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Kenya backpacking itinerary guide

Kenya is an excellent and affordable choice for an inaugural safari experience in Africa. It offers a great chance to see the famous Big Five animals on your first expedition. You can track elusive leopards in Maasai Mara National Reserve and observe both white and black rhinos at Lake Nakuru. The country provides various activities like biking adventures among wildlife and exploring stunning gorges in Hell's Gate National Park. You will need to obtain a Kenya visa to travel to Kenya as a foreign citizen.

Big Five Animals


What sets Kenya apart is its competitive market, making safaris more affordable compared to neighbouring countries like Tanzania or Uganda. You can find all-inclusive safari tours for around 100 USD per day, a great deal that's hard to find elsewhere.

This comprehensive travel guide includes all the necessary information to help you discover exceptional and budget-friendly safari tours. You'll also find top destinations to explore, exciting activities to participate in, and much more. Here's a backpacking itinerary tailored for your Kenyan adventure.

Kenya Backpacking Itinerary Recommendations 2023.

If you're planning a trip to Kenya, the length of your stay will depend on your reasons for visiting. Backpacking the country can take anywhere from 10 days to two months, depending on your goals. While many people stick to a quick safari and some time on the coast, you'll get to experience the true essence of Kenya. To help you plan your adventure, I've put together some excellent travel itineraries based on my own experiences. Feel free to customise them to fit your unique travel style.

A 10 days Kenya Itinerary Backpacking

Starting a backpacking journey in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is common. Despite past negative perceptions, Nairobi is vibrant and worth exploring. Spend a day exploring markets, the Kenya Museum Society, or Nairobi National Park.

The highlight of the trip is Maasai Mara National Reserve. Book a safari through hostels, hotels, or online. Package deals are convenient.

After the Maasai Mara experience, head north to Lake Naivasha, known for hippos, crocodiles, and birds. Move on to Hell's Gate National Park for walking or biking safaris and affordable accommodations.

Allow a few days for Lake Naivasha and Hell's Gate. Finally, return to Nairobi to conclude the trip.

A One Month Kenya Backpacking Itinerary

For a month-long adventure in Kenya, you're in for an amazing journey. A 10-day itinerary can take you to Mombasa, exploring historical sites and cultural gems. Heading north along the coast, stops at Kilifi and Malindi are possible before reaching Lamu Island.

Coastal towns are charming and can make you stay longer. On the return journey, consider a detour to a lodge in Tsavo West National Park, combining a safari with Amboseli National Park and ending with stunning animal sightings against Kilimanjaro's backdrop.

A 6 Week Kenya Backpacking Itinerary

A month is a good amount of time to fully explore Kenya, especially considering the often overlooked northern region. Follow the suggested itinerary, which includes a week-long trek to Mount Kenya's summit. Heading north to Marsabit and Lake Turkana is recommended. Hire a driver for Lake Turkana, and if time allows, continue to Loiyangalani for a cultural experience. Note that northern Kenya has limited infrastructure, but it's a wild and adventurous journey. Conclude your trip back to Nairobi.

Top places to visit in Kenya

Kenya boasts a wealth of stunning landscapes, including its captivating coastline, vast savannahs, and the majestic Mount Kenya. The country's top destinations are conveniently situated near these diverse regions, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts. Foreign citizens will need to obtain a Kenya visa to travel to Kenya.

The southern part of Kenya and its coastal areas have been cherished by travellers for many years, making them more accessible and well-explored. On the other hand, venturing into northern Kenya demands a greater spirit of adventure. If you're ready for an exhilarating journey, don't hesitate to embrace the experience!

Backpacking in Nairobi

Nairobi, despite its reputation, is East Africa's cosmopolitan hub. While precautions are necessary due to its nickname "Nai-robbery," the city offers more than meets the eye. Safeguard belongings, explore vibrant markets for arts and crafts, and witness Nairobi's promising future.

Visit central markets for unique Maasai jewellery, intricate woodwork, and captivating paintings as souvenirs. A safari adventure is possible just kilometres away at Nairobi National Park, where wildlife roams near skyscrapers.

