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Kenyan Travel Planner for First-Timers

Embark on a remarkable adventure to Kenya, a captivating East African destination brimming with breathtaking landscapes, vibrant cultures, and abundant wildlife. This Kenyan Travel Planner is your ultimate guide, providing essential tips, visa information, health precautions, packing advice, cultural insights, and more, ensuring an unforgettable experience for first-time visitors. Let's explore Kenya together!

Kenyan Travel Planner for First Timers

Essential Tips for First-Time Visitors to Kenya

Planning your first trip to Kenya? Here are essential tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. From obtaining a visa and vaccinations to packing smartly and respecting local customs, this guide covers everything you need to know. Get ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and breathtaking landscapes of Kenya!

1. Obtaining a Kenyan Visa Online and Gathering Required Documents

When planning to visit Kenya, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the visa application process and gather the necessary documents. Fortunately, Kenya offers an online visa application system, making the process convenient and efficient. Here's a brief guide on obtaining a Kenyan visa online and gathering the required documents:

1. Visit the eVisa Portal

To start your Kenya visa application, visit the eVisa portal. This platform allows you to apply for various types of visas, including tourist, business, and transit visas.

2. Select the Visa Type

Choose the appropriate Kenya visa type based on your travel purpose. Ensure you understand the specific requirements and restrictions associated with each visa category.

3. Fill in the Application Form

Complete the Kenya online application form accurately, providing all the required information. Double-check your entries to avoid any mistakes or delays.

4. Upload Supporting Documents

Prepare the necessary supporting documents, such as your passport bio page, passport-sized photograph, and flight itinerary. Scan or photograph these documents and upload them to the eVisa portal as per the specified format and size requirements.

5. Pay the Visa Fee

Make the Kenya visa fee payment using the available payment options on the eVisa portal. The fee amount will depend on the type of visa you are applying for.

6. Submit the Application

Review your application thoroughly before submitting it. Once submitted, you will receive an acknowledgment receipt with a reference number. Keep this number for future reference.

7. Track Application Status

Monitor the progress of your visa application by logging into your eVisa account and entering your reference number. This will allow you to know when your visa is approved and ready for download.

8. Download and Print Visa

Upon approval, download and print your visa. Carry a physical copy of your visa along with your passport when traveling to Kenya.

By following these steps and gathering the necessary documents, you can obtain a Kenyan visa conveniently through the online application system. Ensure you allow sufficient time for the visa processing and make your travel plans accordingly. Enjoy your visit to Kenya!

2. Ensuring Vaccination for Health Protection

If you are planning a trip to Kenya, it is important to take steps to protect your health and prevent illnesses. One of the best ways to do this is by getting vaccinated before your trip. In addition to yellow fever, which is required for all travelers entering Kenya from countries with a risk of transmission, there are other vaccinations that are recommended for most travelers to Kenya.

The following vaccinations are also recommended for most travelers to Kenya:

  • Yellow fever: Required for travelers entering Kenya from countries with a risk of transmission.

  • Hepatitis A: Recommended for all travelers to Kenya.

  • Typhoid: Recommended for most travelers to Kenya.

  • Hepatitis B: Recommended for travelers who may have sexual contact with local people, need medical treatment while in Kenya, or engage in any activities that may expose them to blood or bodily fluids.

  • Meningococcal: Recommended for travelers who plan to have prolonged contact with locals or stay in crowded areas.

  • Rabies: Recommended for travelers who plan to spend a lot of time outdoors or have close contact with animals.

The recommended vaccinations may vary based on your health status and travel plans. To determine the appropriate vaccinations for your trip, it is best to consult with a travel health specialist or your healthcare provider.

Personal Experience: Vaccinations for a Trip to Kenya and Uganda

Paragraph: Based on my age and travel plans, my healthcare provider recommended that I get vaccinated for typhoid fever and meningitis before my trip to Kenya. Since I was also planning to visit Uganda on the same trip, I had to get the yellow fever vaccination, which was a requirement for both countries.

In addition to vaccinations, I was also given a prescription for anti-malaria pills to take a day before entering Kenya and continue for 2 weeks after leaving. This was an important precaution since malaria is prevalent in both Kenya and Uganda.

3. Practicing Necessary Health Precautions During Your Visit to Kenya

When traveling to Kenya, it is essential to prioritize your health and safety. By taking a few basic precautions, you can protect yourself from illness and injury during your trip.

Health Precautions:

  1. Safe Drinking Water: Tap water in Kenya is not safe for consumption due to the risk of waterborne illnesses like cholera and typhoid fever. Stick to bottled or boiled water and avoid drinks made with tap water. If tap water is your only option, consider using a water filtration system or water purification tablets.

  2. Hand Hygiene: Wash your hands regularly with soap and water to prevent the spread of germs and illness. Carry hand sanitizer for situations when soap and water are not readily available.

