Practical Information about Kenya
Practical Information: Kenya
Below you will find all the information you need regarding practical issues while in Kenya. Can't find what you're looking for? Check out our FAQ page or our trip prepartion page. We are always available to answer your questions.
How do I obtain a Visa to Visit Kenya?
A visa is required for entry into Kenya and the Government of Kenya has rolled out an online visa application portal to allow visitors to apply and pay for visas online before they travel to Kenya (using Internet Explorer may cause problems when making the application, much better to ensure you apply on Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome).
NB: Due to some technical problems with the e-Visa application website you can still get a visa on arrival in Kenya (this still applied as of the 12/10/2020 - check with us if you are not sure).
Visitors to Kenya are advised to register their application well in advance of travel as approvals may take up to seven days to process. The current fee is US $51 (or equivalent), using Visa or Mastercard debit cards. Credit cards are also acceptable for payment but an additional 3% fee applies.
When making the application you will need to have your passport to hand, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months and use the following information for your address / accommodation in Kenya;
Reason for Travel: Tourism
Host in Kenya: Select 'Firm'
Physical Address: Adventure Alternative Kenya, PO Box 9388, 00200 City Square, Nairobi
You will also need to upload the following documents so have these ready when you are making the application;
- Passport sized photo (no bigger than 500 x 500 pixels)
- Photo or scan of passport front cover page
- Photo or scan of your passport's bio-data page
- Hotel Reservations (this can be your AA invoice - no need to list every single hotel you're staying in each night)
- Return Ticket
Kenya Visa - Application process
- Click on e-Visa link
- Select e-Visa and create an account
- Verify your email address (link will be sent to the email address you used to create account)
- Answer all the questions and upload all documents required
- Review and complete application
- Pay securely using Visa Card, Mastercard and other debit cards.
- Await approval via email, then download and print the e-Visa from your account (in our experience they don't always email even when the visa is approved so always worth logging in to your e-Visa account to check, particularly if it has been more than a week since you submitted the application).
- Present your printed eVisa to the immigration officer at the port of entry.
NB: You must carry a printed copy of your e-Visa to Kenya, failure to bring a hard copy will result in you having to pay for another Visa on arrival, immigration in Kenya has no way of checking online and will not accept a screenshot on your phone as proof.
Where do I Arrive When Visiting Kenya?
Most travellers arrive in Kenya via Nairobi to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO). There are plenty of international flights available. If you are making plans to stay on the coast, then the Moi International Airport (MBA) in Mombasa may be a better option. In order to enter Kenya, you will need a visa. If you were unable to obtain a visa prior to arrival in Kenya, there is still an opportunity to get a visa on arrival.
Will I Be Able to Contact Home While I Am Away?
Kenya time is GMT/UTC plus 3 hours. Kenya’s country code is +254. For making calls back home, international rates can be quite expensive, be sure to check with your mobile network prior to visiting Kenya. Alternatively, you can buy a local sim card in Kenya and top up manually (top up vouchers for all the main Kenyan networks are widely available across Kenya). If you plan on getting a local sim card then ensure your phone is unlocked to all networks. Kenya has a wide coverage of cell service and cellular phones are used throughout the country.
Consider downloading WhatsApp, a free internet-based texting and calling service to keep in touch with loved ones. Kenya was one of the first countries in Africa to offer reasonably priced Wi-Fi hot spots. Some hotels and lodges will offer Wi-Fi too, however the speeds can be slow.
Please keep in mind we cannot guarantee cellular service or Wi-Fi. Be prepared to lose coverage in rural areas.
What Vaccinations Do I Need?
We advise that you schedule an appointment with your doctor, or a travel-specific doctor prior to coming to Kenya to discuss your health needs. Vaccination recommendations may differ depending on where you are travelling, where you have travelled previously, and your current health.
Malaria is often a concern for people travelling to Kenya. Although we cannot replace a visit with your doctor, we do have some valuable information on malaria. Please do visit with your doctor to decide what prevention method would be best for you.
Do plan on bringing any prescriptions you may require during your stay. Medication is available in larger cities and towns in Kenya, however we suggest you bring some basics from home.
What is the Quality of Medical Facilities in Kenya?
Medical facilities vary widely in Kenya. There are good hospitals in all larger towns and cities. To avoid common problems like upset stomachs, fevers, etc we recommend washing your hands before meals, protect exposed skin from bug bites (particularly in the evenings), avoid petting dogs, sleep under mosquito nets, keep as clean as is possible and avoid eating in dirty cafes and restaurants.
