Kenya Traveler Information

Kenya Traveler Information

If you have booked or are considering the Kenya Meetup Tour, this is where you will find the practical information you need from travel insurance and safety protocols to vaccinations and what to pack for a game drive.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Save for the early morning and after sunset chill, Kenya is relatively warm yearround thanks to its proximity to the equator. However, elevation can make a difference. For any early morning or late afternoon game drives, especially in the Masai Mara and Samburu National Park, you will want to have some warmer layers handy. A hat gloves isn’t a bad idea if you are especially sensitive to the wind and cold.
  • We’ll be setting off on game drives almost daily. Plan to pack a light scarf or mask to cover your face from the dust and perhaps some sunglasses if you wear contact lenses.
  • We’ll spend a lot of time outdoors, between our game drives and village visits, so you can expect to be exposed to the elements at length. Come prepared with a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water. Comfortable shoes are a must for our daylong adventures, often involving dusty and uneven terrain.

Arrival

Kenya does require a visa for most countries. This can easily be obtained upon arrival or you can apply for an e-Visa prior to arrival and present a printed version upon entry to Kenya. The 90-day single-entry tourist visa costs $50USD (U.S. and Irish citizens pay $100) and is paid in cash (in dollars, British pounds, or euros). For the e-Visa, you will be required to submit a passport-sized photo with your online application form. The e-Visa can take up seven business days to process.

To verify the visa requirements for your country, you can visit the Kenya Ministry of Home Affairs website: www.homeaffairs.go.ke

As rules and restrictions are constantly changing, please check your government’s foreign travel advisory.


For countries considered low to medium risk COVID-19 transmission areas, requirements currently include a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours prior to arrival. Make sure that your home country is not listed as a high risk COVID-19 transmission area, as you may be required to quarantine upon arrival. You’ll also need to submit a mandatory COVID-19 Travelers Health Surveillance Form online.


Please also ensure you have a travel insurance policy that covers you for travel to and from Kenya as well as medical or COVID-19 related expenses within the country.

On the final day of the Meetup Tour, we can arrange for testing to be conducted on site at the hotel. Our team will ensure that results will be available before you depart for the airport. This is payable in cash to your tour leader or medical professional. Our team will handle the logistics and be sure your results are in on time and printed before you depart Kenya.

Upon arrival we have an escort meeting you at the airport, just look for the sign with the SoFe logo! He will lead you through the visa and immigration process and bring you to your driver waiting outside. The driver will take you directly to the hotel where they will meet our leader.

You need a valid passport to travel internationally. Most countries require that your passport does not expire for at least 6 months after the date you enter. We require your passport details 45 days before departure. When booking your Meetup Tour, please enter your name as it appears on your passport and contact us immediately if there are any errors. 

Optional Activities

For this tour, we offer a selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travelers. We recommend to pre-book these activities, to be sure there is availability. It’s rare that only one person signs up for an activity, but you will never have to go alone. A leader or our guide will go with you if no one else has signed up. Last minute booking of optional activities is possible, but depends on availability. Should you choose to book an optional activity while on the tour, we will charge the card we have on file.

We have worked with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed, especially those that are medium to high risk. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator, and therefore, we are unable to help book these activities. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Health

We do not recommend drinking the tap water, even in the hotels. All accommodation will have drinkable water, sometimes for purchase and sometimes provided with your room.
Your tour leader will do their best to accommodate any dietary restrictions, but sometimes gluten-free and vegan can be a little trickier, especially breakfast. We suggest bringing supplemental snacks like protein powders and bars just in case. It is ultimately your responsibility not to consume anything to which you are allergic. You may wish to speak to your tour leader at the beginning of the tour to make your requirements clear and to ask for your options throughout the tour.