  3. Hygiene Habits: Practice good hygiene habits by showering regularly and brushing your teeth with bottled or boiled water.

  4. Mosquito Protection: Protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses, such as malaria and dengue fever, which are common in Kenya. Use insect repellent containing DEET, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, and sleep under a mosquito net. Consult your doctor for recommended antimalarial medication.

  5. Travel Insurance: Ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical expenses and emergency evacuation. Review the policy to understand the coverage and ensure it meets your needs.

  6. Wildlife Safety: While Kenya's wildlife is captivating, remember that wild animals can be unpredictable and dangerous. Follow the guidance of guides and park rangers, maintain a safe distance from animals, and avoid feeding or touching them. Refrain from walking alone at night or in areas where wildlife is present.

  7. Food Safety: In addition to waterborne illnesses, foodborne illnesses can pose a risk. To minimize the chance of getting sick, avoid consuming raw or undercooked meats and seafood. Additionally, only consume fruits and vegetables that have been washed or peeled.

  8. Sun Protection: Kenya's proximity to the equator means the sun can be intense. Protect yourself from sunburn and heatstroke by wearing sunscreen with a high SPF, a hat, and sunglasses. Stay hydrated and take breaks in shaded areas during the hottest parts of the day.

  9. Emergency Preparedness: While we hope for the best, it is prudent to be prepared for emergencies. Carry a first aid kit with basic supplies, such as bandages and antiseptic. Remember to bring any necessary prescription medications. Have a plan in case of emergencies and keep local hospital and emergency service contact information readily available.

By following these basic health precautions, you can enjoy your trip to Kenya while prioritizing your well-being and minimizing potential risks.

4. Packing Tips for Traveling to Kenya

Sun Protection

  • With the tropical climate in Kenya, the sun can be quite strong.
  • Sunscreen is a must when traveling to Kenya.
  • Look for a high SPF and apply it liberally throughout the day.
  • Pack a hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes from the sun's rays.

Mosquito Protection

  • Mosquitoes can be a problem in some parts of Kenya, especially during the rainy season.
  • They can carry diseases like malaria and dengue fever, so protect yourself from bites.
  • Buy insect repellent in Kenya or bring your own.
  • Look for a repellent that contains DEET and apply it frequently, especially during the evening hours.

Medications and First-Aid

  • Bring enough prescription medications to last for the entire trip.
  • Pack a small first-aid kit with essentials like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers.

Power Adapter

  • Kenya uses Type G electrical outlets, different from those in the US and other parts of the world.
  • Pack a power adapter for your electronics like cameras, phones, or laptops.

Capture the Wildlife

  • Kenya is known for its wildlife and stunning natural landscapes.
  • Pack a camera with a zoom lens to capture all the amazing sights.
  • Binoculars are also recommended for wildlife viewing.

Cash and Credit Cards

  • While most places in Kenya accept credit cards, it's advisable to carry some cash for smaller purchases or emergencies.

5. What to Wear in Kenya: Essential Clothing Tips

Kenya's weather can vary greatly depending on the time of year and location within the country. Whether you're embarking on a safari adventure or visiting the coastal regions, it's important to pack the right clothes to stay comfortable and prepared.

Weather Considerations

Before you start packing, check the weather forecast for your specific destination and time of year. This will give you valuable insights into the expected temperatures and weather conditions, allowing you to pack accordingly.

Tips for Safari Attire

When going on a safari in Kenya, it's crucial to dress appropriately. Here are some essential tips on what to wear:

  1. Dress in Layers: Safaris often have chilly mornings and hot afternoons. To stay comfortable throughout the day, it's best to dress in layers. This way, you can easily add or remove clothing as needed.
  2. Waterproof Jacket or Poncho: If you're visiting during the rainy season, which varies by region, pack a waterproof jacket or poncho. This will protect you from unexpected rain showers and keep you dry.
  3. Neutral and Muted Colors: Blend in with the natural surroundings and avoid disturbing the wildlife by wearing neutral and muted colors such as khaki, beige, brown, and green. These colors are less likely to attract attention.
  4. Appropriate Footwear: Depending on your planned activities, ensure you bring suitable footwear. Opt for comfortable, closed-toe sturdy shoes that can handle uneven terrain and protect your feet.

Respecting Cultural Norms

When packing your clothing, consider the cultural norms in Kenya. It's generally advisable to dress modestly and avoid clothing that is revealing or provocative. Respecting the local customs contributes to a positive cultural exchange.

Remember, by dressing appropriately and being prepared for various weather conditions, you can fully enjoy your time in Kenya while respecting its people and environment.

