It is funny how we craned our necks towards the aircraft window as soon as we landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. We had expected to see giraffes and lions and elephants immediately upon landing, you see….haha…
We controlled our excitement admonishing ourselves that nothing before immigration and baggage. And went through the following procedures –
- Ebola Check at the Nairobi Airport: Ebola scanning comes first. Its an absolute no-hassle. Just stand at the designated area, and if you are not running high temperature, you simply walk through.
- Immigration & Visa on Arrival at the Nairobi Airport: Be prepared to get in to long queues for immigration. The advantage is that Visa is on arrival for most countries. There are multiple counters. Kenya Visa is usually issued onsite if you pay in US Dollars or GBP (British Pound Sterling). Remember, they only accept USD notes that have been issued after 2006. Older currency is not accepted. East African Visa is issued only in the 2nd counter from right for 100 USD. Be ready to wait. Ask beforehand for the right counter so that your wait is not doubled.
- Baggage Counter at the Nairobi Airport: Wasn’t a long wait though. Of the three of us, I was the first to clear immigration. And while the officials checked Jayanta’s and our daughter’s papers at the immigration counter, I collected our bags which had arrived by then.
- Bribe requests: As we were on our way out of the baggage area, two lady officials stopped us on the pretext of checking our bags while wishing ‘Merry Christmas’. We took it to be a normal procedure and showed them our papers and passports. They flipped through them quickly and ‘cleared’ us, but not before asking “How about some ‘Merry Christmas’ for us?”. It took us a few seconds to understand they were asking for money. Somewhat alarmed, since these were airport officials in uniform, we gave them 200 KES and hurried out towards the taxi counter.
- Money Changer at the Nairobi Airport: There are money changers both inside and outside the airport. Use the one that is outside as they give better rates.
- Local phone SIM Card at Nairobi Airport: They is a Safaricom outlet right outside where the taxi counters are. You can pick up a local SIM with no major formalities. They only need copies of your Passport. That’s it.
- Taxi Counter at the Nairobi Airport: Taxis are easy to book at the counter in the airport. We booked and in seconds, the taxi driver was there to wheel out our bags into the car. But note that taxi is bloody expensive, even the pre-paid ones. We paid some 2100 KES for a drop downtown that wasn’t even 20 minutes away!!!
We went for a 5-day trip to Kenya one Christmas, of which, we spent one day in Nairobi, one day in Naivasha, three days in Maasai Mara. We have written exhaustively about our explorations and experiences — In order to make it easy for you to locate all the information, should you be planning a similar trip, this post will give you a snap-shot of all the ‘must-dos and must-sees’ — Itinerary for Nairobi, Naivasha & Maasai Mara in Kenya