Activities in Nairobi:

  • Maasai Market: Engage in the lively atmosphere of this marketplace for various souvenirs and handicrafts.
  • Kenya Museum Society: Explore East African traditions and history through engaging exhibitions.
  • Nairobi National Park: Go on a short drive for a safari near the city, at the border of a capital city.
  • Karen Blixen Museum: Step into the past at the farmhouse where Karen Blixen wrote "Out of Africa."

Maasai Mara National Reserve

Backpacking to Maasai Mara National Reserve is a must for any Kenya visit. This globally renowned safari park, merging with Tanzania's Serengeti, is an East African gem for encountering the Big Five. The Great Migration, a spectacle of over 2 million animals migrating from Serengeti to Maasai Mara (July-September), adds to the allure.

Maasai Mara


Encompassing 1,500 sq km, the landscape boasts grasslands, acacia trees, and hills. Sunrise and sunset offer peak wildlife activity and stunning lighting for photos.

Safari packages are popular, offering lodging, meals, and game drives. Some lodge inside the park, ensuring an immersive experience.

Naivasha Backpacking

Exploring Naivasha on a backpacking adventure reveals the allure of Lake Naivasha, a shining gem nestled within the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. This glistening blue lake graces the landscape at an elevation of slightly over 2,000 metres. Its proximity to Hell's Gate National Park allows for a convenient dual visit within a short span of days.

Abundant in wildlife, Lake Naivasha boasts a thriving hippo population that calls its waters home. The encircling forests host an array of creatures, including buffalo, giraffes, monkeys, and a diverse spectrum of avian species.

Avian Species


Lake Naivasha presents an idyllic retreat, offering respite from the bustling urban frenzy of Nairobi, located a mere 100 kilometres away. While the town itself represents a quintessential Kenyan urban backdrop with limited captivating features, it serves as a crucial transportation hub connecting to Nairobi and various other destinations.

Affordable lodging options encompassing the lakeside are predominantly situated within Naivasha town. Additionally, a selection of budget accommodations can also be sought further afield, particularly in Karagita.

Hell’s Gate National Park

Embrace the opportunity to delve into Hell's Gate National Park, despite its initially foreboding moniker, as it unveils a captivating realm to explore. Situated just three hours northwest of Nairobi and slightly south of Lake Naivasha, this national park beckons adventure enthusiasts.

The park boasts captivating volcanic rock formations, profound valleys, and towering escarpments that are bound to ignite excitement among nature aficionados. For many, it bears a striking resemblance to the backdrop of the renowned movie "The Lion King."

National Park


Amidst this breathtaking natural canvas sprawls a 68-square-kilometre area where encounters with wildebeest, buffalo, and even lions are possible. The park has surged in popularity among backpackers due to its cost-effectiveness compared to the Maasai Mara. Furthermore, the park lends itself to independent exploration on foot or two wheels, enhancing the sense of adventure.

Backpacking in Mombasa

Backpacking to Mombasa offers a rich experience along Kenya's vibrant Indian Ocean coast. Mombasa is a bustling urban centre with historical significance and a vital port. The city's allure lies in its historical landmarks, especially in the Old Town, which showcases a blend of Arabian, Indian, and African influences.

Mombasa's streets hold the echoes of its storied past, reflecting a unique fusion of cultures. Coastal exploration often leads back to Mombasa due to its connectivity with Nairobi via trains and buses.

Fort Jesus


Activities in Mombasa:

  • Fort Jesus: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this fortress on the coastline embodies Mombasa's history since its construction by the Portuguese in 1593.
  • Old Harbour: Although inactive now, the presence of traditional dhow boats adds charm.
  • Basheikh Mosque: The Old Town's oldest mosque, dating back to the 13th century.
  • Mandhry Mosque: A splendid 16th-century mosque in the heart of the Old Town.
  • Spice Market: Experience a sensory delight on Nehru Road in the Old Town.