6. Basic Swahili Phrases to Learn Before Your Trip

Kenya is a country known for its tropical beauty and diverse cultures. While English is widely spoken in Kenya, learning some basic Swahili phrases can go a long way in helping you communicate with locals and make a good impression.

Essential Swahili Phrases

Here are some words and phrases to learn:

  • Hello: Jambo
  • Welcome: Karibu
  • Goodbye: Kwaheri
  • Thank you: Asante
  • Yes: Ndiyo
  • No: Hapana
  • Please: Tafadhali
  • Excuse me: Samahani
  • How are you?: Habari gani?
  • I’m fine, thank you: Nzuri, asante
  • What is your name?: Jina lako nani?
  • My name is ___: Jina langu ni ___
  • Have a good journey: Safari njema
  • Good night/sleep well: Lala salama
  • Take it easy: Pole pole

Cultural Sensitivity

Even if you only know a few phrases, using them can show locals that you respect their culture and are making an effort to communicate with them. Don’t be afraid to practice and make mistakes – most people will appreciate your effort and may even help you improve your Swahili.

7. Tipping Etiquette in Kenya

When traveling to Kenya, it is advisable to carry some cash, particularly in small denominations of $1, $5, and $10 bills. These smaller bills come in handy for tipping and making small purchases during your trip. Both US dollars and euros are widely accepted currencies in Kenya, making it convenient for tourists.

Tipping Guidelines

Here are some general guidelines for tipping in Kenya, although the level of service should ultimately determine the amount you choose to tip:

  1. Safari guides and drivers: Apart from the standard 10-15% of the service cost, consider tipping extra if your guide exceeds your expectations and ensures a memorable safari experience.

  2. Hotel staff: It's customary to tip hotel staff, including housekeeping, baggage handlers, concierge, and restaurant servers. If a service charge isn't included in the bill, a tip of around 10% of the total bill is appropriate.

  3. Transportation services: When using taxis or ride-sharing services, a tip of approximately 10% is considered suitable. Additionally, rounding up the fare to the nearest whole number is a common practice.

  4. Cultural experiences: If you engage in cultural activities like traditional dance performances or visits to local villages, it's polite to tip the performers or guides. An appropriate amount would be around 100-200 Kenyan shillings, which is equivalent to 1-2 USD.

Remember, tipping is not mandatory, but it serves as a gesture of appreciation for excellent service and helps support the local economy.

8. Keeping Your Passport Handy at All Times

When traveling in Kenya, it is essential to carry a form of identification, and your passport is the best choice. Losing or having your passport stolen can lead to significant inconveniences. 

Here are some tips to help you carry and protect your passport effectively:

  1. Keep it in a secure place: When you're not actively using your passport, ensure it is stored in a secure location. Options like a hotel safe or a hidden money belt are ideal. Avoid carrying it in your back pocket or leaving it unattended in your hotel room.

  2. Carry a photocopy: Make a photocopy of your passport and carry it with you. Having a copy can prove useful if you need to provide identification but want to avoid the risk of losing your actual passport.

  3. Be aware of local laws: In Kenya, it is technically required to carry your passport at all times. However, in practice, you may not be asked to present it unless you encounter law enforcement or other authorities. If you are uncomfortable carrying your passport, consider carrying a copy or another valid form of identification.

  4. Use a passport holder: If you choose to carry your passport with you, consider utilizing a passport holder or cover to protect it from damage and wear. These accessories provide an additional layer of security.

By following these tips, you can ensure the safety and accessibility of your passport while exploring the tropical beauty of Kenya.

9. Leave Plastic Bags at Home: Kenya's Ban on Plastic

In August 2017, Kenya implemented a groundbreaking plastic bag ban, signaling its commitment to combatting plastic pollution. This ban made it illegal to produce, sell, or use plastic bags within the country. By taking this bold step, Kenya aims to significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste that finds its way into the environment, especially oceans and waterways.

Scope of the Ban

The ban encompasses all types of plastic bags, including those commonly used for carrying groceries, as well as plastic packaging for electronics and clothing. No exceptions are made, and individuals found violating the ban can face severe penalties, including fines of up to $38,000 or imprisonment for up to four years.

Positive Impact and Regional Influence

Since the ban's implementation, Kenya has experienced a notable decrease in the generation of plastic waste. This success has prompted neighboring countries like Tanzania and Rwanda to follow suit and introduce similar bans. These collective efforts are crucial in mitigating the harmful effects of plastic pollution on the environment.

Traveler Awareness and Responsibility

Travelers visiting Kenya should be mindful of the plastic bag ban and its implications. It may be tempting to carry plastic bags or other single-use plastic items for convenience, but doing so can result in penalties and pose a threat to the environment. Instead, consider bringing reusable bags, water bottles, and utensils to reduce reliance on single-use plastics. Many hotels and restaurants in Kenya have also taken proactive steps by offering alternatives like refillable water stations and metal straws.

