Local Culture

In Mombasa you may see destitute or disabled people begging. Giving to beggars is something that many Kenyan people do, often giving to their regular beggar or giving as part of their religious requirement. You may also see street children in the main Kenyan towns who ask you for money. If you want to help these children, the best thing to do is give them food or clothing as money is very often spent on glue for sniffing. Alternatively, there are many organizations, which are dedicated to rehabilitating street children, which would welcome your donation

In restaurants it’s usual to leave a tip of around 10% of the total bill. Many hotels, lodges and camps do include a service charge in their tariff and if this is the case, then there may not be a need to leave a tip- that would be up to your discretion and any tip is usually highly appreciated. Tipping someone to carry bags your bags is generally just a small gesture of thanks such as 40-50 ksh (@50cents) for each person carrying boxes or bags for you. You may want to give more or less, depending on how far the bags were carried and how heavy they were! Tipping the guide at the end of your trip is usually customary. Your tour operator will be able to help give you an idea of what is usual and it would also depend on the quality of service you received. (about 1000ksh per person (USD$12 pp). Carrying suitcases in hotels and lodges, we would suggest between 200-400ksh per person (@USD$3-5 pp) This is a rough estimate, but of course would depend on the type of accommodation you are staying in.

People you meet along the way are often very happy to receive old T-shirts, trainers, caps, shorts etc. If you carry these to give as a “thank you” they’ll be passed on to family members or treasured by your guide, people you try to barter for souvenirs with or just people you meet in far flung villages in rural Kenya!

Traveling with children:
Going on a safari with your family and children can be an amazing and memorable experience. Seeing the big 5 in the wild is something that most children will never forget. Large animals wandering across the plains just a few meters away is just unforgettable, and spotting your very own lion or leopard is a thrill for all ages.

There are some things to remember; however, before embarking on a safari, as driving around a wide open savannah for several hours is fine for some, but for many children, they can get bored easily. Finding a place to stay, which has entertainment for energetic youngsters, may be a lifesaver!

There are certain camps that are more geared towards children with swimming pools, child friendly grounds and understanding guests! Finding staff that like children is not an issue anywhere in Kenya. Kenyan people no matter where you are, always look as though they’re delighted to see child and will happily hold your baby, play peek-a-boo with your toddler and chat away to your other offspring in a cheerful manner. Tantrums are nearly always looked upon with great humour and not disgust. Male and female workers are always very obliging to help if you look as though you’re in need of some “time out”.

An ideal children’s’ holiday could be a few days on Safari, a couple of days in Nairobi and then finish at the coast in an all inclusive hotel where your children will have entertainment laid on.

This is generally expected in markets and many tourist souvenir boutiques (but not in hotels where prices are normally but not always “fixed price”. You either love it or hate it! The general rule is to offer around half the asking price and then go from there!

Responsible tourism:
The Golden rule is just using your common sense! Don’t buy starfish, coral, seashells, ebony, ivory or leopard skins as buying providing a market for this type of thing and you’re harming the wildlife and environment that you’ve come to see and admire. (Many of those things just mentioned are also illegal and could land you up in jail!)

Food and Drink:
Kenyans love their Nyama Choma, which is Kiswahili for roasted meat. Their other Kenyan favourites are sukuma wiki (like cooked spinach) and ugali (a solid lump of white rice type of thing!) bean stew and sweet potatoes. Although those are the traditional staple foods, modern Kenyans also love foods with a more western influence such as chips, burgers, spaghetti and so on. At the coast fish and rice are also popular.

As tourists, you may well be offered these Kenyan foods during your holiday; however, the lodges, camps and hotels all have varied menus with food aimed to please all western tastes.

The golden rule here is just be aware that safety can be an issue especially in Nairobi. Be aware of your valuables, as if they’re too conspicuous or left lying around, they might very well vanish! Be mindful of yourself and your belongings and take advice from your guide if it’s given. Don’t dress up in your best gold jewellery when walking on the street, and try not to look TOO much like a rich tourist when you’re out and about in Nairobi!

Media (local TV, Radio and television):
There are two main daily newspapers in Kenya: The Nation and the East African Standard. The Nation tends to be more interesting and daring in it’s editorial line than the Standard, although the Standard tends to carry more International news.

Weekly papers include the highly readable East African, which is published on Mondays. There are several magazines published each week or month including the True Love aimed at women, which, if you can get past the title, has some excellent articles that give insight into Kenyan living in a glossy and very readable format! A new holiday/safari magazine called Twende (“Let’s Go”) is also readable with interesting articles about Kenya.

The KBC radio is mainly aimed at the Kenyan audience. There are several local FM stations the most popular one being KISS fm. The BBC broadcast in English and Kiswahili and have local African news as well as the regular World Service International programmes. Voice of America and Radio Canada can also be heard.Kenyan TV contains a lot of imported material, but they often have some great dancing programmes where you can see some really funky dancing going on! Cable TV is available at most hotels so CNN, BBC, Sky News, Supersport, Movie Magic, The History Channel etc are all readily available

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