What to Pack for Kenya

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Are you looking to visit the coast? How about the Mara or maybe even a trip to the remote villages in Kenya. Coming up with a packing list especially for your first trip in Kenya can be a little daunting. Keep reading to find out what to pack whilst on your trip to Kenya. We have also added a bonus FAQ section! Having lived in and traveled to most parts of the country, we have a pretty good idea of what we feel would be best to have.

Before we begin, let’s talk about weather. The weather will play a crucial role in your journey to Kenya and what to pack. Kenya has two seasons, dry and rainy August. While browsing through the list, do put a mental note of the season you plan on visiting. As Kenya is located in the equator, it does not get too cold unless you do decide to take a hike up the mountains. We recommend scarves and sweaters for chilly nights.

As a reminder – your packing list will depend on what part of the country you are looking to visit. In a rush? Use the Table of Contents below to find exactly what you are looking for.

a tree in the savanna
Photo by Damian Patkowski on Unsplash

The essentials

  1. Documents – Have your passport and itinerary ready for presentation at customs. We recommend having printed copies as Kenya is not yet fully digital. Not sure if you need a visa, check here.
  2. Medication and Vaccinations – Before you travel, kindly consult with your doctor about the vaccines that you will need specific to your trip. As a general rule, Kenya does require a proof of a valid yellow fever vaccine. You can always find the most up-to-date information on the CDC website here. You will also need some anti-malaria medication. These can be bought before hand or at the major cities such as Nairobi. Do carry your prescription medication such as birth control as it might be a challenge to find your exact brand locally.
  3. Travel Insurance – Travel insurance is a requirement while visiting Kenya and it will save you a lot when you do need it. We also recommend signing up for Flying Doctors if you plan on visiting the remote parts of the country.
  4. Cash – Before getting your way around the different modes of payment, we recommend having some money with you. Ideally about 100 USD (not issued before 2004) which you can convert to KES at the airport after you land. Do get a Safaricom simcard as soon as you can as most places prefer MPESA as their mode of payment. Of note is that all KWS parks are cashless.

Read Also: Getting in and around Magical Kenya

  1. Universal power adapter – In Kenya the standard voltage is 240 and almost all sockets are the British 3-pin sockets. You may need a converter for appliances that do not have a rating of the above voltage. You may also prefer buying a 3-pin universal extension such as this one to connect all your devices.
  2. Power Bank – Kenya is notorious for experiencing black outs and not all parts of the country are on the electric grid. For times like these, we highly recommend having your own power bank. In major cities such as Nairobi, the blackouts rarely last a day and have been becoming less frequent.
  3. Flashlight – Adding onto the above, we recommend flashlight. This comes very handy especially if you are camping. We love this hands-free head lamp as it is also waterproof and shockproof.
  4. Camera – Invest in a good quality camera that can withstand the different conditions all around Kenya. We love this one the most. It can withstand some pretty rough conditions.

Read Also: Peeking into Hell’s Gate

  1. Sunscreen – Sunscreen options in Kenya are pretty limited and a bit pricier therefore we recommend brining your own.
  2. Sunglasses and a hat – for added sun protection.
  3. Bug repellent – Whilst on the coast or on a safari, bugs are pretty common. Here is a insect repellent bracelet that you could pop on and forget about bugs.
  4. Learn a bit of Swahili – You can get by with English almost everywhere, however, learning the basic words will earn you some brownie points with the locals. Trip Savvy has got a pretty thorough guide.
  5. Shoes – If LJ and I couple pick only two shoes to bring with us to Kenya, it would be a pair of Blundstones and some Teva sandals. Our pairs have lasted us years and they blend with almost every activity imaginable.
  6. Money belt – Like any other country Kenya does have pickpockets, we highly recommend a hidden money belt. We would also advise that you travel with copies of your documents as well as carry valuables only when necessary.
  7. Clothing – Carry items according to the weather of the locations you plan to visit. As a pointer – have some rain gear, ensure most of your clothing sits on or below the knee (more on this later) and have a few warm clothes. We have got a compiled list at the bottom on this article. We advise sticking to neutrals for safaris and avoiding whites due to dust. This applies to shoes as well.
  8. Binoculars – This is an essential for game spotting. Anything from an 8x willl do.
Es at Ololokwe
Es at Ololokwe

and then some

This section is for those bits and bobs that make your trip a little more fun.

