Kenya, a country renowned for its diverse landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich wildlife, offers an enchanting experience for travelers on any budget. While it may be tempting to think that a memorable trip to this East African gem requires deep pockets, the reality is that Kenya can be explored and enjoyed even on a shoestring budget.
Here are some simple valuable tips and tricks to help you travel on a budget while experiencing the best that Kenya has to offer.
Backpacking in Kenya: plan ahead and research
The key to a successful budget-friendly trip to Kenya begins with thorough planning and research. Start by determining the best time to visit – the shoulder seasons, which fall between the peak tourist months, often offer more affordable prices for accommodation and activities. Additionally, keep an eye on flight deals and consider flying into less popular airports for potential savings.
Getting around in Kenya on a budget: opt for local transport
While hiring a private car might be more comfortable, it can quickly eat up your budget. Instead, embrace local transportation options like matatus (shared minivans) or buses to get around the country. They are not only more affordable but also offer a chance to interact with locals and experience Kenyan culture first-hand. You only need to beware of pick-pockets on some routes but generally, the matatu crew and fellow passengers are friendly and willing to guide you accordingly.
Where to stay on your Kenya safari: budget accommodation
Kenya offers a range of budget-friendly accommodation options, from AirBnBs and guesthouses to campsites. Staying in AirBnBs, villas or guesthouses not only saves you money but also provides an opportunity to meet fellow travelers and share experiences. Camping is another economical choice, especially in national parks where you can immerse yourself in nature without breaking the bank.
What to do in Kenya: explore free and low-cost attractions
Kenya is a treasure trove of natural wonders, many of which can be explored at little or no cost. For instance, Nairobi National Park, located within the capital city, offers a chance to see wildlife against a backdrop of skyscrapers – a unique experience that won’t cost a fortune. Additionally, indulge in free activities like hiking along the Ngong hills, visiting local markets, or strolling along pristine beaches in the coastal region.
Eating out: sample local cuisine
Eating at local eateries and street food stalls not only gives you a taste of authentic Kenyan flavors but also saves you money. Nyama choma (grilled meat), chapati, and ugali are some affordable and delicious staples you can try.
In Kenya, bargaining is a culture and a common practice in markets and with street vendors. Don’t hesitate to negotiate the prices to get the best deals on transport (fare), souvenirs, crafts, and other goods.
Embrace low-cost camping safaris
Many of you that are considering visiting Kenya will have a wildlife safari as part of your plans. If you dream of going on a safari but are concerned about the cost, consider booking a camping safari instead of luxury lodges. Camping safaris offer a more intimate experience with nature, and many tour operators provide affordable packages that include camping equipment and meals.
If package deals aren’t for you, most of Kenya’s most magical wild spaces can be explored on your own if you bring your own camping equipment.
Be mindful of conservation fees
Kenya takes pride in its vast array of national parks and wildlife reserves. While exploring these protected areas, keep in mind that you will need to pay conservation fees. You can opt for a multi-day park pass if you plan to visit multiple locations, as it may be more cost-effective than purchasing separate entrance fees.
Traveling on a budget in Kenya doesn’t mean compromising on experiences; it’s about embracing the spirit of adventure and immersing yourself in the local culture. With careful planning, research, and a willingness to explore like a local, you can embark on an unforgettable journey through Kenya without breaking the bank.