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Kenya Travel Tips

Most visitors do require visas to enter Kenya.  Visas should be obtained from a Kenyan embassy or consulate in your country or from a British embassy where there is no Kenyan diplomatic representation.  Visa applications should be made at least thirty days prior to the date of departure.  On arrival in Kenya passports are stamped with a visitor’s pass for a specified period, extendable (if there is no objection) from the Immigration Department in Nairobi or Mombasa respectively.  Visas for Tanzania can be obtained at crossings along our common border but please confirm details with their High Commission.

Business and Banking Hours
Most banks in the major urban centers have a Bureau de Change.  Banks are open between 9.00 a.m. and 3.00 p.m. Monday through Friday and between 9.00 a.m. and 11.00 a.m. on the first and last Saturday of the month.  Branches of banks at the Jomo Kenyatta and Moi International Airports extend their opening hours beyond those specified above but differ from bank to bank.  Forex bureaus from 8.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. on weekdays and from 9.00 a.m. to 1.00p.m. on Saturdays and do not charge commission.  Hotels are also authorized to transact in foreign currency. Offices in Kenya are generally open between 8.00 a.m. and 5.00p.m. Monday to Friday. 

Public Holidays
1st January (New year’s Day), February/March (Idd Ill Fitr)*, March/April (Good Friday/Easter Monday)**, 1st May (Labour Day), 1st June (Madaraka Day), 10th October (Moi Day), 20th October (Kenyatta Day), 12th December (Jamhuri Day), 25th December (Christmas Day, 26th December (Boxing Day).  The Muslim Festival Idd Ul Fitr is also a public holiday which is declared according to the sighting of the moon. The dates for Easter holidays vary from year to year. 

Kenya Railways operates a train service between Nairobi and Mombasa.  Nairobi to Mombasa departures are scheduled on Monday, Wednesday and Friday while Mombasa to Nairobi is on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.  Trains are also available between Nairobi and Kisumu.  The journeys are generally overnight.

In keeping with the acceptable practice worldwide, visitors are advised not to leave cash and valuables in their hotel rooms but to make use of hotel safe deposit boxes or safes.  Visitors should not carry large sums of money on their person while walking on the streets.  Lady visitors are advised to be careful with their handbags in crowded places and busy streets.  Necklaces and jewellery should be left at home or kept in the hotel custody. As in all major cities walking at night alone should be avoided.  Never leave valuables on show in unattended car or tour bus. Kenya has an efficient police force as well as special tourist police unit with highly trained officers.  Most hotels also employ experienced security personnel but you must take the precautions you would anywhere else in the world.

These are no restrictions on the foreign exchange you may bring into the country.  You are also allowed to take a limited amount of Kenya. For large amounts, however, you require written authorization from the Central Bank of Kenya.  Defacement of the Kenyan currency is an indictable offence.  The unit of the currency is the Kenya shilling.  It is recommended that you change your foreign currency in banks, forex bureaus or authorized hotels.  Surplus Kenya currency should be changed into foreign currency prior to departure.  Credit cards are accepted in many establishments. 

Electricity in Kenya is 220/240 volts.  Sockets are usually 3 pins square.  For appliances operating on another voltage please bring an adaptor.

Departure Formalities
On departure, an International Airport departure tax is payable for both domestic and international flights but is usually added to the fare when purchasing your air ticket unless otherwise specified.  There are duty free shops at International airports but purchases are made only in convertible currencies.  Customs officials may require the inspection of outgoing baggage.  All baggage is weighed and subjected to x-ray inspection before loading.

English is the official language and is mainly spoken in the urban centers while Kiswahili is the national language and is spoken countrywide.

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