General Information

Weather

Nairobi experiences a subtropical highland climate with warm spring month temperatures in October ranging between 11.3°C at night and 25.7°C during the day. There are 5 days of rain in the month of October in Nairobi with about 60.8mm of precipitation. In Nairobi, the average length of the day in October is 12 hours, with an average sunshine of 7.3 hours.

Practical advice for a stay in Nairobi:

  • Light clothing during the day and heavy clothing at night
  • Sunglasses and light hat

Immunization and Medicine

Ensure you are well informed on routine vaccines prior to every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

Healthcare

Health care centers in Kenya would also be able to provide first aid for simple matters, and would give you competent medical advice. Pharmacies are also open during normal business hours (8:00 AM to 8:30 PM).

In the event of medical attention during the night or over the weekends, you can find which pharmacy is open by checking the schedule posted on every pharmacy door. Most staff in the pharmacies speak English, and the medicines are of high quality.

The private AGA Khan University hospital, located in Nairobi, is widely considered to offer a high level of care and is popular with expats. However, expats should be aware that private healthcare in Kenya can be prohibitively expensive without the assistance of a comprehensive health insurance policy.

The medical emergency number in Kenya is 999 and is run by English speaking operators. Experts should be sure to carry the contact details of their nearest embassy for cases of emergency.

Currency

The Kenyan Shilling is the currency of Kenya.The currency code for Shillings is KES, and the currency symbol is KSh. Notes are in the denomination of 1000,500, 200, 100 and 50. Coins are in 40, 20,10 and 5. Currency can be exchanged at the major banks, bureaux de exchange or authorized hotels. The banks at the Jommo Kenyatta International Airport and Moi International Airport have 24 hr exchange rate. The easier exchange rate is the US Dollar, Pounds sterling and Euros.

Credit Cards and ATMs

Visa is the most commonly accepted, with major hotels and businesses accepting the use of credit cards. Mastercard/Maestro/Cirrus, and Amex also often used in international chains and tourist areas.

ATMs are common within Nairobi. You will find ATMs in supermarkets, airports and other public places.

There may be a daily withdrawal limit from the machine as well as your card itself. You may even need to tell you bank that you are travelling to another country so that they will authorise its use overseas.

Visa cardholders will find the most ATMs open to them, but MasterCard and Amex are less well represented.

Retail Banks in Kenya include:

Banking hours are 0900 to 1600 hours Monday to Friday

Credit Cards

Credit card usage in Greece is not as widespread as in other parts of Europe, but in recent years there has been a massive effort to catch up. In fact, the government is actively encouraging and enforcing card use for some businesses, particularly in the hotel industry.

So, you will be able to use your cards in shops and hotels, fuel stations and shops up and down the country.

When it comes to bars and tavernas though, you may need to check their machine is working.

Food and Drink

Meat in Kenya is generally outstandingly good, and nyama choma (barbecued meat) is ubiquitous at any major feasts or popular dining spots. Beef and chicken are readily available, but goat is the most-widely eaten among locals and certainly a must try for carnivorous visitors.

Inland, a local freshwater fish, tilapia, is popular and tasty, while on the coast, zesty Swahili cuisine features fragrant rice, grilled fish and seafood curries with coconut milk and lots of spices.

Indian and Middle Eastern food is available in most areas, and there is a wide range of international restaurants in Nairobi and Mombasa.

Tourist hotels provide buffet meals and hotels in smaller towns offer a dish of the day, such as chicken and chips or stew and rice. Sumptuous tropical fruits, ranging from pineapples to mangoes, can be bought seasonally at local markets.

Drinking the tap water is not recommended as the supply is not reliable, but bottled water is available in most places. Alternatively, bring your own reusable water bottle with a filter or use water purification tablets. Avoid ice and washed salads and fruit except in top hotels and restaurants. Milk is pasteurised and dairy products are safe for consumption. Food prepared by unlicensed vendors should be avoided at all times.

Tipping is optional. Most hotels and restaurants include a 10% service charge in the bill. If they don’t, a small tip is customary for good service

Electricity

Kenya Power & Lighting PLC is the main power distributor in the country. Most residential and commercial buildings (hotels) receive about 240 volts of power, so make sure that any appliance you intend to use does not exceed this rating

SIM Card

There are three network operators (MNOs):

    • Safaricom
    • Airtel
    • Telkom

Both local and international calls can be made directly from most of the hotels in Kenya. Telephone rates can be found in the rooms or at the hotel reception and should always be referred to before making the call. Cellphone coverage is widespread and SIM cards and pay-as-you-go (pre-paid) top-up cards from the two main operators, Safaricom and Airtel, are inexpensive and widely available.

Most hotels and lodges have Wi-Fi connectivity that can be accessed in the rooms or public areas. Others have business centers where you can access the internet at a fee.

If you wish to use your own laptop, IPad or smartphone, internet data bundles are available through local mobile service providers at affordable rates. We recommend Safaricom due to better coverage and faster speeds. For laptops, a Safaricom modem (cost approx. USD 25) can be purchased.

Blackberry browser bundles are also available at affordable rates. All internet bundles are available on pay-as-you-go (prepayment) basis. All these can be purchased from the providers’ respective customer care outlets.

Local Customs and Etiquette

Kenyans expect you to greet them before you start the conversation.

The most common greeting is “Jambo, habari gani?” (“How are you?”)