If you’ve always dreamed of visiting the endless African savanna to watch the lions, wildebeest and other wildlife, then here’s how to plan a Kenya tour from India.
Masai Mara in Kenya is arguably the most famous safari destination in Africa, and the annual migration of the wildebeest and zebra across its grassy plains is possibly the most famous wildlife spectacle in the world. This is on a lot of peoples bucket list! Here are some tips to help you plan your Kenya trip with lots of useful tips.
Step 1: Booking Your Kenya Trip
Finding the Right Safari For You
Deciding when and where to visit
Dont Overdo It
Paying for your safari
Step 2: Planning Your Flights
How to book your flights
Step 3: Applying For Your Visa For Kenya
Step 4: Getting Your Yellow Fever Vaccination
Step 4. Packing For Your Safari
The Best Way To Get Around
Camera Shutter Up's Tips For Planning Your Kenya Trip
Step 1: Booking Your Kenya Trip
The first step is to safari tour, You will need to decide if you want to go through a Tour Operator or if you want to plan the whole thing yourself. There are lots of tour operators in India who can take care of that for you, and we at "Camera Shutter Up" comes highly recommended and also can provide you much better service at reasonable and less than competition costs as we have our own camp there in Masai Mara known as Semadep Camp Which is part of Semadep Foundation. We mostly conduct photography tours, but do regular safaris, too. Feel free to contact us and one of us will be more than glad to help you out.
Finding the right safari for you
Finding a tour operator is probably the easiest way to go about things. We usually have multiple groups that are planned to to go Masai Mara during season and off season and you find exactly the kind of tour you’re looking for. We let you pick tours based on your budget, destination, group size and other preferences. If you prefer to find the right tour for you, you can then ask us for a quote. You can also ask them to include various add-ons like hotel stays in other places and airport transfers. A pretty simple way to book a safari in Kenya.
Deciding when and where to visit
The peak season for safaris in the Masai Mara is from the middle of June until October. If you are planning your trip to come and see the great migration, this is the best time to see it, (it is sometimes also known as the 8th wonder of the natural world). Things to keep in mind is that prices and visitor numbers are also highest during this time. Booking at times other than this is a also a good idea for wildlife viewing if you’re on a tight budget. But make no mistake, a Kenya safari tour is in no terms cheap, but it is also something you don't want miss.
Other than Masai Mara, Kenya has lots of other reserves to visit, each with its own charm. Lake Nakuru is famous for its hordes of flamingos (though the numbers have dropped drastically over the last few years). If elephants and hippos are your thing, then you might want to visit Amboseli too—especially if you’re looking for a photograph of Mount Kilimanjaro for your Instagram account! Kenya has lots of other national parks and nature reserves that you can visit. It all depends on what you want to do. And Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is where most tours start and end also has its own national park and is the only city in the world with a national park in the city!!
Dont Overdo It
If you are planning the trip yourself and dont overdo it. Driving between Amboseli, Nakuru and Masai Mara is time consuming and the traffic can be bad. Bad patches of roads can make the drives much longer and more tiring than they look on Google Maps. So if you’re there for a week and you’re planning on driving around, you should probably just stick to two parks and no more.
You could always fly from Nairobi to one of the Airstrips in Masai Mara if time is a constraint and budget is not. You could ask us if you don’t want to drive. But it will add quite a bit to your budget.
Paying for your safari
Something that might catch you off guard is that, payments in Kenya mostly need to be made in US dollars only. Our usual trip to Masai Mara would wold cost you around USD 1,500 per head for a five-day tour Ex Nairobi. If you’re looking for a mid-range private tour, this is probably the cost you should budget for. If this is too high for you, you can reduce costs by joining a larger group, choosing lower-end accommodation, and asking for a safari van to travel in instead of the more expensive four-wheel drive SUV. Overall, though, the cost of a Kenya safari will be quite high.
Once you finalize your tour costs, and depending on the terms quoted by us, you’ll have to make the advance payment. Most tour operators (including us) ask for about 30% advance, and the remaining payable two months before the tour or when your reach there. They gave you the option to pay either by credit card or international bank transfer or cash when you reach.
Please do make a note that if you pick a tour operator locally in Kenya with transaction costs and exchange rates included, it would cost you about Rs. 15,000 more to pay by credit card and about Rs. 10,000 bank transfer! So even though paying by bank transfer is a bit tedious, it saves a some amount of money. Hence booking with a travel agent or tour operator locally might have you save a buck or two.
If you pick a tour operator in Kenya, you’ll need to visit your bank branch with a copy of your passport, a printout of your operator’s quotation, and your checkbook. Make sure the quotation mentions the operator’s address, their bank and branch, and the bank’s SWIFT code. You’ll need to fill out a form and answer a few questions, and with luck, you’ll be done in half an hour.
