In some big hotels, credit cards are accepted, but it is still not very common in Kenya
Charges are normally around 3% to 6%. Don’t use credit cards as your primary method of paying.
ATM machines & Banks
The Kenyan shilling (KSh) trades against most international currencies at a favourable rate. There’s no need to bring large amounts of hard currency cash or to buy shillings in advance. Major international credit/debit cards (for instance Master and Visa) can be used to draw local currency at 24-hour ATMs in most cities and beach resorts, but not in national parks and other safari destinations). Many vendors do not accept cards, however, so it’s a good idea to carry a few hundred dollars worth of hard currency cash as a fallback.
Generally, traveller’s cheques don’t offer a great deal for people visiting Kenya. You’ll have a limited choice of places you can change them and the rates and fees applied to make them a poor deal. Usually, you’ll have to visit a bank branch – which might well mean waiting in a long line – to access your cash.
Tipping is very important and culturally accepted, however, it always remains voluntary. The tip is accepted in both local currency (KES) and USD.
Driver guide: Tipping in Kenya is like the USA system. Tips for drivers are not included in the safari cost. We suggest at least $10-$15 US per person (client) per day. If the service is good give more, if not adjust your tip accordingly. Generally, tips are given at the end of the safari after unpacking the 4WD.
Transfer Driver: $5-10 per group for drivers doing airport or mountain transfers.
Porter/waiters: $2-$5 US per group upon checking in and while checking out.
Charging electronic devices
You can charge your cameras, phones and other electric items in most accommodations. If you bring more than a couple of chargeable items you might consider bringing an extension with extra outlets since the amount of outlets is often limited. We advise bringing extra batteries for your camera since many lodges generate power with solar or generators and power cuts might occur. Solar-generated lodges will often only have power available in the rooms at certain hours of the day, but you can always use the charging ports in the main lodge area.
To get access to the internet on your phone, you can buy internet bundles via a local SIM card by using pre-paid airtime. The procedure of getting the SIM card is as described above (“Phone Network Providers”), and your guide can assist you. Using the internet on your phone is relatively cheap and fast, with speed depending on your location.
In a lot of lodges, WIFI is provided, however, the speed will not be what you are used to at home and the lodges are often remote and do not get a reliable signal. If you don’t want to use this opportunity to complete disconnect, we advise that you get a local SIM with a data bundle or wireless internet stick as mentioned above.
- Good to take passports with you as you will sometimes be asked for them on arrival at lodges. Be prepared to also fill out hotel registration forms-especially at the big commercial lodges.
- When you check into your lodge, ask the receptionist to organize a staff member to spray your room for mosquitoes whilst you are at dinner. All lodges either do it already or can do it for you on request.
- Take your own toilet paper as many public toilets don’t have any.
- Good quality sunglasses; if you wear contact lenses,
- Sun hat
- Small torch /headlamp
- Good binoculars
- Camera with a zoom lens
- Waterproof/dustproof bags to cover your cameras
- Swimsuit as some of the lodges have swimming pools
- A small daypack to keep with you in the car during the day
- Insect repellent
- Sunscreen, moisturiser and lip balm
- Basic first aid kit.
- Clothing should be lightweight, loose-fitting and of “breathable” fabrics, such as cotton.