Kenya Travel Advice
Travelling to Kenya can be an exciting and enriching experience. Known for its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality, Kenya offers a range of attractions for visitors. However, it is important to be well-prepared and informed before your trip.
This travel advice introduction provides a brief overview of key points to consider when planning a trip to Kenya:
- Entry and exit Requirements
- Vaccinations and Health Precautions:
- Safety and Security:
- Wildlife Safaris:
- Local Laws and Customs:
1. Entry and exit Requirements
Entry and exit requirements for Kenya can vary based on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. Here are some general guidelines, but it is essential to check with the Kenya eVisa website for the most accurate and up-to-date information:
Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended departure date from Kenya. It is also important to make sure that your passport has at least two blank pages for entry and exit stamps.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind about passports and travel to Kenya:
- Your passport must be in good condition. It should not be torn, damaged, or have any missing pages.
- You should make a copy of your passport and keep it in a safe place separate from your passport.
- You should also keep a record of your passport number and the date of your passport expiration.
Depending on your nationality, you may need to obtain a visa before travelling to Kenya. Some nationalities are eligible for visa-on-arrival, while others may require applying for a visa in advance. Check the visa requirements or Eligible Countries for Kenya Visa specific to your country before your trip.
You can apply for a visa at the Kenyan Embassy or Consulate in your home country, or you can apply for an Kenya eVisa online. The eVisa is a convenient option that allows you to apply for a visa from anywhere in the world.
Here are some of the different types of visas available for entry into Kenya:
- Tourist visa: This visa is for people who are visiting Kenya for tourism purposes. The maximum stay on a tourist visa is 90 days.
- Business visa: This visa is for people who are visiting Kenya for business purposes. The maximum stay on a Kenya business visa is 90 days.
- Work visa: This visa is for people who are coming to Kenya to work. The length of stay on a work visa will depend on the type of work you are doing.
- Student visa: This visa is for people who are coming to Kenya to study. The length of stay on a student visa will depend on the length of your studies.
If you are unsure what type of visa you need, it is best to check with the Kenyan Embassy or Consulate in your country. You can also find more information on the Kenyan Immigration website.
Kenya offers an electronic visa (eVisa) system for many nationalities. It is recommended to apply for an Kenya e-Visa in advance through the official platform to expedite the entry process.
To apply for a eVisa, you will need to register on the Kenyan website and provide the following information:
- Your passport information
- Your personal information
- Your contact information
- Your travel information
- Proof of travel insurance
- Proof of accommodation
- Proof of onward travel
The processing time for an e-Visa is typically 1-4 working days. Once your eVisa is approved, you will receive it electronically. You will need to print out your eVisa and present it upon entry to Kenya.
Yellow Fever Certificate:
If you are arriving from or have recently visited a yellow fever-endemic country, you may need to present a yellow fever vaccination certificate upon entry. Check the list of yellow fever-endemic countries and the specific requirements for your situation.
The yellow fever vaccination certificate must be issued by a WHO-approved vaccination centre and must be dated within 10 days of travel to Kenya. The certificate must also include the traveller's name, date of birth, and vaccination information.
There are a few exceptions to the yellow fever vaccination requirement for Kenya. These exceptions include:
- Children under the age of 9 months
- Travellers who have a medical contraindication to the yellow fever vaccine
- Travellers who have previously had yellow fever
- Quarantine: No mandatory quarantine for travelers in Kenya.
- COVID-19 Test: Not currently required, but check for updates.
- Health Insurance: recommended
- Unvaccinated Travelers: Follow local health protocols.
Stay updated on the latest COVID-19 entry requirements before your trip.
Here are some other things to keep in mind when travelling to Kenya during COVID-19:
- You may be subject to health screenings at the airport.
- You may be required to wear a mask in public places.
- You may be required to social distance.
It is important to be aware of the latest COVID-19 regulations before travelling to Kenya.
When leaving Kenya, there is an International Passenger Service Charge (IPSC) or departure tax. This fee is typically included in your airline ticket, but it's worth confirming with your airline to ensure compliance.
The departure tax is collected at the airport when you are leaving Kenya. You will need to pay the departure tax in cash, so make sure you have some Kenyan shillings on hand.
