One Month in Kenya: Travel Budget and Itinerary

One Month in Kenya - leopard in a tree, Maasai Mara - GreatDistances / Matt Wicks

If you’re curious about what an independent budget traveler should expect to spend (and/or budget) for one month in Kenya, you’ve come to the right place.

Below, I’ll detail my expenses incurred on a 24-day solo trip to Kenya in late 2015 to illustrate what an independent budget traveler can expect to spend on a well-rounded and activity-oriented visit to this interesting east African nation (and yes, this budget/itinerary involves safari game drive days!).

One Month in Kenya: Travel Budget

How much one can expect to spend on a visit to Kenya will vary widely depending on the nature of one’s trip:  namely the level of creature comforts one expects, the amount of safari days one requires, and if the trip is a fully-guided one through a tour company, or a self-arranged jaunt.

I traveled independently and aimed for the lower echelon of costs, traveling about as cheaply as I knew how – I stayed in decidedly budget-oriented lodgings, usually ate at cheap eateries and/or self-catered, hardly consumed any alcohol (there just wasn’t really a reason to do so), and traveled mostly by (often very uncomfortable) public minibus.  Cheap cheap.  Realistically, the only way I really could have saved much money was by cutting major activities, which I was not willing to do – the activities were a big reason why I took this trip after all!

Before I spit out my total costs and my “average” daily costs for touring for one month in Kenya, here’s a framework by which to understand the total expenditures:

What my Kenya trip costs include:

  • All activity and recreation costs, including notable activities such as two days of safari game drives in Maasai Mara National Reserve, a 5-day trek in Mount Kenya National Park, and two days of scuba diving off Kenya’s coast.
  • All ground transport in Kenya (usually public transport like minibuses, aka matatus) – self-researched and arranged
  • One budget domestic flight in Kenya
  • All food and drink costs, including alcohol
  • Budget lodgings (some shared rooms, some single occupancy)
  • All incidental purchases and communication costs
  • Travel insurance for one month
  • Tourist visa for travel in Kenya

What my Kenya trip costs do NOT include:

  • International flights in or out of Kenya (obviously these are potentially large costs, but they’re dependent on where you’re coming from and going to, so I’ve left them out in this case)
  • Any expenses incurred prior to travel, like travel vaccinations, medication, clothing or supplies

One Month in Kenya:  What I Spent

For my 24-day trip in Kenya, I spent a grand total of $2411.04 US.

This averages out to about $100.00 US per day for on-the-ground travel costs.

By expense category totals, my travel expenses break out like this:

  • Kenya Tourist eVisa:  $51.00
  • Travel Insurance via World Nomads:  $121.50
  • Domestic Flights:  $61.25
  • Ground Transportation:  $128.18
  • Food:  $519.05 (inclusive of $41.65 in alcohol costs)
  • Lodgings:  $343.52
  • Activities:  $1157.72
  • Communications:  $18.58
  • Misc Non-Food Purchases:  $10.24
chapati and chai in Naivasha, Kenya. GreatDistances / Matt Wicks

A simple breakfast of chapati and chai. $1.37 US in a local restaurant in Naivasha.

Daily Costs – High and Low

My activity-oriented days were by far my most expensive days in Kenya.  When I was traveling about by public transport or just wandering through cities, I lived very cheaply – but the second I wanted to see big animals, go diving, or climb mountains, costs increased quickly.  Here’s how wildly my expenses swung between my biggest days and my cheapest days:

  • My most expensive days in Kenya were Maasai Mara safari game drive days, which came in at around $250 US per day.
  • Scuba diving days were my second most expensive days, at around $170 US per day.
  • Mount Kenya trekking ran me about $125 US per day and were my third most expensive days on my trip.
  • My least expensive days in Kenya were days in which I traveled by public transport between cities and did not have time for activities.  These days cost only about $30 – $40 US per day.

With this in mind, daily hard costs for touring Kenya are not REALLY $100 US per day, but rather, well more than $100 on some days and well below that mark on others.

A Few Sample Costs in Kenya (in US Dollars)

To give you an idea of basic non-activity-oriented costs in most areas of Kenya:

  • Informal meal (fast food, street food):  $3.00 – $5.00 (sometimes even less)
  • Meal at sit-down restaurant:  $6.00 – $10.00
  • 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola:  $0.60
  • Six bananas or one papaya at market:  $0.60
  • Public transport ride, three hours:  $3.00
  • Single-occupancy budget lodgings, one night:  $12.00 – $15.00

You can obviously go bigger than this on things like lodgings, food and transport – but if you’re traveling cheaply, this is about where you’ll land.

single ensuite room at New Kenya Lodge, Nairobi, Kenya. One Month in Kenya - GreatDistances / Matt Wicks

I spent $14.70 US per night for this rather shabby ensuite room in Nairobi. (I’m not this much of a complete slob, I swear – I was repacking for my Mt Kenya trek!)

