Upon arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) you will have to clear immigrations. If you do not already have your visa, you will need USD 50 per person in cash. Immigration does not accept credit cards or Travellers Cheques and do not give change. There is no foreign exchange facility here, so make sure to have the exact amount in cash with you. The Visa process at the airport might be a bit chaotic with everyone filling in forms and joining the queue, but you should have been given an immigration form on the plane and it is wise to fill this in before landing. That way you can go straight to the queue to purchase your visa before going through passport control. Your passport must have at least 6 months left before the expiry date and 2 blank pages left for visa.
In the arrivals hall you will be met by our driver holding a sign displaying your name. The arrivals hall is often very crowded and you might be approached by taxi drivers before seeing our representative. Just ignore these approaches and keep looking out for your driver.
On a safari in the Masai Mara you are at typically 1300-1500 meters above sea level, so nights can be a bit chilly. Bring your sweater/fleece jacket and wind jacket/rain coat as well. Morning and evening game drives can be quite cold. The savannah is dusty, so white clothes is not the best to wear. Sandals are fine, but gym shoes - preferable with a solid sole or hiking boots are important for walking safaris. Also bring a smaller back pack to carry your water bottles, notebooks, binoculars etc.
At Basecamp Masai Mara the dress code is fairly informal; no strict dress code will bother you. If visiting Lamu -out of respect for the religion and culture- we strongly encourage covered shoulders and knees when in Lamu town or Shela Village. When you are on the beach or at the Dhow, bikinis or bathing suits are fine.
Sunglasses, sun hat, sun cream, a small torch, and a pair of binoculars are part of the essential safari packing. Also bring your favorite book for the hammock. If you enjoy reading in bed, bring your head light - it is a bit dark in Africa during night time. Soft bags are easier to stall in safari vehicles as well as in small airplanes than solid suitcases. If you are flying to the Mara, the weight limit is 15 kg per person. Most people bring much more than they need.
You can charge your camera, video recorder and phones at Basecamp Masai Mara and Wilderness Camp. The power can be a bit restricted, check upon arrival when the best time for charging is. The Maasai believe we are “taking their blood” when taking photos of them – so remember to ask people before you take a photo. Usually the guides and staff at our Basecamps are used to guests wanting to document their travel memories.
Visas are required for all visitors to Kenya, EXCEPT for Nationals of the following countries who do NOT need a Kenya visa:
Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Botswana, Brunei-Darussalam, Cyprus, Dominica, Ethiopia, Fiji Islands, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Jamaica, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Mauritius, Namibia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, St Lucia, St Vincent & The Grenadines, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Nationals of all other countries require a visa. Visas can be obtained on arrival at the airport in Nairobi or Mombasa, EXCEPT for citizens of the following countries who DO need to have a visa prior to arrival in Kenya:
Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Senegal, Somalia, Iran,Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Mali, Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, Cameroon, Pakistan, Tajikistan, North Korea
For other nationals, visas can be obtained at the airport upon arrival in Kenya, or from the Kenyan Embassies / High Commissions abroad prior to departure. Currently the visa fee is USD 50. Please note that if you obtain the visa on arrival at the airport, payment should be made in USD cash banknotes and the immigration officers do not accept credit cards or travelers’ cheques, so you will need to have the exact amount in cash. The visa is valid for three months, allowing return into Kenya from Tanzania or Uganda at no extra fee.
Insurance is always the guest's responsibility. Make sure you have a valid travel insurance that cover your safari trip to Kenya.
Payments & currency:
Usually when booking a trip with Basecamp most activities are included in the price. Drinks, tip, shopping and additional activities are extra. At Basecamp camps in the Mara you can pay for your bill with VISA. You can use VISA and MasterCard’s at Basecamp Masai Mara, though at a surcharge cost of 6 %. It is however good to have cash in Kenyan shillings for tipping and some shopping. If so, a couple of thousand Kenyan Shillings (approx. USD 20) per day is enough, depending on your shopping mood. Be sure to get smaller notes. In Lamu you are best suited to bring cash with you as most restaurants and shops do not offer VISA services. There is a cash machine in Lamu town for withdrawing cash.
Tipping is normal in Kenya – if you are satisfied, say around 10%. At Basecamp Masai Mara we kindly ask you to use the tip box at the reception and not do individual tipping of the staff members. At Basecamp we encourage team work, hence the shared tip amongst all the staff, not only those few who come close to our guests.
At Basecamp Masai Mara there is a curio shop with a wide range of products from all over Kenya selected from suppliers that have documented community sensitivity, fair trade, certified and micro-finance based commodities. The Basecamp Masai Brand products –our own fair trade handicraft project with 115 Maasai women earning an income, fill the shop with beautiful Maasai style high quality jewelry.
Your safety is our highest priority and upon arrival at our Mara camps you will be briefed about do’s and don’ts by our excellent safari guides. Kenya is generally safe for tourists; however, you should use the same travel precautions as you would in other parts of the world. Avoid travelling after dark in isolated places, especially isolated beaches, and keep valuables safe at all times. It is advisable to not carry large sums of cash or wear expensive-looking jewelry or watches in the streets.
Children are more than welcome – and we often have young visitors! A safari is an excellent experience for all generations; we have had many groups of 3 generations travelling together. However we do recommend Basecamp Masai Mara as the most family friendly camp. For Wilderness and Dorobo we advise families with children below 12 years to avoid due to operations not geared towards children as well as safety measures not in place to secure young children. The age limit for walking safari is 15 years when accompanied with their parents, otherwise
18 years. The Maasai people are very fond of children and they cater for the youngsters if the parents want a safari on their own. We also offer Dorobo club for the kids.
There are no compulsory vaccinations required for entry to Kenya unless you are arriving from an area infected with Yellow Fever, in which case a Certificate of Inoculation against Yellow Fever is required from travelers older than one year. Visitors coming from other countries in Africa where Yellow Fever may occur, including Tanzania and Zanzibar, require a Yellow Fever certificate.
The other recommended vaccinations are Typhoid, Hepatitis and Polio, and anti-malarial medication is essential. Make sure to bring your mosquito repellent, and use long sleeves and trousers during evenings/ morning times as a prevention of getting bitten. Please consult your doctor concerning vaccination prior to your journey to make sure you are fully protected.