Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Cost Of Tourism To Kenya (A Detailed Guide)


An African safari must be an item on your bucket list, if you are reading this article. However, the only thing  that may be a constraint is the...assumption that travelling to Kenya is probably too expensive for you or one of the other Safari destinations. Therefore, in this article, I will be answering the question: Is Kenya Expensive to Visit? And also providing you with the information you need to save money on your trip to Kenya.

Visiting Kenya is not quite expensive. It can cost you the minimum of $4000 to visit. You can be economical, if you avoid places visited often by international tourists. You can still secure a decent hotel room for as low as $50 per night and getting around in most major towns is easy with rideshare apps like Uber and Bolt. You can book your safari when you arrive in Kenya and negotiate with the safari company to get a good deal. Let me explain the cost of visiting Kenya and give you some local knowledge to help you spend wisely when you are in Kenya.

The amount you will spend per day when visiting Kenya.

Cost of a safari

There is a wide range of pricing options when going on a Kenyan safari but the least you are expected to spend when going on a safari in Kenya is:

    Budget Safaris: This happens usually in tented camps where you will share amenities like washrooms and showers. It costs $150 per person in a day.

    Mid Range Safaris: There are better amenities included in this kind of safari and comfortable rooms with their own bathrooms and showers. There is  slightly better experience with your transportation within the park. It costs $350 per person per day.

    Luxury safaris: They have the best accommodation and exclusive safari drives. This costs a minimum of $7000 per person in 10 days.


Cost of backpacking around Kenya

The amount spent in backpacking around Kenya is dependent on three things. They are:

  •      Transport
  •     Accommodation
  •     Meals


Public transport, known as Matatu in Kenya is the most affordable way of backpacking around Kenya.

I have disagreed with this article that it’s not advisable for tourists to use public transport in Nairobi. Long-distance public transport to most towns in Kenya from Nairobi is comfortable and safe for me to recommend it as a good way to backpack around Kenya.

Backpacking with public transport in Kenya will save you a huge amount of money as you will be paying what normal Kenyans would pay to get around.

You might have been thinking of opting for a self-drive in Kenya. From this article I have written, I discovered that it may be illegal to do a self-drive in Kenya without a license. Check out for the details.


As a foreigner, your safety is first before thinking about saving money. The kind of accommodation to be used should primarily put your safety and the safety of your gear into consideration before trying to save money.

You have to opt for hotels that are in the mid or upper price ranges because of the high security.

These are links to a few mid-range hotels on

Location Number of Properties

  • Nairobi 2062
  • Mombasa 663
  • Watamu 262
  • Diani Beach 192
  • Malindi 157
  • Kisumu 143
  • Nakuru 140
  • Naivasha 100
  • Mtwapa 79
  • Eldoret 67
  • Nanyuki 60
  • Syokimau 51
  • Ukunda 51
  • Lamu 44
  • Kilifi 38
  • Shanzu 38
  • Talek 35
  • Athi River 35
  • Machakos 27
  • Bamburi 25
  • Narok (town nearest to Masai Mara) 25
  • Thika 25
  • Nyali 23
  • Masai Mara 21
  • Kisii 21

As at 2019, hotels that charge between $50 to $90 are classified in the mid-range category. These hotels pay more attention to security than some of the other budget hotels that charge less than this.


Where you eat is positively dependent on the amount of money you spend on your meals. As a tourist, you don't want dirty looking places as your probability of getting sick from them is higher than more established food joints. Foods from supermarkets should also be avoided.


Budget to spend around $10 per meal as a backpacker in Kenya.

If your aim is to save some money striking a balance between fancy and cost, then it will cost $20 to $30 for lunch or dinner, eating at a fancy restaurant.

How much money do you need to visit Kenya?

After all said, how much money do you need for you to have a 10-day visit to Kenya?

You will need: $3,000

Let’s break this down into constituencies, therefore, this will help you see where you can save.

Item Notes Cost

International Flights: $800 return flight from Atlanta (I recommend Skyscanner. Check updated prices for yourself.) $800

Hotels/accommodation:  $80 per night, 2 nights (the first night before safari and last night after the safari is complete) $160

Transportation/transfers: Your safari company may probably offer this, however, it’s good to plan for it. $200

Cost of the Safari: The average cost of a mid-range safari is $2,500 but they can give discount as low as $1,500 for a 10-day safari (Here is a $1,200 Safari I found on Intrepid Travel) $2,500

Cost of visiting the beach: Most of the mid-range safaris offer this, therefore, you can leave it out of your calculations.  

Souvenirs: Budget around $500 on souvenirs. This should get you enough to give gifts to about 3-4 people and have a few left for yourself. $500

Tips: These are actually based on individuals but remember that the safari drivers will expect to get tipped. You will spend about $100 in tipping the driver, waiters, and chefs. $100

Travel insurance: This is a very important part of your safari and you should not forget it. Your insurance should cover medical and emergency evacuation. The cost of this varies. $150

Vaccination /medical costs:  This depends on each individual’s situation, therefore, for certainty, I will put a $100 to this. $100

The total is about $4600 per person to go to a 10 day Kenyan Safari.

Cost of visiting Kenya vs other safari destinations

You might have been wondering about if Kenya is more expensive than visiting some of the other safari destinations like Southern Africa or Tanzania.

Moreso, visiting Kenya is cheaper than Tanzania.

