Small US bills in Kenya & Tanzania?

Feb 1st, 2006, 09:07 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 11
Small US bills in Kenya & Tanzania?

I am about to go to the bank in preparatoin for my trip next week. Can anybody please give me some advice on how much small U.S. currency I will need in Kenya & Tanzania? I already have sufficent 50s & 100s for currency exchage. Will just about everybody in these countries accept 1s, 5s, 10s & 20s as payment/tips/fares? Or do I need to use local currency for these small $$ transactions?

lroscoe19 is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 09:27 AM
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Hi most of the time I use the local currency, but dollars are universally accepted, though there are some places the conversion rates may not be too good or they may demand local currency. I think tipping in dollars is good as it makes the locals happy,otherwise better to have local currency or credit card,,, Sonali
sonali74 is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 10:06 AM
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from what I learned in Zambia, the guides prefer larger bills as opposed to $1's and $5's as when they go to get the local currency, the exchange is higher on larger bills. Don't know if it's the same in Kenya/Tanz.
matnikstym is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 10:17 AM
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In Tanzania it isn't necessary to even change USD to local currency... dollars are widely accepted.

In Kenya, you can choose to use either local currency, obtainable at ATM at airport on arrival or exchange booth which both give good rates or USD. Poor rates of exchange at hotels, lodges/camps.

I've never had but the 2 $50s for the Kenya and Tanzania visas. Otherwise, keep the highest at $20 and use these for tips to guides, especially if you have one for your entire stay.

The smaller bills can be used for tips to porters, houskeeping, camp or lodge staff... the latter which are shared tips that can be placed in a lock-box found at Reception at most lodges/camps. If someone goes out of there way for you, you can feel free to trip them separately.

If sightseeing in NBO they want local currency - the Giraffe Center, Blixen Museum, donaton at Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage; preferrable for local taxis as well.

You should find Suggested Tipping information at your hotel, lodge or camps... use as a guideline.
Feb 1st, 2006, 11:20 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 20,132
Hi Iroscoe,
A few people here have mentioned that newer dollars are preferred.

Side note hijack to Sandi (sorry for the interuption)
Hi Sandi - Did you use USD in the Seychelles for incidentals? I'll be tipping and paying my tab on the boat with a visa card.
cybor is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 01:06 PM
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Are new bills necessary even for $1s and $5s? I can't imagine that it would be necessary since nobody would bother counterfeiting those bills.
lifelist is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 02:37 PM
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It is preferred that you have relatively new bills... hey don't have to be freshly minted and it's not about counterfitting, it just is! So clean, not folded, wrinkled, torn or washed in your jeans pocket. The new faces on the $5, $10 and $20 and tri-color $20 are best, and yes, not more than 2 or 3-yrs old.

Strange, but the currency in these countries depreciates in value, many feel that ours does also! Duh! It doesn't, in the same sense, except when we go into a shop and find it doesn't buy what it did last week. Alan Greenspan what are we going to do without you??? LOL! That aside, you can get clean bills from the bank.

Sherry -
In SEZ, we mostly used local currency as that is what was wanted - food, tips, souvenirs; we did charge our tours.

However, there was one shop on Praslin (a small grocery) who when they learned we were American were anxious to take our USD and gave us an "excellent" exhange rate. This was done under cover in a back room... (a scene from a movie, I was hysterical with laughter when I left the shop). Who knows, maybe the currency police were watching.

And when I stopped into the shop two days later to buy some bottled water, the guy offered to take more of my USD.

I must say, we've had some very interesting experiences when we've traveled. You've gotta keep your sense of humor's so much more fun that way!
Feb 1st, 2006, 03:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,845
We brought the 'large face' bills from various years and had no trouble with them in Kenya. I believe these actually date back quite a few years now. I just looked in my wallet and have one that says Series 2001. I'm pretty sure there are 1999 ones out there too.

For tips to camp staff, small purchases, entrance fees, etc. in Kenya, we normally use Kenyan shillings, but in most cases USD will be generally accepted as well. If obtaining Kenyan shillings, the best exchange rate is usually from an ATM followed by one of the airport exchange booths. In Tanzania, we didn't bother exchanging USD into Tanzanian shillings as we were only staying at one location and left a pooled gratuity for the staff in USD. It's very common to find a box or envelope at reception for this purpose. One of the camps where we stayed on this last trip actually discouraged guests from giving individual tips.

If you're traveling by road and have the same driver/guide, you can tip him at the end of your safari so no need for small bills.
Patty is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 11:07 PM
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When I go to Kenya I take local currency (Kenyan Shillings) I only take enough dollars for the visa. One bureau de change tried to give me dollars after I'd ordered shillings. I explained to them that it's only at main tourist hotels and tour operators that dollars are accepted. Try paying for your shopping at Uchumi or Nakumatt with dollars!!

Pumbavu is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 02:02 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
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Ditto Sonali, Sandi, Patty... with emphasis on the fact that I found in Kenya that local currency did just fine.

Having said that I'll still take some US dollars next time (and I have to convert another currency to get them!!)
kimburu is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 02:04 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
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at the Namanga border the official insisted that bills for the visa will be rather new.( a 1999 note was not accepted) If i remember correctly they preferred notes from the third millenia
aby is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 03:02 AM
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Sandi, re: "Alan Greenspan what are we going to do without you???"

Driving down the road yesterday I saw a huge billboard that's available for lease. It's painted green. It says:
"This green span promotes interest!"
wjsonl is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2006, 05:33 AM
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Jack - Only you would find that billboard! My morning chuckle. Thanks.

>>Sandi, re: "Alan Greenspan what are we going to do without you???"

Driving down the road yesterday I saw a huge billboard that's available for lease. It's painted green. It says:
"This green span promotes interest!"<<

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