Trip to Kenya

How we went to Kenya for 335 thousand rubles

This text was written by a reader in the T-G Community. Carefully edited and formatted to editorial standards.

I adore wildlife and protest circuses and zoos, so it was my dream to visit one of Africa’s national parks to see elephants, lions, buffalos and the rest of the savannah inhabitants.

I nurtured the idea of going to Kenya for about a year. Stopped by the lack of sufficient information about the resorts, safety in the country, the epidemiological situation. After reading and reviewing everything about it that came across my eyes, I decided: Kenya is better to see once.

My husband and I always travel independently. Kenya was no exception. We left on December 20, 2019, welcomed the new year, 2020, and returned on January 5. The trip lasted 16 days.

Itinerary

Briefly our program looked like this:

  1. A visit to the Maasai Mara National Park.
  2. A visit to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Foundation in the capital, Nairobi.
  3. Vacation at beach resorts: Malindi, Mombasa, and Diani Beach.

Visa and Vaccinations

Visas can be arranged at the airport or online. We made it online ecitizen.go.ke. It costs $ 51 (P 3,774) per person, it was issued 5 days after the application. The document must be printed out and presented at the passport control at the entrance to the country. I advise to apply for the visa well in advance: at the airport we saw a long line of tourists waiting to get it.

Vaccinations are not required to enter Kenya, but it is recommended to be vaccinated against yellow fever. Despite the fact that there have been no cases of the disease in the country for over 10 years, we still decided to get vaccinated. We received an international certificate, which is valid for life, and now we can enter exotic countries, such as Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Where to vacation abroad in 2022?

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Flight

We live in Yekaterinburg, so I was looking for a flight with a comfortable connection and minimum change. Our final choice was Ekaterinburg – Dubai – Nairobi with a four-hour stopover. The trip to Nairobi took 16 hours, which was an easy option for us.

We paid 96,984 P for the tickets to Nairobi and back with luggage and meals. We flew with Flydubai and Kenya Airways.

Accommodation

I booked hotels, villas, and apartments on the well-known services Airbnb and Bucking. For New Year’s Eve I chose a decent hotel Lotfa Resort Diani, within walking distance of the coast, and I was right. For the days after the safari, we booked the cool Lion House villa in Malindi because we realized we would be tired after such an adventure. It exceeded all expectations.

Lodging expenses for two people for two weeks – 59,370 P

Where we stayed For how long Cost
Hotel in Nairobi 1 night 3200 Р
Villa in Malindi 2 days 8635 Р
Apartments without air conditioning in Mombasa 5 days 10 082 Р
Bed and Breakfast in Diani Beach 5 days 37 453 Р

In Mombasa, we decided to take an easier accommodation – Zuri Studio Nyali Mombasa apartments, as we planned to sleep and bathe there only. That’s how it turned out. We suffered a lot the first two nights without air conditioning, but then we got used to it, and the shower with only cold water was not a problem. And the girl with whom we rented an apartment, made our vacation unforgettable: showed the best bars, took us to local discos, told us what to see and where to eat. We are still in touch.

Transportation

To get from Nairobi to the coast, I chose a flight, which was not the most budget-friendly option. Since I planned to visit three resorts, I took a flight to Malindi Airport and back to the capital from Mombasa Airport.

We bought our first tickets for 13,000 P for two people round trip. But two days later I got a notice that the reservation had been canceled and there were no more tickets for those flights. A new search showed a price tag of 30,280 P for two people. We accepted and bought them. The domestic flight was taken a couple of weeks before departure, so our fault. Buy your tickets in advance.

The alternative to flying is the bus. It’s about 450 kilometers from Nairobi to Mombasa and the travel time by bus is 10-12 hours. It leaves in the evening and arrives the next day. 450 kilometers in 12 hours is rough. The thing is the lack of normal roads and terrible traffic jams. The price of this pleasure, if I’m not mistaken, – about 1000 P per person. But we decided to refrain from such exoticism. And our first checkpoint was in Malindi. We did not want to spend almost a day on the road.