  1. VPN – Kenya might have some sites restricted such as Hulu and Disney+. Having a VPN ensures you can still access your at-home subscriptions. This will also keep you safe while using public Wi-Fi. Our go to VPN is always NordVPN.
  2. Kindle – Some areas might not have cell service and having your favourite shows pre-downloaded or having a kindle could come in handy in moments like these.
  3. Electrolytes – While on a safari, having some electrolytes will give you the fuel you need.
  4. A button phone (Kabambe – as the locals call it) – This phone comes is useful when you prefer to leave your actual phone safe but still need a form of communication. We have travelled a lot with just a button phone. They are best bought locally at cost around 15 USD.
  5. Favourite snacks – If there is a snack or sauce you cannot live without, we recommend packing a stash of it.
  6. First Aid kit – Areas outside cities and towns might not have a medical centre nearby.
  7. Passport holder – To keep your passport secure throughout your trip.
  8. Preferred Toiletries – If there are any brands of shampoos, conditioners or other toiletries you like, please bring those with you.
  9. Face masks – Kenya requires one to wear a mask while in public spaces. You can find these locally as well.
malindi beach
Malindi, Kenya. Photo by Ken kahiri on Unsplash

By Destination

While packing for Kenya, please note that local airlines have a limit of 15 kg for check-in baggage.

City

Cites such as Nairobi are very urban. Here you can find a lot of items that are in your home country. Nairobi is a very cosmopolitan city therefore expect a mixture of culture. If Nairobi is your only destination, you need not pack a lot of the essentials as you can find them locally.

The items that we still recommend that you pack are; Documents, Medication, Insurance, Cash, Camera and a money belt. If you decide to visit other areas, we recommend shopping for all your essentials in Nairobi.

Read Also: The Ultimate Nairobi Travel Guide

Safari

On top of the essentials, we recommend having neutral coloured clothing while going out on drives. We advice that you avoid wearing white apparel. Bright colours may attract tsetse flies as well as black and navy blue.

Beach

Coastal areas of Kenya tend higher humidity. We recommend light breathable clothing. The locals have a dress called a deera that is a light, long and flowy dress that is perfect for the coast. PS: Shorts are more common in the coast.

Upcountry

Whilst visiting remote parts of Kenya, we advise the following;

  1. Have some cash as ATMs might not be accessible and cell service could glitchy.
  2. Carry change of clothing as access to water for washing clothes is not readily available.
  3. Consider wearing items below the knee as these areas are a little bit more conservative. (you may purchase locally made clothing)
pride of lions
Photo by Leonard von Bibra on Unsplash

What not to pack/wear in Kenya

We have answered the question – what to pack for Kenya. What about what not to pack? Kenya is a conservative country. We recommend sticking to clothing that is on or below the knee. This is especially while visiting upcountry areas. Nothing too form-fitting. While visiting religious centres, dress as modestly as possible. Avoid military-style clothing as well.

Do not bring;

  1. Single use plastics. Stick to woven bags and BPA-free multiuse water bottles, these ones are accepted everywhere Kenya has a ban on single-use plastic and you could get fined heavily for being in possession of any.
  2. Unnecessary valuables
  3. Large amounts of money
  4. Any illegal items.
african giraffe
Photo by Harshil Gudka on Unsplash

Clothing to pack for Kenya

When thinking of clothing, here are some key pointers. The clothes should be – light weight, easy to hand-wash, and breathable. Think along the lines of;

Do not worry if you forget anything, Nairobi as well as other cities and towns have a bunch of clothing shops. The best part is the locals know exactly the kind of clothing to have for that area. We highly recommend purchasing a Kikoy locally. This item is extremely versatile. It can be used as a scarf, sarong, bag, beach towel, pants, skirts, picnic blanket and even as a baby carrier!

kikoy
Kikoy as a sarong. Photo c/o: Owner

You asked, we answered (FAQs)

Do I need a car in Kenya?

No. A lot of areas are easily accessibly by public means or taxi. However, when going to remote areas you might need to plan your route ahead if you do not have a car. While packing for Kenya, have an international drivers’ permit from your local AA if you intend on driving locally.

Is Kenya safe?

Kenya is a safe country especially when compared to other countries in Africa. However, like every country, you should always have your street smart skills handy. Always check with your local travel advisory before visiting any country.

Does Kenya have internet?

Yes. Most places have 3G connection while cities have 4G. Wi-fi is also available in big cities.

What is the most reliable Internet Service Provider?

We personally love Safaricom fibre.

What is the best phone service provider?

Safaricom as it covers a lot of areas in Kenya as well as it is the provider of Mpesa, the most common means of payment in Kenya

Do I need a visa to enter Kenya?

Check with the Kenyan immigration for a list of visas required by country. Typically non-African countries need a visa.

What vaccines should I get?

It is best to consult with your healthcare provider on trip-specific vaccinations. Kenya does require proof of Yellow fever vaccination at the port of entry.

boys on a beach
Photo by Sylvia Szekely on Unsplash

Till next time, Karibu Magical Kenya.

Affiliate Disclosure: We may earn commissions for qualifying purchases made through links in this post at no extra cost to you. Read more about our disclosure policy here.

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