Step 2: Planning your flights
Pre Covd there were direct flights From Mumbai to Nairobi which were not too very expensive and it was the the only city in India from which there’s a direct flight to Nairobi on Kenya Airways. It use to cost about Rs. 35,000 for a return ticket. Post covid the prices have stop up to about Rs. 70,000, but with the reopening of international travel we hope the prices drop again
Another Diect flight that has recently been started is from Ahmedabad to Nairobi.
Some other international airlines like Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Air Arabia might also fly from your city, with a stop at their home cities.
How to book your flights
The easiest way to book your flights would be through an online booking platform like MakeMyTrip or Yatra if you are booking it yourself. The other option is to book it through your tour operator if they do make the flight bookings as sometimes they get better deals as they book for multiple people. So whenever you’re booking, it might make sense to compare offerings between booking sites and the airline’s site and the tour operator. You never know where you’ll get the best deal.
Step 3: Applying for your visa for Kenya
Applying for a visa is quite simple and can be done online at the Kenyan government’s eVisa site. While applying, you’ll need to upload soft copies of your passport, tickets, hotel bookings, passport picture and your travel schedule. The visa fees need to be paid in US dollars via credit card, and the cost of a single-entry visa is approximately USD 55. The application takes two or three days to process.
In case you’re visiting Uganda and/or Rwanda or any other east African country, it would be worthwhile to apply for an East Africa Tourist Visa. This one allows you to visit all three countries, and costs approximately USD 105. The Kenyan eVisa site does not allow you to apply for the east Arican visa online, but only on arrival or at Kenyan consulates and embassies abroad.
Step 4: Getting your Yellow Fever Vaccination
Kenya is one of the African countries in which you can catch yellow fever, and travellers to these countries need to get vaccinated before you travel. You can be asked to produce an internationally recognized yellow fever vaccination certificate before you enter the country, and by immigration authorities when you return to India. If you don’t have one, you might be put under quarantine for up to six days. If you’re doing a Kenya safari from India, the Indian government also requires that all travelers to Kenya take an oral polio vaccination (OPV), even if they’ve been vaccinated earlier. You will need to plan to the take the vaccination at least 10 days before you leave. The vaccination certificate is valid for life, so you can take it as early as you want.
Your vaccinations must be administered at any one of the authorized vaccination centers across India, and they’ll also give you the necessary certificate. The cost of the vaccination is in and around Rs. 300.
Step 4. Packing for your safari
We can’t write a Kenya travel guide without talking about what to pack. The main thing to know before you travel is that you’ll want to bring lots of layers—it’s one of our important travel tips for Kenya. You might be shivering in a jacket in the morning, then sweating in a t-shirt in the afternoon, so layers will become your best “rafiki”!
For some of us the most important things is to carry our zoom and prime lenses around and the rest will fall into place. But if you’re not the kind who hauls around a zoom lens for your camera that’s half the size of your suitcase, remember that you’re visiting the grasslands of Africa and not the local zoo. If not a zoom lens we suggest that you at least take a pair of binoculars along so you don’t miss any action that happens.
The weather in Kenya is surprisingly cool, with average maximum temperatures in the 20s, Celsius! It’s warmer on the coast and cooler inland, but either way you’re going, it’s probably worthwhile to carry something warm (I was happy to have a jacket while we drove around the Masai Mara; the morning was chilly). Of course, that doesn’t mean the sun isn’t going to be hot at midday. So you should probably carry a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen too.
Soft, flexible duffel bag or a Camera bag
Safari luggage restrictions are strict and strongly enforced. That’s because you’ll be traveling in a special safari vehicle throughout your trip, and every travelers luggage has to fit. Your luggage must be a soft, flexible duffel bag. No hard suitcases or bags with hard sides are permitted.
Lightweight, conservative clothing
One of the most important Kenya travel tips is that Kenyans tend to dress more conservatively than in places. Most men and women wear long sleeves and pants—no matter how hot it gets. On safaris or in cities like Nairobi, you can get away with dressing a bit more casual, with some people wearing shorts, tank tops, and dresses without sleeves. Quick-dry material is best for hot days outside.
Comfortable closed-toes shoes
Sneakers or lightweight hiking boots, are best for walking during the day. They’ll serve you well whether you’re walking through the bustling streets of Nairobi, or riding in your 4x4 land cruiser safari vehicle through the wide-open landscapes of a National Park.
Clothes in muted colors
Another one of our tips for visiting Kenya is to pack muted colors for game drives, as bright clothing may scare animals away and blue or black clothing attracts tsetse flies. Speaking of flies, packing mosquito repellent never hurts!
