We frequently post deals to Nairobi. Thanks to competition from Turkish Arlines, airfare is usually very reasonable from Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco for January – March and November travel. Brian of Beyond Bmore recently went for about $500 from New York. Here are some practical tips from his recent trip.
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The Visa Process
All U.S. citizens wishing to visit Kenya for either business, tourism or medical reasons are required to have a visa. Once issued, the visa is valid for three months before you travel and can be renewed for 90 more days in Nairobi at the immigration headquarters. Six months is the maximum time a visitor may stay in Kenya.
Kenya now uses the a eVisa system, which requires one to fill out and complete an application online prior to entering the country. The cost is $51 US dollars and can be paid for by Visa or Mastercard. Once the application is completed detailing your basic information, travel plans and a passport size photo is attached and paid for, approval is pretty much instant although it may take a few days in some cases. Once approved, the PDF file can be downloaded and printed to be brought with you and presented to the immigration officer at the port of entry. I found the process to be very simple and received my approval in less than a minute. I printed the document and placed it with my passport to ensure there were no issues once in Kenya.
Nairobi Airport- NBO (Jomo Kenyatta International Airport)
While NBO airport is not the most modern at this moment, renovations are underway and moving around is pretty much painless. Once my flight landed, we were driven on a bus to the immigration area where we presented our passports and e-visas for quick entry and access to the baggage claim area.
When departing, the process was once again painless. Check-in moved quickly and after heading to customs for an exit stamp, I was well on my way to the gate for the flight back home.
Based on the insane traffic and driving habits, I would NOT recommend renting a car in Nairobi. Prior to arriving, our AirBnb host arranged for a driver to meet us at the airport terminal exit and drive us to our apartment. Drivers for your entire trip can be arranged with most charging less than $100 U.S. dollars a day for all-day transportation anywhere you would like to go. If you choose to ride in a taxi, be sure to negotiate a set rate prior to riding!
Uber is also available in Nairobi and very very affordable. Needless to say, getting around will not be an issue. There are public transportation buses available also but they are not the most comfortable. They are often packed and not air conditioned.
Kenya uses “Type G” British BS-1363 electrical sockets. You will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in and use your devices.
Kenya uses the Kenyan Shilling as its official currency. 1 Kenyan shilling is equal to about a U.S. penny. Some places will take U.S. dollars as well as Euros. Credit cards are accepted just about everywhere and ATMs are always available. I used an ATM in the airport to take out cash and avoid paying the fees at many of the currency exchange booths located there and throughout town. Aside from paying for transportation and places such as the Masaai Market, which is outdoors and souvenirs are available in bulk for purchase through local merchants, there were very few instances where having cash is a must. I recommend paying in the local currency if asked when using a credit card.
Just about anyone you run into, from children to adults, will speak very clear English as well as Swahili. All signs, restaurant menus, etc., are in English so there will be no issues with communicating. Simple phrases such as “Jambo” (which means “Hello”) and “Asante sana” (for “Thank you”) go a long way and can quickly put a smile on the faces of the locals.
A few interesting places to visit in Nairobi
- The Giraffe Centre: A non-profit organization whose main objective is to provide conservation education for school children and the youth of Kenya. Here, you can get up close and personal with giraffes and feed them while gaining insight on their lives and habitats.
- The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust: An orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation program, which allows visitors to visit daily from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and get up close and personal with the elephants, and even adopt them to help aid in their reintroduction to the wild.
About the Author:
Brian is a part-time traveler from Baltimore, Maryland, who enjoys escaping as often as possible to see and explore the world. Each trip, whether short or long, brings an experience that he once only dreamed of. Thanks to The Flight Deal and their posts, these opportunities are now both affordable and endless. Follow Brian on his travels on his website Beyond Bmore, his personal Instagram and Beyond Bmore’s Instagram along with his Twitter.
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Thanks for the useful tips, I will be making my way there soon I hope.
If you already have the e-visa printout, make you you queue up for “other passports” counter, NOT the “visa” counter at immigration once you get off the plane/bus at NBO.
I also got the same (more precisely) 412 USD offer for Nairobi from JFK – thank you The Flight Deal for making it possible!
My flight was operated by Etihad Airways on an Airbus A380 and had one-day free stopover in Abu Dhabi – highly recommended!
To add, if your schedule doesn’t allow you to visit the David Scheldrick Wildlife Trust at noon, you can adopt an elephant for a minimum 50 USD donation (eligible for tax receipt in the US and soon in Canada) to have a more intimate and less crowded experience with your adopted elephant or rhino.
If you’re going on a safari, I would recommend visiting Amboseli National Park. The views of hundreds of elephants with Mount Kilimanjaro will be unforgettable. It is very hot and dry at this time of the year, so plan accordingly. On the plus side, clear warm nights are fantastic for stargazing once you leave Nairobi.
When you leave from NBO, I would strongly recommend being at the airport well in advance. I found airport staff very disorganized and not very helpful.
Are vaccinations mandatory?
@Karolina – not mandatory unless you have been in a Yellow Fever area before entering Kenya. So if you are flying from US via Europe, you don’t need it. Here’s what the CDC recommends: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/kenya
I am having the most difficult time finding a cost feasible trip from DC to Kenya this summer. Any advice?
@NP – summer travel is going to be tough. your best bet out of DC is going to be with Turkish, Emirates or Etihad. They usually will have the best price to Kenya.