This advise is from my own personal experiences.
Travel light, well as light as you can. It's uncomfortable in a mini bus when the contents of your front room and kitchen are stowed away behind you in a couple of suit cases. It depends on how long your safari will last. You need a change of cloths of course, take a couple of light weight cotton shirts with long shelves for the evening, a pair of long trousers and shoes, also for evening wear. This helps against being bitten by insects and mosquitoes, and you also look good in your holiday pic's. For day wear just take T-shirts and shorts, and COMFORTABLE foot wear, sandals are good. Wrap all cloths and items in plastic bags, this helps with protection against the elements, and you can never have enough plastic bags. All lodges and camps provide all the basic amenities that you well need, maybe you'll need a hair dryer, but trust me, after you've finished blow drying your hair in an air con-room, once you walk out side, you'll look just as frizzy as the rest of us. I've found sitting in the darkest corner of the restaurant solves this problem.Going back to travelling light, split your luggage. In the unlikely event that a bag is miss placed, or stolen from your safari bus,you won't have to walk around in a towel.Take with you, along with your cameras, binoculars etc, a first aid kit. Kits can be bought in any high street chemist or camping store, or make your own.Use a light weight plastic sandwich box or container, fill it with the usual plasters, band aids, scissors etc, but include; A few safety pins, needle and thread, some light weight fishing line (2 or 3M), a pack or razor blades (just the blades, not the complete shaver unit), a mirror or highly reflective surface (1/2 size of a post card is good), a few packets of sugar, a couple of drinking straws (cut to size of your plastic box), a condom ( this can serves several purposes, 1 of which is that you can carry almost 10 litres of water in 1),emergency tel Nos (hotel, rep, safari agent, insurance agent), (this should be obtained on your first day).If your a Smoking, bring a few nicotine patches or gum with you, there will be plenty of stops included in your safari,so you can have a fag, but don't stress. There is a non-smoking policy in place in Kenya, most public areas and restaurants have 'No Smoking' signs in prominent places, just to remind us smokers, that although the tax collected is OK, you really shouldn't be doing this.
TRAVELLER VIRUSES TOURIST:
Africa is a very poor country, the land of the warm heart and big, big smiles. But don't be complacent.I personal think that you are 10 X more likely to be 'mugged/robbed' in the middle of London, Paris, New York, Melbourne or even your home town, then you are here in Kenya. But DON'T FLAUNT IT.All nice new electronics, cameras, phones, I-pods and so on, is a temptation for the very poor, and the opportunist.Jewelry, gold, watches, rings and even ear-rings are highly 'Resaleable'. So Don't Bring Them. I guess only bring the things that are well insured, or the things that you can afford to lose!
THE BEACH BOYS:
You will find beach boys everywhere!, they can be very useful, they can be a pain in the back-side. Be open, friendly, respectful and polite. BUT BE FIRM. Trips and tours offered by beach boys often resemble genuine trips and tours from your hotel and holiday rep, although you my save a little money, you can't expect any recourse if things go wrong. Liability Insurance my not be included, vehicles used in transfers my not be up to scratch and the destination of the trip my be slightly different to that of the official tour. I refer in particular to snorkeling trips to Wasini. Often these particular trips don't take you to the 'Marine Park', which is really where you want to go. They take you close to, but not in the park. Unless you have a GPS, how do you know? Safaris offered by beach boys are not normally conducted by them, they will take you to an agent who will specialize in this area. OK, so here you have a little more power, the agent will have an office, now if things go a bit 'Pete Tong', you can find them again. Ask the agent about your Insurance cover, if you have any, what will he do if your safari turns out different to what is being planned. Some safari operators ask for payment after you return. To me, this sounds like a good deal.
if I had to sum up the insects here in Africa in one word, it would be LARGE. Not all insects bite and sting, a lot are blind and a lot are vegetarian, but most look like some thing from the film, 2,000 years BC. To avoid insect bites and stings, look before you sit, this will eliminate about 20% of your problems. For the other 80% use repellent (some thing with a high DET factor), wear long shelved shirts and trousers in the evening. Try not to sit by potted plants or the bar area, this is a favorite place for a mosquito's. Damp, dark and a constant walking buffet. If this all fails, look for some one who has been bitten to death, (you know the ones, you always see them on holiday), if they have been severely bitten around the ankles, go and sit near them, at least you'll stand a better chance.
MONEY & TIPPING:
Keep your money, passports and tickets locked up. Use the hotel safe. It's a good idea to photocopy your passports,air tickets and even your driving licence before you travel. Keep these in a safe, separate place.Money belts are the safest way of keeping hold of your property, when warn correctly. Bum Bags should really only contain your cigarettes and lighter and maybe a few dollars, the wife's lip stick and tissues. Bum Bags are easily stolen and an easy target for the unscrupulous. Tipping is at your digression, and I think, always should be. On safari, if you have had the time of your life and your driver has got you there and back in one piece, then a tip of $4 per person per day is about right. In your hotel, your room attendant may receive $1 a day for your stay. Bar waiters I've found, a tip of a couple of dollars a day, every day, keeps you very fresh in their minds, and service seems to be a lot more quicker than normal.
I'm not going to dwell on this matter but. Drink plenty of water, bottled water. It's recommended that you should drink at least 3Lt of water a day.
SAFETY WHEN OUT & ABOUT:
You are obviously liable for your own safety when out-side of the hotel, unless you are on a hotel sanctioned tour. As I mentioned before, it is quite safe here, especially during the day light hours, but try to blend in, be a traveler not a tourist. Be aware of the people around you and try not to be distracted by beach boys and sellers. Mombasa and Diani Beach have special tourist police, who keep a low profile but are there for your safety. They will also be the ones to ask for'some thing small' (a few dollars), when your seen doing some thing wrong.
There are plenty of bars and night clubs in Diani, most in my opinion are tacky. Warm beer, slow service and if you look new, lots of local girls all frighting for your attention. Prostitution is a way of life here for many people, but is illegal. If you get caught, you can face a $1,000 fine and get deported, not to mention HIV and AIDS. So if your looking for night life, you have come to the wrong place. Try Tennerife.
If you think your good at negotiating, try the beach boys here, they give you a run for your money.The trick is a have a price in your mind that you think its worth, and don't go over. Sounds easy.
Monkeys although cute to look at and make nice photos can also be a problem. All hotels will be visited by troops of different types of monkey. Please don't feed them. Although not normally aggressive, monkey do bite and carry Rabbis. To know more about monkeys in Kenya, visit the Colobus Trust in Diani. A trust set up to help injured monkey and animals found here locally.
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