A warmer jacket
As the sun sets, you might be surprised how cold it gets. You’ll want to bring a fleece jacket or something of similar warmth. Early morning safari rides can also get really chilly! You’ll start the morning bundled up, and be sweating in a t-shirt by mid-afternoon. But without warm layers, you’ll be too busy being cold to focus on the incredible wildlife around you.
Occasional rain showers are common during certain seasons. You don’t want a little storm ruining your once-in-a-lifetime chance to view all of Kenya’s top attractions, so lightweight rainwear may be necessary depending on the timing of your trip.
Your camera (yes, a real one)
You’ll want to take so many pictures—of the wildlife, of your new friends, of the food—and sometimes a smartphone just isn’t enough. There are so many things to see in Kenya, so make sure you can capture it all!
Unsurprisingly, it can get very hot under the African sun. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a broad-brimmed hat to protect your face and the back of your neck from the sun.
In order to spot all of Kenya’s top attractions (aka all those lions, elephants, and zebras) binoculars are a must pack. They’ll help you spot animals grazing farther away and get a better look at the ones close by during your game drives
Reusable, cloth bags
The Kenyan government has a strict ban on plastic bags. It is illegal to use, sell, or carry plastic bags anywhere in the country. Pack your toiletry essentials and other bits and bobs in reusable cloth bags. These eco-friendly bags are also great if you plan to go shopping on tour and need somewhere to store your souvenirs.
Kenya is home to about 40 different ethnic groups, which means the country is highly multilingual. That said, English and Swahili are the two official languages. No matter where you go as a tourist, you’re likely to find someone who speaks at least some English.
The official currency of Kenya is the Kenyan shilling (KES). $1 USD is equivalent to about 100.00 KES at an average. Most accommodation and tour operators will also accept payment in the US dollar.
Credit Cards & ATMs
Credit cards are widely accepted in big cities like Nairobi and Mombasa and even small sea-side towns like Watamu and Diani Beach. However, you’ll need some cash on you to pay for smaller purchases like tuk-tuk rides or souvenirs at local markets. ATMs are available at most petrol stations, shopping malls and the airports.
The best way to get around
If you’re not on a group tour, the best way to get around in cities like Nairobi is by ridesharing apps like Uber, Lyft, or Taxify, but you can also take buses and matatus (minibuses). Most Kenyan towns are linked by buses, as well.
Camera Shutter Up’s tips for planning your Kenya Trip
The cost of your Kenya safari will come up to somewhere around 1,500 USD per person, for a 5 days in Masai Mara with 4 full day safaris (driving) with mid-range accommodation. Flights not included.
There is no such thing as a Cheap Kenya safari holidays. Kenya is expensive overall, and safaris even more so. If an operator offers you a safari at a very low price, it’s possible they’re a bit shady, or will cut lots of corners.
If you’re looking to plan your own Kenya safari trip, you can reach out to us for any questions you might have.
Alternatively, international tour operators like us might work out better for you as we take care of everything for you end to end.
Kenya has many national parks, each known for it’s own experience. Driving between them can be tiring, though. I would recommend visiting no more than two parks in five days if you’re driving. And especially if you’re doing your Kenya safari with kids.
The number of flamingos at Lake Nakuru has declined drastically in the last few years. If it’s flamingos you want to see, you might have better luck at other alkaline lakes like Naivasha or Elmenteita.
If you’re just looking for a short safari at a single park, Masai Mara (Masai Mara National Reserve) if the place you would want to go. You are not going to see flamingos in Masai Mara, but should be able to spot the Big 5.
Masai Mara has multiple airstrips and can be reached by short flight from Nairobi. If you’d rather not spend the whole day driving to get there, this is an alternative. But also be ready to pay the price.
Applying for a visa is pretty straightforward at the Kenyan eVisa site. Alternatively, if you’re visiting any of the other East African Countries as well, you can apply for an East Africa Tourist Visa that’s valid for all the east African countries.
A yellow fever vaccination is mandatory for travelers to Kenya, and it’s best to take it at least 10 days before entering.
When packing, remember to take a zoom lens or binoculars along. The animals won’t always appear close to your safari vehicle.
Pack a warm sweater or jacket. Early mornings can be surprisingly chilly out in the wild.
In Kenya, the power plugs and sockets are type G. The standard voltage is 240 V, and the frequency is 50 Hz. For foreign travelers, I recommend buying a universal adapter.
Kenya is generally a safe country to visit. However, you’ll need to keep an eye out for pickpockets and avoid walking around at night. When you arrive, ask your hotel which areas are unsafe to prevent any potential problems.
If you are planning on staying in Kenya for longer than a week, you can get a SIM Card Safaricom which is a good choice. You can get them in Nairobi or at the airport arrivals. Only select stores sell SIM cards but you can buy refill cards almost anywhere!