If you are not paying the departure tax in cash, you can also pay it using a credit or debit card. However, you may be charged a processing fee if you pay with a credit or debit card.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind about the departure tax in Kenya:
- The departure tax is not refundable, even if your flight is cancelled or delayed.
- If you are travelling on a discounted or free ticket, you may still be required to pay the departure tax.
- The departure tax is subject to change, so it is always best to check the latest information before you travel.
It is important to note that entry and exit requirements can change, and specific rules may apply to different types of travellers (e.g., tourists, business visitors, etc.). Therefore, it is crucial to verify the current requirements and regulations with the Kenyan Embassy or Consulate in your country before you travel to Kenya.
2. Vaccinations and Health Precautions:
It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or travel clinic well in advance to ensure that you have the necessary vaccinations for Kenya. Malaria is prevalent in many parts of the country, so taking appropriate measures to prevent mosquito bites and considering antimalarial medication is important.As a Kenyan traveller, it is important to prioritise your health and take necessary precautions.
Here are some key points regarding vaccinations and health measures to consider:
Ensure that you are up to date with routine vaccinations recommended by the Kenyan Ministry of Health, such as measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP), and influenza.
Routine vaccinations are an essential part of maintaining good health for Kenyan travellers. Here are some key routine vaccinations to consider as part of your travel advice:
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR):
Ensure that you have received the recommended two doses of the MMR vaccine. Measles outbreaks can occur, and having the MMR vaccine provides protection against these diseases.
- Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (DTaP):
Make sure that your tetanus vaccination is up to date. The DTaP vaccine also provides protection against diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).
Kenya is considered a polio-endemic country, so it is important to ensure that you have received the recommended polio vaccinations. Make sure you are up to date with your polio immunisation, which is usually administered during childhood.
- Hepatitis A:
Hepatitis A is transmitted through contaminated food and water. Consider getting vaccinated against hepatitis A, especially if you will be visiting rural areas or places with limited sanitation facilities.
- Hepatitis B:
Hepatitis B is spread through blood and bodily fluids. If you anticipate coming into contact with blood or bodily fluids or engaging in activities that may put you at risk, it is advisable to get vaccinated against hepatitis B.
Typhoid fever is common in Kenya and can be contracted through contaminated food and water. Consider getting vaccinated against typhoid if you will be visiting rural areas or areas with inadequate sanitation facilities.
Influenza is a common viral respiratory illness that can affect travellers. Consider getting the seasonal influenza vaccine before your trip, especially if you are travelling during the flu season.
Stay informed about the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Kenya. Follow the guidance of the Kenyan Ministry of Health regarding eligibility and vaccination centres. Consider getting vaccinated to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
The Kenyan government has initiated a COVID-19 vaccination campaign to provide vaccines to its population. The vaccination campaign follows a phased approach, prioritising high-risk groups and frontline workers. Stay updated on the eligibility criteria and vaccination centres designated by the Kenyan Ministry of Health.
COVID-19 vaccines have been developed to provide protection against the virus and its variants. Vaccination helps reduce the risk of severe illness, hospitalisation, and transmission of the virus. It is an important tool in controlling the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) or other recognized regulatory bodies have undergone rigorous testing to ensure safety and efficacy. It is important to rely on credible sources of information for accurate and reliable information about the vaccines. Consult with healthcare professionals or refer to official government health sources for vaccine-related queries or concerns.
Some countries may require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for entry or may have specific travel requirements related to vaccination status. Before travelling internationally, check the travel requirements of your destination country, including any vaccine-related documentation or COVID-19 testing requirements.
Kenya is a malaria-endemic country, so it is crucial to take precautions. Use insect repellents, sleep under mosquito nets, and consider taking antimalarial medication as advised by a healthcare professional. Wear long-sleeved clothing and trousers to minimise exposure to mosquito bites.
here is a summary of the key points for malaria prevention in Kenya:
- Use effective insect repellents containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin and clothing.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed-toe shoes, especially during the evening and night when mosquitoes are most active.
- Consider treating your clothing with permethrin, an insecticide that repels and kills mosquitoes.
