The US President Barack Obama made a quick visit to Kenya and Ethiopia in July 2015. Especially in Kenya Obama’s “homecoming” was much anticipated, since his father Barack Obama (senior) hails from Nyanza region in Kenya, and as such President Obama has number of half siblings and other relatives still living in Kenya. Some Kenyans have felt disappointed and even ashamed that Obama did not visit the country earlier during his presidency, skipping the country during his previous African visits. While finally landing Kenya, he would stay in the capital Nairobi, even though many hoped Obama would visit Kogelo, his paternal home village. Preparations were well underway to host Obama in the village, despite he never indicated visiting there.
Starting from July 1st, 2015 Kenya introduced e-visa, meaning the Kenyan visa will be applied online from now on. Visa on arrival will be available until August 30, 2015, but thereafter every visitor to Kenya must have obtained the e-visa (save those from visa-exempt countries). Visa will be applied through the Kenya E-Citizen portal. Visa application process should take at least two days and up to a week. A visitor may be denied boarding a plane if he/she fails to provide a proof of a granted visa. Thus booking a trip to Kenya on a short notice will be difficult or impossible, as a consequence Kenya will lose potential tourists.
The government of United Kindgdom has now partially lifted its advise against non-essential travel to the Kenyan coast. Tourist destinations including Lamu and Malindi are still under the advise (Watamu resort just south of Malindi was left out), as are any areas close to the Somalian border, and Garissa, the town subject to a recent university attack. They also advise against visiting Eastleigh area in Nairobi, but no tourist is likely to go there anyway.
Prior to the latest ruling, Mombasa town and the coast strip north of it were included in the advise against non-essential travelling. The United States has similarly issued a travel warning on Kenya. This warnings have prompted much criticism by the Kenyan government blaming them for the downfall in tourism, not only to coastal Kenya but to the country as a whole.
Since 2014 the East African Tourist Visa (abbreviated here as EATV), has been available so tourists can enter Kenya, Uganda and/or Rwanda using a single visa. The visa will be valid for 90 days, is multiple-entry (but read my experiences below), and can be obtained on arrival at airports (not sure about border crossing points). The cheapest single entry visas to Uganda and Kenya cost 50 USD, and to Rwanda 30 USD. So if going to Kenya and Uganda, obtaining EATV makes sense, but if going to Rwanda and only either Kenya or Uganda and not re-entering any of these countries, then it will be cheaper to get single entry visas instead.
East Africa is known for its athletes who dominate long-distance running. The best talent come from specific areas such as Nandi Hills in Kenya or Arsi Zone in Ethiopia. Running is increasingly popular activity in western countries too, not so much as a competitive sport but as an exercise. Yet many of them take the hobby rather seriously, training for marathons and other tough races. The question is can these East African countries develop “running tourism”, would amateur runners come to train or even compete in the “home of long-distance running”? Read the rest of this entry »
Using mobile internet in Africa can be a frustrating experience. 3G networks are very limited, speeds often low, networks may get down, and lastly, data bundles can be expensive and tend to have small data caps. Unlimited plans are handy as one does not have to constantly worry about exceeding data limits, but hardly any operators dare to offer them. However, in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania some operators provide affordably priced prepaid unlimited data plans. These are are my experiences how they work, and whether are worth the money. Read the rest of this entry »
Major floods in Nairobi have been in news this week (at least locally, global media does not pay much attention – just imagine the amount of coverage if this happened in the western world). Having floods in Nairobi is nothing new, but these are mostly restricted to slum areas on riverbanks receiving no government attention whatsoever. But flooding of this scale in the Kenyan capital is beyond people’s memory. Other than Nairobi, big floods have occurred this year in various parts of Kenya, notably in Narok town.