Before every travel, you need to have a basic understanding of the place you’re about to visit. There are certain things that you need to know before you embark upon your adventure. Besides the usual visa, getting there and currency issues, there are other, more pressing things that you need to cover while travelling to Kenya – immunization, health precautions and safety measures top those.
So, before you plan your travel to Kenya, take a look at these certain things that you need to know.
- Travel plan
Planning an entire tour can be daunting, especially if you have limited number of days, which is the case usually. Make sure you have an itinerary ready to ease out the last-minute panics. Kenya is a tourist destination, most of the resorts are fully booked in the peak season. So, if you are planning a backpacking journey to Kenya in its main season, think again. If you need any assistance of where to go and itinerary planning, take a look at this 8-days Kenya tour itinerary, which is perfect for first time visitors.
Kenyan government provides three types of visas – Single Entry Visa, Transit Visa and Courtesy Visa. Single Entry Visa is for people who require visa for tourism, business or medical reasons and their stay is for up to 3 months. You can further renew the visa for a maximum period of 6 months. The government offers Visa on Arrival facility to citizens of most countries, including Indian nationals. Alternatively, if you want to plan your travel well in advance, then you should apply for an e-Visa on their official website – http://evisa.go.ke/
The visa processing fee is a flat $51 and all major credit/debit cards are accepted. The visa usually takes up to 4 days to be processed and issued.
You need to take a few vaccinations taken prior to your arrival in Kenya. It is best to refer to the government portal to know which vaccinations are mandatory for your country. But some of the necessary vaccinations are as below:
Yellow Fever Vaccination – minimum 10 days before your departure
Oral Polio Vaccine – which you must ideally take 4 weeks before your departure
Malaria (not mandatory for Indians)
Hepatitis A (not mandatory for Indians)
- Weather and Season
The best months to visit Kenya are July – October, during the great Kenyan migration. These are the summer months in Kenya and thus the ideal season to enjoy the abundance of wildlife. March – June beginning are the monsoon months. The rains don’t hamper the sighting, but the roads often get very muddy and impassable. The weather gets quite cool after it rains. November – February are the winter months in Kenya, with temperatures falling as low as 9ºC during its coldest phase.
- How to get there
Kenya has two international airports – Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (Nairobi) and the Moi International Airport (Mombasa). Kenyan Airways has a direct flight from Mumbai-Nairobi and has a daily frequency. From September 2019, Air India is also starting a direct flight from Mumbai-Nairobi.
Besides these two government carriers, there are several other aircraft carriers which fly to Kenya, with Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates and Etihad being the most frequent ones.
Plan your journey well in time to get cheaper fares on direct flights.
- Kenyan Currency and Foreign Exchange
The Kenyan Shilling (KSh) is the official currency of Kenya. Make sure to check the value of the KSh before you travel to Kenya. You can convert USD to KSh at the Nairobi or Mombasa airport, at authorized forex agent. It is advised to convert only part of the currency at a time, as required.
Usually hotel chains accept US dollars if you are short of the local currency. Most of them also have forex convertor, though the conversion rate would be higher. Every tourist center in Nairobi also accepts major credit cards for payment. M-Pesa is another popular payment gateway in Kenya, much like PayPal or India’s Paytm.
- Cellular Network
All major mobile networks in India – Vodafone, Jio, Airtel have portability contracts with the local network provider in Kenya. All you need to do is activate international roaming on your number and allow automatic network selection and you will be set for your travel.
Additionally, you can purchase local sim card from the airport by providing your flight tickets and a passport copy. Safaricom is the largest network provider in Kenya with over 75% market share. You can purchase their prepaid sim for KSh100 and can buy top-ups from KSh5 to KSh1000, valid between 3 – 120 days.
Maximum resorts and hotels in Kenya have wi-fi facility, either in rooms or in the reception area.
- Safety Measures
Kenyans in general are very warm and provide amongst the best hospitality you will ever experience. Although tourism is a major source of revenue for Kenya, the country also sees some violence against tourists, mainly in the form of mugging and theft due to rampant poverty. While in Kenya, you need to always travel in pairs or in groups. You shouldn’t get into petty arguments with the locals that can be blown out of proportion as a way to extort money. Don’t wear any expensive or flashy jewellery. Though all the resorts in the forest reserves are gated, it is still recommended to roam with a headlight/torch to keep away any wild animal.