Although we do not anticipate any problems during your time in Kenya, accidents can happen. We require that you carry traveller's insurance. Please be sure that you are covered for the activity you will be doing. For more information see our Travel Insurance page.
Will I have Access to an ATM in Kenya?
Cash withdrawal from ATMS are available in most major towns and all major cities in Kenya. Most ATMS allow a max withdrawal of KES 40,000 per day.
A lot of ATMs are manned with security, but do take care of your money when at the ATM. If you arrive in Kenya with cash (Sterling, Euro's US Dollars, etc) then you can exchange cash at a Forex exchange (you'll only find Forex exchanges in the larger cities - Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu).
What Can I Expect from Toilet Facilities?
Toilet facilities vary vastly depending on your location in Kenya. Hotels will have normal toilet facilities, however, in more rural areas the toilet facilities may or may not be plumbed. Expect toilets on treks and climbs to be in wooden huts with a long drop and a slat in the floor to do your business. Often these facilities smell badly and are dirty, so be prepared. It is always advisable to carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer. At night, be sure to bring a light.
What is the Water Quality in Kenya?
The tap water in Kenya is unfit for human consumption. We advise that you properly sterilize water prior to drinking. There are several methods you can employ. You can bring your own wild camping (backcountry) filter, use a SteriPen, or use iodine tablets. A SteriPen uses a UV light to kill any viruses or bacteria that live in the water. It is only good for water that isn’t dirty or cloudy. A backcountry filter will treat any type of water, but be sure to bring a way to backwash or clean the filter should you be in country for a long time. Iodine and chlorine tablets are also a suitable method; however, it should be noted that they will affect the taste of the water. We advise that you always bring two methods of purifying water, so you have a backup should one method fail.
Here at Adventure Alternative we do not condone the use of disposable plastic bottles. Using these bottles puts a huge strain on the environment. Kenya does not have the necessary infrastructure to dispose of these bottles. Therefore, they end up as litter or worse, are burned. If you are on an organised trip then we generally provide bottled water from larger re-usable bottles so ensure you have your own water-bottle with you.
What sort of parasites do I need to avoid?
All freshwater in southern and sub-Saharan Africa–including the great lakes and rivers as well as smaller bodies of water–is considered to be at risk for schistosomiasis (a disease caused by parasitic worms’ transmission).
Infection occurs when skin comes in contact with contaminated freshwater in which certain types of snails that carry schistosomes are living.
Schistosoma parasites can penetrate the skin of persons who are wading, swimming, bathing, or washing in contaminated water. Within several weeks, worms grow inside the blood vessels of the body and produce eggs. Some of these eggs travel to the bladder or intestines and are passed into the urine or stool.
Occasionally, eggs may be deposited in the brain or spinal cord, leading to seizures or paralysis. More than 200 million people are infected worldwide.
If skin comes in contact with freshwater from canals, rivers, streams, or lakes, there is a risk of getting schistosomiasis.
No vaccine is available.
No drugs for preventing infection are available.
Untreated piped water coming directly from freshwater sources may contain cercariae larvae.
- Better not to swim in freshwater lakes in Southern African countries.
- Drink safe water. Because there is no way to make sure that water coming directly from canals, lakes, rivers, streams or springs is safe, you should either boil water for 1 minute or filter water before drinking it. Boiling water for at least 1 minute will kill any harmful parasites, bacteria, or viruses present.
- Brush your teeth with clean water.
- If you wear gas-permeable contacts use only clean water or saline solution to rinse them.
What is the Risk of HIV AIDS?
Both men and women can become infected and can give the virus to someone else. HIV is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood and sexual contact with someone who is infected with HIV. Also, an HIV-infected woman can pass the virus to her baby during pregnancy or during birth as well as through breastfeeding.
Many persons may be infected and be unaware of their status. Therefore, if you engage in sexual contact, you may be unknowingly at risk from an infected sex partner. Assess and take ownership of your personal behaviours; do not choose high-risk behaviours,
HIV can NOT be spread in the following ways:
× Shaking hands, hugging, or casual kissing
× Coughs or sneezes, sweat or tears
× Mosquitoes, toilet seats, door knob, drinking fountains
× Eating food prepared or handled by an infected person
× Everyday contact with HIV-infected persons at school, work, home or anywhere else.
- Abstinence is the only certain choice for preventing infection with HIV
- Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that might expose you to risk of infection.
- All medical students working in high risk areas should wear appropriate equipment at all times, gloves, aprons and take the appropriate universal precautions at all times.
- Should an incident occur in which you suspect you were exposed to HIV, you should immediately seek immediate medical assistance, do not delay as the first 72 hours are critical.