Cost of Traveling in Kenya – How Much Do You Need?

By Mark Wiens 34 Comments

What money does Kenya use? – Kenya uses the Kenya Shilling (KES)

1 USD = 83.75 KES

Kenya Visa Costs

Kenya visa is valid for 3 months and is available upon arrival (confirm visa with your nationality).

How much money do I need to travel in Kenya?” In Kenya it highly depends on the itinerary of activities that you wish to accomplish. Are you going to just hang out in Kenya or do you want to see wildlife?

Daily Money Needed for Traveling in Kenya – I would say that if you have anywhere from $20 on the lowest end to $50 per day, depending on your style of travel and what sites you want to visit, you will be able to accomplish a lot and have a very enjoyable time in Kenya.  If you start taking safaris and tours, prices will inflate, maybe into the $100 – $200 per day range.

The cheapest prices for things in Kenya are usually not the best quality and maybe not overly safe (Ex: If a hotel room costs $2 per night – it might suit your needs, but be cautious of safety conditions).

Cost of Traveling in Kenya
Cost of Traveling in Kenya

Price of Accommodation in Kenya

There are a number of different accommodation levels for staying in Kenya.

The cheapest Kenyan hotels are pretty grungy, but rooms can probably be found for $1 – $2 per night. These hotels should be the very last resort option for travelers as they are not too sanitary and possibly not even safe.

Hostel dorm beds in Kenya cost around $6 – $10 per night – they are not always available. There are options for youth hostels like the Nairobi Youth Hostel that offers some of the cheapest and decent accommodation.

For a double private room at a guest house in Kenya, expect to pay anywhere from $10 – $20 per night. Another step up the budget at mid-range hotels can cost $20 – $40 per night.

Cost of Eating Food in Kenya

Hearty meals of Kenyan street food that consist of a plate of ugali (common cornmeal staple) or rice, vegetables, beans, and maybe a small bit of grizzly meat stew can cost 60 – 80 KES ($0.70 – $1) per plate. There are street food stands that are cheaper that usually include only starch and vegetables.

Eating grilled meat, known as nyama choma, is very popular throughout Kenya if you have the money.  1 Kilo of goat at a nyama choma street style eatery will cost 250 – 350 KES ($2.94 – $4.12). An entire roasted chicken should cost around 400 KES ($4.70).

Non-street lunch style meals at food courts or medium ranged restaurants cost in the range of 200 – 500 KES ($2.36 – $5.89) per dish.

Sit-down proper restaurant meals will often cost in the range of 500 – 1000 KES ($5.89 – $11.78). For example, at The Smart Village Eritrean restaurant, I usually go with a few friends and we eat a huge spread of food, with the bill equaling out to about 600 KES ($7 food and Ethiopian honey wine!) per person.

1 L sized bottle of water – 50 – 60 KES

*Note: An interesting fact is that it is often cheaper to drink soda than bottled water at restaurants in Kenya.

Cost of Food in Kenya
Price of Food in Kenya

Cost of Drinking or Going Out

At local style bars, 500 ml bottles of beer cost anywhere from 100 – 150 KES ($1.18 – $1.76). For nicer bars catering to expats and the upper class, drinks are sold in the range of 200 – 400 KES ($2.36 – $4.70). Don’t need to tip for drinks.

Quite a few nightclub discos and venues charge a cover charge of a few hundred shillings.

Cost of Transportation in Kenya

Transportation in Nairobi
Transportation in Nairobi

Nairobi Matatu Public Buses

Matatus (Kenyan public mini-buses) are the quickest and cheapest way to get around the big cities in Kenya, specifically Nairobi. Due to elevated fuel prices, matatu rides cost a minimum of 30 KES ($0.35) and are more expensive depending on the time of the day or night as well as route and demand. Here is the most detailed map of the chaotic matatu routes in Nairobi.

Kenya Bus Service and Citi Hoppa buses also provide transportation in and around Nairobi.

Taxis don’t have meters, and they are quite expensive in Nairobi. The best thing to do is to tell a trusted local where you will be going and ask what a reasonable rate would be. You can also try Wandering Earl’s method of not getting ripped off riding in taxis.

To get from city to city there is the option of buses, the train (certain locations), and flying:

Sample Cost of a handful of Nairobi Attractions:

Nairobi National Park
Nairobi National Park

There are also a lot of cool and FREE attractions on 101 things to do in Nairobi here!

Cost of Taking a Safari in Kenya

Safari’s are simply NOT cheap, no matter what variables you choose and match. The overall price of a safari includes park entrance fees, transportation, lodging, and food.

If you don’t have access to a personal vehicle, the easiest option is to join an all inclusive safari tour. These tours often visit a park of your choice or hop around to a number of different parks – be prepared to spend $100 – $200 per day – all inclusive (Ex: 3 day safari – $500).

Here are a few safari tour companies if you are interested:

*Note: I would recommend doing extensive research

Even if you can save money with your own vehicle, the entrance fees are still quite pricey. Nairobi National Park is one of the cheapest parks at $40 per day but others like Amboseli and Maasai Mara are around $60 per day.

Visit the Kenya Wildlife Service website for more of the latest information. Do it yourself safaris can save money, but can also be a hassle of responsibility.

Though there are quite a few fees that simply can’t be avoided, here are a few tips to help save money on an African safari.

Kenya Money Conclusion

Kenya is not the cheapest money travel destination in the world. Splurge or not, Kenya is an incredible country that has a diverse range of activities, cultures and beautiful sites to offer all travelers.