As of April 1, 2021, we have updated our policies to require all travelers to show one of the following upon meeting the group on day 1:

-Proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or
– Proof of negative COVID-19 test conducted no more than 72 hours before day 1 of your trip

Kenya has some foodie options that many travelers choose to try. Dishes like mutura (blood and offal stuffed sausage), termites, and chicken feet, as examples, are common among locals and available in some restaurants. Please be careful when consuming this food, as some travelers have gotten sick in the past. We do not include these dishes on our tour, and our tour leader can direct you to the most reputable restaurants locally, but we do not take responsibility for any illnesses caused by food.
It is recommended that you are up-to-date on the following vaccinations before entering Kenya: Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Polio, Hepatitis B, Meningitis, and Rabies. Anti-malarial prophylactics are also strongly recommended and should be taken two weeks prior to your arrival.

Accommodation

9 nights in hotels or lodges

Rooms are twin share with an ensuite unless you upgrade to a private room, based on availability.

The accommodation indicated on the webpage is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to lack of availability. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

In the base cost of the tour, a shared room is included. You may choose to upgrade to a private room for an extra charge as long as there is availability.

Upgrading to a private room once in Kenya is more difficult and may result in a higher cost than advertised on the webpage.

Our Kenya tour is considered premium accommodation including stays in hotels, lodges, and resorts. When we stay in 5 star hotels, the standard may be less than what you are used to in terms of design, facilities, and inclusions. If there is a problem with your accommodation, always alert your tour leader so it can be remedied if possible.

Sometimes it is not possible to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels, especially if you arrive before check in time. We can store your luggage and you can explore the surrounding area.  Standard check in time is 4:00pm.

Check out is at 11:00am on the last day. 

Extra nights at our hotel are available. You may have to switch rooms at the beginning or end of the tour.

All of our accommodations have air conditioning. Should it not work, we will attempt to replace your room or the unit, dependent upon availability. Some evenings are cold in Kenya, especially in July and August, and most accommodations do not have heating. Bedding is always provided, however if you are extra sensitive to the cold, please be prepared with extra layers or thermals.

Transportation

Private air-conditioned vehicle

Money and finances

Spending money is a personal choice, and everyone will have different spending habits and needs. It is best to budget a reasonable amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping, and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need. Please have a thorough look at the itinerary and at what is included so you will be prepared for what isn’t included. Our Meetup Tour is very inclusive, however some meals, tips, and extras are not included. This guide should make budgeting a little clearer.

Many meals are included in this tour, but some are purposefully left out so you can experience different restaurants and dishes to your liking.

Lunch at a local restaurant could cost between $2USD to $4USD. However, local street food is relatively safe to eat and is normally much cheaper.


Your leader and guide will help you find local options. Meals will cost between $6USD to $15USD, depending on the restaurant.


Food prices in Kenya range widely from cheap street food to fine dining. If you have a strict budget, be mindful of your choices and let your tour leader know the type of food you are looking for, so she can direct you to the best places.

ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas, but hard to come by in smaller towns, rural areas, and villages. We recommend always having a small amount of cash with you for small purchases at places that do not accept credit cards. Credit cards are usually accepted in tourist shops and restaurants. Bring a Visa or Mastercard if you want to use credit cards. American Express is also an option, though it’s not as widely accepted. Smaller venues and vendors take cash only. Alert your bank that you will be traveling before departure to avoid being locked out of your account while abroad, as they may suspect fraud.

If you want to bring cash from your home country and exchange it, the best place to do this is at the Nairobi airport. We can not guarantee that there will be time to visit a money exchange place on the tour. The best way to get local currency is by using an ATM with a debit card.

Tipping is not mandatory in Kenyan culture. That being said, wages are extremely low in Kenya. If you are satisfied with the services provided, a tip is always appropriate and appreciated. While it may not be a part of your customs at home, it is very valuable and helpful to the people who will be taking care of you on your trip.

To help you understand tipping culture, we have provided some ideas for amounts. These are suggestions, as tipping is always a personal choice and at your discretion.


Restaurants: leaving spare change is fine in most restaurants. In upscale eateries look for a 10% service charge. If there is a service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.


Drivers: Our drivers’ tips are included in your tour cost.