We took a shuttle bus from Malindi to Mombasa and we paid 600 KES (377 R ) for two people – that’s Kenyan shillings. By comparison, an Uber cab costs 6,500 KES (4,085 P ). A tuk-tuk took us from the villa to the bus station with the code phrase “We need shuttle bus to Mombasa” for about 70 R.

READ
Kenya National Parks and Safari Tours in Africa

From Mombasa to Diani Beach, where we celebrated the New Year, we were dropped off by a friend of the girl we rented an apartment from. We paid him 2000 KES (1257 R) and had a cold beer and interesting conversations. He drove us to the airport in Mombasa for 4,000 KES (P2,514).

How to beat burnout

Safari

I recommend to all lovers of wildlife to go on safari. Almost all three days I cried from happiness. Periodically, of course.

The first mistake was the decision to go on safari directly from the airport. The road to Masai Mar takes about 7.5 hours, mostly off-road. I haven’t been so tired from the road in a long time.

The second mistake was saving money on lodging. The tent itself is quite comfortable. It’s a big tent with an attached shower room, there’s light from 6 to 10 p.m. and in the morning, and hot water. But I didn’t take into account that we are going in the rainy season. At night the temperature drops to +15 ° C and it is very humid. All night it is a real tropical downpour and screaming baboons. It felt like we were sleeping under a cold wet blanket. One night someone jumped on our tent and tried to climb inside.

Masai Mara is considered one of the coolest reserves in Africa. All of the big five are found there: lions, rhinos, elephants, buffalo, leopards. We saw many animals: zebras, antelopes, cheetahs, crocodiles, hippos, elephants, many different birds, wild boars. And of course we saw lions every day.

When we were approaching the Masai Mara, we met a zebra. I was impressed to the point of tears: I was incredibly happy to see one, it was so unusual. On the second day, meeting a zebra became the norm, and my brain perceived it as a dog in the street. Then we were impressed to see lions – again there was a storm of emotions, plus there were little lion cubs. On the third day, I finally stopped crying with joy at seeing them. The brain quickly adapts, and what yesterday caused great excitement, today already seems to be an ordinary thing.

We watched all the animals very closely. We could not get close only to cheetahs, because there were many cars with other tourists around, and cheetahs probably do not like it. We saw them from a distance of 20-30 meters.

No one allowed us close to the hippos, because most people die in accidents on safari because of the hippos. They are very aggressive and unpredictable.

I remember how we left to look for animals very, very early. The rest of the group didn’t want to get up, because it seemed like we had already seen everything. We met the sunrise and then were the only ones who came across a pair of young male lions. They posed at arm’s length for us, lying down, yawning, and opening their mouths.

The advantages of going in the rainy season are that there are few tourists, the prices are half as much, the temperature during the day is no higher than +25°C. This is important when you sit in the car all day, albeit with an open roof.

Also, the company I chose had a four-wheel drive Land Cruiser. This allowed us to drive through the national park during the rainy season with almost no problems, and the downpours there just wash out the roads. Most of the cars that come into the park are part-wheel drive. In three days we pulled out three or four jeeps with tourists that got stuck in the middle of the park.

On the second day, after it had rained all night, we got into a severe traffic jam because one vehicle was stuck in the mud on the road. It was impossible to drive around it. We were followed by about 20 cars that couldn’t move forward. Then all the campers got out of the cars and started dragging the rocks to the place that had been washed out by the water. They stacked stone after stone in the mud so the car could get out. That is, the tourists themselves were paving the way for their jeeps.

Sightseeing

For the sake of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Foundation, we stayed in Nairobi for a day. This is a very cool organization that is dedicated to rescuing elephants left without their mother. The elephant shelter opens its doors to guests for one hour each day. Admission costs $7 (518 R ), and all the money raised goes to running the shelter.

Volunteers tell about the work of the elephant asylum and the history of the animals that arrive there. All cubs when they reach a certain age are sent to their native savannah. 90% of them successfully adapt in the wild. Anyone can “adopt” an elephant by transferring a small amount of money to the foundation. The foundation will send you letters with pictures of your elephant. You can become a sponsor without coming to Kenya – all the information is on the foundation’s website.

