You’re planning a trip to Kenya soon? Organization is key for a successful stay or safari in Kenya, and one of the first things to think about is transportation to and from the country. In this guide, you'll find all the information you need on how to get to Kenya, on the different departure and arrival airports, ticket prices, as well as everything else you need to organize your stay in Kenya.
Traveling to Kenya by plane
From the US or any other country in the world, air travel is of course the preferred means of transport to Kenya and other African countries. It's not only the fastest method, but also the most economical.
There are three international airports in Kenya: two in the capital Nairobi, and one near Mombasa, the large port city on the southwest coast:
- Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the country's main airport. Its former name is Nairobi International Airport, and it is located some 9 miles southeast of the capital (15 km). It is the most important airport in East Africa, and is the arrival point for scheduled flights from Europe, and is the one where you’re most likely to land.
- Wilson Airport is Nairobi's second civilian airport, located around 4 miles south of the city (6 km). It is mainly used by low-cost airlines and only for domestic flights to Lamu, Amboseli, the Masai Mara, Nakuru... or to neighboring countries such as Tanzania.
- Mombasa Moi International Airport is the country's other major airport. It is not located directly on the island of Mombasa, but some 6 miles away (ten km), on the mainland. It is mainly used for charter flights. It organizes flights to and from other nearby countries such as Tanzania (Zanzibar) and Ethiopia (Addis Ababa), as well as several European cities including Paris, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Brussels, Milan, Frankfurt and Warsaw.
If you're flying from New York City to Kenya on a plane, you'll almost always land at Jomo-Kenyatta International Airport (NBO). Several flights leave for this destination every week, with several airlines including American Airlines, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Air, British Airways...
How long does a flight to Kenya take?
From NYC, flights to Kenya take between 17 and 32 hours, and there is no direct flight. So you better be ready for a long trip… that will thankfully be worth the trouble!
There are no direct flights between the USA and Kenya. However, several airlines offer flights between these two countries, with one or more stopovers:
- Ethiopian Air offers flights from Newark to NBO Airport, with 2 stopovers: one in Lome (Togo), and the other in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).
- British Airways offers some of the shortest flights (17 hours) from JFK Airport to NBO Airport, with one stopover in London Heathrow.
- Egypt Air also offers flights with only one stopover (in Cairo), but they are a lot longer: 32 hours from JFK to NBO.
- Emirates offers relatively short flights JFK-NBO with a 2h30 stopover in Dubai. Perfect to take a breather in the Dubai Airport during this 20 hours flight!
- Qatar Airways offers about 21 hours long flights from JFK to NBO, with a stopover in the State of Qatar.
Air ticket prices
The average price of a plane ticket from NYC to Nairobi is between $960 and $1,160. More generally, prices range from around $1,000 and $1,125.
Prices also vary according to the season. Tickets are cheapest in April, and most expensive in July, August, December and February.
Tips to find a cheaper ticket
To find a plane ticket to Kenya at the best price, you can use a flight comparator like Opodo or Kayak to get an overview and find the best deal more easily.
Don't hesitate to check the price difference between different departure airports. It may sometimes be more attractive to depart from another city, for example – even though most flights are either from NYC or from Los Angeles.
In any case, it's very important to book your tickets as early as possible. With few exceptions, the last seats available on a flight are sold at the highest prices, so I really recommend booking several months in advance!
Getting to Kenya from Tanzania
Tanzania and Kenya are two neighboring countries that are popular destinations for African safaris. If you've been to Tanzania and would like to continue your adventure and discover Kenya, you can cross the border at Namanga. This town straddles the border between the two countries: it's just over 62 miles from Arusha, in northern Tanzania (100 km), and just about 124 miles from Nairobi, the Kenyan capital (200 km).
The journey between Arusha and Namanga can be made by cab, bus or shuttle bus, taking between 1.5 and 2 hours. The same applies to the journey between Namanga and Nairobi, which takes around 2h30.
Of course, even if you arrive by road, you'll need a visa to enter Kenya. Since there is no visa that would be valid for both countries, you'll need to apply for a visa for Tanzania first, and then for a visa for Kenya.
This brings us to the end of this article. I hope you've enjoyed it and now know all about how to get to Kenya! To organize your trip as well as possible, don't forget to consult my article on what to do in Kenya and on safaris in Kenya 😉