Money in Kenya?

Dec 1st, 2003, 11:37 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 10
Money in Kenya?

I'm travelling to Egypt and Kenya in January. From reading past posts it looks like ATM's are easy to use in Egypt, but how about Kenya? Are there ATM's available in Nairobi or way out in the Masai Mara and Amboseli? Or, should we bring traveller's checks for Kenya?
lslay78 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2003, 09:32 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Hey There, there are plenty of ATM's in Nairobi, they are in major bank branches and at least one shopping mall that I visited. In terms of the Masai Mara or game reserves. Of course you will be out in the bush, so I suppose it depends entirely upon your game lodge. (you may want to ask in advance). We didn't have any ATM's that I could see in any of the lodges we stayed at. We just got a set amount of Kenyan shillings while in Nairobi and used it at the end of the trip, primarily on tips. For gift buying and meals, we used our Visa card. We didn't bring T.C, and had no problems. T
Thyra is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2003, 04:33 AM
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Dec 3rd, 2003, 04:46 AM
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Sorry I did that, but along with SusanLynne, from day-to-day don't know if I will be able to post a reply.

In Egypt, whether thru an ATM or hotel exchange window, the rate is the same, having been set by the government and while there are ATMs about, you won't find them on every corner, so your hotel will likely be more convenient.

As to ATMs out on the Mara or Amboseli, I don't think so - many of the places have enough problems with emails/Internet service, can't imagine what would be with an ATM. Stick with finding one in Nairobi or as we did thru on-the-street money changers, where we got excellent return for our USD.

However, in neither country did we exchange but a minimum into local currency, as USD were widely accepted. We brought lots of small bills $1s, $5s, $10s - and left the $20s for guide tips or Nile Cruise staff (if taking a cruise). We had well over 100/$1s, 50/$5s, etc. - just separate them in different places, for safety.

Be certain that US currency is relatively new (but doesn't have to be fresh from the mint), not torn or crumpled, printed within past 2-yrs, and with "new faces" on bills that have been undated. Local populace are known to return a bill with old face assuming it no long has value.

Use credit cards for major purchases or meals not included in your trip. Don't bother with Travelers Checks unless you want to have in case of emergency (difficult to exchange and often a fee attached for this service) - then return to your bank when you return home. Enjoy your trip.
Dec 3rd, 2003, 06:41 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 328

I was in Kenya in Oct 02 and there were plenty of ATM - I focused on Barclays branches as it gave me the best rates from my bank back in Canada & their web site indicates where the ATMs are located.

Additionally, 'The Rough Guide to Kenya' provides line maps of many towns highlighting important buildings for tourists (gas stations, banks/ATMs, Internet Cafes, grocery stores) in addition to the typical places of interest.

No ATMs at the lodges where we stayed but all took credit cards (even the my Diners Club card was accepted) but we drove between lodges, so when we stopped for gas I'd also top up my cash from the nearby ATMs & don't bother with travelers cheques as they aren't widely accepted (you can't get them in local currency so are stuck accepting whatever exhange rate your offered & really 'dead' money for you as your 'prepaying' for them).

BTW - when you arive in Nairobi there are 2 ATMs just past the baggage carressels (1 Standard Bank & 1 Barclays).

Enjoy the trip, Kenya is amazing & I can't wait to get back.

TravelMaster is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2003, 10:47 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
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Thank you all for your advice! I had been considering taking all traveller's checks on the trip, but now I don't think I'll bother. My main concern is over carrying that much money with me along on the trip, over 3 weeks in length, with plenty of extra excursions to pay for. I'll check websites for available ATM's.
lslay78 is offline  
Dec 4th, 2003, 02:25 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I, too, have begun to rely on my debit card and ATMs in preference to travelers cheques. You still need a back-up, though, in case the worst happens, and you lose your card or it ceases to function. Travelers cheques are very useful for this purpose, and if you don't use them you can cash them in when you return home.

Remember, if you haven't obtained one in advance, you will need US$50 cash to get your visa at Kenyan entry points.

I can't imagine any national park having an ATM, but no doubt someone will prove me wrong. You won't need much cash at the safari lodges, only for tips, drinks and the gift shop.

There have been many incidents recently of credit card fraud in Africa, so Be very careful where you use them.
Heimdall is offline  
Dec 4th, 2003, 04:37 AM
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Heimdall -
I certainly wouldn't spend money in the gift shop at hotels or camps on your trips. In Africa there are plenty of trinkets to be purchased while on the road or from locals near the National Parks and where you can negotiate. There is a great shop (if it's still there) at the Hilton Hotel, Nairobi on lower level where there are shops - called The Collector's Den.

Expensive stuff in the rear room, but up front lots of traditional African items at excellent inexpensive prices.

And in Egypt, likewise, the gift shops in the hotels are expensive, rather overpriced, for similar items you can find at the Khan Khalili Bazaar, and if on a cruise along the Nile the many stops you make, there is "stuff" to buy.
Dec 5th, 2003, 12:20 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Sandi, that was just an example of what you need cash for on safaris, not a recommendation on where to buy. True, items in gift shops are more expensive (but sometimes better quality) than what you find along the road. When you buy from roadside vendors you are also doing your driver a favour, because he almost always gets a commission on your purchases.
Heimdall is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 04:34 AM
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Heimdall - yes, items purchased in hotels do sometimes seem to be of higher quality and if for some reason one hasn't found a particular item while out on safari or on tour of any kind, the hotels are certainly a good back-up.

And not only do the guides get a bit of kickback from local vendors, they can be most valuable when it comes to bargaining for you.

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