We may encounter poor road conditions and landslides. Only qualified drivers will transport volunteers in project vehicles; we ensure project vehicles are well maintained. Seatbelts must be worn at all times. Volunteers are not permitted to drive.
You’ll likely traverse uneven terrain and hike uphill in potentially humid tropical conditions. There is a risk of sprains, strains, or breaks due to falling or tripping. You should never walk ahead of the guide, and should follow the guide’s instructions. Wear appropriate footwear while hiking.
Many potentially dangerous animals are present in the area, including rhinos, several venomous snake species (cobra, mamba, puff adder), lions, buffalos, hippos, baboons, chimpanzees, leopards, scorpions, and elephants. Risks and precautions will be discussed on site. Those with phobias of wildlife (including arachnids and reptiles) should reconsider their participation.
There are also two species of ticks in the area: smaller red “pepper” ticks and larger black ones. The large black ticks are vectors for tick bite fever. Bring long pants and high boots, and use insect repellent with 20% DEET or more (100% is not necessary).
Dehydration, heat exhaustion, sunburn, and other heat-related illnesses can occur, but you can protect yourself by drinking sufficient water, wearing high-SPF sunscreen, and wearing appropriate clothing. Dehydration from sweating can be a problem; please bring your own water bottles that you can easily carry and refill them with electrolyte-replacement packets.
Because of the high humidity, people who use a hearing aid device may find it doesn’t work properly. Consider purchasing a hearing aid dehumidifier.
Good physical fitness (primarily cardiovascular health) can prevent altitude sickness; however, even some people in great physical condition can experience negative effects from high altitude. Volunteers should stay hydrated as much as possible.
The project site is secure, but avoid areas designated as off limits by project staff.
Distance from Medical Care
It may take six hours or more to arrange transport and travel to a fully equipped hospital. If you have a chronic condition, which could require immediate medical care (e.g., heart conditions, kidney problems, severe asthma, etc.), or if you are pregnant, please discuss your participation on this expedition with Earthwatch.
Diseases found in Africa include malaria, dengue fever, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, African tick bite fever, trypanosomiasis, schistosomiasis, tuberculosis, and HIV. Traveler’s diarrhea also affects many international travelers. You can decrease your risk of many diseases by avoiding mosquito bites, practicing good hygiene, and drinking only bottled or filtered water when appropriate. Please see the CDC (cdc.gov) or WHO (who.int) websites for more information on these conditions and how to avoid them. If you feel ill once you return from your trip, make sure you inform your doctor that you have recently returned from a tropical region.
A few notes on vaccinations and treatment:
Meningitis: Only the far northwestern part of Kenya is considered part of the meningitis belt; therefore, vaccination is not necessary for this project, but is recommended if you intend to travel to other parts of the country.
Rabies: Rabies is present in Kenya, but exposure to rabies is very unlikely at the project site. Volunteers are advised to avoid contact with local dogs and cats and to speak with their physician about whether the rabies vaccine is recommended given the length of their stay in the country and other activities they might be undertaking.