READ
What to see in Kenya and Nairobi

We only went to the giraffe center in Nairobi because we had some free time. For approximately R2000 they give you a plate with delicacies and let you get close to the giraffes and feed them by hand. This, of course, is a very strong emotion.

But in general, I do not recommend visiting the center. Other than feeding, there is nothing to do there. And as I mentioned earlier, I do not support such establishments.

Resorts and Beaches

Due to lack of information, I thought any resort on the coast of Kenya was a paradise.

In Malindi we encountered such a strong tide that we couldn’t even see the water, and the whole shore was covered in seaweed. By evening the water was knee-deep, but I didn’t want to swim in the warm jelly of seaweed. I would not recommend Malindi as a holiday destination.

Malindi is also an Italian resort, and there we did not find any normal cafes. There are either Italian ones, which start working at lunchtime and close at 10 pm, or completely local with complete antisanitation. But we didn’t suffer from any poisoning.

I read that Italians came there about twenty years ago. At first it was a few families. Then their friends and friends of friends started coming. Soon there was a settlement of Italians, they fenced it off with a high fence, brought Italian coffee machines, olive oil. There were signs in their language, cooks from Italy began to arrive.

Now mostly elderly Italians live there. According to my impressions, they go there for exoticism in the form of escorts. Nowhere else have I seen so many retired European men escorted by African girls. As Caroline, whom we stayed with in Mombasa, told us, this is the norm for them. English and Italian retirees come there, rent a house for a year, get a permanent girlfriend who accompanies them, goes to the beach with them and spends time together.

We spent five days in Diani Beach. There’s a chic multi-kilometer beach with snow-white, fine, flour-like sand, one of the most beautiful in Kenya. And in one part of the beach thanks to the reefs there are no waves and you can safely swim with children, as it is shallow. The second part of the beach is designed for windsurfing: there is a constant wind. There are surfers and windsurfers hang out there.

Another feature of the beach is that on the first shoreline are several dozen abandoned hotels. The beach is a popular tourist destination in Kenya and hotels are being built along the beach. But for some reason the coast of Kenya has not become a popular tourist destination. Huge luxury hotels either stand overgrown, or the building itself is closed, but on the territory there are sun loungers and sometimes a swimming pool. Local entrepreneurs use them as a beach club, but the name sounds too loud for them, in fact, everything there is modest.

Mombasa is the second largest city in Kenya and is on the ocean. We liked it there very much. First of all it has an infrastructure: shopping centers and cafes. But the city is very small by our standards, it has no tall buildings and no special entertainment. All locals come in the evening to swim in the ocean at sunset. Overall, I recommend visiting Mombasa to see how people live in the country’s second largest city. The people there are much kinder than in Nairobi. If you compare the two cities, it’s just heaven and earth.

We were not impressed by the local cuisine. We tried one dish, I do not remember its name. It’s severely overcooked pieces of meat you can’t chew. Everybody eats them there, and they advised us to try it too. But we couldn’t even eat a piece of it. The cook was very upset that we refused to finish our meal, came out to us, asked what was wrong, and asked to let us cook the dish again, perhaps he had failed and it would taste better the second time. But we explained that it was just atypical food for us, so he didn’t waste his time.

Then we decided not to experiment and ate in European restaurants, which, oddly enough, abound in Kenya. Apparently, this is due to the fact that retired Europeans come there. Almost anywhere you can find a good cafe or restaurant with very good food. In Mombasa, we ate in such a café in the mall, and in Diani Beach there are several good restaurants on the coast. And of course, there is delicious and inexpensive African wine everywhere. In our money it was 300-500 R for a bottle. There were cheaper, but we did not take any inexpensive ones.

READ
Holidays in Kenya in 2022: beaches and resorts. Where is better?

On the average dinner for two with a glass of wine and a glass of beer, and sometimes with a couple, cost in the region of 2000 P. Our biggest check from the restaurant was 3,600 P . Take our word for it, we got out of there like koloboks – full and cheerful.

Security

To say that Kenya is a safe country, my tongue does not rotate. Neither is it safe to say that Kenya is dangerous and you will be robbed, stolen or killed. You just need to follow basic safety rules in this country. And the level of risk in the capital of Nairobi and on the coast is completely different.

