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What to know before travelling to Kenya?

What to know before travelling to Kenya
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What to know before travelling to Kenya

Planning a trip to Kenya? Whether it’s to watch wildlife in their natural habitat, to experience Kenya’s vibrant culture, or for the breathtaking landscapes, your visit is bound to be unforgettable. However there are certain things you must know and do before travelling to this beautiful African gem. Let’s dive right in.

1. Learn Basic Swahili Phrases

What to know before travelling to Kenya

Everyone knows “Jambo” but here’s a secret, no one in Kenya uses the term anymore. The better greeting would be “habari yako” which translates to How are you? You could still say “Hujambo” which is what Kenyans use. The basic phrases for thank you are “asante” and “welcome “karibu”. Learning these Swahili phrases is one of the best ways to ensure your trip will turn out great. No Kenyan expects you to be fluent in Swahili but your effort to learn the greetings will endear you to many.

2. Pack Light, but Smart

What to know before travelling to Kenya

This is an evergreen travel advice. Always pack light. If you need anything, I promise Kenya’s vast shopping areas will be there for you. Kenya is also a tropical country therefore the weather is warm most of the year except for the short rainy seasons. Don’t forget sunscreen, insect repellent, and walking shoes for hikes and guided safari walks.

3. Stay Hydrated

A safari excursion will expose you to the sun a lot and with Kenya’s hot and dry climate, you will be dehydrated. So, make sure you carry a reusable water bottle everywhere with you.

4. Sample the Local Cuisine

Is your trip to Kenya complete if you don’t taste ugali (maize meal), githeri (maize and beans), nyama choma (grilled meat), pilau (rice and meat dish), and samosas among Kenyan dishes? Don’t miss out on the delicious culinary offerings from local eateries and street vendors.

5. Get Your Visa in Advance

What to know before travelling to Kenya
Apply for your visa in time

Recently Kenya made some changes to its visa applications and put in place an electronic pass that has similar traits as a visa to apply for one beforehand. Check all the details regarding the visa requirements of your country in Kenya. Register with ecitizen and apply for visa directly. You don’t want any surprises at the airport so it is advisable to obtain your visa before arrival. 

6. Board a Matatu

Ranging from orderly buses to chaotic minivans, matatus are Kenya’s public transport. They are very cheap and will help you save some money, unlike taxis. Some tourists get scared due to the chaotic nature of some but if you are up for an adventure, make sure you try it.

7. Protect Your Electronics

As with any travel destination, protect your electronics. Pack surge protectors and voltage converters. Remember to also bring portable chargers for all your devices when you embark on your outdoor activities.

8. Respect Wildlife

You will be meeting wildlife in their natural habitat, unlike zoos. Be careful and follow the instructions of your guide. Don’t stay too close, avoid loud noises, and don’t make sudden movements that may startle the wild animals.

9. Negotiate Prices

Bargaining is common and acceptable in Kenya. So, if you are on a budget, bargain. However, if you can afford it, pay the asking price, especially with local and street vendors. This helps grow the local economy and ensures your visit has a positive local impact.  As you bargain, be polite. Kenyans value respectfulness above all else.

10. Practice Responsible Tourism

What to know before travelling to Kenya
Practise responsible tourism and support local causes

Support a local business, contribute to communities you meet, and adhere to sustainable travel practices on your visit to Kenya. The ecosystems you will be visiting while on safari are delicate and many efforts have been made to ensure the wildlife enjoys a natural habit undisturbed by human encroachment. Make your mark by being conscious of this ecosystem while on your travels.

And there you have it. Our 10 hacks to help you navigate Kenya better. We believe it will allow you to appreciate the rich culture and diverse landscapes Kenya has to offer. Do you travel often? If you do, what’s your cardinal travel hack?

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