General advise

Visa, medication and insurance
Before you go to Kenya, you should check the visa requirements for your country. You should also confirm with your doctor at home which vaccines and medicine is necessary.  Make sure your travel insurance covers Kenya – some have special regulations.

Phone numbers and international calling codes
The international calling code is +254. If you are calling with a local SIM-card you can drop the +254 and in stead add a zero. Eg. +2547133102567 or 07133102567. If you have a local phone number you want to call from a foreign SIM-card, you have to drop the zero before adding the +254. A lot of the phone numbers is therefore written as +254(0)7133102567 to demonstrate the difference in usage of the international dialing code and local zero.

Accomodation
In contrast to what many guidebooks say, Kitui has a lot of medium standard hotels, in addition to the lower standard hotels. All the hotels mentioned in this website are of medium standards and are okay compared to western. If you’re a bit more picky, you will probably find Kitui Cottages and Guesthose as your best alternative, although the outdoor area in that place is non-existing. If you want a hotel with green outdoor space, Parkside Villa is nice, as it is close to the city center. Flamingo Guesthouse is the best guest-house if you wish to experience an authentic African lifestyle and experience everyday life in the more rural area of Kitui.

The prices are very fair, and the average for a night and breakfast is around 2000 KES per March 2012.

Restaurant
If you don’t want to try the local, traditional food, all the restaurants in town serve chips and chicken. For international dishes, check out Bavaria. They serve Italian and Chinese in addition to local food.

Shopping
Although there are many shops in town, finding clothes of western style may be challenging, same with shoes. The more expensive stores are located in the Muli Mall, which is situated in the middle of the town center. There are some bookstores in Kitui, but they mostly sell school books, so if you need something to read for leisure, be sure to buy this in advance of your arrival in Kitui.

Hospitals
There are several hospitals in Kitui town. There is one governmental hospital, Kitui General Hospital, but we have been recommended to use the private hospitals as the waiting list is shorter and the standard may be a bit higher. There are several private hospitals in the Kitui area: Jordan Hospital, Nema Hospital and Kitui Nursing Home. Jordan Hospital has a 24/7-service which means a doctor is available (on call) at all times. However, if you become very ill or need extensive examinations and surgery, we would recommend to travel to Nairobi. The Karen Hospital in Karen district in Nairobi is one of the hospitals that has more western standards and it is known to be one of the best Hospitals in Kenya.

Churches
The Kitui people are very religious and the churches play a central role in the community. There are plenty of churches around the area, and a few mosques can also be spotted around the area. Most locals go to service every Sunday (usually around 10 am.), and visitors are welcomed. However, when visiting a church, you should be aware that fund-raisers or offerings are quite common – and that visitors are expected to contribute.

Safety
Kitui is a very safe area, and you can normally walk on your own without having to fear. There are not many “Mzungus” as white people are called, so if you’re in that category – you’re most likely to have some extra eyes on you regardless of where you move around. Some people have the perception that white people have money, so it might be clever not to flash your valuables – a good rule regardless of where you travel.

As mentioned above, some people associate whites with money, and may therefore try to exploit tourists. Robberies are not normal, so if you stick to common sense you’re most likely to be fine. However, it’s worth noting that you should be more careful during nighttime – and never stroll the streets on your own!

Clothes
In Kenya in general, nudism is forbidden by law. In the Kitui area, some people still wear traditional clothes like the kanga for women. Both men and women also like to cover their knees and shoulders, as a sign of respect for others. To wear western clothes is not a problem, although you should consider to cover up in special occasions. A miniskirt and a tank top is probably not the best outfit for a day in Kitui.

Drugs and alcohol
To wear, use and sell drugs is strictly forbidden in Kenya, and can be punished with tickets and prison. Although you can see a lot of men chewing khat in the streets, anything else is not very common. You should drink alcohol at suitable places.

Photography
To show respect, you should always ask before you take a picture of the local people.

Tipping and begging
If someone do you a favor, it is common to tip a few coins. To give money to beggars on the street is not recommended, as this supports this way of living. If you want to contribute to the community, it’s better to give a donation to an organization, someone you get to know or buy products made by locals.

Sometimes in Kenya it can be difficult to say no, either to beggars or street sellers, because they won’t let you go or they follow you. Usually in Kitui this is not a problem. People often respect your wishes if you just explain.

 

Last updated: 05.09.2012 

Africa as you have never seen her.