Nairobi is horror, filth, poverty, the most inhospitable city I’ve ever seen. On the side of the highway, we encountered three-year-olds with infants strapped behind their backs and playing in piles of garbage with plastic cups. This is the backside of Kenya with its stunning nature reserves and miles and miles of white-sand beaches.

With all the flights and overnight stays, we were in Nairobi for no more than two days. During that time we saw two fatal motorcycle accidents and were in an accident ourselves: we were hit by a motorcyclist. Fortunately, no one other than the vehicle was hurt. As our huge cab driver looked at the car and the motorcyclist, I had only one thing on my mind: “Please, just don’t shoot each other.

The Kenyans tried very hard to make us feel comfortable. Both the cab driver and the motorcyclist and even the policeman, seeing my distorted face with fear, apologized and said that everything was all right.

It was dangerous to go out after 7 p.m. in Nairobi. We wanted to go from the hotel to the nearest mall for dinner – it’s less than a kilometer away. But the front desk told us it was risky and we had to call a cab and they wouldn’t let us out on foot. The hotel gates are closed in the evening, there is a checkpoint and guards with machine guns. They let the cab through, the guests get into it, and the cab leaves the hotel with them.

In Mombasa, it’s much easier, kind smiling people. Even the child beggars there are very nice. We were in town on December 31. I bought a bunch of chocolates and handed out Snickers to the kids who were selling green oranges outside the mall. They were very happy. Amazing difference between the two cities.

The only recommendation is not to walk in Mombasa in the dark on deserted streets. When we talked to the landlady we were staying with, she didn’t understand how you can walk at night in Russia and when the mafia comes out then. In Kenya, there are no ordinary locals on the street at night. Tourists can always take a tuk-tuk or order a cab through Uber or Bolt. By the way, Bolt always has a lower price.

One time in Mombasa, they tried to take my phone away from me. We came there from Malindi on a public bus. We got off at the bus station and the cab drivers asked for three times the price of the trip between the cities. We went on foot. A guy followed us. He was walking very close behind us, and at some point I felt something wrong and turned around. The guy was standing right in front of me. I started yelling to him, “Hey, man, what do you want?” and waving my arms. He walked away. I took off my backpack, and it turned out that my pocket had already been unzipped, and I had my card and phone in it. Literally a split second saved me from being stranded in Kenya with no connection and no money.

But when I shared this with Caroline, she said I should have shouted loudly that he was trying to steal from me. Kenyans are very hopeful that tourists will come to the country and locals could punish him publicly: catch him, beat him, or take him to the police. Every honest citizen wants Kenya to be known as a good-natured country where tourists are welcomed. So this guy was more of an exception.

On the whole, I really liked the people in Kenya – they are wonderful, kind, cheerful. We’ve been many places, but Kenyans seemed to me the most sincere. Whatever we asked, whatever question we asked, they always helped us, and absolutely unselfishly.

Communication and Internet

We did not use cell phones in Kenya. But we found out that we need a passport and about 500 P for a package plan with minutes and Internet.

There is wifi in almost all cafes, hotels, villas and apartments. You probably can not download movies, but to send photos on “Votsapu” or upload to your Instagram is quite possible.

Money

Travel – the best way to learn the world, yourself and spend money. We spent a lot – for us a trip to Kenya was the most expensive trip. But not because of the high prices, but because we had a chance to eat in expensive restaurants, drink wine and pamper ourselves with gifts.

READ
Prices in Kenya - 2022: value of an independent tour

We took a small amount of cash with us in dollars. But there are no problems with cashless payment in Kenya. All restaurants, cafes and hotels accept cards. Cash is needed for minor expenses, souvenirs, tuk-tuks. I have never had any problem withdrawing cash, as there is an extensive ATM network almost everywhere except Malindi.

How much does it cost to go to Kenya

Kenya prices

Exterminating the myth that holidays in Kenya are expensive. Here are the prices for food, hotels, visa, flight, safari and transport in 2022. As a result, we calculate how much it will cost for an independent tour to Kenya for 10 days.

