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Kenya Travel Tips
Unless you are embarking on a safari that involves a great deal of walking or riding (and that means on a camel, and not in a jeep), the plain truth is that most of the above outfit, no matter how stylish, is totally redundant. For the majority of Kenyan safaris, you actually do very little walking at all since most of the reserves and game parks insist that you remain in your vehicle. So the stout shoes and the comfortable socks can probably be dispensed with unless, of course you seriously intend to try and walk, in case, pack them. But remember, one thing about walking in the reserve: if it is allowed, and do check with your lodge for details, you will always have to go with a ranger. Never set off for a walk on your own.
Before we go any further with the packing list, a word first about luggage. You will spend a lot of time in dusty jeeps travelling from one game park to another, so you should have solid luggage that fastens tightly against the all pervasive dust. Since some lodges like the Ark encourage you to take nothing more than an overnight bag, it makes sense to pack a smaller bag for any overnight trips when you can safely leave the bulk of luggage at your basecamp. Soft luggage makes the best sense for travelling in Kenya since it can be fitted into the back of a jeep with more ease.
Remember to take padlocks and keys. For the day time, when you go out for your game drives, a small study bag or rucksack ids a good idea. Study, because it will get the most bouncing of all your luggage and will be exposed to dust too. The padded camera bag or rucksack is ideal not only for protecting your camera gear during the drives, but you will also be able to fit in some of the "extras" you will want to take along for the day: paper tissues, perhaps a pack of moist towelettes, your wildlife reference books, your binoculars and all that extra film you will need.
Once the luggage has been selected, what will you pack in it for your safari? Well, first things first, there is no need to "dress up" on safari. No one dresses for dinner, so other than a smart out fit for the hotels and restaurants in Nairobi and Mombasa, out in the bush you will need only loose, cool, comfortable clothing. Light-weight cotton trousers and shorts, tee-shirts and cotton shirts, comfortable shoes, and, for an early morning drives and the evening, a warm sweater and an anorak.
If you are planning any bush walking, however leisurely, do make sure that your shoes are comfortable and "broken in", and under no circumstances should you wear sandals in the bush - unless you wish to scratched and, possibly, stung or bitten by something. Trousers rather than shorts and long-sleeved shirts are the most sensible combination for they protect you from too much sun and also from mosquitoes in the evenings.
With all that ever present red Kenyan dust round, you will get grimy but laundry can be done overnight in most camps and lodges so there is no need to weigh your bags down with too many changes of outfit - save your luggage space for a wonderful Kisii soapstone carving instead!
Do bear one thing in mind: if you are also combining your safari with a stint on the beach at Mombasa, you will need to pack more conservative clothing for the coast is essentially a Muslim dominated area.beach wear will be fine for the Mombasa beaches but definitely not for exploring the old town or for a trip to Lamu. A way from the beaches, women should make sure that their shoulders are covered and that they wear skirts that reach the knees at least, and men should avoid wearing shorts.
A Comprehensive List
What else should be on your packing list? A swimming costume, for those rare moments when you find that there is no game drive, no wildlife checklist to be updated and no diary to be written. A good sunhat that will shade your neck as well as your face and good subglasses. A small torch is useful, as is an all-purpose knife, such as Swiss Army knife. Bring any prescription medicines with you for out in the bush there will be no chemist available, and also a small first-aid kit for any cuts and bruises.
Do not forget to suntan lotion and after sun products, a good moisturising cream and a lip moisturising stick for windy and dusty rides will take their toll on your skin and lips. Sad to say, a mosquito repellent is a must and also whatever the malaria tablets your doctor at home prescribed - remember to start the course before leaving for Kenya, and, imperatively, to complete it on your return home.
Bring a sufficient amount of reading material to tide you through your flights and those occasional evenings when you find you have enough energy left to read after your 6.00 a.m. start. Binoculars are invaluable. Photography enthusiasts should make sure that they pack far more film than they expect to use, for you will definitely take more than you think, as spare batteries for the camera and for your flashgun, plus a camera cleaning kit.
Breakfast consists of all the usual items found in an English-style breakfast such as eggs of all kinds, sausages and various cold meats, bread and lots of fresh fruit, plus, of course, tea and coffee, both of which are grown in the country. Lunch and dinner are usually huge, lavish buffet spreads with soup, salad, lots of meat, sometimes fish, a wide choice of vegetables, potatoes and rice or pasta. Deserts are usually sweet and filling, and there is always some fruit on offer.
All of this food is good, there is usually far too much to eat and it is an even more impressive spread when you remember that you are kilometres from anywhere, surrounded by savannah grasslands and wild animals. Given all these constraints, it is perhaps carrying gastronomic criticism a little too far to say that the food is bland. You will eat copiously on your safari, you will eat well, but sad to say, your meals will not be memorable ones.
On the drinks' front Kenyan beer is excellent and widely available. One of the pleasures of safari life, after a shower to rinse off all that red dust, is to sit down in the evening, slightly sunburned and pleasantly tired, and have a glass of ice cold Tusker.
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