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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Kenya: Kakamega to the Coast

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING KENYA: A passport and visa are required. Travelers may obtain the latest information on visas as well as any additional details regarding entry requirements from the Embassy of Kenya, 2249 R Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 387-6101, or the Kenyan Consulates General in Los Angeles and New York City http://www.kenyaembassy.com/. Persons outside the United States should contact the nearest Kenyan embassy or consulate. 

Your passport, as a general rule, should be valid for at least six months after the date the tour ends. 

PACE OF TOUR AND DAILY ROUTINE: While day length on the equator prohibits very long days in the field, and 6-7 hours of sleep is possible every night, we will nevertheless be offering dawn-to-dusk birding for those who want it, with one or two optional after dinner night trips. Whenever possible the day will be divided up into optional sections, but on travel days this is usually impossible. The itinerary involves a number of long drives, and the first part of the tour has six consecutive one-night stays. 

There are no strenuous walks on this tour. Most walking is done around the grounds of the lodges we stay. Most of the days begin at first light, around 6.00-6.30am. We will either have a pre-breakfast walk for about an hour or have breakfast first and make an early start. In some places we have breakfasts at 5.30am in order to be in the forest for dawn and make the most of the early morning activity. Most days will finish at dusk, which is around 7.00 in January and we try to allow a one-hour break before we meet for dinner and to do the daily checklist. Please note that on many days dinner will be fairly late – 8.00 or 8.30. 

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention currently recommend a malaria preventative (one of the following antimalarial drugs: mefloquine (Lariam®), doxycycline, or Malarone™). 

The CDC has determined that a traveler who is on an appropriate antimalarial drug has a greatly reduced chance of contracting the disease. In addition, other personal protective measures, such as the use of insect repellents, help to reduce malaria risk. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what antimalarials they have been taking. 

The CDC further recommends the following vaccines (see your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect): Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG); typhoid; yellow fever; meningococcal (meningitis); and as needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults. 

Please note that any health/medical information contained herein is gleaned by WINGS from websites that are dedicated to traveller’s health issues. Advisories and recommendations by agencies such as the CDC can, and do, change frequently. We urge you to consult with your physician, local health department or the CDC for the most up-to-date health advisories for travel to Kenya. You can check with the CDC on line at: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm

Biting insects are not numerous although mosquitoes and ticks occur locally. A spray repellent should provide adequate protect.tion. Tap water should be avoided, and bottled water is readily available.  We will have a supply in the vehicles for use during the day. Soda water, soft drinks and beer are ubiquitous and reasonably cheap. 

Mild stomach upsets can be difficult to avoid in Kenya and we strongly suggest bringing an adequate supply of a diarrhea treatment such as Imodium. Gatorade or other electrolyte-replacement drinks in powder form are also worth bringing as they replace the vital salts and minerals lost during a bout of diarrhea, and also as a quick cure for dehydration. Finally, be sure to bring adequate supplies of all personal medication, as it may be impossible to obtain them during the tour. 

CLIMATE: Despite its proximity to the equator, much of Kenya feels anything but tropical, and many people are not prepared for how chilly it can be. Much of the tour is at elevations over 5,000 feet, and highland days can be quite cool if there is cloud cover. At Mountain Lodge it can be cold in the early morning and evening. Lowland areas will be warm to hot (90°F) at mid-day, and at the coast temperatures may be even higher. Humidity is low, except at the coast. We’ll be visiting Kenya in the dry season and rain is unlikely, except in the west.

ALTITUDE:Nairobi is around 5,500 ft. The Rift Valley is the lowest point at around 3,000 ft. Mountain Lodge is 7,200 ft and will be our highest accommodation. In the Aderdare Mountains we will drive up to 12,000 ft and drive slowly through the moorland habitat in search of the highland specialities. Resting in the vehicle is an option for anyone who suffers at high altitudes. 

SMOKING: Smoking is not allowed in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, we ask that you do so well away and downwind from the group. If any lodge, accommodation or location where the group is staying or is gathered has a more restrictive smoking policy than WINGS’ policy, the more restrictive policy will prevail. 

ACCOMMODATION: During the tour we’ll stay in a variety of hotels, lodges and tented camps. The tents are permanent structures with concrete floors, thatched roofs, proper beds and built-in flush-toilets and showers, and electric lights. Where a camp generator provides the power, this is usually turned off late at night and turned on again early in the morning. Hot water is usually provided by wood-fired heaters each serving several tents. Most of the rest of the accommodation consists of good quality hotels or lodges with all the usual facilities. The food throughout the tour is generally good to excellent, and many people are surprised at the high standard provided, even in the more remote parts of the country. Breakfasts are buffets offering everything from cereals and fresh fruit to full cooked breakfasts. At other meals there is almost always a choice of two or three main courses, or there is a buffet. Vegetarians are well catered to. 

FOOD: The food throughout the tour is generally good to excellent, and many people are surprised at the high standard even in remote parts of the country. Breakfasts are buffets offering everything from full cooked breakfasts to cereals and fresh fruit. At other meals there is almost always a choice of two or three main courses. Vegetarians are well catered for. 

WINGS tours are all-inclusive, and no refunds can be issued for any tour meals participants choose to skip. While our restaurants and ground agents make every effort to insure the comfort of all participants, we cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Many restaurants offer set menus and are unable to accommodate all special requests within a group. Thus, participants with significant food allergies or special dietary needs should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot, regretfully, be accommodated. Our tours are carefully scheduled to insure the best possible birding experience. Meal times can generally not be adjusted; any participant who needs to eat earlier or later than the times scheduled for the group should bring supplemental food with them. Please see the detailed timed itinerary from the last tour which shows clearly what time meals we eaten.  Those times are likely to be much the same each year. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORTATION: Transportation is in 4-wheel drive Toyota Land Cruiser with roof hatches for window-free viewing and photography. Our drivers are professionals, skilled at finding birds and mammals and at maintaining vehicles. Some of the driving is on unpaved roads, and while most of these are in reasonable condition, there are some bad sections. In most National Parks leaving the vehicles is prohibited. Each person will have a window seat, and the roof hatches are helpful, but come prepared to spend an unusual amount of time in the vehicles. Please note that there isn’t very much space inside the vehicles for equipment, so daypacks should be kept as small as possible; large photographic backpacks cannot be accommodated. 

Created: 21 May 2014