Currency in Kenya
CASH is generally King in Kenya – the US Dollar being the favored currency. It is recommended to have with you a supply of small denomination notes (US$1, US$5 & US$10) for tipping and the purchasing of daily refreshments and sundry items. Carrying large amounts of cash on your person is, however, not advisable. US Dollar notes should be issued after the year 2000.
Lodges and hotels are usually sold on a full board basis, so cash is required for shopping, hotel extras, optional excursions, laundry and drinks. Most hotels and lodges will, however, accept credit cards for settlement of bills.
The unit of currency is the Kenyan shilling (KSh), which is made up of 100 cents. Notes in circulation are KSh1000, 500, 200, 100, 50 and 20, and there are also new coins of KSh40, 20, 10, five and one in circulation. Old coins are much bigger and heavier, and come in denominations of KSh5 (seven-sided) and KSh1. The old 50¢, 10¢ and 5¢ coins are now pretty rare, as most prices are whole-shilling amounts. It is advisable to exchange some US Dollars into Shillings upon arrival for tips and small purchases where credit cards or US Dollars are not normally used.
Traveler’s checks are accepted if they’re in US Dollars, British Pounds or Euros. High commission charges are common, and bureaus that charge no commission will often give a rate substantially below the cash rate for checks. Charges vary widely, from 1% to 3% per transaction, to flat fees of up to US$15.
Exchanging large denominations of US Dollars or large denomination notes at game lodges can be challenging so come prepared.