vaccinations before you travel
•Make sure you fill in the emergency contact details in your passport. This will make it much easier for us to contact someone if necessary
• Tell a friend or relative where you are going and for how long for – give them some idea of your itinerary if possible and an emergency contact number
• Driving abroad? Make sure your license is current and valid. Make sure you are aware of the driving laws in the country you are visiting
• Check HM Revenue & Customs Travel website for information on duty-free allowances, banned goods etc.
• Guide books and maps
• Passport and visa(s). take photocopies of your passport and other important documents and keep these separate from the originals when you travel and/or store them online using a secure data storage site. for certain countries your passport must be valid for 6 months after the date you travel – check the entry requirements before you go
• Foreign currency of your destination country
• Credit cards
• Travelers checks or ATM card
• Insurance: Trip Cancellation/Medical
• Personal Identification
• Photocopies of documentation
• Birth Certificate (if necessary)
• Marriage License (if necessary)
• Appropriate Luggage
• Luggage Locks & ID Tags (Do NOT Lock checked baggage)
• Appropriate Clothing
• Comfortable Footwear
• Rain Protection
• Camera and Film (Place film in carry-on baggage)
• Telephone Plugs for Modem
• Small Flashlight
• Travel Alarm Clock
• Small Binoculars
• Brimmed Hat or Visor
• Reading Materials
• Playing Cards/Games
• Address Book
• Batteries for camera and flashlight
• Mini Sewing Kit (place in checked baggage)
• Travel Iron or Steamer
• Sink Stopper
• Folding Scissors (place in checked baggage)
• Laundry Soap Packets
• Laundry Bag
• Ziplock Plastic Bags
• First Aid Kit
• Aspirin/Pain Reliever
• Cold/Sinus Medication
• Diarrhea Medicine
• Insect Repellent
• Contact Lens Preparations
• Antibiotic Ointment
• Personal Hygiene Items
• Personal Prescriptions
• Immunizations – Check Travel Tips under Health.
• Dental Floss
• Blow Dryer
• Shaving Cream
Don’t walk alone in apparently deserted areas, especially in and around the cities. It is preferable and usually more enjoyable to walk with company or in groups. Don’t carry large sums of cash in your purse or pocket or display expensive jewelry. Be aware of the possibility of pick-pockets and bag snatchers in crowded areas. Make photocopies of the first few pages of your passport, air ticket and other important travel documents. Keep this separate from the originals. Don’t leave money or valuables in a hotel room. Most hotels offer safety deposit box service, and ensure that you have adequate insurance coverage before leaving home.
Always remember that while some animals have become accustomed to the presence of people they are still wild animals. Keep your distance. It is illegal to feed any animal, make excessive noise to attract their attention, or deviate from designated roads for that closer photograph. Never get out of your vehicle except at designated points. Close all windows and zippers when you leave your room or tent and spray it with insect repellant.
The best way to get the most out of your safari is to take an active interest in everything going on around you, not just the number of species you can see in the shortest possible time. Ask all the questions you can think of and take reference books on not only wildlife but birds, insects and trees and read up about everything you see.
Up-to-date immunization required for travel to Africa: Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Diphteria, Tetanus, Polio, Bilharzia: The bilharzia parasite is found in many lakes, streams and rivers on the continent. Avoid swimming in them!
Vaccinations for cholera, tetanus and yellow fever are advised. Malaria is virulent in Africa so, take prophylactics two weeks before arrival and continue two weeks after leaving. Your chemist or doctor can advise you of the most suitable drug available as certain drugs lose their effectiveness.
Water: It is highly recommended not to drink tap water – or even brush one’s teeth using tap-water – in hotels (lodges). Bottled water (boiled water) is provided in most hotels and lodges and it is also possibly to buy extra bottled water from the hotels and shops. Bottled water is readily available in the bigger towns.
Health Insurance: It is advisable to buy travel insurance covering accidents, illness or hospitalization for the period of your stay. Temporary membership in Flying Doctors’ Service is also recommended for safari goers.
Chemists / Pharmacies: Travellers should carry an adequate supply of medicines and first aid accessories with them as supplies are limited in Africa. Most chemists in the major towns are open from 0830h to 1230h and 1400h to 17h00. Monday to Friday and 0800h to 13h00h on Saturdays.