Malindi, the second-largest coastal town in Kenya, lies just 120 kilometres north of Mombasa. It has a history of welcoming foreigners since Vasco da Gama's arrival in 1498, evolving into a sanctuary for travellers.

While Malindi lacks Kilifi or Watamu's relaxed charm, it offers diverse attractions and acts as a transport hub to access more remote coastal spots. Its historic core invites exploration, featuring the Vasco da Gama pillar. The pristine white sands and swaying coconut palms along the water's edge are truly captivating.

Truly Captivating


Malindi Marine National Park, near the coast, boasts clear azure waters for snorkelling and relaxation. While resorts dot the coastline, affordable guest houses still exist. Backpackers often move south to Watamu for a quieter escape, with stunning coral reefs for exploration.


Lamu Island archipelago, off Kenya's northern coast, is a captivating gem. Lamu Island, at its heart, is a dreamy, picturesque haven with a unique tranquillity and charm, often compared to Zanzibar.

Despite its small size (10 km long), Lamu Island is culturally rich, featuring traditional Swahili architecture in its UNESCO-listed Old Town. The island is vehicle-free, with labyrinthine streets shared by locals and occasional donkeys. Sandbanks and dhow boats adorn the coastline.

Beyond the beach, boat trips to Shela Village or Manda Island offer more seclusion. Attending festivals like Lamu Cultural Festival (August) and Maulidi festival (honouring Prophet Mohammed) enriches the experience.

Reaching Lamu can be done through direct flights from Mombasa or Malindi or by bus to Mokowe, followed by a short ferry ride.

Amboseli National Park

Amboseli National Park, near Mount Kilimanjaro's majestic peak, offers stunning views when the clouds part. This sanctuary is known for its impressive elephant herds and other wildlife like cheetahs, wildebeests, lions, giraffes, and zebras. Over 370 bird species attract birdwatchers.

West National Park

Amboseli's manageable size makes a few days sufficient for exploration, and organised tours or safaris enhance the experience. Nearby, Tsavo West National Park is just a two-hour journey away, offering the chance to combine diverse wildlife experiences.

Mount Kenya National Park

Backpacking to Mount Kenya National Park is an awe-inspiring adventure. Africa's second-highest peak, an extinct volcano, stands rugged and majestic. Mount Kenya's snow-capped peaks and glaciers enhance its allure.

Enhance Its Allure


Three elevation points exist, with Point Lenana at 4985 metres reachable within five days. While accessible to the physically fit, abrupt altitude changes and unique weather conditions demand careful preparation. Choose experienced guides and porters and research tour operators thoroughly.

Summiting is remarkable but shorter hikes in lower slopes are safer options. These provide scenic beauty without altitude risks.


For an off-the-beaten-path experience, head to Loiyangalani. Often overlooked, this town by Lake Turkana promises adventure and a unique cultural encounter. Accessible via a rugged road from Marsabit, Loiyangalani is a convergence point for the Turkana and Samburu tribes. The journey and interactions with locals are the highlights. The region's desolate terrain and harsh climate are a testament to its inhabitants' resilience. The local Desert Museum offers insights. Lake Turkana is not for swimming due to crocodiles.

Explore the hidden gems of Kenya

Kenya's lesser-travelled paths offer a chance to escape the well-known tourist routes and experience the country's diverse landscapes and culture in seclusion. Northern Kenya, often untouched by foreign travelers, provides authentic cultural encounters and unique wildlife sightings. If time is limited, consider lesser-known national parks like Tsavo West and Tsavo East, or explore tranquil spots like Tiwi Beach and Kilifi along the coast. These hidden gems offer an authentic taste of Kenya's highlights without the crowds.

Best things to do in Kenya

Kenya offers a diverse array of thrilling activities for backpackers seeking adventure. To spark your imagination for your journey, I've curated a list of the ultimate experiences to indulge in while exploring Kenya. Foreign citizens will need to obtain a Kenyan visa to travel to Kenya.