One Month in Kenya: Travel Itinerary

Here’s exactly how my trip itinerary played out over the course of one month in Kenya, from front to back.  This will give you an idea of how many big activity days you can expect for this level of expenditure.

NAIROBI

Day 1:  International flight into Nairobi, sleep Nairobi

MAASAI MARA

Day 2: Ground transport from Nairobi to Maasai Mara, sleep @ Mara Explorers

Day 3: Visit Maasai Mara National Reserve for all-day safari game drive, sleep @ Mara Explorers

Day 4: Visit Maasai Mara National Reserve for all-day safari game drive, sleep @ Mara Explorers

Young Maasai giraffes in Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. One Month in Kenya - GreatDistances / Matt Wicks

Young Maasai giraffes at play, learning to use their long legs. Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya.

NAIVASHA

Day 5: Ground transport from Maasai Mara to Narok to Lake Naivasha, sleep in Naivasha

Day 6: Visit Hell’s Gate National Park by bicycle, sleep in Naivasha

NAIROBI

Day 7: Ground transport from Naivasha to Nairobi.  Prepare for Mount Kenya trek in afternoon, sleep Nairobi.

Chaotic daily traffic on Latema St in the River Road area of Nairobi, Kenya. GreatDistances / Matt Wicks

Chaotic daily traffic on Latema St in the River Road area of Nairobi.

MOUNT KENYA TREK (5 Day Itinerary)

Day 8: Ground transport from Nairobi to Nanyuki town, then from Nanyuki to Sirimon Gate of Mount Kenya National Park.  Hike from Sirimon Gate and sleep @ Old Moses Camp in Mount Kenya National Park.

Day 9: Hike from Old Moses Camp to Shipton’s Camp, sleep Shipton’s Camp.

Day 10: Altitude acclimation day in Mount Kenya National Park.  Sleep @ Shipton’s Camp.

Day 11:  Summit Mount Kenya @ Point Lenana, then hike back to Old Moses Camp.  Sleep @ Old Moses Camp.

Day 12: Hike from Old Moses Camp back to Sirimon Gate of Mount Kenya National Park.  Ground Transport back to Nairobi.

NAIROBI

Day 13:  Visit Nairobi National Museum, rest and do laundry after Mount Kenya hike.  Book flight to Lamu.  Sleep Nairobi.

LAMU

Day 14:  Fly from Nairobi to Lamu Island.  Sleep @ Jambo House in Lamu Town.

Day 15:  Relaxed day walking around Lamu Town and Shela Beach.  Sleep @ Jambo House in Lamu Town.

Day 16:  All day in Lamu Town.  Sleep @ Jambo House in Lamu Town.

Day 17:  All-day dhow boat tour departing from and returning to Lamu Town.  Sleep @ Jambo House in Lamu Town.

Day 18:  Walking tour of Lamu Town (I recommend you do this on your FIRST day in Lamu Town!), dinner with friends, street photography around town.  Sleep @ Jambo House in Lamu Town.

Smiling young boy in matatu. Lamu, Kenya. One Month in Kenya - GreatDistances / Matt Wicks

Fellow matatu passenger, en route from Lamu to Watamu.

WATAMU

Day 19:  Very long day of boat and ground transport from Lamu Town to Watamu.  Sleep Watamu.

Day 20:  Scuba diving with AquaVentures in Watamu (2-tank dive).  Sleep Watamu.

Day 21:  Scuba diving with AquaVentures in Watamu (2-tank dive).  Sleep Watamu.

Sport fishermen at Ocean Sports in Watamu, Kenya. One Month in Kenya, GreatDistances / Matt Wicks

Sport fishermen with their catch in Watamu, Kenya.

MOMBASA

Day 22:  Ground transport from Watamu to Mombasa.  Sleep Mombasa.

Day 23:  Explore Mombasa (Fort Jesus, Old Town, etc).  Sleep Nyali (just north of Mombasa).

Day 24:  Rainy day in Nyali.  Sleep Nyali.

Beautiful young girl in blue. Old Town Mombasa, Kenya. One Month in Kenya - GreatDistances / Matt Wicks

A lovely young girl in Mombasa’s old town.

EXIT KENYA

Day 25:  Fly out of Mombasa to subsequent country (Ethiopia, in my case).

Thanks for reading!  Further – if you’re researching a Kenya trip, I highly recommend you peruse my other Kenya posts:

Photo Essay: Five Days in Lamu, Kenya
Climbing Mount Kenya, Africa’s 2nd Highest Mountain
One Day in Naivasha, Kenya
My First Shot at Safari Photography in Maasai Mara
Camera Gear for Safari in the Maasai Mara: What I Brought & My Thoughts
What It Costs: A Budget Safari in the Maasai Mara
How To Get from Nairobi to Maasai Mara by Public Transport
Kenya E-Visa Application Process: My Experience

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