Practical information Kenya

  • Kenya, / 1001slide
  • Kenya
    Nudda Chollamark / 123RF
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Kenya
Kenya : the key figures

Area : 224080.0 km2

Population : 39002772 inhabitants

Kenya : Travel Information before you go!


Nairobi: the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is 11 mi southeast of the city. Taxis are the best way to get here: it should cost some 7 for a 20-30 min journey. Some of the hotels provide a shuttle. Opt for holiday packages that include airport/hotel transfers.
Mombasa: Moi International Airport is 9 mi north of the city centre. The fastest way to reach it is by taxi. The trip takes about 20 min and will cost around 9.


FCO UPDATE:Since the major attack on the Westgate shopping centre on 21 September, forensic operations are ongoing and armed security forces remain on the scene. Avoid the cordoned area around the shopping centre.
There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping. Attacks have previously occurred in Nairobi (especially the area of Eastleigh), Coast Province including Mombasa, and North Eastern Province. Further attacks are likely. Localised violence occurs but is not usually directed towards foreigners.
The larger cities are often subject to violent crime including mugging, armed robbery and carjacking.

The FCO advises against all but essential travel to areas within 37 miles of the Kenya-Somali border; to Kiwayu and coastal areas north of Pate Island; to Garissa District; to the Eastleigh area of Nairobi; and to low income areas of Nairobi, including all township or slum areas.
Avoid large public demonstrations and crowded areas.

>Aggression and crime: generally speaking, tourists are more often the target of theft than aggression. Where possibile, keep valuables in hotels safes. Avoid deserted neighbourhoods, beaches, and dark streets at night, especially in Nairobi (and particularly in the Eastleigh district), Kisumu and Mombasa.
Beware of individuals feigning to be students, police officers, hotel employees or government representative - some might be swindlers (ask for their ID or business card).

For the latest developments, see the FCO Travel Advice section for Kenya.

Wildlife danger: the wildlife in the reserves represents little danger since visitors are surrounded by professional staff. On the coast, the coral reef creates a barrier that protects bathers from potential shark attacks. However, you are advised to wear light shoes to protect your feet from the stonefish and the dragonfish in the corals, whose poison can be deadly.
For updated information on tourism, the condition of the roads, and assistance in emergencies, contact the Kenya Tourist Board.


Among the languages spoken in Kenya are English and Swahili (official) as well as several local dialects.

Required travel documents for

A visa is required to enter Kenya (about USD25), this can be issued at the Kenyan embassy or bought on arrival at Nairobi airport however it is strongly recommended you purchase one before arrival (especially if you are transferring to another flight). Your passport must be valid for six months after your return date and you may be asked to show proof of onward travel.

The Kenyan Foreign Office has updated the requirements for children's visas. All visas for children under the age of 16 will be free from February 2016.


38% Protestant, 28% Roman Catholic, 26% local religions, 7% Muslim and 1% other religions


The Kenyan currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KES). The exchange rate varies depending on the location, but 1 Sterling = approximately 116 KES.

You can exchange currency in most banks (which are generally open from Monday to Friday, from 9:00am to 2:00pm) and there are also ATM machines which accept international cards (MasterCard, Visa, etc) in Mombasa and Nairobi.

Local transportation

Train: Two train lines exist from Nairobi to Mombasa and Kisumu. While the train is very cheap, it's also slow and old and can be subject to significant delays.

Coach: Coaches are the most economical means of travelling in Kenya, but they are the least comfortable due to overcrowding.

Plane: Kenya Airways regularly flies to Mombasa, Malindi and Kisumu. As the reserves are accessible by plane, there are several smaller airlines flying at regular hours or private planes for hire, taking off at Wilson airport in Nairobi.

Vehicle: It is quite easy to hire cars (including chauffeur-driven cars) from hire companies in Nairobi or Mombasa. In Kenya, you drive on the left, as in the UK and you must have an international driving licence. Watch out for the curious driving habits of some Kenyan drivers, they can often be unpredictable and at the wheel of a car in a very poor state.


No particular vaccine is required. However, it is strongly recommended that you are vaccinated against yelllow fever, hepatitis A and B, and meningitis.

An anti-malaria treatment is also highly recommended.

Always drink mineral water or at least water that has been boiled. Avoid eating raw vegetables, or unwashed fruit & veg and do not put ice cubes in your drinks. Avoid swimming in the local lakes or rivers.

Don't be complacent about the threat of AIDS and be aware that 1 in 7 Kenyans is HIV-positive. Condoms are widely available in pharmacies and supermarkets.

Useful numbers
Flying doctors: 254 (2) 50 13 01/50 05 08.
Nairobi Hospital: 254 (2) 72 21 60.


Voltage is 220-240V (three-pin plugs) so an adaptor is needed.

Tourist numbers

Tourism is booming in Kenya and it is always been a popular destination with British tourists. The Italians and Germans are also present. The country welcomed 953,000 tourists in 2009.

Taxes and tips

As in many other countries, it is customary to leave a gratuity of around 10% when eating out if service is not included in your bill.

When on safari tours, tipping is of your own initiative, depending on the professionalism of your guide. As a general rule, allow 2 per person per day for this, and don't forget the porter either, if there is one - around 80p a day is the rule of thumb. Of course, these amounts are only given as a rough guide.

Be aware that anyone entering a park or nature reserve will be required to pay an entrance fee, and unless you are travelling with a tour operator (in which case all extra costs will generally be factored into the price of your stay) you will need to allow for this additional expense. The tourist tax can vary from one place to another.


To call Kenya from the UK: Dial 00 254 + the area code (Nairobi: 2, Mombasa: 11) + the number you are trying to reach.
From Kenya to the UK: 00 + 44 + the number you are trying to reach without the initial zero.

Kenya : Useful addresses in the country

Before leaving

Kenyan High Commission
45 Portland Place, Lonon W1B 1AS.
Telephone: (020) 7636 2371.

Kenya Tourist Board
c/o Hills Balfour Synergy, Colechurch House, 1 London Bridge Walk
London SE1 2SX
(020) 7367 0931

At the destination

British High Commission
Upper Hill Road
PO Box 30465
Nairobi 00100

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