  • Safari to Witness the Big Five

Whether you opt for an economical self-organised safari or choose a more traditional tourist package, going on a safari is an absolute must in Kenya. Renowned as one of the prime spots in Africa to observe the Big Five (elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and buffalos), Kenya's numerous national parks provide ample opportunities for safari enthusiasts. The Maasai Mara National Reserve is particularly famous for offering a chance to see these iconic animals.

  • Witness the Breathtaking Great Migration

Prepare to be astounded by one of the world's most spectacular natural phenomena. The annual wildebeest migration, occurring between July and September, is a sight to behold. As over two million wildebeests, zebras, and antelopes migrate from Tanzania's Serengeti National Park to Kenya's Maasai Mara National Park, you'll witness a truly awe-inspiring spectacle of nature.

  • Conquer Mount Kenya

For adventure seekers with a love for the outdoors, conquering Mount Kenya, Africa's second-highest peak, is a thrilling experience. While the highest peaks involve technical climbs, Point Lenana, towering at nearly 5,000 metres, can be achieved through a roughly five-day trek. If summiting isn't your goal, shorter one or two-day hikes within the national park offer equally enchanting experiences.

  • Relax on the Coastal Beaches

Kenya's Indian Ocean coastline presents a tropical paradise. Dotted with palm trees, crystal-clear waters, and powdery white beaches, the coastal towns offer a perfect haven for relaxation. If you're seeking tranquillity, this is the ultimate destination. Enjoy snorkelling and exploring the vibrant underwater world as you unwind by the shore.

  • Immerse Yourself in Lamu's Old Town

Lamu's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, beckons you to escape into its enchanting atmosphere. Nestled on Lamu Island, this Swahili port town boasts a captivating blend of architectural styles influenced by Portuguese, Arabic, and Indian cultures. Meander through its narrow streets to soak in the rich heritage and captivating history of Kenya's coastal region.

  • Engage with the Maasai Tribe

The Maasai tribe, renowned for their distinct culture, inhabit southern Kenya, including regions around the Maasai Mara and Amboseli National Parks. Embracing the tradition of welcoming outsiders, some villages permit short visits for a glimpse into their unique way of life. This cultural encounter offers an enriching experience you won't want to miss.

  • Indulge in Nyama Choma

For the food enthusiasts among us, savouring nyama choma is a culinary must. Kenya's cherished national dish is none other than barbecued goat meat, enjoyed on various occasions throughout the country. You'll find it readily available on restaurant menus. To fully embrace tradition, accompany it with ugali (maize) and savour the flavours with your hands.

  • Cycle through Hell's Gate

Embark on a distinctive African adventure by cycling through Hell's Gate National Park. Situated within the Great Rift Valley, this park boasts a dramatic volcanic landscape. Opt for a self-guided cycling tour to explore the well-defined trails and catch glimpses of zebras, wildebeests, and even lions as you pedal your way through this captivating terrain.

Cost of accommodation for Backpackers in Kenya

Kenya offers a range of accommodation options for budget-conscious travellers and those seeking unique experiences. While hostels are limited, affordable guesthouses are common throughout the country. Eco-lodges offer affordable options due to Kenya's focus on conservation. Foreign citizens need to obtain a Kenyan visa to travel to Kenya.

Private rooms in guest houses can be priced similarly to dorm beds in other places. Adventurous backpackers can camp in campgrounds across the country, but beware of local wildlife.

Consider Couchsurfing or volunteering for immersive experiences that save money and offer genuine interactions. Websites like Workaway provide diverse opportunities.

In Kenya, a variety of accommodation choices suit different budgets and preferences for savvy backpackers.

here is the table in a more concise format, with the location, accommodation, and why to stay there for each place, without images:



Why stay here?


Kenya Inn

Centrally located, dorm rooms and budget prices.


Coso Apartments

A budget, self-catering private apartment.

Diani Beach

Diani Beach Backpackers

One of the best hostels in the country.


Aloe Park Hotel

Budget private rooms that are beautifully decorated.

Masai Mara National Reserve

Oseki Maasai Mara Camp

Right on the edge of the Mara, this place has tents and bungalows for different budgets.


Besotted Farmstay

One of the closest places to Mount Kenya, it has budget private rooms.


