Kenya budget: costs and prices of a trip through Kenya

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

How expensive is a holiday to Kenya? Is it possible to do a budget safari in Kenya? Can you backpack in Kenya? In this blog, I will answer all these questions. I also tell you how expensive our backpack trip through Kenya was, what a realistic daily budget for Kenya is and how high price in Kenya are!


Is Kenya a budget destination? Budget travel in Kenya!

No, Kenya is certainly not a budget destination. The country has traditionally been visited by wealthy, elderly tourists. You will notice this in many things such as accommodation and safari prices. The entrance fee to national parks is higher than in neighbouring countries such as Uganda and Tanzania.

Yet, it is certainly possible to travel through Kenya on a small/backpacker’s budget. Public transport is cheap, food and especially fresh fruit are affordable and accommodations do not have to be expensive. And if you are a little creative, you can also do safaris without breaking the bank. We did a very cool safari in Masai Mara for a very nice price. Read the blog I wrote about this here.Maasai Mara Game Drive Budget


How much money did we spend in Kenya?

First a disclaimer: Everyone travels in his or her way and has different priorities. That is completely fine, but keep this in mind when you read through our budget. It can always be more expensive or cheaper.

We made a budget trip through Kenya, mainly staying in hostels and travelled by public transport. Our trip through Kenya is part of our world trip where we also travel through Madagascar, Uganda and Rwanda.

During this trip we have had collaborations, resulting in discounts on accommodations. I did not include these discounts in the calculation below to give a representative picture of the actual prices in Kenya.

Budget facts on Kenya:

Number of days: 26

Total spent in Kenya: 351,139 Sh / € 3066.45 / $ 3411.41
Expenses per person in Kenya: 175,570 Sh / € 1533.23 / $ 1705.71
Average expenses per day in Kenya: 13,505 Sh / € 117.94 / $ 131.21
Average expenses per person per day: 6,753 Sh / € 58.97 / $65,61

Our budget in Kenya: 18,207 Sh / € 159 / $ 176.88
Days on or under budget in Kenya: 4
Days above budget in Kenya: 21

All expenses are for two people and are calculated based on exchange rates during the trip. This budget does not include our airline tickets. The currencies displayed are: Kenyan Shilling (Sh), Euro (€) and USA Dollar ($).Maasai Mara Migration Wildebeest Kenya Safari Cheetah


How much money to budget for accommodations in Kenya? – 41% of total budget Kenya

Total spent: 143,828Sh / € 1256.03 / $ 1397.32
Number of nights: 25
Average overnight stay for 2 people: 5752.99 Sh / € 50.24 / $ 55.89

Luxury hotels, beautiful lodges and beautiful safari tents are abundant in Kenya. However, these are generally not cheap! In some safari parks, a price of €1500 per night is not at all crazy. With our average spending of €50.24 per night for two people, we were a lot below that amount.

Hostels, backpackers or campsites in Kenya!

We often stayed in hostels or budget campsites where we slept in a rented tent. However, our last seven days were spend in luxury on the beautiful island of Lamu. Here we stayed in the beautiful Jua House. Totally worth it! Wonder what that was like? Then read this blog.

Below you will find all the (budget) hotels we stayed in Kenya:

Maasai Mara Game drive budgetLamu Jua House


How much money to budget for transport in Kenya? – 16.5% of total budget Kenya

Total spent: 58,450 Sh / € 506.46 / $ 563.43
Taxi: 9,051 Sh / € 79.04 / $ 87.93
Flights: 30,186Sh / € 263.61 / $ 293.26
Buses: 7,500 Sh / € 65.49 / $ 72.86

In Nairobi, we used Uber, very easy and really needed with the large distances that you sometimes have to cover in the city. We, therefore, incurred most of the above taxi costs in the seven days we spend in Nairobi.

Budget travel in Kenya: Use the Matatu!

Furthermore, we mainly travelled by public transport: Ries will definitely never forget the Matatus in Kenya. With his 1.93m he became didn’t really like the tiny vans. The Kenyans manage to put at least 22 passengers in one Matatu with 14 seats. Oh well, it’s definitely an adventure. In addition, the Matatu drivers are often so flexible to drop you off wherever you want to be dropped off, and that is very handy.

We booked our flight to Lamu a few weeks in advance, making it slightly more expensive than normal. Booking a bit more in advance, you will be able to fly for less than €100 per person.

How much does a flight to Kenya cost?

Depending on your departure country, you can already find return flight tickets to Kenya starting at 700 USD per person (travelling from Europe or the United States). Click here for the most current flight deals to Nairobi and Kenya. Because we traveled from Madagascar to Kenya, I did not include our flight ticket costs in this budget.


Free travel guide: All you need to know on Lake Naivasha in Kenya!


Flight 540 Lamu Kenya


How much money to budget for food in Kenya? – 21.9% of total budget Kenya

Total spent: 77,025 Sh / € 672.65 / $ 748.32
Of which food and drinks: 55,995 Sh / € 489 / $ 544.01
Of which groceries: 21,029 Sh / € 183.65 / $ 204.31
Expenditure per day (2 people): 2,962 Sh / € 25.87 / $ 28.78

The costs of eating in Kenya were somewhat higher for us than in neighbouring country Uganda. This was mainly because we could not cook much ourselves here. In Uganda we travelled with camping gear, making it very easy to cook. In Kenya, we were often dependent on restaurants, which were not always cheap.

