Kenya is open for US travelers, but you might not want to go just yet

Oct 7, 2020

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The beautiful East African country of Kenya has been open to U.S. travelers for a few weeks now after successfully flattening the spread of COVID-19 throughout the nation. However, it isn’t all smooth sailing: There is a curfew in place, as well as intercity travel restrictions.

If you’ve been planning a trip to the African continent, and want to stop at Giraffe Manor or on safari, here’s what you need to know about visiting Kenya.

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Despite the U.S. State Department’s Level 3: Reconsider Travel advisory on Kenya, the country has actually had significant success in quashing the coronavirus pandemic’s impact across the nation. That being said, Kenya still has limited medical resources available to locals and tourists alike, particularly in rural areas, so travelers are recommended to keep a close eye on requirements for entry as well as to maintain a clean bill of health before visiting.

Related: Here’s how a universal basic income (UBI) helped Kenyans minimize the impact of COVID

Entrance requirements

According to the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, U.S. travelers must meet the following travel requirements:

  • Body temperature at or below 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit
  • No persistent cough, difficulty breathing or other flu-like symptoms
  • Produce a negative PCR-based COVID-19 test result from within 96 hours of arrival time in Kenya (so plan ahead and factor in the long travel times from the U.S. to East Africa). Travelers who cannot produce a negative test within the stated parameters may be denied boarding or entry into the country
  • Travelers will still need to complete the Kenya e-visa before departure as well

Related: Some airports now offer PCR-compliant tests directly in the terminal — but you’ll still need to plan ahead

Upon arrival, travelers must respect local social distancing and mask requirements in public, as well as nightly curfew hours throughout the nation, from 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. each night. Furthermore, any travel between cities via public transportation requires mandatory certification from the Ministry of Health.

Related: Here’s where you can book a COVID-19 test for travel

Travelers who meet these requirements will not have to quarantine upon arrival, although any violations of requirements may be punished with a mandatory 14-day quarantine at the traveler’s expense.

How to get there and where to stay

Flights to Kenya are quite affordable right now, with routes from New York (JFK) to Nairobi (NBO) beginning at just $611 round trip on KLM in November, while flights from Chicago (ORD) to Nairobi (NBO) are similarly priced at $619 round trip on Turkish Airlines around the same time.

Flights on Star Alliance metal, with round trips on United/Lufthansa from $629 round trip from Newark to Nairobi or 88,000 MileagePlus miles and $109 in taxes and fees. American Airlines flyers can book award flights from 80,000 AAdvantage miles and $350 in taxes and fees, round trip, while Qatar Airways gives travelers a chance to experience a Middle East carrier for just $719 round trip from Los Angeles, with a stop in Doha.

Hotel options are plentiful for October dates and later, with more than 1,000 hotels bookable on Hotels.com in Nairobi alone. The aforementioned Giraffe Manor is open for visitors, at an all-inclusive rate of $1,375 per night for a single room. On the more affordable end of the spectrum, Marriott’s Autograph Collection Sankara Nairobi begins at $150 or 30,000 Bonvoy points per night, while the Four Points Sheraton Nairobi Hurlingham begins at $86 or 15,000 points per night in December 2020.

Hilton fans can book the Hilton Nairobi from $76 or 23,000 Hilton Honors points per night, while IHG fans have the option of the Intercontinental Nairobi for $85 or 20,000 IHG points per night.

Featured photo by fotoliza/Shutterstock.

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