Young Safari Hotel

Right in the middle of town, they have budget rooms, free Wi-Fi and kitchen facilities.

Lamu Island

Jannat House

In Old Town, it's just a short walk from the water's edge.

Costs incurred by Backpackers in Kenya

Backpacking in Kenya is budget-friendly, with relatively low costs for accommodation, transportation, and food. Safaris and Mount Kenya treks are significant expenses, but they contribute to conservation efforts.

A daily budget of $30-50 covers lodging, meals, transportation, and more. To save more, choose local dining, budget transportation, camping, or Couchsurfing once conditions improve.

With strategic planning and local options, your Kenya backpacking adventure can stay comfortably within budget.

Here is the table in a more concise format, with the expense, budget, and daily total for each type of traveller:


Broke Backpacker

Frugal Traveller

Creature of Comfort


$10-20 for a dorm bed

$20-30 for a private room

$30-50 for a nice hotel room






$0.50-2 for a local matatu

$8-12 for long distance buses

$50 for a domestic flight


Stay sober!

$1-2 for a beer

$3-6 for drinks at a trendy club


Markets and beaches (all free!)

$6-12 for museum entrance fees

$100-150 for a group safari in Maasai Mara

Total per day




Currency and Money Matters in Kenya

The official currency in Kenya is the Kenyan shilling. ATMs are widespread, even in rural areas. While electronic payments are possible, carrying cash is recommended as many places prefer it, especially for foreigners. Keep small bills for everyday purchases and larger denominations for accommodation. ATMs accept most foreign cards. Currency exchange shops are common in major cities. Safaris and treks may be quoted in USD or Euros, but you can pay in Kenyan shillings through ATMs. For big expenses, plan multiple withdrawals.

Kenyan Notes

Kenyan Notes


Kenyan coins

Kenyan Coins

Travel Tips for Budget-Friendly Exploration in Kenya

Exploring Kenya on a budget can be a rewarding experience, allowing you to discover the country's natural beauty, wildlife, and rich culture without breaking the bank. You will need to obtain a Kenyan visa to travel to Kenya as a foreign citizen. Here are some budget-friendly travel tips for your exploration in Kenya:

  • Carry a Reusable Water Bottle: Not only is this a budget-friendly choice, but it's also environmentally conscious. Refill your own water bottle to save money on bottled water and reduce plastic waste.
  • Consider Camping: Opting for camping can significantly cut costs. Kenya offers various camping opportunities amid breathtaking landscapes.
  • Cook Your Own Meals: If you're looking to stretch your budget, preparing your own food can be economical. Many accommodations, including Airbnb properties, offer kitchen facilities. For outdoor adventures, a portable backpacking stove can prove handy.
  • Volunteer: Volunteering is a popular option in Kenya, providing an opportunity for extended stays with free accommodation in exchange for work. Always research and choose ethical volunteering projects.
  • Embrace Local Practices: To stick to your budget, follow the lead of locals. Utilise mini buses for transportation, dine at unassuming local eateries, and explore local markets while practising the art of haggling.

Why Travel to Kenya with a Reusable Water Bottle?

Travelling responsibly extends beyond your personal experience to the preservation of our planet. The plasticproblem is evident even in the most remote corners of the world. By carrying a filtered water bottle, you contribute to reducing single-use plastic waste and protecting the environment. This small step aligns with responsible travel principles and encourages a positive impact on the places you visit.

In addition to environmental benefits, using a filtered water bottle saves you money and prevents unnecessary spending on bottled water during your travels. It's a win-win solution for both your budget and the planet.

Ideal Time to Visit Kenya

Kenya's weather can be characterised as a mix of hot, dry, and wet seasons. The climate is generally warm, but you'll rarely feel really cold unless you venture to higher elevations such as Mount Kenya.

