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7 Visa Free African Destinations for Kenyans on A Budget | Part 1

“The only man I envy is the one who has not yet been to Africa- for he has so much to look forward to.” Richard Mullin

Were you excited the first time you got your passport ? Did you imagine some of the places you would visit? Was it Europe by any chance or was it the United States? If we are being honest, I entertained the idea that I would first visit France, to be specific, the Eiffel tower. Talk about being captain obvious.

You cannot blame me though, most people in Kenya assume when you are getting a passport you are supposed to fly to the United States or Europe.  This by the way is mostly the case. Why though? Why does it have to be America or Europe? Why can’t it be Africa?

Africa has so much to see and offer hence the reason why I thought of this post in the first place.

When I was making this list, I considered the following:

  • Places that can be easily accessed by road from Kenya.
  • From the title you can tell that all these regions are in Africa
  • There are several things to do in these destinations but I only mention a few with the hope that you will discover the rest when you visit
  • All these regions are in countries that are visa free for Kenyan passport holders.
  • Some of these trips last more than 10 hours on the road hence not for the faint hearted but they are worth it if you are a vagabond

1.ARUSHA

Places to visit

  • Its home to the cultural heritage centre, that serves as a museum, restaurant and gift shops.
  • Canoe at Lake Duluti or if that is not your thing take a nature walk. This place is rather peaceful
  • This town has a vibrant night life. Have a bottle or Ten of Kilimanjaro, Serengeti or Safari Lager.
  • Take a game drive in Serengeti. I dare say it is one of the best game drives in East Africa.
  •  Drive down to Moshi that is an hour away and visit Kikuletwa springs. I have heard only good things about Kikuletwa.

Getting There

Arusha is less than 6 hours from Nairobi. Plan a weekend and drive yourself  or even go with public means. You don’t even require need leave days. All you need is just a weekend and you are set. In fact, if you have never been outside Kenya, this is your trip.

Namanga,2015

2.DAR ES SALAAM

Places to visit

  • Coco beach if you want to interact with Locals. It is a public beach that is usually packed with Tanzanians.
  • Bagamoyo town which has a striking resemblance to our very own Mombasa or Lamu. A day trip to this town will be interesting as you get to see the blend of Arab, Indian and Swahili culture
  • Check out the makumbusho museum which is the equivalent of the bomblast scene in Nairobi
  • Visit Cape Town fish market restaurant if you are a lover of sea food
  • Boat rides to Mbudya island and Bongoyo Island for snorkelling

Getting There

Return Flights

  • Nairobi to Dar es Salaam 25,000 KES +/-
  • Mombasa to Dar es Salaam 30,000 KES +/-

Bus Return Ticket

Keep in mind this is a 16 hour bus ride from Nairobi and a 10 hour bus ride from Mombasa

  • Nairobi to Dar es Salaam 7,000 KES +/-
  • Mombasa to Dar es Salaam 7,000 KES +/-
Coco Beach, Dar es Salaam

3. ZANZIBAR

Once you get to Dar es Salaam; it is easy to visit Zanzibar.

Places to visit

  • Stone town, the main town in Zanzibar which was my highlight when I visited
  • Prison Island, a former detention places for slaves
  • Slave Market
  • Kwale Island Safari blue which is a day boat trip to an island
  • Scuba diving, snorkelling, and dolphin tours at the Indian ocean

Getting there

It is a 3 hour ferry ride from the port at Dar es Salaam. The ferries are very comfortable.

 Ferry tickets (Return Trip)

  • Royal Class 12,000 KES 
  • VIP Class 10,000 KES 
  • Economy class 5,000 KES 
michamvi beach, Zanzibar

 4.KAMPALA

In Kampala the main thing to do is interact with the locals, have some matoke, throw in the word banange here and there and enjoy the vibrant night life. Oh!!  Traffic is absolutely terrible in case you ever thought Nairobi’s traffic is terrible.

Getting There

Return Flights

The airport is in Entebbe which is an hour away from Kampala. You will need to arrange transportation to Kampala should you choose to fly to Entebbe international airport.

