Kenya Safari and Coastal Codes
Our country is blessed with some of the world’s richest wilderness areas – and some of its rarest creatures. In order to preserve this vital biodiversity, we urge all visitors to read the following guidelines and help us protect our natural heritage – for our sake, and the sake of all future generations.
1. Travel with reputable operators and qualified safari guides
Your guide can make the difference between the holiday of a lifetime and an unsafe and unsatisfying safari. Insist that your tour operator and accommodation facilities use only trained and certified guides. Travelling with a qualified guide will ensure that you see the very best that Kenya has to offer – without diminishing the experience for future visitors.
2. Support eco-friendly accommodation facilities
A growing number of Kenyan lodges and safari camps are changing to environmentally responsible services, using solar and wind power, keeping rubbish out of protected areas, treating wastewater, and supporting local conservation projects. Please take time to visit community projects supported by your lodge or camp, and support local conservation work in the areas you visit.
3. Respect local cultures and promote community benefits
Local communities are the custodians of the wilderness of the future. While on safari, try to support projects and properties that benefit local people through employment, community development, and the preservation of traditional livelihoods. When you visit local villages, please respect social and cultural customs and ask your guide about appropriate forms of behaviour. Always ask permission if you wish to photograph a person, their home or their livestock.
while on safari…
4. Keep to designated roads in parks and reserves
Please encourage your driver to stay on roads or designated tracks when visiting national parks and reserves. Off-road driving can injure small animals concealed in the grass, alter natural drainage patterns, and cause extensive damage to grass and woodland habitats.
5. Minimize disturbance to animals
Many wild animals become distressed when they are surrounded by too many vehicles, or when vehicles approach too closely. Cheetahs are particularly vulnerable to the presence of vehicles, which can disrupt their daytime hunting routines. Try to restrict the number of vehicles near an animal to five, and keep at least 20 metres away – much more if the animal is hunting. Try to remain as quiet as possible when viewing animals, and ask your driver to switch off the engine.
6. Keep to the speed limit
Most parks have a speed limit of 40 kph – and animals always have the right of way. Please slow down when passing close to grazing animals, and be prepared to let them cross in front of your car.
7. Never feed any animal
Feeding wild animals can upset their diet and lead to an unnatural dependence upon people. Animals that have been fed can lose their fear and become aggressive towards humans – but will always be blamed for any incidents that occur as a result.
8. Take care not to disturb the ecological balance
Please do not collect or remove any animal products, rocks, plants, seeds or birds’ nests, or alter the natural environment in any way. Explain to children that it is not permitted to touch or handle any animals, birds, reptiles or insects. In parks where you are permitted to walk, ask your guide to show you the plants, birds, insects and small mammals. You will discover that there is an equally fascinating world away from the Big Five!
9. Take all your litter with you
Litter and garbage can be very dangerous to wild animals. Please keep all litter with you in your vehicle and dispose of it properly once you have left the park. Be extremely careful with cigarettes and matches and always take cigarette stubs with you. Bush and forest fires are a serious hazard that kill wildlife and destroy vital wilderness areas.
10. Get out and walk – where you are permitted
Although walking among wildlife is one of the greatest safari experiences, it is only permitted in a few designated areas in parks and reserves – both for the sake of the animals, and the safety of their visitors. If you would like to go walking, please enquire from your safari operator where this is allowed, and ask if it is possible for an escorted walk to be included in your itinerary.
and at the Coast…
11. Help to protect the marine environment
Please take care to protect our fragile marine habitats by never touching or standing on coral reefs. Do not dispose of any litter on the beach or in the sea, as some creatures can mistake plastic and other rubbish for food. Fishing is prohibited in all protected areas, and spearfishing is banned under Kenyan law. Please never drive on the beach, as this can destroy small sand-dwelling creatures – as well as the tranquility of this sensitive environment.
12. Respect and conserve all marine creatures
Kenya is home to several of the world’s most endangered marine species, including turtles, whales and dugongs. Help us protect these beautiful creatures by supporting local environmental events and organizations, and never buying products that derive from such species. Encourage your hotel to reduce noise and lights on the beach, which can prevent newly-hatched turtles from reaching the sea. Avoid restaurants that serve undersize crabs and lobsters, which are contributing to the rapid demise of these species.
13. Never buy or remove animals or shells from the sea
Please do not remove anything – dead or alive – from the sea, as every creature is essential to the complex marine ecosystem. The sale of shells and starfish on our coast is decimating fragile aquatic balances; please do not buy starfish, shells or any product decorated with them from beach vendors. If you really love shells, buy a realistic ‘fake’ instead.
14. Support traditional coastal livelihoods
Try to support inland market areas, where traders are making an effort to keep their business off the beaches. The building of beach kiosks can increase coastal erosion and destroy turtle nesting sites. If you want to support projects that genuinely promote and protect coastal livelihoods, ask the local community association, church or mosque, or your hotel about worthwhile social development schemes. Please never give money to children on the beach, as this can encourage them to stay away from school.
15. Respect local cultures and customs
Please remember that parts of the coast are predominately Muslim areas, where the communities derive from an ancient and sensitive culture. Always dress in a respectful way when visiting towns and villages – and never bathe topless on the beach.
Help us protect Kenya’s natural heritage!
These guidelines were developed by Friends of Conservation (www.friendsofconservation.org) and Ecotourism Kenya (www.ecotourismkenya.org), in conjunction with the Kenya Association of Tour Operators (www.katokenya.org), Kenya Wildlife Service (www.kws.org) and the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association (www.safariguides.org). They were funded by the British Government’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office.