Pre-Trip Planning Guide
Whether you just looking for more information to make a decision or you’ve already committed to a mission trip, this planning guide will provide helpful tips and resources to prepare for a trip to Challenge Farm.
Most mission teams will be staying in the new guesthouse located on the Farm. There are 27 beds divided among seven bedrooms. The guesthouse also has two living rooms, a kitchen, a dining room and four full bathrooms. Most visitors share a room with people they know, although people traveling alone and those with special needs can generally request a room to themselves. The guesthouse has indoor plumbing, including flushable toilets and hot-water showers. However, we ask that visitors keep in mind that water is a luxury in Kenya and to use it sparingly.
Visitors in the past have most often stayed at the Karibuni Lodge, which is located near town. We will continue to use them in case of overflow, as well as for some meals.
If you want or need to stay in Nairobi before or after your international flight, we recommend staying at the Hampton House or Mayfield Guesthouse.
Visitors are asked to make their own travel arrangements to Kenya. When searching for airplane tickets, type NBO (Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi) in your search field as your final destination. Round-trip tickets from the U.S. generally range in price from $1,200 – $2,500.
Once you’ve booked your ticket to Nairobi, there are two ways to best travel to Kitale. You can book a domestic flight from NBO to KTL (Kitale) on Fly 540 for approximately $125 each way, and arrange for another missionary to pick you up from the airport. You can also arrange for a driver to take you, your group and/or your luggage to Kitale (approximately a 7 hour drive) for about $225 per vehicle each way. Challenge Farm can provide you with a list of drivers we’ve used in the past. Often, visitors break up the scenic drive by stopping at Lake Nakuru National Park, which is about halfway between Nairobi and Kitale.
Once you are in Kitale, there are several ways to get around. Most mission teams will have use of one or two vehicles to travel between town and Challenge Farm. Gasoline is very expensive, though. It costs about $5-$6 per gallon. Other modes of transportation include boda bodas and piki pikis, inexpensive bicycle and motorcycle taxis, as well as overcrowded matatus (buses) and traditional taxis. Traveling in Kitale can be exciting, yet dangerous, so we ask that you use caution when choosing local transportation.
We generally tell teams to budget $3,500 for a two-week trip. You will use about half of this for your airfare. Team leaders will generally collect a specified amount in advance, approximately $40 a day, which includes your stay at the guesthouse, utilities, three meals a day, basic transportation to and from Kitale and some computer use with wireless Internet access.
You’ll want to keep some cash on hand for additional expenses, such as occasional nice meals in town, day-trips, souvenirs and additional snacks. We recommend bringing approximately $300 in cash to convert into Kenyan Shillings (KES), since credit cards are rarely accepted in Kenya. You will need to request from your bank $50 and $100 dollar bills minted on or after the year 2000 (very few places will exchange older dollar bills). You will also need to leave $25 in new bills in your carry-on to pay for your mandatory travel visa at the Nairobi airport.
The best way to exchange money is directly with Challenge Farm and your team leader. However, you can also exchange dollars at the Nairobi airport or at the banks in Kitale. You can also bring a debit card and draw money from the ATMs in town. Check with your bank for international rates and ATM fees. Check out XE’s Universal Currency Converter for the current USD/KES exchange rate.
For many people, a trip to Kenya is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Therefore, many visitors choose to go on day trips or safaris while they are in the country. A few places to visit are:
Lake Nakuru National Park – As mentioned above, this is great place to stop on your way to or from Nairobi. Admission is approximately $60 and the park takes 2-3 hours to drive through. See flamingos, zebra, water buffalo, rhinos, baboons, giraffes, warthogs, monkeys, gazelle and more.
Kakamega Rainforest – Approximately a 2-hour drive from Kitale, Kakamega is Kenya’s last remaining section of the Guineo-Congolian rainforest. It is known for unique plant life and over 300 species of birds.
Maasai Mara – A 2-night/3-day trip to the world-famous Massai Mara Reserve is approximately $600-$700, not including the cost of transportation to/from Nairobi.
What to Pack
Karibuni Lodge has developed a spectacular list on their website of what to pack. In addition to the items they’ve listed, we always appreciate it when visitors help carry over supplies for Challenge Farm. Check with Challenge Farm or your team leader for a list of current needs.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a great resource for health information. Visit their website for a list of recommended vaccinations and malaria medications. Also, check with Challenge Farm for recommendations of what type of medications to take, and what to avoid.
Some visitors experience allergies and digestion problems while in Kenya. Also, the sun in Kenya in extremely intense, so we highly recommend you bring sunscreen, hats or bandanas and UV sunglasses, and stay hydrated at all times. Although we have access to basic pain relievers and antibiotics in Kitale, we recommend that you bring any medications you think you might need.
Please visit your doctor to make sure you are well enough to travel, and inform your team leader of any health issues you have prior to your trip.
Be sure to order your passport well before your trip. Passports generally take eight weeks to obtain. If you already have one, make sure that you have at least six months left from the date of your trip to the date of your passport’s expiration (visitors with less than six months left have been refused entry). Also, once you arrive in Nairobi airport, you will need to purchase a travel visa. The cost is $25 in U.S. Dollars (minted on or after 2000), so be sure to have this accessible from your carry-on.
Travel.State.Gov has additional information about Kenya’s entry and exit requirements, travel warnings and more.