Your Tour Guide: You may also consider tipping your tour guide for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is completely at your discretion, however as a guideline $5USD per person, per day is standard practice. Of course, you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.


It is not necessary or expected to tip your Tour Leader, but small, sweet gifts, even handwritten notes, are very appreciated if you feel that your Tour Leader improved your experience.

The currency in Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KES). The US Dollar is also widely accepted and easily exchanged into Kenyan Shillings, however US Dollars are only accepted if they are not torn and were printed in 2006 or later. Denominations come in notes of 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000, whereas coins are 5, 10, and 20.

We recommend always having small denominations for tipping and small purchases.

Packing

Our tours are comfortable and very inclusive with premium accommodation. This means you can pack a little lighter. In fact, you will be carrying your own bags to the lobby or at the airport, and you will need to be able to manage. Don’t bother to pack any single-use plastics as they may get confiscated at the airport. If you pack your clothes in plastic bags for organization purposes, switch to mesh instead.
This is a general list to be used as a guideline. If you think you need more items, pack them.
  • Sunglasses
  • Copies of your travel documents- passport, flight itinerary, travel insurance policy and contact info.
  • A hat for the sun
  • A light wind or rain jacket
  • Bug spray
  • Hiking shoes or sneakers
  • A pair of breathable, solid walking shoes like Keens or Teva, our favorites.
  • A pair of casual shoes and/or flip flops
  • Loose and comfortable clothing for safari (stick to neutrals so you can blend with the bush and improve your chances of spotting wildlife)
  • One nice outfit (think maxi dress or something that is at least knee-length)
  • Short sleeve tops, tank tops, at least one shirt that totally covers your shoulders
  • A lightweight scarf to cover your mouth on any dusty game drives
  • A sports bra, especially if you are riding the ATV
  • A swimsuit and bathing suit cover-up
  • Don’t forget underwear
  • Earplugs and an eye mask
  • Sunscreen
  • Body soap
  • Shampoo, conditioner, hairbrush
  • Body wash
  • Period essentials
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
With a diverse geography, Kenya’s climate varies across the country. As a general rule, January to March is mostly dry and relatively mild while mid-March through June and October through December tend to be rainier. Given the equator runs through the country, the climate is relatively temperate and never gets too cold, even during the rainiest months. But do account for any elevation gains, like in the Masai Mara and Samburu National Park, as that can cause the temperature to drop even more when the sun’s not shining. Along the coast, expect hot and humid conditions year-round and some rain. On the coast, temperatures and rainfall are at their peak from mid-March to late May.

Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables. We recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.

In Kenya, they use plug type G, the plug which has two parallel flat pins with a ground pin. Kenya operates on a 240V supply voltage and 50Hz. We always suggest bringing a universal adaptor.

Phone and internet access

There is wifi available in most of our accommodations, but it is not always the most reliable, especially in more rural areas. We suggest purchasing a prepaid sim card at Nairobi Airport. This option only works on unlocked phones. When you get through customs, exit through the sliding door and outside you will find three shops for Kenya’s main mobile phone providers: Safaricom, Telkom and Airtel.

Plans and prices can change but expect to pay about 1000 KES (about $10USD) for a plan that will provide you 5-10GB of data. You may need your passport to purchase and register your new sim.

Alternatively, ask your home service provider for international plans.

Group leader and guide

All tours with The Solo Female Traveler Network are accompanied by a guide who is with the group for the whole trip. The guide’s role is to be the local expert of the destination and coordinate a lot of the on the ground logistics. They are not always a native of the country, but they are always experienced expert guides. 

Most of our tours also include a leader, whose role is to enrich the experience socially. She will help bridge any cultural differences, manage group expectations, and capture the tour in photos and videos for marketing purposes. Some tours will not include a Tour Leader, and in this case, our local guide will act as both guide and leader.