I made some research on this area and found that Kenya is more affordable as a tourist destination than Tanzania because it has a better development of tourist infrastructure and there is higher competition among the tour operators. You may battle with more crowds here in Kenya but there is probability of getting a better deal here than Tanzania.

On the other hand, I discovered that doing a safari in South Africa can be cheaper than in East Africa. This is because many of these places would allow you to do self-drives in their national parks and this would cause reduction in some of the safari costs. The cost of an organized safari will usually make up a large percentage of your Safari budget and the reduction of this by doing a self-drive gives room for you to save a lot of money.

Ways of saving money in Kenya as a tourist.

Book your safari at your arrival in Kenya.

Book your safari at arrival, instead of booking your safari months ahead, from your home country. It will give you enough opportunity to shop around and negotiate. (More on negotiating later).

Please Note: Booking your safari when you arrive is not be possible for everyone. You may not be rest assured that you are going to find a good safari available on short notice. Therefore, it may still be safer to book your safari ahead of time but remember that you are going to pay more if you do it this way.

Shop around to get the best deal

Kenyan hotels and safaris have a wide price range. If you want to save money on your visit, sample a few options before proceeding.

For hotels, this involves physically visiting each one you’re interested in and viewing the rooms. You can initially make a shortlist of the places you will physically go to, through online booking sites like

Avoid using booking sites for hotels

I found out that many booking sites add emergency to the cost of the room. You have better chances of saving money, if you actually visit the hotels yourself.

This might not be practical but it is one of the best ways of saving money when coming to Kenya.

I will warn that this may not always work out because sometimes, booking sites give heavily discounted rates and the price you will be offered when you come may be higher than what you saw on the website.

Avoid very popular destinations during the high season

Popular destinations would be avoided, especially in the high season. This is because there will be many tourists and the tour operators will tend to hike the prices to make more money on higher demand.

At the same time, the people who travel during high seasons have a higher propensity to spend more and pay higher rates since they could afford to go during the high season. If you are looking to save money, this should be avoided.

Always negotiate

Almost all Kenyan businesses expect you to negotiate and will tag their items at double or even triple the actual price of the item.

When negotiating, calm your nerves and not take it too seriously. Though, it may be uncomfortable, if you’re not used to doing it but you will not be frowned upon for asking for a discount.

Book international flights early

Booking international flights early enough is always cheaper, especially ahead of your Safari.  This is because Airlines would like to have level assurance on future travels and would provide a discount for this assurance. The Skyscanner website is a good place to find great international flight deals. Skyscanner scans through the internet to find the cheapest fares and is also a good place to set up alerts. This is a link to their international flight deals.

How to save money on International flights to Kenya

  • Search for the best deals on international flights using services like Skyscanner.
  •  Book your flight at least two or three months ahead to get low prices.
  •  Set an alert on Skyscanner for flight deals at least 6 months to the time you intend to go on safari.


How to find a good Hotel in Nairobi as a tourist

  •     Shop around by physically visiting the hotels and checking the rooms.
  •     Reading through their reviews on Google and checking for stories on bad experiences of people who had patronized them.
  •     Do not book on the websites, if you are already in Kenya. The booking sites add their own fee to the charges of the hotels and you can get a better bargain when you go to the hotel personally.
  •  Ask the taxi drivers and tour operators for good recommendations of hotels. They usually know the places that have good deals and places to be avoided.

Cost of visiting the beach in Kenya

After your safari, you may decide to visit one of Kenya’s coastal towns for some time at the beach. Your cost for doing this depends on the kind of hotel you plan on staying and the way you plan to get there. This will range around $200 per day if you stay at a  comfortable mid-range beach resort with nearby beach access.

There are three options to get there.

    You can be there by train on the standard gauge railway: The train uses about 4 hours to get to Mombasa from Nairobi and will charge about $15 each way.

    You can take a bus: This method will take the longest time of about 6 to 7 hours and cost you about $20.

    You can fly there: Flights are more expensive and will cost around $100 each way.

How long should you stay in Kenya?

The number of days you choose to stay in Kenya depends on the amount of money you’re willing to spend. The more days you stay, the higher your total budget will be with all other factors held constant.

Five to Six Days.

It is advisable that you stay a minimum of 5 to 6 days in Kenya with the bulk of these bands on a Kenyan Safari and a day to buy souvenirs and explore Nairobi.

If you have a bigger budget, you can add few days at the beach.

You will need to know some of the days that will be completely consumed by the travel and time strapped taking a flight. However, you will definitely spend more.

Affordable places to visit in Kenya as a tourist

If you have a low budget, these are the destinations that will not charge as high as some of the more popular places in Kenya.

The trick is avoiding very popular tourist destinations like the Masai Mara and Amboseli national parks since the park fees and accommodation fees are much higher for these destinations than some of the other less popular ones.

You desire to spend more time in cities than in less populated areas in Kenya because you will find more affordable accommodation that is safe here.

  •     Lake Nakuru National Park
  •     Nairobi National Park
  •     Hell’s Gate National Park
  •     Watamu in Malindi

Therefore, Kenya is not a cheap place to visit, yet, there are still a number of ways you can have low travel expenses and get big savings as a tourist in Kenya. I would encourage you to read the rest of the articles on this blog that focus on Kenya to get you more prepared for your visit to the country. Most importantly, start making plans to visit Kenya. This place is really amazing and the fear of costs should not hinder you from visiting.

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