Here's a breakdown of Kenya's seasons:

  • Hot and Dry (December to March): This period offers pleasant weather across the country. It's a good time for wildlife viewing and outdoor activities.
  • Hot and Wet (April to June): These months bring long rains, characterised by heavy downpours. However, the rain usually falls for brief periods, leaving plenty of time for exploration.
  • Warm and Dry (July to October): This is considered a prime time for visiting Kenya. The weather is pleasant, and it's also the period of the Great Migration (July to September) in the Maasai Mara.
  • Short Rainy Season (November to early December): Although there might be short rainfalls, this season is generally more manageable for travel.

The coastal region has its unique weather influenced by the Indian Ocean's monsoon. Heavy rain occurs from May to October.

High tourist seasons in Kenya include:

  • December to January: Pleasant weather draws visitors, making it the first high season.
  • July to September: Peak season for wildlife viewing due to the Great Migration.

Don't let the wet seasons deter you from travelling; rain usually comes in short bursts. During rainy periods, you'll encounter fewer crowds and witness the landscape transform into lush greenery.

Festivals in Kenya

While Kenya may not be teeming with festivals, there are a few noteworthy events to consider:

  • Lamu Cultural Festival (November): Lamu's rich Swahili culture is showcased during this event, featuring sailing, donkey races, and Swahili cuisine.
  • Maulidi (Muslim Calendar's Third Month): Held in Lamu, this festival includes traditional music, dance, art exhibitions, and dhow races.
  • Lake Turkana Festival (August): A vibrant celebration of the Turkana tribe in Loiyangalani, highlighting traditional attire, songs, and dances from 14 different tribes. It offers a unique cultural experience.

Participating in these festivals can provide an enriching cultural experience and a deeper understanding of Kenya's diverse heritage.

Festivals In Kenya

Essential Packing List for Kenya

When packing for your trip to Kenya, consider these essentials to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable journey:

  • Travel Security Belt: A discreet way to carry your cash safely, this belt has a concealed pocket for stashing money and can be worn through airport scanners without triggering alarms.
  • Filtered Water Bottle: The GRAYL Geopress Filtered Bottle is an effective water purification tool that allows you to drink from various sources. It's especially useful in areas where clean water might be scarce.
  • Microfiber Travel Towel: Ditch the bulky hostel towels and opt for a lightweight and quick-drying microfiber towel that can double as a blanket or yoga mat.
  • Headlamp: A reliable head torch, like the Petzl Actik Core, is essential for navigating in low-light situations, whether it's exploring caves, temples, or moving around during blackouts.
  • Camping Hammock: If you're an adventurous traveller, a hammock is a versatile and lightweight alternative to a tent, allowing you to sleep comfortably almost anywhere.
  • Hanging Toiletry Bag: Stay organised with a hanging toiletry bag that provides quick access to your bathroom essentials and keeps your items neatly arranged.

These items can significantly enhance your travel experience in Kenya, offering convenience, safety, and comfort as you explore this captivating destination. Remember to adapt your packing list based on your specific travel plans and preferences.

Staying Safe While Travelling in Kenya

When visiting Kenya, staying safe is a priority. While the country is generally safe, there are some important precautions to keep in mind:

  • Be Aware of Pickpocketing: Like in many tourist destinations, pickpocketing can occur in crowded areas. Keep your valuables hidden and your bags close to you, especially in busy places.
  • Terrorism Concerns: There have been past instances of terrorism, particularly near the Somali border and along the coastline. While these incidents are not frequent and are not targeted at tourists, it's important to stay informed about the current situation and follow any travel advisories issued by your government.
  • Use Common Sense: Trust your instincts and exercise common sense while exploring unfamiliar areas. Avoid walking alone at night in poorly lit or unfamiliar places.
  • Money Belt: Consider using a money belt to protect your essentials, especially in crowded or busy areas.
  • Female Solo Travel: Female solo travellers can generally feel safe in Kenya. While incidents can happen anywhere, following basic safety guidelines can minimise risks.
  • Nightlife: If you plan to enjoy the nightlife, stick to well-known and reputable venues. Avoid excessive drinking, as it can impair your judgement and make you vulnerable.
  • Alcohol and Drugs: If you choose to drink, do so responsibly. Be cautious with alcohol consumption, and avoid accepting drinks from strangers. Regarding drugs, it's important to know that possession and use of illegal drugs are illegal and can lead to serious consequences.
  • Contraception and Protection: Access to contraception may not be as reliable as in your home country. If you plan to engage in sexual activity, bring your own contraception and protection to ensure your safety and health.