It is safe to call it another tourist myth that you need to spend a lot of money on an independent trip to Kenya – about the same myth was formed around the Maldives. Let’s try to debunk it and show that the rest in Kenya can also be affordable. Here are the basic prices in Kenya: how much are hotels in the capital and resorts, how much does it cost to eat and travel, safari, flight and visa to Kenya, we will give some tips about traveling to the country, and calculate the tour to Kenya for 10 days for two people.

Exchange rate: 1 US dollar ≈ 55 RUB.

In order to make an independent tour to Kenya really budget, you need to plan your trip in advance: book a hotel, learn how to get from the airport to the city, how to get to the resort from the capital, as well as study information about the prices in Kenya for food, transportation, hotels, attractions and safaris. That way you’ll know what it costs in Kenya and avoid unnecessary spending.

Airfare to Kenya

Flying to Kenya from Moscow, oddly enough, is quite cheap: a flight to Nairobi from Moscow usually costs from 28 thousand rubles round trip. From St. Petersburg to Nairobi a round trip ticket will cost from 30 thousand rubles and more.

Where to look for tickets? Use Aviasails. Read also the instruction on how to look for cheap airline tickets.

How much does a visa to Kenya cost

A single entry visa to Kenya for three months costs $50; a multi-entry visa for 6 months costs $110. It is also possible to apply for a single East African visa ($110), which also allows you to visit Uganda and Rwanda.

Hotel Prices in 2022

Prices in Kenya for hotels do not bite, and the hotels themselves can satisfy the most demanding tastes. There are ghettos with spartan conditions, medium-price hotels, and luxury luxury hotels. Since our article is about a budget independent tour to Kenya, we focused on inexpensive hotels and rooms.

The cost of hotels in Nairobi

In Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, near the city center, room rates start at $30. In the center of the city on Roomguru.ru you can find quite a lot of hotels for $20 for two – for example, Kijabe Guest House Limited near the train station, which is very convenient (you can take the train to the coast, the main seaside resort of Kenya – Mombasa).

You can rent a studio apartment in downtown Nairobi for $425 on average, and $216 outside the center.

Hotel prices in the resort of Mombasa

Hotels in Mombasa on Roomguru.ru are from $10 a night for two people. For $20 a night you can get a room at a three-star hotel New Palm Tree, though in the city center – a bit far from the beach. By the sea, the minimum price for a standard hotel room – $ 35 (for example, in the Papillon Garden Bar Villa near Nahiali Beach).

On the popular beach of Diani, where luxury hotels are concentrated, it is not easy to find a cheap hotel – the average price starts at $ 90, but there are also inexpensive hotels – for example, The Bright Star Resort for $ 35 per night and Glory Ocean Villas for $ 48, very budget options (not on the beach) – from $ 20.

If you are interested in three-star and four-star hotels, we recommend Southern Palms Beach Resort Ukunda, a popular four-star hotel in Diani Beach with excellent reviews – guests rate it 9 out of 10. A standard room for two at this hotel costs from $96.

To learn more about Kenyan resorts, read our special feature “Beach Vacation in Kenya.”

Kenya tourism

(Photo: autan / flickr.com / License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Transportation Prices

It is unlikely that going on an independent tour to Kenya, you will visit only one city of the country, so for convenience, here are the prices in Kenya for transport: cabs, trains, matatu and so on.

  • Cab from the airport to downtown Nairobi – from $14.
  • A 3 km cab ride around Nairobi is from $7.
  • The price to board a cab is about $3.
  • Bus from airport to Nairobi – about $0.50 – $0.70.
  • Bus around Nairobi (matatu) – about $0.50.
  • Price of gasoline (1 liter) – about $1.
READ
Kenya National Parks and Safari Tours in Africa

You can get around Nairobi by cab and local matatu buses, as well as by intercity buses such as Dreamline and EasyCoach. From Nairobi Airport you can also fly to other cities such as Malindi, Mombasa, Lamu and Kisumu. For example, a flight from Nairobi to Mombasa and back will cost about $120.

