Frequently Asked Questions for Travel to Kenya and Tanzania
How Will I be able to communicate with the people? Tanzania’s national language is Swahili whereas Kenya has two national languages: English and Swahili. In both countries, English is widely spoken, but learning a few Swahili words can be useful and will be appreciated greatly by the local people.
What is the time difference? Both Kenya and Tanzania are 3 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
What about money? In Kenya, they use the Kenyan shilling and, in Tanzania, the Tanzanian shilling. Though major foreign currencies (like Euros and US dollars) are accepted, they can be converted at banks and foreign bureaus in bigger towns and tourist areas. Though some establishments accept credit and debit cards as payment, the most reliable option is to use cash. We suggest that travelers primarily use shillings, instead of foreign currency. We strongly caution against changing money in the street.
What kind of insurance should I get? We recommend that you have travel insurance to cover loss of baggage or valuables, personal accident, and medical expenses.
Are there differences in electricity voltage? Standard voltage in Kenya is 240v and in Tanzania 220v. Unless the standard voltage in your country is between 220v and 240v, please bring a voltage adapter. In any case, travelers should bring a universal adapter and a flashlight or headlamp, as power failures, surges, and dips are common.
What’s the weather like? Kenya and Tanzania share a similar climate: though the seasons can vary, between June and October, the weather is generally dry and hot, with cool nights and mornings. From November to mid-December, expect short rains and, between March and May, expect long rains. Along the coast, the weather is hot and humid, year-round; Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru temperatures can drop to below freezing.
Which clothes should I pack? It depends on your package’s activities, but here are some tips: pack lightweight, washable clothes plus a sweater for early morning game drives as well as a sun hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Long sleeves and trousers in light-colored fabrics help discourage insect bites. Shorts for women are acceptable but women should carry a wrap to cover their legs in the villages and towns as revealing clothes can offend the locals especially in Zanzibar and Muslim areas. On the beach, and within the confines of beach hotels, normal swimwear is acceptable. If you have plans to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or Meru, bring thermal underwear, light layers, a sweater, rain jacket, proper socks and sturdy boots.
Is it alright if my kids come along? Kenyans and Tanzanians love children and are especially helpful to mothers. However, keep in mind that canned baby food, powdered milk, and disposable nappies may not be available outside major towns.
Can I bring my camera? Yes! Make sure to protect your camera from dust and keep your equipment and film cool. It is courteous to ask for permission before photographing local people. If you intend to take a lot of people pictures, please bring an instant printer with you so that you can leave a picture with the people you photographed.
Do I need a visa? For some nationalities, Kenyan and Tanzanian visas can be obtained upon arrival at the airport. Be sure to check the current requirements at the nearest Kenyan or Tanzanian embassy, consulate, or High Commission for information about how best to get a visa.
How is security in-country? Both Kenya and Tanzania are generally safe countries, but we recommend that travelers use common sense: keep an eye on your belongings and take a taxi instead of walking in the towns or cities at night. Don’t carry cameras or large amounts of cash and beware of pick-pocketers. Please use hotel safety boxes to safeguard valuables and obtain a receipt. Leave valuable jewelry at home.
How do I stay healthy and well while on safari? Please research the vaccine requirements for both countries and give yourself ample time to get them before your trip. Kindly note yellow fever vaccine is very important and mandatory depending on where you will be traveling from.
When traveling, please take reasonable precautions. Malaria is endemic but is preventable. Use insect repellent, cover up at sundown, sleep under a mosquito net and take anti-malaria prophylactics as advised by your doctor. Drink only bottled water and drinks.
What will we be eating? Local and international cuisine is served in the hotels, camps, and lodges. Tipping is not obligatory in Kenya or Tanzania, but we recommend it for exceptional service.
Can I rent a car? Travelers to Kenya and Tanzania can rent normal cars, mainly for local errands. 4×4 vehicles for safaris usually have to be rented along with a driver. Keep in mind that, in both Kenya and Tanzania, people drive on the left side of the road and that an international driver’s license is required.
What happens if our car breaks down during the safari? Unexpected mishaps can happen, but we do everything possible to avoid, and quickly address them. We ensure that all our vehicles are roadworthy and equipped with two spare tires, an operating jack, and a comprehensive toolkit.
What are the do’s and don’ts of being on safari? Always follow the instructions of your guides and park rangers. Keep your distance from the animals and be quiet to avoid distressing the wildlife. Don’t leave your vehicle when in the park except in designated places. Keep to recognized tracks to avoid damaging the vegetation. Keep in mind that distances in Tanzania and Kenya can be vast and road travel can be tiring. If possible, try to spend more time in fewer parks – you’ll see more and won’t return home exhausted.