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Kenya Travel Information

Currency and Transport : Getting To and Around Kenya


Mara Explorer, Kenya

Mara Explorer, Kenya

Heritage Hotels East Africa
For Kenya travel tips about Kenyan visas, health and safety information and when to go to Kenya, see page one.


The value of the Kenyan Shilling fluctuates so it's best to check in with a currency converter just before you go. Traveler's checks are probably the best and safest way to take money with you. Don't change too much money at one time and use the banks not the money changers. Major credit cards are only accepted at the more expensive shops and hotels.

Bartering for souvenirs is an enjoyable and accepted practice. T-shirts, jeans, a cheap (working) watch can all be exchanged for a nice carving or two, so take some spares along with you. On that note, a decent inexpensive watch makes for a nice gift if someone has gone out of their way to help you. I usually bring along a few when I travel to these parts.

Getting To and From Kenya

By Air

Many international airlines fly in to Kenya including KLM, Swissair, Ethiopian, BA, SAA, Emirates, Brussels etc. There are two international airports; Kenyatta International Airport (Nairobi) and Moi International Airport (Mombasa).

Ethiopian Airlines from Nairobi is a good option if you plan to continue on to West Africa. Nairobi is also a good place to get cheap flights to India if you are lucky enough to be travelling around the world.

The average airfare to Kenya from the US is around USD1000 - USD1200. About half that for flights from Europe. Book at least a few months in advance because flights fill up quickly.

By Land

The main border crossing in to Tanzania from Kenya is at Namanga. It is open for 24 hours and is the best way to get to Mount Kilimanjaro (other than flying of course). There are buses that run frequently between Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, the trip takes about 24 hours. Nairobi to Arusha is a comfortable 5 hour bus ride with several companies vying for your custom.

The main border crossing from Kenya into Uganda is at Malaba. There are buses available from Nairobi to Kampala as well as a weekly train service which connects with the train to Mombasa.

Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia
Border crossings between Kenya and Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia are often too risky to attempt. Check the latest government travel warnings before you go and chat to people who have gone before you to get the most reliable information.

Getting Around Kenya

By Air

There are several small airline companies that offer domestic flights as well as the national airline, Kenya Airways. Destinations include: Amboseli, Kisumu, Lamu, Malindi, Masai Mara, Mombasa, Nanyuki, Nyeri, and Samburu. The smaller domestic airlines (Eagle Aviation, Air Kenya, African Express Airways) operate out of Nairobi's Wilson Airport. Some routes get booked up quickly, especially to the coast, so book at least a few weeks in advance.

By Train

The most popular train route is from Nairobi to Mombasa. When I took this train as a young girl I was impressed with the real silver service and fantastic views of the Tsavo while eating breakfast.

By Bus

Buses are numerous and often very full. Most of the buses are privately owned and there are some good express buses between the major cities and towns. Nairobi is the main hub.

By Taxi, Matatu, Tuk-Tuk and Boda boda

Taxi's are numerous in the main cities and towns. Agree on the price before you get in since the meters are unlikely to work (if they have a meter to begin with). Matatus are mini-buses that operate on set routes and passengers embark and disembark at whatever point they choose. Often colorful to look at but overcrowded and a little dangerous due to the drivers' love for speed. Tuk-Tuks are also popular in Nairobi and are cheaper than taxi's. Tuk-Tuks are small three-wheeler vehicles, very popular in South and Southeast Asia. Try one, they're fun. And finally, you can also hit the streets of many towns and villages on a [link urlhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boda-boda]Boda-boda, a bicycle taxi.

By Car

Renting a car in Kenya gives you a little more independence and flexibility than joining a tour group. There are several car rental agencies in the major cities including Avis, Hertz, and many safari companies also rent 4WD vehicles. Rates vary from around USD50 to USD100 per day, there are also several car rental web sites offering discounts.

Driving is on the left side of the road and you'll most likely need an international driving license as well as a major credit card to rent a car. Driving at night is not advised. Here are some Kenya driving distances so you get an idea of how long it takes to get from A to B.

By Boat

Ferries regularly ply Lake Victoria, Africa's biggest lake. You can head to some picturesque bays south of Kisumu, Kenya's biggest town on the lake. Travel between Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania which also border the lake, is no longer possible at the time of writing. Ferries are comfortable and cheap.

Dhows are beautiful traditional sailing boats that the Arabs introduced to Kenya's Indian ocean coast more than 500 years ago. You can rent a dhow for an evening or several days from various companies in Lamu, Malindi and Mombasa.

Kenya Travel Tips

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