Kenya travel advice

Kenya travel advice

Tips from our friends in Kenya

Tips on where to go

Roman Biondic, from our supplier Eyes on Africa Safaris, is based in East Africa. He shares his Kenya travel advice: “Lakes Baringo and Bugoria are underrated places which are not on the tourist map for the regular traveler. Not many people know about them. The Great Rift Valley is very narrow there, so you can see both sides of the rift, and Lake Baringo always has something going on – there are crocodiles inside, pelicans, flamingos, there are hippos... The morning boat rides are fantastic. And Lake Bugoria is a national park. The landscape there is fantastic, the land is completely red in colour.”
Andrew Appleyard, from our supplier Exodus, shares his Kenya travel advice for those looking for a more unusual wildlife experience:
“Most people head to the Masai Mara, but I love Samburu and the Aberdares at the bottom of Mount Kenya, along with Laikipia. There’s much more specialist wildlife – things like wild dogs that you don’t get in the Mara. It is absolutely beautiful, and the big advantage is that you’re at about 2,000m there, so it’s a lot cooler and you don’t usually get mosquitoes. Laikipia is also one of the few places where you’ve got a mix of rhino – black and white. It has only one of seven east African black rhino populations in the world up there.”

Tips on climbing a mountain in East Africa

Chris Morris, director of our supplier IntoAfrica:
“Kilimanjaro gets 20 times more visitors than Mt Kenya, but Mt Kenya is scenically much more spectacular with jagged peaks, tarns, waterfalls, more wildlife and beautiful "U" shaped valleys resulting from more than 3 million years of erosion. Kili is less than a million years old and has not eroded to anywhere near same extent. It is a real challenge though and you suffer somewhat for the pleasure of meeting the challenge, but if you’re looking for an enjoyable trek with more “nature” experiences then I’d recommend Mt Kenya – plus it’s cheaper and far less crowded.”

Advice on staying safe in Nairobi

Andrew Appleyard, from our supplier Exodus, shares his Kenya travel advice:
“Make sure you’ve got transfers booked on arrival and departure in Nairobi. Top tip is to give yourself plenty of time to get across the city – a journey that took an hour five years ago now takes three hours. And choose a hotel in a really good location. It’s worth spending the extra money in Nairobi to choose a decent hotel in a decent area that’s well lit and has security.”

Tips for volunteers

Stuart Rees-Jones, from our supplier Camps International:
“Volunteers will be hard pushed to get the level of diversity, fulfillment with tangible ground level impact anywhere else in the world like you will in East Africa, You have access to the most diverse environments. The people are fantastically friendly and open and caring and the need is endless, so you’re working on projects where you are having massive impact. We have healthcare programmes for volunteer nurses; in ten days they treated 7,500 cases of parasitic infections. We operate in rural environments where typically there is little or no income, so if it’s well done, if you deliver a dollar properly, that dollar will go a very long way.”

Health & safety in Kenya

Travel safely in Kenya


  • Visit your GP 6-8 weeks before traveling to Kenya to ensure you have all the necessary vaccinations and medication. You may be requested to show an up to date Yellow Fever certificate on entry to Kenya, so we recommend getting this vaccination as well.
  • Malaria is present in Kenya below altitudes of 2,000m – antimalarial medication should be taken. Wear long sleeves and trousers and use your mosquito nets. Dengue fever (also carried by mosquitoes) is also present, particularly in cities, and tse-tse flies have a painful bite, as well as carrying sleeping sickness. They are attracted to the colour blue – so don’t wear it!
  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which includes any activities you will be participating in (climbing, diving etc). Ensure this covers emergency medical repatriation; you may have to be evacuated if local hospitals are unable to provide adequate care.
  • Only drink bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.
  • Do not bathe in rivers or lakes in Kenya – there is a significant danger from wildlife as well as water-borne diseases such as bilharzia. In many places it is also illegal.
  • Kenya is on the equator and the sun is fierce – especially as it is magnified by the altitude in much of the country. Remember to bring sunscreen, a hat, good quality sunglasses and chap stick with SPF to protect your lips. They will thank you for it!
  • Mount Kenya stands at 5,199m – altitude sickness can kick in at less than half that height. Ascending slowly reduces the chances of feeling ill, but if you do, the best cure is to descend – even a couple of hundred metres can make a difference. Younger, fitter climbers are actually likely to be at more risk, due to their ability to ascend more rapidly – age and fitness have no effect on altitude sickness. Keep well hydrated and let your guide know if you are feeling unwell.
  • The emergency number is 999.


Due to security issues and terrorist threats, the Foreign Office does not recommend travel to certain regions of Kenya. These include the whole of the area bordering Somalia (within 60km), the northern coast including Lamu Island, and parts of Mombasa and Nairobi – although it is safe to fly into both of these cities. Check the current security situation on the FCO website, and speak to your tour operator if concerned.

If staying in Nairobi or Mombasa, this is not the time to scrimp; it is important to book a decent hotel in a safe area with good security. Do not walk alone in the cities – and do not go out after dark. If using taxis, pre-book through your hotel.

Camping in game reserves is thrilling as you are surrounded by wildlife – including elephants, lions and hyenas. Your guide will explain the regulations at each camp – do pay attention to them!

Kenya is a conservative country, and all travelers should dress modestly. Women in particular should not wear shorts or sleeveless tops. This is especially important in coastal areas – including Mombasa – where the population is largely Muslim, and during the holy month of Ramadan (this changes date each year).

Always follow your driver or guide’s advice when in national parks and around wildlife, especially on walking safaris.

Be sure to use a reputable company for climbing Mount Kenya. Ill-equipped or untrained guides put lives at risk.

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya. Same sex couples should be extremely cautious; even holding hands or kissing can carry heavy penalties or imprisonment.

Familiarise yourself with local laws. It is illegal to photograph official buildings, destroy local currency or smoke in public places; you could fined yourself being arrested if you inadvertently break any of these laws.

Kenya tips from our travelers

Recommendations from those who have been there

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Kenya travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
Take a head torch and a she-wee ladies if you don't want to leave the safety of your tent in the middle of the night! - Phoebe Harrison

Expect the unexpected! Don’t get hung up on itineraries, when something doesn’t work out the way YOU are expecting it too. - Helen Rankmore

Definitely take toilet roll and sweets as some of the journeys in the truck are long, maybe even a pack of cards. Wet wipes or hand gel is a must and make sure you enjoy the trip and don’t spend too much time seeing it through the lens of your camera! - Angela Platt

If you're going to take anything with you for local people, take pens, crayons or note books but give these to village elders or teachers who will make sure people get the best use out of them - Frances Clements

Take baby-wipes so you can wash your face and hands at least once a day as Kenya is a very dusty country and the jeep rides stir up lots of dust. - Jean Rains

Believe that it will be cold in the evenings! My fleece was invaluable but I would have given anything to have had a pair of jeans or thicker trousers with me. - Clare Morley

Bring a wildlife guide book and have a look through before you arrive so you know what to look for (there is more to see than giraffes and big cats!). Bring a Swahili dictionary or phrase book. Just knowing a few words really helps relations with local people. - Holly Foat

Take a pair of binoculars – and good ones – we were very glad we were not fighting to see the animals also take more memory cards for your camera than you think you will need. - Alice Crawley
Photo credits: [Where to go - Lake Baringo: Valentina Storti] [Mount Kenya: Lindsey Nicholson] [Volunteering: Moving Mountains Trust] [Review 1 - Pat Smith: ninara] [Review 2 - Heather Evans: Pla Waugh] [: ]
Written by Vicki Brown
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