Standards and services range from up-market to tourist. Deluxe and first class hotels are found in the main cities and the resorts on the coastline of the country. Luxurious lodges are set in exotic locations, while comfortable tented camps are found in the main game parks.
Nearly every major trekking and safari area in Africa you are bound to run into touts promising top-notch excursions. Never book with the first seller that approaches you. Take the time to look around for other deals. Disreputable touts are known to target budge lodgings looking for those needing budget trips.
If it sounds like a ridiculously low price, beware. Those pre-paid huts may well turn out to be unusable tents, food may run short, and entrance fees may not be included.
Never pay on the spot. Go to an office. If they do not have one, book elsewhere.
Ask to see confirmed reservation forms for both entrance and reserve fees. Best bet is to take a day and ask other travelers about their experiences.
Don’t trust locks in Budget accommodations in Africa especially when you are not in, so keep valuables with you at all times, sleep with your money belt on or place valuables in safe that
you are certain is secure.
Traveling in Africa can be easy or tough depending on where your are travelling. The most common modes of traveling is road and air. Here are some tips to consider while traveling:
Wear a money belt, neck purse or leg safe at all times. Keep your passport and the majority of your money hidden in the belt, and just place what you need for the day in your accessible pockets. Avoid opening your money belt or safe in public.
When traveling on public transport, never pack valuables in a pack or bag that may end up on a rooftop. Keep your valuables in a daypack and keep it wrapped around your wrist, leg or body. It’s a good idea to invest in a few padlocks for your luggage.
While hitchhiking is a common form of transport throughout Africa, NEVER hitch alone.
Do not walk alone through a city at night. If you have any doubts about the safety of an area, ask the locals, the local police or your embassy/consulate.
If you find yourself in a troubled area or if where you are suddenly erupts into crisis, locate and get to your embassy or consulate as soon as possible. It’s a good idea to register with your embassy or consulate if you are traveling in an unpredictable place.
Buy travel insurance. If there is any place where it could come in real handy, it’s Africa. Make sure your insurance covers any “adventure” sports you plan to do, and provides for emergency evacuation, if needed. Long-term and multi-trip policies are a good, inexpensive way to keep you covered for the duration of your trip. If you are going on a tour or safari with a company from home, check with them for travel insurance.
Pack light. Distances are great in Africa and clothes and other essentials are cheap. If you don’t think you really need it, don’t bring it.
Bring sunscreen. The African sun is notoriously strong. Don’t underestimate its power.
Bring something to donate. Medical supplies, school supplies and yes, money, are all useful. Don’t bring candy to give to children.
If you can, volunteer and donate your time. Even an afternoon of playing soccer with village children or tutoring math will enhance your experience and theirs.
You can also visit communities and give your time.
Also consider buying something from the community. Most of the community members have crafts and antiques to sell. That might go along way to providing the basic needs to their families.
If the service has been good a 10% tip is due.
There are numerous banks in the major towns as well as many bureau de change. Hours of business vary from bank to bank, but most are open from 9h00 to 14h30, Mondays to Fridays, and 9h00 – 11h30 on Saturdays. Hotels and lodges change money outside these hours.
ATM machines are available 24 hrs at all major banks, and you can use your ATM debit card on most ATM machines. However, you will incur a small international transaction fee when you use your ATM debit/credit card.
Credits Cards are widely accepted in all major hotels and establishments, with the most recognized being Master Card, Visa and American Express. However, you will need some cash handy because smaller shops will only accept cash.
Traveler’s checks are also accepted at restaurants, stores and major hotels. American Express and Visa are the most recognized brands of traveler’s checks in Africa. Always have a photo ID, and never sign the checks until you are ready to use them. If they are lost or stolen, contact the company that issued them. It may be wise to also contact the police as some companies that issue traveler’s checks require a police report.
Postal services are fairly well organized in Africa and you should have no problem sending or receiving letters. Telegrams are less certain. Public telephones are in a bad state of repair and you could wait hours for a line. Rather make international calls from a private home or large hotel.
All major hotels have fax machines at the disposal of their guests as well as telex services. Telephone directories will list all the international dialing codes. Both local and long-distance calls are metered on
a time basis. (Note the surcharge at hotels is quite high, but it will cost less in frustration).