- Use bed nets treated with insecticides, especially if you are staying in accommodations that do not have proper screening or air conditioning.
- Take additional measures to prevent mosquito bites indoors, such as using air conditioning, fans, or mosquito screens on windows and doors.
- Be aware of peak mosquito activity times, which are typically around dawn and dusk. Avoid outdoor activities during these times, if possible.
- Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of malaria, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. If you develop these symptoms during or after your trip, seek medical attention immediately and inform the healthcare provider about your recent travel to a malaria-endemic area.
By following these precautions, you can significantly reduce the risk of contracting malaria and have a safer and more enjoyable travel experience in Kenya.
Food and Water Safety:
Practise good hygiene and ensure that you consume safe food and water. Wash your hands regularly with soap and clean water, or use hand sanitizers when handwashing facilities are not available. Drink bottled or treated water, and avoid eating raw or undercooked food.
Maintain good personal hygiene practices. Carry hand sanitizers or wet wipes for situations where handwashing facilities are not readily available. Avoid touching your face and maintain respiratory hygiene by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing.
key points for food and water safety in Kenya:
- Drink only bottled water from reputable brands or properly treated water.
- Eat food that has been thoroughly cooked and is served hot.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and clean water, especially before eating or handling food.
- When storing perishable food items, make sure they are properly refrigerated or kept at a safe temperature.
- If you want to consume fresh fruits and vegetables, ensure they have been thoroughly washed and peeled by yourself.
- If you choose to eat street food, be cautious and select food stalls that appear clean and have high customer turnover.
- Ensure that the food is cooked fresh in front of you and served piping hot.
- Communicate your dietary needs clearly to the food establishments you visit.
- Practise good hygiene when handling food and drinks.
Kenya experiences sunny and hot weather. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen with a high SPF. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially in hot and dry regions.
Sun protection is important when travelling to Kenya due to its sunny and hot climate. Here are some travel advice points to consider for sun protection:
Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher to all exposed skin. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more frequently if you are sweating or swimming.
Wear Protective Clothing:
Opt for lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that covers your arms, legs, and neck. Choose clothing made of tightly woven fabrics that provide better sun protection. Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses can also help protect your face and eyes from the sun's rays.
When the sun is at its strongest, typically between 10 am and 4 pm, seek shade whenever possible. This can help reduce your exposure to direct sunlight and the intensity of UV radiation.
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially in hot weather. Dehydration can occur quickly in a sunny and warm climate, so carry a reusable water bottle and refill it regularly.
Plan Outdoor Activities Wisely:
If you have outdoor activities planned, try to schedule them during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late afternoon. This can help minimise exposure to the sun's peak intensity.
Protect Your Eyes:
Wear sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays. Look for sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays for optimal eye protection.
Be Mindful of Reflection:
Remember that sunlight can reflect off surfaces such as water, sand, or snow, intensifying its effect. Take extra precautions in these environments to protect yourself from the sun.
Stay updated on the local weather forecast and the UV index, which provides information on the strength of the sun's rays. Adjust your sun protection measures accordingly based on the UV index and weather conditions.
By following these sun protection measures, you can minimise the risk of sunburn, heat exhaustion, and other sun-related issues during your travels in Kenya. Enjoy the beautiful weather responsibly and take care of your skin and overall well-being.
It is highly recommended to have comprehensive medical insurance that covers any medical emergencies or illnesses during your travels. Ensure that your insurance provides coverage for medical evacuation if needed.
key points for medical insurance in Kenya:
- Ensure that your medical insurance provides comprehensive coverage for medical emergencies, hospitalisation, medical evacuations, and repatriation. It should also cover any pre-existing medical conditions you may have.
- Before your trip, review your insurance policy to understand what is covered and what is not. Confirm that your insurance covers medical expenses in Kenya and provides access to a network of healthcare providers.
- Medical evacuations can be expensive, especially if you require transportation to a specialised medical facility or to your home country for further treatment. Make sure your insurance covers emergency medical evacuation in case it becomes necessary.
- Keep a copy of your insurance policy and contact information for your insurance provider with you at all times during your trip. This will be helpful in case of any medical emergencies or if you need to seek medical assistance.
