The worst waves of the pandemic seem to be ebbing out, and most nations, Kenya included, have reopened their borders to tourism and leisure travel.
It is the perfect time to go on that African safari you have been dreaming about.
Kenya remains the most popular safari destination due to the diversity and abundance of its wildlife.
It is one of the few places where you can see most of Africa’s wildlife species in their natural habitat. These include the Big Five, a collective name for the African lion, buffalo, leopard, rhino and elephant.
Figure 1Elephants inn the Maasai Mara
Regardless, as a first-time visitor, there are a few tips that may come in handy as you plan your safari.
These include the country’s visa requirements, health checks, what to pack, what not to pack and the general rules of etiquette required to ensure that your trip is enjoyable and memorable.
Best time for safari
Kenya has tropical weather with wet and dry months. The ideal time to visit the country is during the dry season, typically in June- October.
For starters, the dry season is a perfect time for marine adventures due to the clear skies and warm weather. Lovers of snorkeling enjoy clear waters at these times, and viewing the colorful fish is at its most optimal.
Also, the dry season is the height of wildlife safaris, with the annual wildebeest migration taking center stage.
Here, you get to witness a mass and death-defying exodus of over two million animals, mostly wildebeest and an assortment of other herbivores, as they cross the Mara River.
Top predators such as lions, crocodiles, leopards, and cheetah pose a considerable challenge to the migrating herds. Equally present are other carnivores such as the hyenas, jackals, and wild dogs.
The migration period brings out all the players in the Mara ecosystem and is an ideal time to see the broadest range of animals in one visit.
For most people, planning a visit to a new place can be a daunting task.
As a first-time visitor to Kenya, you might be at a loss on where to start and how to go about scheduling your trip.
Luckily, Kenya has numerous professional travel agencies that can help you in navigating the booking process.
Also, they cater to all budgetary needs, so you need not worry about spending beyond your budget.
The most beautiful thing about some of the agencies is that they not only cater to budget safaris, but some also offer customized vacations.
That means you no longer have to pick a pre-structured itinerary. Instead, the agent can tailor your trip according to your preferences and monetary bandwidth.
Professional travel agents will also advise you on the best times to visit different attractions.
With an agent at your disposal, you may opt for a guided tour or consult them about scheduling a self-drive safari (non-guided safari). In most cases, safari in Kenya are done using 4×4 off-road vehicles such as the Toyota land cruiser, land rover discovery, Jeep wrangler and more.
Those looking for budget friendly variations can use safari vans – most Toyota Hiace, Nissan NV 200, Mazda bongo, and others. The vans are customized with an open roof for optimal game viewing.
For first-time travelers, guided tours are always recommended as you get to benefit from the agent’s local contacts and discounts in so far as booking your accommodation and other logistics is concerned.
The agent will also avail you of reliable transportation that can tackle the Kenyan wild and a native tour guide to give you an in-depth look at all the places you visit.
Indian visitors to Kenya must complete a health declaration form that you can access online on evisa.go.ke.
They must also undergo mandatory PCR testing for Covid-19 and register negative results before being allowed into the country.
The test results must have been issued at least 96 hours before your trip to Kenya.
Upon receiving your test results, you should upload them on the African Center for Disease Control website and once accepted; you will be issued with a trusted traveler certificate.
That certificate is required during your entry into the country.
You will also need to print out your health declaration form and the QR code and carry these with you during your trip.
The other health requirement required to facilitate your entry into Kenya is the yellow fever certificate, which proves that you have been immunized against yellow fever.
Since Kenya is a tropical country, there are instances where people contract malaria, and it is always advisable to seek advice on how to keep yourself safe from malaria.
A qualified health professional should guide you on the preventive measures you can take to avoid contracting malaria during your visit.
Indian travelers are also required to have a valid visa before being allowed into Kenya. The process of getting a permit is straightforward as you only need to visit iVisa.com to apply.
What to pack
One of the most dreaded situations when visiting a new place is failing to pack or carry necessities adequately. In the same spirit, we do not wish to bog ourselves down with unnecessary baggage.
Knowing what to carry along is thus necessary.
On a wildlife safari, you are advised to opt for comfortable clothing to protect your extremities while in the wild. Here, ideal choices include cotton t-shirts, cargo pants, hats, sunglasses, and comfortable hiking boots or sneakers.
It is also vital that you stay conscious of your wardrobe color choices. The recommended colors for a wildlife safari are tans and khakis, as they help you blend with the bush environment.
Conversely, loud colors such as reds and yellows can scare off some wildlife, thus hampering your game viewing experience.
Also noteworthy is that you remember to pack your personal essentials, such as cameras, chargers, prescribed medications, and antihistamines.
It is always advisable to take out travel insurance while travelling and you should thus remember to carry your health insurance documents alongside your travel documentation.