Kenya Travel : Visas, Health, Transport, And More : There are many good reasons to travel to Kenya. One of the safari crown jewels of East Africa, it is home to the Masai Mara National Reserve and Amboseli National Park, two renowned game reserves. The Maasai and Samburu tribespeople’s ancient customs can be seen in rural villages, while Nairobi, the country’s capital, is a cosmopolitan melting pot of cultures from the continent and beyond. World-class fishing and diving can be found along the Indian Ocean coast. However, it’s crucial to take into account the useful information provided below before you can fully appreciate all that Kenya has to offer.
Most visitors from the first world will require a visa, despite the fact that some citizens of African, Caribbean, and Southeast Asian nations are allowed to enter Kenya without one. All citizens of Europe, with the exception of Cyprus, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, are included in this. Fortunately, you can apply for an e-visa from the vast majority of countries by filling out an application form and making a payment online before you leave. E-visas are processed in two days, cost $51 per person, and are valid for 90 days (and may be extended for an additional 90 days). If you are not qualified for an electronic visa, you must apply in person at the Kenyan embassy closest to you.
All e-visas are single-entry visas; please note if you need a visa with multiple entries, you can apply at the embassy closest to you or (in most cases) when you arrive at the main ports of entry. These $101 visas are the best option for anyone who intends to frequently visit Tanzania’s Northern Circuit game reserves.
HEALTH & SAFETY: VACCINATIONS
If you are coming from a country where yellow fever is present, you will need to show documentation of your yellow fever vaccination in order to pass immigration. Children under 1 are the only exception to this rule. Other vaccinations are not required, but a number of them are highly recommended. The CDC recommends that all travelers receive hepatitis A and typhoid vaccinations. Cholera, hepatitis B, meningitis, rabies, and yellow fever vaccinations may also be advised depending on where in Kenya you intend to travel and the activities you plan to engage in.
Note: The United States currently has a constrained supply of the yellow fever vaccine. To guarantee that you will arrive on time, make sure to schedule your appointment well in advance.
In all parts of Kenya that are lower than 8,200 feet, malaria risk exists. The majority of the nation’s game parks, the coast, and the nation’s capital are included in this. Prophylactics are highly advised. Make sure to mention Kenya specifically when speaking with your doctor about your treatment options, as the malaria parasites in this part of East Africa have developed a resistance to chloroquine. Although children can start taking anti-malaria medication as soon as they weigh 26.5 pounds or more, you should carefully consider taking children under 5 to a malaria area due to the challenges associated with getting them to take the pills effectively.
In light of crime, terrorism, and kidnapping, the U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 2 travel advisory for Kenya, advising all travelers to “exercise increased caution.” Although Kenya has experienced terrorist attacks in the past and has a high rate of petty crime, foreign tourists rarely encounter violent crime while traveling there. Avoiding the most impoverished inner cities and townships is key to staying safe, as is making an effort to avoid flashing your wealth by leaving pricey jewelry at home and hiding your wallet and camera. In general, game parks are secure.
Note: Before making travel arrangements, check the most recent travel warnings issued by the government.
The Kenyan shilling—often abbreviated KSh—is used as currency in Kenya. 100 cents make up one shilling. One, five, 10, 20, and 40 shilling coins and 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 shilling bills are the available coin and bill denominations. The safest way to exchange US dollars, euros, and British pounds is at any bank in Kenya. Avoid using illegal money changers because many of them are con artists.
You can use your regular credit or debit card to withdraw money as needed if you don’t want to carry around a lot of cash. The most widely used credit cards are Visa and MasterCard, and ATMs can be found in all major and smaller cities. Although point-of-sale card readers are common in urban areas, you shouldn’t anticipate finding them in rural markets, budget hotels, or restaurants. At street stalls, bartering is expected, and goods like clothing and shoes are occasionally accepted in place of cash.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO), which is 10 miles southeast of Nairobi city center, is the airport used by the majority of foreign tourists arriving in Kenya. The busiest and most picturesque airport in East Africa, with wildlife occasionally visible in the nearby Nairobi National Park during takeoff and landing, Kenya Airways’ hub, Jomo Kenyatta, also serves as a hub for a number of other foreign airlines, such as Emirates, British Airways, South African Airways, and Air France. With a 15-hour daily service to New York, Kenya Airways began operating the nation’s first nonstop flight to and from the United States in 2018.
There are land borders between Kenya and its neighboring nations if you’re taking an overland safari or organizing a grand self-drive excursion through East Africa. Namanga, which is close to Amboseli National Park on the Kenyan side and about two hours’ drive from Arusha on the Tanzanian side, serves as the primary port of entry for people entering and exiting Tanzania. The border is open every day of the year. Additionally, long-distance buses travel between Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, Nairobi and Kampala (in Uganda), and Nairobi and Arusha.
Note: Travel by air is recommended because land borders between Kenya and Somalia, South Sudan, and Ethiopia are generally regarded as unsafe.
Flying is the most effective (though not the most economical) way to travel throughout Kenya due to the vast distances and poor road conditions. Smaller airlines like Safarilink, Air Kenya, and Mombasa Air Safari, as well as Kenya Airways, provide an extensive selection of domestic routes. It’s advised to reserve seats several months in advance because they tend to sell out quickly.
The Madaraka Express, a new high-speed rail service, began operating between Nairobi and Mombasa in 2017. With only seven stops along the way, including Mtito Andei and Voi, you can take the train in just 4.5 hours to get to the coast. The line will eventually be extended to Naivasha and Kampala in Uganda.
Kenya has a large number of short- and long-distance buses, with particularly good route coverage in and around Nairobi, along the coast, and in the west of the nation. The majority of buses are privately owned, and many of them are luxurious, with restrooms and reclining seats. They are less expensive than flying or taking the train and safer than the majority of the other modes of transportation listed below.
By Public Transport
When traveling through Kenya’s larger towns and cities on public transportation, you have a variety of options. These include taxis, Tuk-tuks, and boda-boda (bicycle or motorcycle taxis), the majority of which do not have meters, so be sure to negotiate a price before accepting a ride. Local Kenyans prefer the shared minibuses, or matatus, which have predetermined routes and prices.
In any of Kenya’s major cities, those who desire the independence of their own vehicle can rent a car from foreign rental companies. Be aware that prices are frequently high and that Kenyan roads are not suitable for the timid. For a small additional cost, a lot of businesses offer the option of hiring a driver. Try to avoid nighttime driving, and in populated areas, keep your doors locked.