- Research the quality and availability of medical facilities in the areas you plan to visit in Kenya. Be aware that medical services may be limited in remote or rural areas. Consider choosing accommodations close to reputable medical facilities if possible.
- Familiarise yourself with the payment process for medical services in Kenya. Some medical facilities may require upfront payment, so it is advisable to carry sufficient funds or a credit card that can cover potential expenses. Keep all relevant receipts for reimbursement purposes.
- Consider purchasing travel insurance specifically designed for international travel. These policies often provide additional coverage for trip cancellations, lost baggage, and other unforeseen circumstances.
- Check if your insurance covers any COVID-19-related medical expenses, such as testing, treatment, or quarantine requirements. Understand any specific requirements or exclusions related to the pandemic.
- If you have any questions or concerns about your insurance coverage, contact your insurance provider directly. They can provide specific details about your policy and help clarify any doubts you may have.
3. Safety and Security:
While most visits to Kenya are trouble-free, it is advisable to exercise caution and stay vigilant, especially in crowded areas, major cities, and tourist destinations. Stay informed about the local situation, avoid displaying valuable items, and take necessary precautions to safeguard your belongings.It is important to be aware of the security risks and challenges in Kenya.
Here are some key points regarding safety and security concerns:
Kenya has experienced incidents of violent crime, including armed carjacking, mugging, home invasion, and kidnapping. Local police may have limited capacity to respond effectively to such incidents. Exercise caution, especially when travelling after dark, and remain vigilant at all times.
There is a risk of terrorist attacks in Kenya, targeting government facilities, tourist locations, transportation hubs, hotels, resorts, markets, shopping malls, and places of worship. These attacks can occur without warning and have included armed assaults, suicide operations, bomb/grenade attacks, and kidnappings. Stay informed about the current security situation and follow the advice of local authorities.
Demonstrations and Protests
Demonstrations and protests, often related to political and economic issues, can occur in Kenya. They may disrupt traffic and occasionally turn violent. Avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place, and monitor local news for updates on potential unrest.
Due to risks near the Kenyan-Somali border, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM). Stay informed about any aviation restrictions or safety advisories by consulting the FAA's Prohibitions, Restrictions, and Notices.
Lack of Oversight
Be cautious of schools and cultural rehabilitation centres operating in Kenya without proper licensing and oversight. Reports of physical abuse and holding individuals against their will, especially minors and young adults, have been documented. Exercise caution and ensure the legitimacy and safety of any facilities you interact with.
It is crucial to stay informed about the current security situation, monitor local news, and follow the guidance of local authorities and your embassy or consulate. Take appropriate precautions, maintain situational awareness, and consider seeking advice from trusted sources when planning activities in Kenya.
4. Wildlife Safaris:
Kenya is renowned for its wildlife and safaris. If you plan to visit national parks or go on wildlife safaris, it is recommended to use reputable tour operators and follow their instructions for your safety and the welfare of the animals.
It is important to be aware that the possession of ivory or any other banned wildlife items is strictly prohibited in Kenya, regardless of whether they were purchased within or outside the country. Engaging in activities such as killing, buying, selling, or trading protected wild animals or any of their parts is illegal and carries severe consequences.
Kenya has implemented stringent laws and regulations to protect its wildlife and combat illegal wildlife trade. These measures are in place to preserve the country's rich biodiversity and ensure the survival of endangered species. Offenders caught in possession of ivory or engaging in illegal wildlife activities can face serious legal repercussions.
Law enforcement agencies in Kenya actively monitor and enforce wildlife protection laws. If found guilty, individuals involved in such activities can be arrested, prosecuted, and subject to lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines. The penalties imposed are intended to serve as a deterrent and send a strong message against wildlife crime.
To contribute to wildlife conservation efforts and respect Kenya's laws, it is crucial to refrain from purchasing, possessing, or trading any wildlife items, including ivory, animal skins, bones, or other products made from protected species. Avoid supporting any activities that exploit or harm wildlife.