Internet Access: Internet access is not that available. However, you can walk into a cybercafé in major cities or buy a GSM modem to use in your laptop. If you have an internet enabled phone, you can use it on the go.
Phone Services: Most African countries have accessible GSM cellular network. You can purchase a cheap handset in and buy local calling cards to make your international calls. Alternatively, if you own a handset that accepts GSM SIM cards, you can buy local cards and save money, as long as you have “unlocked” your phone for international use.
Before you travel, call your carrier to ask for unlock codes or search the internet for instructions. You can also make international phone calls from your hotel, cybercafés, phone booths and other places that offer international calling services.
Most hotels and lodges will offer a laundry service. For low budget travelers there are no coin operated laundromats at all so consider drip dry clothing and be prepared for hand washing. In most places one could hire someone to do your washing.
It is considered rude to take pictures of people without asking them first. Most people will expect payment for posing.
Always bring plenty of film and video cassettes if you’re bringing a camcorder as well as batteries – as these items are difficult to get. Keep your cameras in a dust resistant, padded case and out of the midday sun. A 200mm (or longer) telephoto lens will prove very useful on safari, and an ultra violet filter and lens cap are strongly recommended.
Please note that taking pictures of government and military personnel and installations is prohibited!
Driving is mostly done on the left side of the road. Drivers require a valid license that must include a picture of the holder. A valid foreign license may be used for up to 90 days, but only after it has been
endorsed by the Road Transport Office.
If you’re doing a vehicle trip it is a good idea to carry a range of tools and essential spares with you. Two spare wheels and a couple of spare tubes are a must due to the condition of the roads. Spare jerry cans of fuel and water, a tow rope, compressor, winch and a spotlight are useful items to have. Many of the villages along the main routes offer tire mending services at a very reasonable fee. .
Be very careful in towns and villages not to leave your vehicle open and unattended. You should have no problem sleeping outdoors in designated camping areas or remote places along the way, but get into the habit of locking things away before you go to sleep.
All visitors must have a valid passport with at least 6 months left and are subject to clearance through customs. In addition, you must obtain a visa. Personal effects, including cameras, binoculars and film are allowed into the country duty free
Shopping for Souvenirs
Travelling through Africa, tourists are constantly offered metal bangles, wooden animals (giraffes, elephants etc), ebony chess-boards and ‘African art’ paintings on fabric. ‘Curio shops’ are routine stops for tourists in transit to the various Safari locations. These offer ‘toilet facilities’, drinks. and above all the ultimate experience in the art of haggling! These shops are flooded with goods (mainly wooden ornaments), none of them priced. Instead, each potential shopper attracts the instant attention of a sort of ‘personal shopping assistant’ who will escort him/her during his/her whole shopping experience. No prices are given until the shopper has selected a number of items – you are told that ‘the more you buy, the better the price’…
Its always recommended you use the online craft shops to get a glimpse of the cost of the crafts. As a rule, always haggle or bargain. Start bargaining 1/3 of the price that you have been quoted.
Alcohol & Drugs
Africa’s drinking age is 18 years. Drinking culture in Africa is more relaxed and not as strict as in the United States and other areas of the western world. Drugs and narcotics are illegal in Kenya – this is strictly enforced.
What to Wear in Kenya – Dress Code & Etiquette
If you are going to Africa for a vacation, holiday, safari or leisure, bring light-to-moderate casual wear such as cargo pants, jeans, cotton shirts and the like. The dress code is conservative. Also, many adhere to different cultural, religious and customary dress styles. Jeans and decent tops/blouses for ladies are perfect. If you are going for business, you can keep it business-casual, however, business suits, tie and formal wear are preferred. Swimsuits are acceptable at the beach but not in public places.
Evening Wear: Africans dress up for special occasions, especially when going out clubbing/dancing, to church, to sporting and other events or out to dinner. In some restaurants and clubs, you will probably be fine wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but if you are considering dining at one of the more up-scale restaurants or having a social night out, you may want to show off your nicer clothing and join the party!
Etiquette: Shaking hands is a common greeting gesture and you are always welcome to strike a conversation with the person next to you.