By being mindful of your surroundings, following local advice, and using common sense, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience while travelling in Kenya.

Entering Kenya: Airports and Overland Travel

When planning your journey to Kenya, there are several options for entering the country, whether by air or overland travel. Here's what you need to know:

Arriving by Air

  • Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (Nairobi): This is the main international gateway to Kenya. It's located in Nairobi and offers numerous international flights. The airport is well-connected to the city centre, making it convenient for travellers.
  • Moi International Airport (Mombasa): Situated in Mombasa, this airport also receives some international flights. However, it's not as extensively serviced as Nairobi's airport.

Crossing by Land

  • Tanzania-Kenya Borders: Crossing into Kenya from Tanzania is relatively straightforward. There are several border posts, with the Namanga crossing being one of the most common. This border connects Arusha in Tanzania to Nairobi.
  • Uganda-Kenya Borders: Busia is the main border crossing between Uganda and Kenya. Regular bus services operate between Kampala and Nairobi.
  • Somalia-Kenya Border: The borders between Somalia and Kenya are generally not open for crossing due to security concerns. It's essential to check the current situation before attempting to cross.
  • Ethiopian and South Sudanese Borders: Crossing these borders requires careful planning and research. Entry requirements and border statuses can change frequently. Crossing these borders may involve a long and challenging journey.

Crossing overland can provide a unique travel experience, allowing you to witness the changing landscapes and cultures as you move from one country to another. However, it's crucial to stay updated on current border conditions, entry requirements, and any travel advisories before embarking on your overland journey to Kenya.

Entry Requirements for Travelling to Kenya

Kenya has a relatively straightforward visa policy that allows most travellers to enter the country with ease. Here's what you need to know about the entry requirements for Kenya:

Visa Requirements

  • Visa for US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and EU Nationals: Citizens of these countries are required to have a visa to enter Kenya.
  • eVisa: The most convenient way to obtain a visa for Kenya is through the eVisa system. You can apply for an Kenya eVisa online, and the processing time is typically up to seven days. The eVisa grants you a stay of up to 90 days with a single entry. It's important to note that the eVisa is valid for tourism, business, and medical reasons.
  • Multiple Entry Visas: While the eVisa is suitable for most travellers, if you plan to enter Kenya multiple times within a specified period, you can apply for a multiple entry visa. However, these visas come with a higher fee.

East African Tourist Visa

  • Regional Travel

If your travel plans include visiting other East African countries such as Rwanda and Uganda, you might want to consider the East African Tourist Visa. This visa allows you to move freely between Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. It's a cost-effective and convenient option for travellers who intend to explore multiple countries in the region.

Obtaining the appropriate visa is a crucial step in your travel preparations to Kenya. Ensure that you apply for the correct type of visa that aligns with your travel plans, and remember to check the latest visa requirements and processing times before your departure.

Getting Around Kenya

Navigating Kenya is relatively straightforward, with various transportation options available based on your budget and schedule. Here's a breakdown of how to get around in Kenya:

  • Domestic Flights: Kenya Airways offers domestic flights between Nairobi and regional cities, even providing access to national parks. Booking in advance is advisable, especially during peak seasons.
  • Nairobi-Mombasa Rail Service: The high-speed rail service between Nairobi and Mombasa is a convenient option, significantly reducing travel time to 4.5 hours. A lower-class ticket costs around $9.
  • Buses and Matatus: Buses and minibuses (matatus) are the most common means of transportation in Kenya, connecting almost every town and city. While comfort and quality vary among private bus companies, buses are generally the most convenient and affordable way to travel. A bus ticket from Nairobi to Mombasa can cost around $6.
  • Motorbikes: Some travellers opt to bring their own motorcycles to Kenya, allowing them to explore the country at their own pace. Shipping bikes to and from Kenya is possible, though costly. Be cautious while riding due to the unpredictable driving behaviour of locals.
  • Hitchhiking: Hitchhiking is common in rural areas where public transport is limited. It's advisable to hitchhike in pairs for safety, especially as a foreigner.