Traveling as a woman

We believe that every woman should dress as she chooses and should feel free to experience the world without extra worry for her safety. Unfortunately, the rest of the word does not practice gender equality as we wish. It’s important to adapt to local customs to be safer and to respect not only the locals, but also your fellow travelers. The likelihood of anything happening on your trip is quite low, but we recommend being aware of the following safety tips:

Street harassment such as cat calls, stares, invitations to get in a car/bar/restaurant/home are common. These are our tips for responding to this unwanted attention:

  • Ignore. Don’t even bother smiling. Just keep about your business.
  • Wear sunglasses to avoid eye contact.
  • Ignore. We mean it, so we said it twice! Ignore them but also ignore your internal commentary on it all. Let it roll off your back and walk on focusing on all the amazing things around you.
  • Dress respectfully and you will find both men and women will respond to you in a more respectful manner.
  • While it very unlikely to happen, do feel free to stand up for yourself if you feel threatened. Kenyan men you do not know should not be touching you at all and if you’re in public, people will come to your aid if you make a fuss.

For both modesty reasons and sun protection, we suggest loose fitting clothing that covers your shoulders. Long and loose skirts, dresses, or bottoms that cover the knees are comfortable and respectful to the culture. Feel free to dress however you like when at our hotels and resorts. Swimsuits are, of course, appropriate when participating in water activities. Short skirts, plunging necklines, exposed midriffs, and tight clothing should be avoided and left at home.

When not with your guide, we recommend the following:

  • Do not walk in isolated areas or at night by yourself
  • If hotel staff need to enter your room, arrange to be either on tour or in the lobby, so you are not alone.
  • Respect the local customs, which may mean dressing more conservatively than you do at home.
  • Do not hire a driver or guide for tours from the street. Always go with a reputable company or ask us to help you arrange any pre or post experiences. 
  • Do not accept any invitations for anything from random people on the street.
  • Always carry your tour guide’s contact information and hotel address with you during solo time.
  • Alert your guide of any inappropriate behavior or perceived risk to your safety.

Safety

We recommend that you stay up to date on travel safety updates on your home country government website. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, but they are not required to accompany you on solo time, where you can relax, choose an optional activity, or explore on your own. During solo time, we do not vouch for the safety of the experiences you choose, even if our guide or leader recommends them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Our team on the ground is always monitoring the safety situation and reserves the authority to cancel or change experiences at their discretion if deemed unsafe.

Seat belts are always provided and must be worn in accordance with local law. 

Cars may drive on the opposite side of the road than you are used to. Practice extreme caution when crossing the street. Also note that traffic may be much heavier and road rules may be very different from what you are used to. Be careful and aware that pedestrians do not have the right of way.

While most of the tour, especially in major cities, will be with your guide and the group, petty theft is common in any tourist area. Do not walk around alone at night if it can be avoided and hold your belongings close on public transportation. Your local guide will give you some safety tips throughout your tour, and we suggest heeding this advice.

Please do not enter the water without a life vest and a buddy if you are not an experienced swimmer. Alert the leader and guide to your ability level before participating in water activities. Lifeguards are not on duty and our staff are not trained in water rescue. 

We suggest checking your government’s advice in relation to the areas you will be visiting for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is mandatory on all our Meetup Tours. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. We strongly recommend all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company’s 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your leader.

If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank’s name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

Group rules

With almost all of our travelers coming on the Meetup Tour solo, we have women from different countries, backgrounds, perspectives, and opinions. This is part of what makes our tours so special and what often leaves our travelers with couches to crash on around the world and even long time friendships. Like any group, especially one consisting of people of different ages coming from all corners of the world, this can also cause clashes in culture and disagreements. We promote an environment of kindness, empowerment, and communication, so certain behaviors will not be tolerated for the benefit of everyone’s experience. 

A great group dynamic takes effort, patience, and compassion from every member. Bullying, threatening, and violence of staff, locals, and fellow participants will not be tolerated on our trips.

Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while traveling, we encourage responsible drinking and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.

The group guide and leader have final say on all matters that affect the safety or well-being of any traveler or staff member participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a group leader, or interfere with the well-being or mobility of the group, the group leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right of refund.