Supporting Kenya's Environmental Initiatives

By consciously monitoring and minimizing plastic consumption, even through small changes in daily habits, travelers can actively support Kenya's efforts to reduce plastic waste and safeguard the environment. Every individual's commitment to reducing plastic use contributes to the collective progress in protecting our planet.


Kenya's plastic bag ban has made a significant impact on reducing plastic waste within the country. This proactive step has inspired neighboring nations to adopt similar measures, fostering a regional movement against plastic pollution. As responsible travelers, let us be aware of the ban, adapt our habits, and promote sustainable practices to contribute to a cleaner and greener environment.

10. Embracing a Relaxed Pace in Kenya (Pole Pole)

The phrase "pole pole" holds great significance within Kenyan culture, embodying core values such as patience, hospitality, and community. Derived from the Swahili language, it translates to "slowly" or "gently," conveying a message of taking one's time and exhibiting patience. This simple phrase has found its way into various aspects of daily life in Kenya, serving as a reminder to relax, be calm, and embrace a slower pace.

Meaning and Usage

"Pole pole" encourages individuals to adopt a patient approach, emphasizing the importance of not rushing through tasks or situations. It serves as a gentle reminder to take one's time and avoid unnecessary haste. Moreover, the phrase can also be used to create a sense of tranquility and convey a relaxed atmosphere.

Versatility in Context

In Kenyan society, "pole pole" finds its way into numerous contexts. Whether it is providing directions, offering advice, or simply greeting someone, the phrase serves as a friendly and informal means of encouraging relaxation and embracing a slower rhythm of life. It reflects the warm and welcoming nature of Kenyan culture, promoting a sense of community and togetherness.


When visiting Kenya, one may encounter the phrase "pole pole" directed their way. It is important to understand its cultural significance, as it represents a call to slow down, take it easy, and embrace a more patient and relaxed approach to life. By embodying values of patience, hospitality, and community, "pole pole" becomes an integral part of Kenyan culture, guiding individuals to navigate their journey with tranquility and grace.

11. Seeking Permission Before Photographing People or Infrastructure

When capturing photographs in Kenya, it is crucial to prioritize the consent of individuals and respect the local norms. This brief guide emphasizes the significance of obtaining permission before taking photos of people or infrastructure in Kenya.

1. Asking for Consent from People:

When photographing people in Kenya, it is essential to request their permission before capturing their images. Approaching individuals respectfully and explaining your intentions can help establish a positive interaction and avoid any potential misunderstandings.

2. Respecting Privacy and Cultural Sensitivities:

Taking photos of people without their consent can be seen as intrusive and disrespectful, violating their privacy and cultural norms. To ensure a respectful photography experience, always prioritize the rights and comfort of the individuals being photographed.

3. The Importance of Permission for Infrastructure Photography:

Similarly, when capturing images of infrastructure, such as airports or military installations, it is advisable to seek appropriate permissions. Engaging with the relevant authorities or obtaining the necessary permits can help prevent any potential legal or security concerns.

4. Potential Suspicions and Security Considerations:

Photographing infrastructure, airports, or military sites without proper authorization may raise suspicions. To avoid any unnecessary complications, it is recommended to seek permission or consult the relevant authorities before attempting such photography.


By asking for permission before taking photos of people or infrastructure in Kenya, we can demonstrate respect for individuals' rights and cultural sensitivities. This approach promotes positive interactions, ensures privacy, and helps maintain security and legal compliance when photographing public infrastructure.

Insider Tips for First-Time Travelers to Kenya by Intrepid Scout

If you're planning a trip to Kenya, here are some tips to make your experience as enjoyable and safe as possible:

1. Check Your Passport

Ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your trip to Kenya. The country requires at least one clear page in your passport for entry.

2. Respect the Local Culture

Kenya boasts a rich and diverse culture. Show respect for local customs and traditions by dressing modestly when visiting religious or cultural sites. Always seek permission before taking photos of individuals or sensitive locations.

3. Prioritize Your Safety

While Kenya is generally a safe destination, it's important to take precautions for your personal safety. Avoid walking alone at night, keep your valuables secured, and remain vigilant of your surroundings at all times.

4. Support Local Businesses and Communities

Immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of Kenya by supporting local businesses and communities. It's one of the best ways to have an authentic experience and contribute positively to the local economy.

5. Embrace Sustainability

Kenya has made significant progress in reducing plastic waste. As a responsible traveler, do your part by avoiding single-use plastics and supporting businesses that prioritize sustainability practices.

6. Embrace Adventure and New Experiences

Kenya offers a myriad of opportunities for adventure and exploration. Have fun and be open to new experiences. Try local foods, engage with the local people, and make the most of your trip to this beautiful and diverse country.




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  • 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
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