Working and Staying Connected

  • Digital Nomad Hubs: Nairobi has a growing start-up and digital nomad community. Co-working spaces like Nairobi Garage and Ikigai offer places to work and connect.
  • Wi-Fi and SIM Cards: Wi-Fi at cafes can be unreliable, but SIM cards are cheap and provide reliable 4G connectivity. Safaricom is a recommended provider.


Staying Connected


  • Teaching English: Teaching English is a popular volunteering option in Kenya. Opportunities are available in schools, with some paid positions requiring a course certificate and a Bachelor's Degree.
  • Volunteering: Volunteering in Kenya offers a chance to make a positive impact on communities. Reputable platforms like Worldpackers connect volunteers with local hosts. Be vigilant, especially when working with animals or children.

Cuisine in Kenya

- Ugali: A staple made from maize flour, often served with stew or sukuma (sauteed spinach).

- Nyama Choma: Grilled meat, usually goat, served with relish.

- Mandazi: Deep-fried dough, sweet or savoury, often enjoyed with chai.

- Chapati: Flatbread served with stews.

- Githeri: A bean stew with assorted beans in tomato sauce.

- Pilau: Fragrant rice dish, often made with beef or chicken.

Kenyan Culture

Kenya boasts diverse ethnic groups, languages, and cultures. Different tribes live together harmoniously, with pockets of cultural diversity throughout the country. Kenyans are friendly and welcoming, often with a big smile.

Useful Swahili Phrases

- Jambo: Hello

- Habari gani: How are you?

- Asante sana: Thank you very much

- Kwa heri: Goodbye

Recommended Books

- Out of Africa: Karen Blixen's memoir of living in Kenya.

- A Grain of Wheat: A fiction book set during the Mau Mau rebellion.

- Dust: A contemporary look at Kenyan society.

- Unbowed: A Memoir: The story of Wangari Maathai's environmental activism.

Travel Advice

Kenya offers diverse landscapes, wildlife, and cultural experiences. Show respect for people, wildlife, and the environment. Embrace the magic of backpacking in Kenya while being a responsible traveller. Enjoy your unforgettable journey!


Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about backpacking in Kenya along with their answers:

Do I need a visa to visit Kenya?

Many nationalities require a visa to enter Kenya. eVisas are easy to obtain online and allow for a stay of up to 90 days. Consider an East African Tourist Visa if you plan to visit multiple East African countries.

What's the language spoken in Kenya?

The official languages of Kenya are English and Swahili. Swahili is widely spoken and understood across the country.

What should I pack for my Kenya trip?

Pack essentials like a concealed money belt, a water purifier bottle, travel towel, headlamp, toiletry bag, and comfortable clothing. Don't forget insect repellent and sunscreen.

What are the must-try Kenyan dishes?

Try nyama choma (grilled meat), ugali (maize cake), mandazi (deep-fried dough), chapati (flatbread), githeri (bean stew), and pilau (fragrant rice dish).

Can I volunteer while backpacking in Kenya?

Yes, volunteering opportunities are available in various areas such as teaching, community development, and eco-projects. Platforms like Worldpackers connect volunteers with hosts.

How do I stay connected in Kenya?

Wi-Fi is available in many places, but getting a local SIM card from providers like Safaricom is recommended for reliable 4G connectivity. Nairobi has co-working spaces for digital nomads.

What cultural experiences can I expect in Kenya?

Kenya's diverse ethnic groups offer varied cultural experiences. Learn about different tribes, languages, and traditions as you travel through the country.




Get eTA to Kenya

  • Step1: Apply on-line Provide the information from your passport to eTA application.
  • Step2: Make an online payment Payment Methods: Credit Card
  • Step3: Check your e-mail address If your payment is confirmed, your eTA will be sent to your e-mail
Get eTA to Kenya

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