Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Travel Tips

TRAVEL TIPS
Kenya is one of the oldest and most traditional safari destinations. A country with a wide range of cultures, wildlife and contrasting landscapes complete with a long tropical coastline. Kenya never fails to thrill the visitor who may be expecting the rolling plains of the Masai Mara, but is pleasantly surprised with the dramatic escarpments of the Great Rift Valley, the numerous picturesque lakes, the dense tropical rain forest, the harsh arid deserts and a splendid coastline. Almost all species of African wildlife are accessible in Kenya. Birdlife is prolific and a great number of species can be identified.

The People
While the national language of Kenya is Kiswahili, English is the official language and is widely spoken and understood across East Africa.

Safety
In the cities, adhere to the following:
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.

Wildlife Areas:

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.

Health
It is advisable to take out emergency medical insurance prior to entering Kenya.
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 Kenya. 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. Tap water in the major towns is purified and perfectly safe to drink. In the more remote areas always boil it first, except if you’re staying at a lodge or hotel where drinking water is perfectly safe. Bottled water is readily available in the bigger towns.
It is advisable to buy travel insurance covering accidents, illness or hospitalization for the period of your stay. Temporary membership in East African Flying Doctors' Service is also recommended for safari goers. Members who require emergency medical attention on safari are flown to Nairobi for the best medical attention available in the country.

Water
Drink only bottled water or from flasks of filtered and boiled water provided by most hotels and lodges.

Chemists / pharmacies
Travelers should carry an adequate supply of medicines and first aid accessories with them as supplies are limited in Kenya. Most chemists in the major towns are open from 0830h to 1230h and 1400h to 17h00 but some operating 24hs. Monday to Friday and 0800h to 13h00h on Saturdays. There are no emergency chemists open after hours or Sundays.

Accommodation
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.
Electricity
Power supply is 220/240 volt 50 cycle. Plugs are usually 13-amp 3 pin square (British type)
Banks
There are numerous banks in the major towns as well as many bureau de changes. Hours of business vary from bank to bank, but most are open from 9h00 to 13h30, Mondays to Fridays, and 9h00 – 1200h on Saturdays. Hotels and lodges change money outside these hours. Banking services are also available at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and at Moi International Airport in Mombasa.

Currency
Currency unit is the shilling, comprising 100 cents. Coins are in denominations of 5c, 10c, 50c and 1 and 5 shillings. Bank notes are in denominations of 5, 10, 2-0, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 shillings. Importation of foreign currency is unlimited and does not have to be declared on arrival. The importation and exportation of Kenyan currency, however, is illegal. It's best to come into the country with either Travelers’ checks or dollars or pounds which can be exchanged at any of the many Bureau de Change in the main Towns. If you are offered an exchange on the black market at the borders, exercise extreme caution as they are notorious for cheating you without you even realizing it.

VAT (Value Added Tax)
A VAT (tax currently 16% on most items) is levied and visitors cannot claim a refund on goods purchased.
Credit Cards, Cash and Traveler's Checks International credit cards are accepted by most restaurants, stores, hotels, lodges, camps, car rental firms, etc. However, many small shops in rural areas will not accept them. American Express, Thomas Cook, Visa and MasterCard Traveler's Checks are widely accepted.

Tipping
A tip of 10% for good service is adequate. Service charges are frequently added and it is usual to tip a tour driver or guide at least US $5 a day.

Communications
Postal services are fairly well organized in Kenya 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).

When to go
Between December and mid-March, the days are sunny, hot and dry and the nights are cool. Best time for deep sea fishing and scuba diving is between August and March when the ocean is calm and water is clear. Rains fall mainly from mid-March to May and again in November.

Climate
Although Kenya is considered to fall in the tropics, climate and temperature varies depending on altitude and proximity to the ocean. Coastal regions are hot and humid while the central plateaus are warm and dry, with cool nights.

Clothing
Lightweight casual clothes can be worn all year round, with a jacket or sweater for early winter mornings and evenings. On safari keep clothes to a minimum and mostly of neutral coloring - khakis, browns and greens. A sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen and insect repellant are a must. Bring a hat, good walking shoes and sun screen. Don't forget swim wear and binoculars. Some city restaurants and clubs have dress codes - casual jacket and tie for men, informal dresses for women.

