Many people have ‘take a safari’ on their bucket list, and what better way to tick off that dream than with a trip to Kenya?
Indeed, this East African country is home to one of the world’s best safari reserves, but that’s not all — the capital, Nairobi, is a bustling metropolis full of chic restaurants and stores, while the country’s coastline is famed for its peaceful and scenic beaches.
Although Kenya is a dream destination for many travelers, it can be daunting trying to figure out how to visit — until now!
This practical guide will go through some of the most important precautions and travel tips, including the best time to visit, which travel documents you need (don’t forget to fill out that Kenya visa application), and much more.
Visa to Kenya
One of the first things that you’ll need in order to visit Kenya is a travel authorization. This comes in a few different forms, including the Kenya electronic visa (eVisa) or a traditional visa.
The good news is that more than 160 countries are eligible to apply for the streamlined Kenya eVisa. This includes citizens from countries in the European Union as well as the United States, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan, China, and India, among others.
Likewise, there are 40 countries that do not need a visa to enter Kenya for up to 90 days. These are mostly African countries (such as Botswana, Ethiopia, Gambia, Rwanda, South Africa, and Zimbabwe) as well as a handful of other countries like the Bahamas, Cyprus, Fiji, and Singapore.
Best of all, applying for the Kenyan eVisa is very quick and simple. The whole process is done entirely online and only takes about 15 minutes to go through all the questions.
Applicants will need to answer a few questions regarding themselves, including their full name, contact information, and passport data (serial number, date of issue and expiration, and nationality).
The next part will ask applicants about their travel plans while in Kenya, including their hotel or accommodation reservation(s) and a basic travel itinerary of places they wish to visit while on holiday.
The final step is to upload a scanned color copy of the applicant’s biographical page and a passport-style photograph. The photo should be recent (taken within the last 6 months) and against a white background.
After the entire process is complete, applicants will need to pay a processing fee in order to submit their applications. The processing time for a Kenyan eVisa is usually a few business days, and the approved eVisa is sent directly to the applicant’s email inbox.
General Travel Tips & Precautions
Once your travel documents are all set, it’s time for the fun part: traveling to Kenya! By keeping the following travel tips in mind, you can enjoy a fun and safe holiday.
First off, traveling and making friends in Kenya will be quite easy since the country has two official languages: English and Swahili. The majority of locals speak some English, especially in touristy areas.
Likewise, although the official currency of Kenya is the shilling (abbreviated to KES), many establishments will accept US dollars that are newer than 2006. This is especially important to keep in mind, as the country isn’t entirely card-friendly — and many places outside of the capital are cash only.
If you’re flexible on timing, then be sure to reserve your Kenyan holiday for sometime between July to October. This three-month period is the best time to visit Kenya, as it’s the dry season and time for the annual migration (a must-see while on safari!)
Those looking to enjoy the sunny weather and warm sandy beaches should opt for a trip during the summer, which runs from December to March.
Travelers who are planning a once-in-a-lifetime safari trip in Kenya should take a few extra precautions.
While it’s entirely doable to rent a car and drive through reserves on your own, it’s a much better idea to hire a local guide (especially if it’s your first safari). Besides helping out the local economy, safari guides have a wealth of knowledge and can make the experience much more interesting.
While packing your luggage, make sure to have plenty of loose, breathable clothing that’s ideally made from cotton or other light materials. Likewise, don’t pack anything super fancy, as the dirt and wind will make it dusty very quickly!
Travelers who are planning a multiple-day safari trip should consider using a soft-sided travel bag instead of a hard suitcase. These are much lighter and flexible, while hard-shell luggage may not be allowed on small planes or jeeps.
Last but not least, don’t forget the mosquito repellant, a bag of drinking water and snacks, and motion sickness pills (as the road can be quite bumpy).