How much should I budget for my safari in Kenya?
Best way to handle money when traveling to Kenya
Most restaurants, lodges or campsites do not accept foreign debit cards. Paying with foreign credit cards (Visa and Mastercard) is possible at the more upmarket hotels and restaurants. ATMs are widely available across the country. KCB, Barclays and Citibank are among the more reliable banks accepting MasterCard, Maestro and Visa. Do bring additional cards, as the daily uptake with a foreign card is limited at the ATMs.
US Dollars and Euros can easily be changed to Kenyan Shillings at any Forex Bureau in most provincial towns.
A good way to avoid heavy surcharge when using your card abroad or for carrying large sums of cash money, is to use mobile money and register with MPESA. It enables users to store, send, and receive money using their mobile phone. Contrary to what you might think - Kenya is no longer a cash economy, because of the widespread use of mobile money. It means you can pay any bill or vendor ( the souvenir stand on the local market, entrance fees at the park gate, drinks at a restaurant), directly with your phone. We strongly recommend that you buy a local SIM card to insert into your own smartphone and load it with airtime and an internet bundle. You can buy a sim card on arrival at the airport, or at any of the many shopping malls. We recommend using Safaricom. You can then also register for MPESA
Average costs for hotels, food and drinks in Kenya
Petrol typically costs between $1.10 – $1.30 per litre
The average price of a three-course meal at a more upmarket restaurant or lodge is about $15-20 pp. Prices are considerably lower at a more local restaurant. Tipping is customary in Kenya. A 10% tip is common and received with gratitude. If you're happy with the service, please be generous. Tips at most places are equally shared among all staff.
When staying at a lodge inside a national park or conservancy, the price category is roughly the following:
- Budget: up to USD 120 for a double room (BB)
- Mid-range: up to USD 300 for a double room (BB)
- High-end: beyond USD 300 (Full Board)
One can find plenty of decent budget and mid-range guesthouses and hotels outside of the national parks at a much lower rate.
Tips for visiting Kenya on a budget
Kenya is not a low-budget destination. But it is surely possible to enjoy Kenya with a smaller pocket if you follow our budget travel tips...
- Camping is a great way to save on accommodation costs and can cost as little as $ 5/ night if you stay at a campground outside of the protected areas. Almost every campsite is plotted and reviewed in the free app iOverlander.
- Buy your groceries at the market, instead of going to a western supermarket, where prices can even be higher than back home.
- Eating in at your upmarket lodge or beach resort is considerably more expensive than eating out at a ( local) restaurant.
- We can't recommend it enough - visit Kenya in low season! From March to May, hotel rates drop 25-50%, and also our car rental rates are lower.
There are numerous advantages to traveling during the low season. Check our blog - best time to visit Kenya.