Laundry
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.

Photography
Kenya is considered to be a photographers dream destination. From panoramic scenery, wildlife and birds to people and vibrant ceremonies. Rich color and good low lighting conditions abound. It is considered rude to take pictures of people without asking them first. Maasai and Samburu warriors 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 in Kenya. 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
Driving is 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 in Nairobi.
If you’re doing a vehicle trip through Kenya 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.

Car Rental
Car rental companies are represented at the major airports and in the cities, as are taxis.

Transportation by Air
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and Moi International Airport in Mombasa are main points of entry. Many charter services operate out of Nairobi's Wilson Airport. Regular services link Kisumu, Lamu, Malindi,

Mombasa and Nairobi.
Air Kenya, flies to Amboseli, Lamu, Masai Mara, Nyeri, Nanyuki and Samburu. Kenya Airways is the national airline. South African Airways links Johannesburg and Nairobi with regularly scheduled air services.

Departure Tax
An airport departure tax of U.S. $20 is levied when leaving the country.

Customs Requirements
All visitors must have a valid passport and are subject to clearance through customs. In addition, all non-Commonwealth citizens require a visa, to be obtained from Kenyan Missions abroad or at the post of entry. Personal effects, including cameras, binoculars and film are allowed into the country duty free
Time Differences
Throughout the year, Standard Time in Kenya is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, two hours ahead of Central European Winter Time, and eight hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time in the U.S.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

3 Days at Maasai Mara

Day 1. Nairobi-Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Depart Nairobi in the Morning for masai mara passing through the dramatic Great Rift Valley stopping at the view point, Ascend the western rim of the valley crossing the loita plains (maasai-land),see red-clad maasai warriors tend their multi-colored herds amongst plains game. Game viewing enroute to lodge for lunch. Afternoon game drive inside the most scenic park in Kenya where great concentration of game is seen including the "Big Five". Dinner and overnight at Camp site.

Day 2. Maasai mara National Reserve.
Morning and afternoon game viewing inside the Park. Search for wild game black manned lion for which Mara is famous for, cheetah, buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, leopard, grants gazelle are quite common, even the rare rhino might come out of the thicket for you, hyenas are plentiful, Extend your drive to the hippo point where schools of hippo submerge on the approach of vehicles only to surface seconds later to shot and gamble their displeasure as the crocodiles sunbathe on the river banks mouths agape. Between meals there is optional visit to the maasai villages for an insight to their culture if clients so wish. Meals and overnight at Campsite.


  • Day 3 . Maasai Mara-Lake Nakuru National Park
    Early morning (before breakfast) game viewing drive at maasai Mara in search of any wild game you might have missed previously. Return to lodge for breakfast
  • Saturday, August 6, 2011

    KENYAN CULTURAL SAFARIS

    A truly unrivalled cultural adventure that offers so such more beyond that of your regular safari. Wildlife galore and breathtaking scenery and luxury are but one facet of this safari. The safari embraces the warmth of the African tribes, their culture and traditions while visiting Kenya’s best game parks.


    The Masai Culture
    There was an age-grade system, in which the males were divided into three groups: youths, warriors (moran), and elders. When youths became warriors, they moved to a different type of village, called a manyatta. In the manyatta lived the warriors, their mothers, sisters, and uninitiated girl lovers. In contrast, the kraal was made up of families of married elders.
    The warriors constituted the standing army of the Masai. Males were youths until they were circumcised, at about the age of 13 to 17. A year or two before circumcision, the e-unoto ceremony was held. This ceremony signifies the handing over the defense of Masai country to the incoming warriors. The ceremony lasted from three to six months in each division, and, at the end of it, the outgoing warriors started to get married and take their place as elders. The warriors of a single age-group in a single area live in one such village. A warrior company that lived in a single village was called sirit. It is known that there was a council of elders in each village, but apparently they had little power to compel the warriors to do anything
    Little is known of the religion of the Masai, and those who have studied it are in disagreement with each other. Evidently the Masai were monotheistic, and prayed often. The central figure in the religious system was a "medicine man," known as laibon. The laibon were involved in shamanistic curing, along with divination and prophecy. Their positions were inherited along "clan" lines.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    SEVENTH WONDER OF THE WORLD!!

