Hard currencies can be exchanged in cash or travellers cheques at banks all over the country, at forex bureaus in Nairobi and at most large hotels. US Dollars and Sterling Pounds are most acceptable and will cause the least delay. As a norm, always ask what commission and charges will be deducted first and prior to transaction. Banks are usually open from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm, Mondays through Fridays and from 9.00 am and 11.00 am on Saturdays.
VISA, MASTERCARD and AMERICAN EXPRESS are widely accepted for tourist services. There's usually a 5% mark-up on top of the price as establishments are charged a fixed percentage of their transactions.
Since rules concerning disease prevention change from time to time, a check should be made with the nearest Kenyan High Commission, Kenya Tourist Office or any airline flying scheduled services into Kenya. Malaria is endemic to most parts of Kenya and intending visitors should start taking anti-malarial tablets before departure and continue taking them for the prescribed time after their return. Insect repellents should be made use of after dusk and suitable cover up clothes should be worn in the evenings.
FLYING DOCTORS SOCIETY
Membership of the Flying Doctors Society is strongly recommended. In event of accident or sickness while on safari, the society will fly patients by air ambulance to Nairobi for admittance to hospital. The current cost for 1-month membership is US$ 25 per person.
Drinking water from the tap must be considered risky. Hotels and lodges usually furnish safe water in a thermos flask in guest rooms. Bottled mineral water is available in every hotel and supermarket.
Normal precautions as in any other destination world-wide should be taken. Visitors are advised not to leave cash and valuables in their hotel rooms but to make use of safe deposit boxes and safes. One should never carry large sums in cash and women should keep a tight grip on handbags in crowds or busy streets. Jewellery snatching is quite common in city streets. As in all major cities walking alone or in small groups at night should be considered a hazard and avoided. Reliable taxis are available at all the principal hotels. Taking photographs at airports, near military installations, of policeman, the president, the national flag, the State House, state lodges, soldiers, prisons and prisoners etc., is prohibited. Before photographing local people, permission should be obtained and a fixed price agreed. Seek the assistance of your driver/guide in this matter.
Both mains electricity and generated supply in lodges provide 240 volts AC 50 cycles. Most large hotels and some game lodges provide shaving points with 110v 50 cycles. Sockets are normally three pin and of the 'square' variety.
TIPPING AND POTTERAGE
Although hotels and lodges include a service charge, it is customary to tip porters, waiters, taxi drivers and safari drivers/guides.
Kiswahili is the lingua franca while English is the official language. In addition, most tribes have their own language.
POST AND TELEPHONES
Keeping in touch by mail and telephone is generally easy. Direct overseas dialling is possible from major centers and increasingly from remote places such as game lodges. Call home bureaus are in plenty in Nairobi as are the Cyber cafГ© for e-mail and Internet access.