When visiting Kenya, it is important to be informed and educated about wildlife protection laws and regulations. Support conservation initiatives and responsible tourism practices that prioritise the well-being and preservation of wildlife. By doing so, you contribute to the conservation of Kenya's unique and precious natural heritage.
5. Local Laws and Customs:
Familiarise yourself with the local laws and customs of Kenya to ensure respectful behaviour. Dress modestly, particularly in rural areas and when visiting religious sites. Respect local traditions and be mindful of cultural sensitivities.
Understanding and respecting the local laws and customs is essential when travelling to Kenya. Here are some travel advice points to consider regarding local laws and customs:
Research and Familiarise:
Before your trip, research and familiarise yourself with the local laws, customs, and cultural norms of Kenya. This will help you navigate the country and ensure that you act appropriately and respectfully.
In many parts of Kenya, particularly in rural and conservative areas, it is advisable to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or interacting with local communities. Respect the local customs by covering your shoulders and knees, and avoid wearing revealing or inappropriate attire.
Respect for Local Traditions:
Show respect for local traditions and customs. Observe and follow any cultural practices, such as removing your shoes when entering someone's home or seeking permission before taking photographs of individuals.
Wildlife and Environment:
Kenya is known for its diverse wildlife and natural beauty. It is important to respect and protect the environment. Do not litter, damage or remove any plants, animals, or artefacts from their natural habitats. Follow park rules and regulations when visiting national parks and reserves.
Possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs is strictly prohibited in Kenya. Violators can face severe penalties, including lengthy imprisonment and heavy fines. Always comply with the country's drug laws and avoid involvement in any illegal activities.
Photography and Filming:
Seek permission before taking photographs or filming individuals, especially in sensitive or private areas. Be respectful and considerate of people's privacy. In some cases, a fee may be required for photography at certain sites or with specific subjects.
Public Displays of Affection:
While public displays of affection may be acceptable in some Western cultures, it is advisable to exercise discretion in Kenya. Public displays of affection can be seen as inappropriate or offensive in certain contexts, so it is best to err on the side of caution.
Kenya has conservative attitudes towards homosexuality, and same-sex relationships are not widely accepted. It is advisable to exercise discretion and avoid public displays of affection in LGBTQ+ relationships. Be aware of the local attitudes and respect the privacy and rights of all individuals.
Carry proper identification, such as your passport, at all times. Ensure that you have all necessary visas and permits required for your stay in Kenya. Respect immigration and customs procedures when entering or exiting the country.
By understanding and respecting the local laws and customs, you can have a more enjoyable and culturally sensitive experience in Kenya. Embrace the opportunity to learn about the local traditions and engage with the community in a respectful manner.
Exercise caution when using public transportation, especially in urban areas. Opt for licensed taxis or pre-arranged transportation whenever possible. If driving, familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and road conditions.
It is crucial to stay updated on the latest travel advice and information from your government and reliable sources before and during your trip to Kenya. Additionally, consider registering with your embassy or consulate for any travel alerts or notifications.
Transportation is an important aspect of travel in Kenya. Here are some travel advice points to consider regarding transportation:
If you plan to visit different regions within Kenya, domestic flights can be a convenient option. Several reputable airlines operate domestic flights connecting major cities and popular tourist destinations. Ensure that you book your flights with reliable and licensed airlines.
- Convenience and time-saving:
Domestic flights allow you to quickly and easily travel between major cities and popular tourist destinations in Kenya. This saves you time compared to long hours of road travel, especially when covering long distances.
- Reputable airlines:
Several reputable airlines operate domestic flights in Kenya. These airlines have established a good safety record and provide reliable service. Research and choose airlines with positive customer reviews to ensure a smooth travel experience.
- Wide connectivity:
Domestic flights connect major cities like Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, and Malindi, as well as popular tourist destinations such as Maasai Mara, Amboseli, Lamu, and Diani Beach. This extensive connectivity allows you to easily access various regions of Kenya and explore its diverse attractions.
- Time efficiency:
Domestic flights save you precious time, particularly when you have a limited schedule or want to maximise your time exploring different destinations. Flights can reduce travel time significantly, allowing you to spend more time enjoying your chosen destinations.