    Kenya's Maasai Mara Reserve has been named one of the new Seventh Wonders of the World in a poll of experts conducted by ABC Television's Good Morning America. The incredible annual migration of over a million Wildebeest from the Serengeti plains to the Mara has been described as being one of the most awe inspiring sights on earth, and a broadcast on US morning television took this spectacle into millions of American homes.

    The sheer spectacle of this event draws visitors keen to witness one of the planet’s largest and most fascinating natural cycles to Kenya each year, and is regarded as the planet's greatest natural spectacle- and it is this remarkable event that saw the Mara ranked as one of the new Seven Wonders.

    The central migratory herds of over 1.3 million wildebeest spend much of the year grazing throughout the plains of the Serengeti. The herds calve in January to March, the young born ready to make their first, epic journey. In June, as the dry season withers the grasslands and a distant scent of moisture brings promise of rain in the north, they begin to gather, massing together to form a single vast herd.

    They pour northwards, a pulsing, surging column of life. The sound of the approaching herd is a deep, primal rumbling of thundering hooves and low grunts. This endless grey river of life is mottled with black and white as zebras join the throng, drawn onwards in the search for the rains and fresh life giving grass.

    By July the herds begin crossing from Tanzania to Kenya, bringing the plains to life as predators are drawn to this perfect opportunity for easy hunting.

    At the edge of the Maasai Mara the herds face their greatest obstacle, a series of rivers that must be crossed. At the Mara River the herds gather at the banks, piling together in front of the broad fast flowing waters. As the pressure built the herds finally surge into the river, many animals hurling themselves off high banks.

    As they struggle across the rivers many are drowned or swept away by strong currents. The crossing attracts massive crocodiles who each year await this season of bounty. There is always great frenzy in the waters as the crocodiles plunge into the herds and pull down the prey, as the mounting pressure on the shore pushes more and more animals into the water.

    As they reach their goal, the herds spread out to graze across the expanse of the Mara. October sees the herds turn southward and repeat the same journey back to the Serengeti, where the renewed grasslands await.

    This is truly a Wonder of the World- an incredible display of nature at work. Of all the calves born in the Serengeti, two out of three will never return from their first and most demanding migration. It is the inextricable binding of renewal and sustenance, feast and famine, life and death that saw this latest honor bestowed upon Kenya.

    A safari to witness this event is an unforgettable experience. You will see the forces of nature at work in a massive complex system that has always existed, and continues oblivious to the influence of our modern world. This is life at it most elemental and enigmatic- without doubt the world’s greatest wildlife spectacle.

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    kilima Safari Camp This August Deal!!!!


    Nairobi Excursions and surroundings


    Nairobi City Tour
    Daily at 10:00HRS & 1400HRS (3 Hours)
    This excursion includes a drive around the city. You'll pass by modern day Nairobi landmarks like: the law courts, Parliament buildings, and the uniquely shaped Kenyatta International Conference Centre and perhaps pick up a few bargains at the colorful City Market.
    Thereafter, a visit to the Snake Park and National Museum: "the Finest Small Museum in Africa" well known for its spell binding exhibits and displays of early man, tribal regalia and the flora and fauna of Kenya also a close visit to the botanical garden.


     Karen Blixen Museum and Giraffe Center
    You will be driven toward Ngong Hills to the Karen Blixen Museum, situated 30 minutes drive outside Nairobi City Center. Here you have the opportunity to experience the former residence of the world famous Danish writer Karen Blixen (Out of Africa) and to admire the view of the Ngong Hills from the beautiful gardens. Proceed to Giraffe Centre where you come face to face with the tallest mammal on earth; having a chance to even feed them with your bare hand


    Carnivore restaurant.
    The restaurant, located just outside Nairobi, is recognized as one of the world's most unique dining experiences.
    As the name suggests, Carnivore is a true meat lover's paradise. Boasting a spectacular "all the meat you can eat" menu, the entire restaurant is centered around a large open fire pit, on which massive skewers of roasted. Fire roasted meat (locally known as Nyama Choma is a genuine Kenyan specialty.