There is a night train from Nairobi to Mombasa on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, departing at 7:00 pm and arriving at 10:00 am. Check the schedule here: riftvalleyrail.com. Fare: 1st class (“all-inclusive”) is about $42.5 (Ksh. 4,405), 2nd class is $22.5 (Ksh. 2,335) without lunch and $32.5 (Ksh. 3,385) for “all-inclusive.”

Food Prices in Kenya – 2022

When traveling around Kenya on your own, it’s not difficult to eat on a budget – the cities are full of small places that cater to locals and foreigners alike.

A budget breakfast at a street café costs about $2 to $5, lunch costs $3.50 to $7.5, and dinner costs $5 to $8. Beer (0.5 liters) costs $1.3 to $3.5, bottled water $0.5 to $0.7.

Lunch at a cheap restaurant costs $3 to $4 on average, and a three-course dinner for two at a mid-priced restaurant costs about $25 to $27. A cup of cappuccino costs about $2. Food prices in Nairobi are usually a little higher. Local fruits are very cheap.

Approximate cost of groceries in stores in Kenya (may vary depending on the resort and store):

  • milk (1 liter) – about $1;
  • bread (500 g) – about $0.6;
  • white rice (1 kg) – about $ 1.4;
  • eggs (12 pcs.) – about 1,5$;
  • local cheese (1 kg) – about $8,5;
  • chicken breasts (1 kg) – about $6;
  • apples (kg) – about $2,6;
  • oranges (kg) – about $2,5
  • potatoes (kg) – about $0.9
  • water (1,5 l) – about $0,8;
  • a bottle of wine – about $7;
  • Local beer (0.5 l) – about $1.4.

Learn more about the cost of a vacation to Zanzibar in the neighboring country of Tanzania.

Kenya food prices

(Photo: Ale Ceci / flickr.com / CC BY-NC 2.0 license)

Safari prices and attractions

The main attraction of Kenya is the wildlife. The country has created many national parks, reserves and wildlife refuges, where you can observe the life of wild animals in their natural environment – crocodiles, surrikats, cheetahs, antelopes and others, including the “big five”: lions, rhinos, buffalo, elephants and leopards.

Here are prices for some of Kenya’s attractions in 2022:

  • Nairobi National Park – $44.25. For adults and $22.12 for children (this is the cost for park admission only, transportation must be taken care of separately).
  • Nairobi National Museum – about $20. For adults and about $10 for children.
  • David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (elephant shelter) – about $5, admission only from 11am to 12am.

Prices for safaris in Kenya vary from $100-$200 per person for one day to luxury safaris from $4,000 per person for a week with flights between parks. Tourists usually choose the budget option – classic group safaris for 3-4 days for $ 300-500 per person. The cost of safaris in Kenya depends on visiting one or more national parks, type of food and comfort of accommodation (tents / lodges), the number of days and so on.

How much does an independent tour to Kenya cost

Now let’s get to the fun part and calculate how much an independent tour to Kenya for 10 days for two people costs. We take the minimum prices to calculate how much to focus on when organizing a trip to Kenya.

The price of a vacation to Kenya is made up of the components:

  • Visa to Kenya ($100 for two people);
  • round-trip airfare from Moscow to Nairobi ($900 for two people and $450 for one);
  • hotel accommodation ($20 per night for the hotel = $200);
  • insurance (1490 rubles for two people, i.e. $24);
  • food ($280 for two people);
  • safari (classic option for 3-4 days: $ 600 for two people);
  • take a train from Nairobi to Mombasa and back or a flight to another resort (optional; train – $130 for two people round trip, plane – $ 400 for two people round trip).

So, adding up everything (except transportation): 100 + 900 + 200 + 280 + 280 + 600 + 24 = $2104 total for 10 days for two! Very budget for such a far away and exotic country like Kenya, isn’t it? This amount can be slightly reduced by catching a special offer or airline mistake, looking for a hotel on the spot and choose a one-day safari tour (also on the spot), or increased – it all depends on your wishes and needs.

We did not include transportation in this amount, as it is difficult to predict where you will want to go. You can go very cheaply on intercity buses, a little more expensive and comfortable – by train, or fastest, but also more expensive – by plane.

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