Kenya tour and vacation travel: Your Ultimate tourist Guide
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is approximately half an hour’s drive from Nairobi City centre. Taxis are readily available but establish the fare before getting into the vehicle as there are many drivers who will approach you for business. The JKI Airport is a busy hub for both the Kenyan tour and vacation travel and the East and horn of Africa region.
The state-controlled Kenatco taxis work on a fixed rate using reliable and clean vehicles. Other taxis tend to vary: some appear to be old wrecks and as they do not come under the control of the municipal councils, you may find they are not insured. Always check first. Most Kenya tourist hotels have their own minibus transport for your Kenyan tour, which can be arranged through reception.
The new Moi International Airport on the Kenya coast is approximately 10 minutes from the city centre, although most of the Kenya tourist hotels are situated to the north and south coastal regions. Allow an extra half-an-hour to your journey to the south coast because of the Likoni ferry crossing. The traffic Jam at the ferry has been a pain to many travelers on their Kenyan tour, especially during departures. Most visitors on their Kenyan beach vacation prefer to arrive and depart from Moi International airport.
Important airport fees
For international departures there is an airport tax to pay of and Kshs 200 for internal flights which is normally included in the price of your ticket. This is mandatory for either Kenya vacation and business travelers.
Kenya Car hire company
Most international car hire companies are represented in Kenya in addition to some of the enterprising locals. Some rates may vary on a daily or weekly basis depending on type of vehicle ranging from four wheel drives to small saloons. Vehicles travel on the left-hand side of the road-and most cars are right-hand drive. A current driving license with photograph is accepted for up to three month’s stay. Self-driven Four wheel cars are also on hire for the do-it –yourselfer Kenyan beach, wildlife or safari vacationer.
Public transport in Kenya
City buses operate in Nairobi and Mombasa at reasonably low rates. However, avoid peak hours as most transport is crammed full. Fares are paid to the conductor.
Trains transport in Kenya
There is a rail service from Nairobi to Mombasa and Kisumu where first and second class accommodation is available. The train is especially a favourite of the 6-14 day Kenyan vacationer who wants to sample a lot of the country offering.
Kenya Communications and Postal Services
Post offices are identified by the words posta Kenya and mail posting boxes are red. Usually you can buy stamps at post offices, stationers, souvenir shops and hotels. Post office hours of business are from 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday and from 9am until 12noon on Saturday at main post offices.
Telephone services in Kenya
Telkom Kenya provides advanced telecommunication services that include voice data, internet,
and multi media, whilst cellular mobile services are provided by Safaricom (0720/0721/0722/0723) and Kencell communications (0733,0734).
Faxes, telexes and emails can be sent from your hotel via the operator. International calls can sometimes be dialed direct or operator assisted by dialing 0195 or 0196. Telkom Kenya also runs a few international public assisted call offices in selected areas in major towns.
Public payphones are fully automated. Simply pick up the handset and follow the digitalized prompts on the screen to make your call. Card and coin phones are available. Phone cards of different denominations may be bought from Post Offices or international call offices in major town. You can also make use of hotel phones but the charges are usually 100% more. Local dialed calls cost a minimum of Kshs 5, so have plenty of change on your Kenyan vacation travel.
As from 4th July 2003, all Nairobi area codes changed so check if the number you are calling is still operational.
Kenya’s unit of currency is the shilling (Sh/s) (slang: Bob), written 1/-, 2/50 etc. Divided into 100 cents (c). There are copper coins of 50 c and 1/- and silver and copper coins of 5/-, 10/-, 20/- and 40/-. Bank notes are available in denominations of 5/-, 10/-, 20/-, 50/-, 100/-, 200/-, and 1000/-.
There are no restrictions on the movement of currency into or out of Kenya for currency transactions.
Banks in Nairobi and other large towns open from 9am-3pm Monday to Friday and 9am-11a on the first and last Saturday of each month. 24 hr access to your account can be facilitated by ATMs country wide.
Banks in Mombasa and the coastal areas, open and close half an hour earlier. Some banks at the international airports open round the clock every day as do the new foreign exchange bureaux. This is to ensure that the Kenya Traveler accesses currency at point of arrival.
Credit cards accepted in Kenya
All the major international credit cards are accepted in Kenya and most ATMs can accept any international VISA and MASTERCARD credit cards.
Standard chartered bank’s computer network allows access to over 60 ‘Moneylink’ ATMs situated at all its branches, major shopping malls, gas stations and other strategic locations countrywide. Holders of VISA cards can also link up to their home bank or credit card account through money link ATMs around the clock.
KCB have 55 visa and visa electron compliant ATMs available 24 hrs nationwide accepting international credit cards.
Travelers’ cheques in Kenya are also readily recognizable and accepted at most places.
All regions in Kenya are supplied with 240 volts AC. Some safari, wildlife and beach lodges have independent power generators which may carry. The plug in use through out Kenya is of the three square pin, 13amp type.
Security in Kenya
As in other countries, it is always advisable for a traveler to hand in their passport, traveler’s cheques, excess money and any other valuables at hotel reception desks for placing in their safe for security. Alternatively, where available, you will find a safety deposit box in your hotel room.
It is a sensible precaution not to walk alone in isolated towns or beach areas, particularly after dark. Ask for advice from your hotel manager or tour representative if you are with a package holiday company.
Kenya Hotels Bill payment
Most Kenyan hotels expect vacation and business travelers to pay in convertible foreign currency such as US dollars. However, in some Kenyan tour lodges and hotels, tourists may have the option to pay in Kenya Shillings or credit card if this method is preferred.
Tipping is not mandatory but not forbidden as in some other African countries. Tipping is entirely at your discretion and most hotels and restaurants include a 10% service charge to the bill.
Clean safe Water
Nairobi and Mombasa hotels are virtually 100% safe for drinking water for Kenyan vacationers. However, if in doubt, a variety of bottled water is available in most places. Most isolated lodges keep filtered water in jars or flasks which is a direct warning that tap water is not safe, even for brushing teeth.
Shortage of water due to inadequate rainfall means that you should ensure that you try and conserve water as much as possible. Responsible travel calls for sustainable and conservative use of water and energy resources in your Kenyan tour.
Kenyan Visa requirements
Most incoming Kenya tourists whether for business or pleasure, now require a visa irrespective of nationality. Multiple and single entry visas are available. The single entry fee is US$ 50 (Correct at time of writing this article) or the equivalent in local currency and can be obtained upon arrival at the airport.
Visa applications can be made at any Kenya High Commission or Embassy prior to traveling. For more information contact your nearest Kenya High Commission or Kenya Embassy. Alternatively Visit Landmark Safaris website: http://www.landmarksafaris.com
About the Author: Robert is a tour consultant in Kenya and has planned business and vacation safaris for over 10,000 tourists in the East African region. He is a tour operation- major and involved in National tourism policy development in Kenya.
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