- Flexibility and itinerary planning:
Domestic flights provide flexibility in planning your itinerary. You can easily customise your trip by combining flights with other modes of transportation, such as road or rail travel, to create a well-rounded travel experience.
- Comfort and scenic views:
Domestic flights offer the opportunity to enjoy stunning aerial views of Kenya's landscapes, including national parks, mountains, and coastline. This adds a unique perspective to your travel experience while ensuring a comfortable journey.
Kenya has an extensive road network, but conditions can vary. When travelling by road, it is advisable to use reputable transportation services, such as licensed taxis or private car hire companies. If you plan to drive, familiarise yourself with local traffic rules and regulations. Be cautious of pedestrians, wildlife, and varying road conditions, especially in rural areas.
Factors to consider when planning road travel in Kenya:
Respect for Traffic Laws:
Drivers in Kenya may not consistently adhere to traffic laws, and the prevalence of drinking and driving, especially at night, is a concern. Keep this in mind and exercise caution on the roads.
Driving at night in Kenya can be risky due to various factors such as excessive speeds, poorly maintained vehicles, inadequate lighting, and insufficient signage. It is advisable to avoid driving at night whenever possible and prioritise daytime travel.
Unpaved Roads and Rainy Season:
Some unpaved roads in Kenya can become impassable, particularly during the rainy season. Even with four-wheel drive vehicles, it may be challenging to navigate these roads. Exercise caution, drive defensively, and be prepared for road conditions to change, especially during inclement weather.
Serious traffic delays are common, particularly in urban areas and on busy routes. The road from Nairobi to Mombasa is known for congestion and can be particularly hazardous for tourists who are unfamiliar with local driving conditions. If feasible, consider alternative modes of transportation such as air travel or train services to avoid these potential risks.
Adopt a defensive driving approach and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Remain attentive to other vehicles, pedestrians, and potential hazards on the road. Allow sufficient space between vehicles and anticipate unexpected manoeuvres by other drivers.
Plan Adequate Travel Time:
Factor in potential delays and adjust your travel schedule accordingly. Plan for extra time to reach your destination, particularly if you are travelling on minor roads or during peak traffic hours.
Consider Alternative Transportation:
In some cases, it may be more convenient and safer to choose alternative modes of transportation such as domestic flights or train services, especially for longer distances or routes with challenging road conditions.
By taking these considerations into account, you can make informed decisions regarding road travel in Kenya and prioritise your safety. Be cautious, drive defensively, and always be prepared for changing road conditions.
Public transportation options in Kenya include buses (matatus) and minibosses (matatus or matatus). While they are a cost-effective way to get around, they may not always adhere to strict safety standards. If you're planning to use public transportation in Kenya, here are some travel advice and tips to help you have a safe and convenient journey:
- Matatus: Matatus are the most common form of public transportation in Kenya. These are shared minivans or buses that operate on set routes within cities and between towns. They can be crowded and sometimes operate at high speeds, so exercise caution while boarding and disembarking.
- Bus Companies: Several bus companies offer intercity travel across Kenya. Some popular ones include Modern Coast, Easy Coach, and Mash Poa. These companies generally provide more comfort and safety compared to matatus but may be pricier.
- Schedule and Timeliness: Public transportation schedules in Kenya can be flexible, especially for matatus. Buses usually adhere more closely to their schedules, but delays can still occur. It's advisable to plan your travel with some extra time in case of delays.
- Safety: While using public transportation, keep an eye on your belongings and be cautious of pickpockets. Avoid displaying valuable items openly. If possible, sit close to the driver or conductor for added security.
- Cash Payments: Most public transportation in Kenya operates on a cash basis, so ensure you have enough local currency (Kenyan shillings) to pay for your fare. Smaller denominations are preferable, as matatus may not have sufficient change.
- Route Knowledge: If you are unfamiliar with the routes, it's helpful to ask locals or conductors for guidance. They can advise you on the appropriate vehicle to take and the right stops to get off at.
- Travel during the Day: It's generally safer to travel during daylight hours, especially if you're using public transportation. This allows you to navigate more easily and reduces the risk of encountering unsafe situations.
