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Internet and phone in Kenya

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Internet and phone in Kenya

My wife and I are starting are African safari trip in Nairobi, going to Samburu Game Reserve, OL Pejeta Conservancy, Lake Nakuru and Masai Mara Reserve in March. Does anyone know what the situation is in these areas concerning Internet availability and communication via cell phone back to North America(specifically Canada)?

Our tour company - Friendly Planet, will be sending us more information 2 weeks before departure but I doubt we'll get any answers on this. Talking to my phone carrier here(Bell Can.) they say I would be best to buy a simm card in Kenya to put in my phone but that's not helping me much, so any help from someone that's "been there-done that" would be appreciated!

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Glasgow, United...
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1. Re: Internet and phone in Kenya

not sure about masai mara, samburu or ol pejeta,

nairobi & nakuru/naivasha is ok with safari,

sure you should bring your own smart phone, or tablet with simm, or ipad, you may need to have it configured for browsing, but these sometimes can be requested with sms messages, if it wont configure with sms instructions, then you may have to pop in at safari or orange shop and it free,

you can request your tour operator a simm card (about kes100) such as safari or orange, with some top up maybe about kes250 or even larger top up depending how often you phone will be used,

if you happen to be near to the border at any time, for example tz, your phone will probably connect to vadafone tz, so you will have signal in that case,

its also possible you can pick up simm and top up at nbo aport but not sure where exactly,

manchester, United...
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2. Re: Internet and phone in Kenya

Mobile phones work pretty much everywhere except out on safari. If you intend using yours a lot it would be worth getting a Kenyan SIM. You can sometimes get Internet at the lodges as they aften have a couple of PCs availble for use - I guess it depends where you are staying. I haven't come across anywhere with wi-fi but that could have changed in the last 12 months.

Mtwapa, Kenya
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for Barcelona, Newcastle upon Tyne, Bamburi, Mtwapa
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3. Re: Internet and phone in Kenya


You don't need to use your phone much at all to make it worth getting a local sim, it is 3/- (around 3.5 Canadian cents) a minute to call Canada from Kenya on Safaricom and Airtel, the two networks with the widest coverage. Coverage is pretty good around the country, you should be able to get a signal in most lodges for example.

You can buy a sim for around 100/- and scratchcards for loading credit at the airport on arrival, all you need is to make sure your phone is not locked to your Canadian network and that it can operate on GSM frequencies 900 and 1800..

You will be able to access the internet on your phone relatively cheaply and most hotels and lodges will have an internet facility, or if you are taking a laptop, netbook, ipad, etc you can buy a dongle which will give you access wherever there is a phone signal.

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4. Re: Internet and phone in Kenya

You didn't say where you were staying but at Ol Pejeta - Sweetwaters specifically, they had a small business center with computers that got good connections. They were not free when I was there is 2010, but were not expensive. At Lake Nakuru Lion Hill Lodge, they had internet that was fast, but it was in their Manager's Office on the desk. Again, not free, but I sorta felt like I was intruding using it although they did not seem to mind. Mara Serena had internet that I could pick up from the room, but the connection kept dropping. Samburu Intrepids did not have internet that I could use but things may have changed after they rebuilt after the flood in March 2010.

Washington DC...
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5. Re: Internet and phone in Kenya

When I first went to Kenya a couple years ago I bought a cheap Nokia phone and sim card for between 25-30 USD at a kiosk at NBO after coming out of Customs and Immigration. On subsequent visits I buy a sim card. Last time through the $5 sim card was good for about 180 minutes back to US---cant do much better than that. The phone had good reception in Mara.

I carry a netbook with me, mostly to download photos, but also for email/internet. The camps I've stayed at in the Mara had wireless signal, but service was spotty and slow.

Bungoma, Kenya
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6. Re: Internet and phone in Kenya

I wrote a reply to this yesterday and then the power went off and I lost it all!!

There are some very good offers on cheap phones at the moment. My advice is to buy a cheap phone here and use a local sim card (50/-, but free if you buy the right phone!). I use Airtel myself. You can call Canada, India, China, USA and UK landlines at 3/- per minute. (Same as calls in Kenya). This is normal, not a special offer. Safaricom has an offer on at the moment (excluding UK), but it may be over when you come.

The cheapest to call Canada and US is Yu, but I don't know about their coverage.

A slightly more expensive phone will also do Internet.


Edited: 16 February 2012, 15:32
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7. Re: Internet and phone in Kenya

at the risk of stating the obvious....

if you bring a laptop or ipad, make sure to bring a surge protector... electricity is often by generator which can go off and on.. you don't want your devices to get damaged. :)

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8. Re: Internet and phone in Kenya

About Internet and Phone services, I normally use Safaricom. Very clear when i call back home and the internet is also good.

West Yorks
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9. Re: Internet and phone in Kenya

I've always got a decent signal in the Mara in recent years. As I only make a couple of very brief calls and a few texts, Safaricom suffices. I am advised a local phone/sim combination is best for making lots of calls. I mainly use a netbook for e-mails etc and on my last trip in January had no problems with wifi in the room at all my lodges.

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10. Re: Internet and phone in Kenya

Buy a sim upon arrival at the phone services counter between gates 10-11 at JKIA. The assistant will top up the phone for you and activate 3G services so that you can check email etc.... its so easy in Kenya compared to other countries.. enjoy!