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Frequently Asked Questions - Kenya FAQ's
Kenya’s unit of currency is the Kenya Shilling, divided into 100 Cents. Twenty-Shilling notes are sometimes referred to as the “Kenya Pound”. US Dollars are more readily accepted here than travelers' checks, though major brands of checks are negotiable in city shops and hotels. (Smaller denominations are preferred.) Major credit cards are generally accepted by merchants in the stores of Nairobi and other major cities, though they are useless in street markets and can't be used to obtain cash advances. A few large urban shops will accept personal checks. ATM access is available in larger city centers like Nairobi, but less frequent in remote areas. Click here for the current exchange rate of Kenya Shillings.
Visa credit cards are accepted at many of the lodges and major stores, but the machines sometimes don't work or there are power shortages so it is always best to make sure you have some cash with you. Your credit card can be your financial emergency kit.
Many shops etc. don’t have automatic dial-up systems for credit card transactions yet. They use manual systems that are more open for fraud. While there are no reports of massive credit card fraud, it may be wise to use your credit card only with more up-market places.
While the northern part of the country has no network access, the southern part has good network access. This goes especially for the wide areas around Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa, and as well for the whole coast region, the popular safari parks and the long road between Nairobi and Mombasa.
However, cell phone users from America may have a problem because the country adopted a different network system than (most of) the rest of the world. Kenya, uses the GSM 900 system while the USA has the 850/1900 system. Your cell phone has to be compatible with the GSM 900 system. Only some North American tri-band or quad-band phones will work in Kenya. Check with your service provider or cell phone dealer if you are in doubt. It is possible to rent a phone from your service provider. Under any circumstances, cell phone reception in East Africa can be inconsistent at best.
Travelers to Kenya should obtain medical insurance prior to arrival. Neither the United Nations nor the Government of Kenya will assume responsibility for any medical costs incurred by visitors.
There are many highly qualified doctors, surgeons and dentists in Nairobi and Mombasa. Lodges and hotels in the game reserves usually have resident medical staff. Most lodges also have radio or telephone contact with the Flying Doctors Service in Nairobi.
Where: City centre, Nairobi Hill
Tel.: +254 (0)20 272 2160
Aga Khan Hospital
Tel.: +254 (0)20 374 0000
M.P. Shah Hospital
Tel.: +254 (0)20 374 2763
No. Do not use tap water for drinking or brushing teeth. Even “purified” water in open containers should be avoided. It is always preferable and safer to use only bottled water.
Regardless of precautions, changes in water and diet can result in mild abdominal upsets and nausea. To prevent serious illness, avoid suspect foods such as uncooked vegetables, peeled fruit, un-pasteurized milk and milk products. Beware of any food or drink sold by street vendors.
The supply is generally 220-240 v and 50 Hz. Plugs (type G) have three rectangular prongs that form a triangle.
While cell phones, cameras and laptop computers typically do not require a voltage converter, other small electronic devices/appliances may. Voltage converters and adaptor plugs may be purchased at most retail luggage stores. Electricity at some lodges is turned off for the night at 10 or 11 pm, bring a flashlight and remember to pack some extra batteries.
Government working hours:
8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., Monday to Friday with a one-hour lunch break.
Private-sector working hours: 8.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., Monday to Friday, with a one-hour lunch break. Most private-sector organizations also work half days on Saturday.
Banking hours: 9.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m., Monday to Friday, and 9.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. on the first and last Saturday of the month for most banks.
Shopping hours: Most shops are open from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. on weekdays. Some are also open during weekends from 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Most shopping malls stay open until around 8 p.m while others operate 24-hours
New Year’s Day is on Sunday, January 01, 2012
Good Friday is on Friday, April 06, 2012
Easter Monday is on Monday, April 09, 2012
Labour Day is on Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) will double the amount air passengers pay to access its facilities starting in July, 2012.
Finance Minister, Robinson Githae, has approved the doubling of international departure charges from US$20 (R156) to US$40 (R312). Domestic departures will cost 500 Kenya Shillings (R47), up from the current 300 Kenya Shillings per sector flown.
Most Kenyans in the travel industry are paid very low wages and rely heavily on tips. Tipping is down to individuals as you tip according to the service you get but a rough guide is as follows:
Baggage porters: kshs 50- 100
Airport Transfer Driver: Kshs 100
Bar staff: kshs 20-30 per round of drinks
Food Waiter: kshs 50 - 100
Safari Guide: kshs 500 per person per day
Room Staff: kshs 50 per day
Before visiting Kenya, you may need to get vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases you might be at risk for at your destination. (Note: Your doctor or health-care provider will determine what you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities.) Go to the CDC website and share their current information with your doctor or travel clinic, at least 4 - 6 weeks prior to your trip: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/kenya.htm
Comfortable and casual clothing in natural, "breathable" fabrics. Choose versatile styles that can be layered—temperatures may vary considerably in the course of the day. For game viewing, wear neutral colors (though not camouflage, which is illegal in game parks and reserves). Bright colors or whites can startle animals into hiding, and black, navy or other dark colors tend to attract insects.
Comfortable walking shoes with low or no heels and textured soles. Heavy boots are not necessary for vehicle-based safaris.
A pair of rubber beach sandals to use as slippers.
Some hotels and lodges have pools, so you may wish to pack your swimming suit.
The US Department of State issues Consular Information Sheets for every country in the world. They list important information about each country, including currency regulations and the location of US embassies and consulates abroad. You can consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheets and obtain the most recent Public Announcements and/or Travel Warnings available via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. American citizens may obtain up to date information on security conditions by calling toll-free 1-888-407-4747 in the United States, or 1-202-501-4444 from overseas.