However, I still think that €12.90 expenditure per person per day on food is better than expected. For this, we ate tasty and relatively healthy. Especially the food on the island of Lamu was delicious: tuna, fresh fruit and local vegetables!Lamu Jua House


How much money to budget for activities in Kenya? – 15.1% of total budget Kenya

Total spent: 53,434 Sh / € 463 / $ 515.08
Safaris: 120,000 Sh / € 104 / $ 115.69
Access to national parks: 27,134 Sh / € 235.11 / $ 261.56
Lamu boat trip: 5,186Sh / € 44.94 / $ 50

Safaries and other activities in Kenya on a budget

The costs for activities were not too bad for us and that is mainly because we did most safaris in neighbouring country Uganda. We only did two safaris in Kenya: the Masai Mara (so cool) and a bike safari in Hells Gate. If we had only visited Kenya, these prices would have been absolutely higher because we would have done more safaris

A budget safari in Masai Mara, Kenya

Activities in Kenya are generally very expensive. You pay high entrance fees to enter national parks or reserves and game drives are also not cheap. In general, you should count at least a budget of 300 dollars per person per day for a safari (including food and accommodation). Most often safari’s in Kenya are even more expensive because of the high costs of accommodation and food in the park. However, we did manage to do a safari in Kenya on a small budget. We spent about 200 dollars per person for a safari. Read more about how we did a safari in Masai Mara on a budget in the blog below:

Free guide: how to visit Masai Mara and do a safari on a small budget?


Lamu Dowh

Hell's gate National Park on a bike


Other expenses in Kenia – 0.5% of total budget Kenya

Total spent: 19,424 Sh / € 168.31 / $ 187.24
SIM card: 2,505 Sh / € 21.71 / $ 24.15
Beauty products: 2,117 Sh / € 18.35 / $ 20.41
Tip: 7,573 Sh / € 65.62 / $ 73.00
Souvenirs: 7,228 Sh / € 62.63 / $ 69.68

Kenya was our last country and so we also bought the necessary souvenirs here.

We bought a prepaid SIM card from Africell with 8GB of internet and 400 calling minutes. We paid 1000 sh for this (around 10 dollars). The corresponding SIM card cost 550 sh. We had good coverage almost everywhere with Africell.


Prices of food and general travel expenses in Kenya?

Below you will find the cost and prices of food and general travel expenses in Kenya. When cooking yourselves, budget travel in Kenya is defenitly possible!

  • 1 kilo of apples: 299 Sh / € 2.59 / $ 2.88
  • 250 ml olive oil: 525 Sh / € 4.54 / $ 5.05
  • 1 bag of chips: 150 Sh / € 1.29 / $ 1.43
  • 1 kilo of bananas: 84 Sh / € 0.72 / $ 0.80
  • Yoghurt (0.5 L): 92 Sh / € 0.80 / $ 0.89
  • 1 bread: 120 Sh / € 1.04 / $ 1.15
  • 1 avocado: 30 Sh / € 0.26 / $ 0.29
  • Pack of milk (1L): 129Sh / € 1.09 / $ 1.21
  • Bottle of cola (2L): 149 Sh / € 1.29 / $ 1.44
  • Pot of Nutella (350 ml): 600 Sh / € 5.19 / $ 5.77
  • Bottle of water (1.5 L): 70 Sh / € 0.61 / $ 0.67

  • Wine in supermarket (750 ml): 1200 Sh / € 10.39 / $ 11.56
  • Bottle of beer in the supermarket: 176Sh / € 1.53 / $ 1.70
  • Shampoo: 300 Sh / € 2.59 / $ 2.88
  • Cappuccino: 250 Sh / € 2.16 / $ 2.40
  • Glass of wine in restaurant: 450 Sh / € 3.89 / $ 4.32
  • Local beer in a restaurant: 234 Sh / € 2.02 / $ 2.25
  • Simple lunch/evening meal (1 person): 1000 Sh / € 8.66 / $ 9.63
  • 1 liter of diesel: 100Sh / € 0.88 / $ 0.97

Lamu


↠Travel tips: these things should not be missing from your packing list for Kenya


Conclusion: is Kenya an expensive destination?

Yes, Kenya is an expensive country to visit as a tourist. The gap between what locals earn and what you spend as a tourist is also very large…  The minimum salary in Kenya is only 20038 sh, which amounts to €173, while as a tourist we already spend €117.94 per day. This makes Kenya even for Kenyans themselves very expensive!

What is a realistic daily budget for Kenya?

A realistic daily budget for Kenya as a backpacker is around 75 euros per person per day. You will travel by public transport, sleep in hostels, eat simple meals with the occasional outlier, do about three budget safaris and visit several national parks. This is roughly in line with what Lonely Planet has as spending indication for a budget backpacker (100 USD)


Travel blogs on KenyaClick here for all my blogs about Kenya.


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Budget and money for traveling through Kenya. Backpackers budget + what did we spend?


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