  • Nairobi to Entebbe 33,000 KES +/-

Bus Return Ticket

This is a 13 hour bus journey from Nairobi to Kampala and 6 hours from  Kisumu to Kampala

  • Nairobi to Kampala 4600 KES+/-
  • Kisumu to Kampala 3000 KES +/

 5.JINJA

Jinja is only two hours from Kampala. Hire a car or use public means to see that side of Kampala and double it with a couple of adrenaline activities like:

  • Water rafting
  • Bungee jumping
  • quad bike safari along the river Nile

6.KIGALI

Kigali is probably the cleanest city in East Africa. She of course made it to this list. Kigali’s weather is fantastic and I dare say their transport system is not as complex as Kenya’s. Pay a visit to the famous Kigali Genocide Memorial and learn why you cannot trust humans.

Moving on, Rwanda is rather a tiny nation and should you decide to rent a car, you will be able to drive through the whole country in a matter of days. Hikers will have a blast because Rwanda is seriously hilly. 

Getting there

It takes 24 hours to travel from Nairobi to Kigali through Uganda by bus. A smart Kenyan back packer may decide to make a stopover in Uganda to explore for a few days before taking another bus to Kigali.

 Return Flights

  • Nairobi to Kigali 33,000 KES +/-

Bus Return Ticket

  • Nairobi to Kigali 8,000 KES +/-
Rwanda-Burundi Border 2013

7.BUJUMBURA

Surely, you cannot visit Rwanda and fail to visit the capital of Burundi. Once in Rwanda, set aside a few days to visit Bujumbura.

Bujumbura is rather hot reason being the country is along Lake Tanganyika. Enjoy water sport activities on Lake Tanganyika while interacting with the locals. It’s also a plus that most of the locals can communicate in Swahili.

Getting There

 It is only 5 hours away. That’s like going to Eldoret from Nairobi. It will only cost you about 2,000 KES return trip to visit Burundi from Rwanda.

 Bujumbura, Burundi , 2013

Essential Info

  • If you decide to take a flight, use skyscanner.com to find the airline offering the cheapest rate then go back to the airline’s website to book directly with the airline.
  • Always do a research on the bus company you are going to use for distances longer than 8 hours. This is important because such journeys are very long and you need a bus that has very comfortable seats and service
  • There are several bus companies that take the above routes. Some include Jaguar, Tahmeed, Modern coast and Mash are some of the bus companies that the above routes.
  • Sometimes the bus trips may take longer than the hours mentioned above because African timing is our thing and border stops might take far too long. It is why some travelers choose to use their personal cars and make it a fun road trip with friends.
  • The booking offices of most bus companies are found in river road, Nairobi.
  • Always book bus tickets early. Some regions require you to book tickets even two days earlier.
  • Some buses may have sockets but it’s always safe to carry power banks
  • Journey may last longer than the hours placed up there because “AFRICAN TIMERS
  • Some countries require proof of residence at the immigration offices
  • com offers affordable and decent accommodation options for as low as 2,000 KES a night. However, always check the ratings and reviews on an accommodation before settling on it. Some hotels and hostels only look good on photos but have terrible service. Always check the reviews from travelers that have stayed there before.
  • Always have copies of your passport and yellow fever certificate in case you misplace your original copies. I always take pictures of my passport and have a backup copy in my email
  • If you are shopping, Bargain. Always Bargain! Locals can always tell you are a foreigner from your accent. Most of the times, the rates are half the beginning price the seller is giving you
  • Have cash in different pockets in case you get pick pocketed. This is to avoid losing all your cash
  • Always have a debit card, credit cards may not be accepted in some regions

I hope this post encourages you to explore Africa.

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Happy Travels!

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12 Comments

  1. Thank you for this piece. …Really informative. I did not know that i can go for a trip anytime of the year,,, It is actually really affordable. Thank you girl!!

  2. Love it. And you’re right. Africa has so much to offer. Since time isn’t really an issue for me, these are definitely going on my to-do list this year. Tanzania is so close.. And beautiful. I think I’ll start there.
    ??

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