    Dinner or lunch at the Carnivore provides the opportunity to zebra, giraffe, impala, wildebeest, crocodile and other game meats. Waiters bring the skewers straight from the fire to the table, and the meat is sliced onto pre-warmed, cast iron plates. A range of sauces, condiments and relishes are served as accompaniments. Despite its reputation and carnivorous menu, the restaurant does also cater to vegetarians. If you are visiting Nairobi, Carnivore offers a not to be missed opportunity to enjoy one of the worlds finest and most unique Epicurean experiences.

    David Sheldrick & Giraffe Centre
    Daphne Sheldrick: As part of the David Sheldrick Conservation Foundation rehabilitates baby elephants and other wildlife here at her home just outside of Nairobi National Park. These babies have lost their mothers to poaching, death, injuries, on getting lost in the wild or other tragedies. Daphne and her dedicated staff raise them to be released back into the wild when they are ready. It is worth a visit to see humanitarian care to the wildlife and the heart it takes to care. After the visit drive to the former home of Karen

    Blixen – author of “Out of Africa”. Now a Museum, you may explore the beautiful house and grounds at leisure. Drive towards the Ngong Hills to the former home of Karen Blixen – author of “Out of Africa”. Now a Museum, you may explore the beautiful house and grounds at leisure before proceeding to the Giraffe Centre where the rare Rothschild giraffes are being rehabilitated before being returned to the wild. You will be able to see them at close range, even feeding them. Thereafter return to your hotel.


    Nairobi National Park
    The 117 km2 Nairobi National Park is unique by being the only protected area in the world with a variety of animals and birds close to a major city. As expected, the park is a principal attraction for visitors to Nairobi. The park also serves many residents and citizens living in the city.

    The park has a diversity of environments with characteristic fauna and flora. Open grass plains with scattered acacia bush predominant. The western side has a highland dry forest and a permanent river with a riverine forest. In addition, there are stretches of broken bush country and deep, rocky valleys and gorges with scrub and long grass. Man-made dams have also added a further habitat, favourable to certain species of birds and other aquatic biota. The dams also attract water dependent herbivores during the dry season.
    The park has diverse birdlife with 400 species recorded. However all species are not always present and much depends on season. Northern migrants pass through the park primarily during late March through April.

    Nairobi National Park is one of the most successful of Kenya's rhino sanctuaries that is already generating a stock for reintroduction in the species former range. Due to this success, it is one of the few parks where a visitor can be certain of seeing a black rhino in its natural habitat.


    Crescent Island - Full day
    Crescent Island is situated on the western side of Lake Naivasha, 80 kilometers from Nairobi. It is a small crater lake that is home to a number of hippos. From its wildlife sanctuary, a number of mammals can be seen grazing in the surrounding lake environs, such as zebra, impala, buffalo, giraffe, Kongoni and, at night, hippos. The Island hosts a wide array of bird species including fish eagles, ospreys, lily-trotters, black crakes and a variety of herons. A boat ride at the lake is an exciting experience offering a close view of swimming hippos, breathtaking sceneries of the Great Rift Valley walls and the surrounding wildlife.

    Bomas of Kenya
    The Bomas Harambee Dancers the only resident dance company in Kenya perform daily in a spectacular circular theatre possibly the biggest and unique structure of its kind in Africa which seats 3,500 people. You will have the opportunity of seeing a colourful cross- section of the people of Kenya dancing to the pulsating beat of Coastal drums and other traditional instruments. Dancers from all the tribes in Kenya move across the stage in a vibrant kaleidoscope of rhythm and the hue. Proud Maasai warriors vault skywards as they woo their maidens with chanting and twirling spears.
    Before or after watching the Bomas dances, patrons take a leisurely guided tour of traditional villages with our trained information officers for an insight into the rich diversity of the culture of people of Kenya. The Word "Bomas” is authentic and African

    Lake Nakuru Tour – Full Day
    Lake Nakuru National Park Tour is a full day trip to the rift Valley escarpment, 160kms from Nairobi. It is one of the most scenic parks in East Africa, a bird and rhino sanctuary and is home to a wide range of animals including lion, leopard, buffalo, giraffe, waterbuck and rhino, the only notable exception being the elephant. The park is also a bird watcher’s paradise, with 400 known species having been spotted here. Vegetation ranges from savannah to various indigenous forests. A world heritage site, Lake Nakuru is most famous for its million-plus grand pink flamingo population.