- Road Conditions: Keep in mind that road conditions in Kenya can vary, and some routes may be bumpy or poorly maintained. Long-distance bus travel can be tiring due to the distances involved, so be prepared for potential discomfort.
Motorcycle Taxis (Boda-bodas):
Boda-bodas are motorcycle taxis commonly found in urban and rural areas. In Kenya, they are more frequently called piki pikis.
They can be a convenient mode of transportation for short distances. However, ensure that you choose a registered and reputable boda-boda operator. Always wear a helmet and prioritise your safety.
Kenya has a limited railway network, with trains operating between major cities like Nairobi and Mombasa. Train travel can be a scenic and comfortable option. Ensure that you book tickets in advance and check for any schedule changes or disruptions.
- Boda-bodas are known for their convenience and ability to navigate through traffic quickly, making them a popular choice for short-distance travel. They are readily available in busy areas, near bus stops, markets, and other popular locations.
- While boda-bodas can be a convenient mode of transport, it's important to prioritise safety. Always wear a helmet, even if it's not provided by the driver. If possible, choose a boda-boda that provides a spare helmet for passengers. Insist on a helmet and avoid riding without one.
- Look for boda-boda riders who appear experienced and follow traffic rules. Avoid riders who exhibit reckless behaviour or show signs of intoxication. If you feel uncomfortable with a particular driver, it's better to wait for another one.
- If you're not fluent in Swahili, it may be useful to learn a few basic phrases or carry a translation app to communicate with the boda-boda rider, especially when discussing the fare or giving directions.
Safety and Security:
Exercise caution when using public transportation or taxis. Avoid displaying valuable items or carrying large sums of cash. Keep your belongings secure and be aware of your surroundings. Use licensed taxis or reputable transportation services, particularly at night or in unfamiliar areas.
Terrorist attacks are a constant threat in Kenya and can occur at any time. It is crucial to remain alert and vigilant in public places and avoid areas that are prone to attacks. Historically, religious and festive holidays have witnessed increased terrorist activities, so exercise heightened caution during these times and pay attention to threat warnings. The US Embassy has issued a security alert, specifically warning US citizens and other foreigners and tourists that they may be targets of imminent terrorist attacks in locations frequented by them in Nairobi and other parts of Kenya.
The borders with Somalia, Ethiopia, and South Sudan are considered high-risk areas. It is strongly advised not to travel to these regions. If travel is necessary, seek professional security advice before making any arrangements.
Violent crimes, including carjackings, kidnappings, and home invasions, are prevalent. Avoid walking around after dark, and if you reside in Kenya, it is recommended to invest in robust personal security measures.
Protests are common occurrences across Kenya. It is important to steer clear of protests and political gatherings. Follow the guidance of local authorities to ensure your safety.
Scams are prevalent, with criminals often posing as fake police, hotel staff, or government officials to extort money from unsuspecting travellers. Exercise caution and be sceptical of anyone asking for money or personal information, even if they appear to be official.
Kenya is susceptible to natural disasters and severe weather conditions. Familiarise yourself with warning signs and safety procedures for earthquakes, floods, and tsunamis.
Traffic and Road Conditions:
Traffic congestion can be common in major cities, especially during peak hours. Plan your travel accordingly to avoid unnecessary delays. Be prepared for varying road conditions, including potholes and uneven surfaces, particularly in rural areas.
Major cities like Nairobi and Mombasa often experience heavy traffic congestion, especially during peak hours. Plan your journeys accordingly and allow extra time for travel, particularly if you have important appointments or need to catch a flight.
Arrange airport transfers with reliable transportation services or through your accommodation. This ensures a smooth and secure transfer between the airport and your destination.
- Consider arranging your airport transfers in advance through reputable sources. Many hotels and travel agencies offer airport pickup services. This way, you'll have a designated driver waiting for you upon arrival, minimising the hassle of finding transportation.
- Pre-booking and paying for your transfers ahead of your travel allows you to get the best fares and a guarantee that there will be someone waiting for you on the other end of the journey. Ignore offers of transportation from solicitors in the terminal.
In conclusion, when travelling to Kenya, prioritise your safety, respect local customs, plan ahead, and enjoy the diverse attractions and natural beauty the country has to offer.