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How one oversight with the Kenyan eVisa almost cost my trip to Kenya

See these photos? I almost didn’t take them. Why? Let me tell you a story about my Kenyan eVisa debacle leading up to my departure to Kenya…

A complete breakdown of costs for my trip to Kenya and Tanzania

It was the Sunday before I was flying on Wednesday evening. It’d been a busy weekend but I’d put aside most of the day to finish preparing for my trip. I had just a few things left to do. I’d been much more organised with this trip than I have in the past because there was much more to sort in advance – I’d had my vaccinations, pretty much packed my bags, organised USD to take with me, sorted a house sitter, picked-up medications, printed out 2x physical copies of certain documents, stocked up on bug cream, charged all my devices and had gotten my nails done. But there was one thing that slipped my mind – I hadn’t organised my visas to actually enter the countries I was visiting.

Now, it wasn’t that I’d forgotten to do them because they were in fact on my to-do list – I just hadn’t properly looked into how long the process would take.

I’d read some misinformation in my earlier planning that said they were processed within 24-48 hours and they were also available upon entry – so I’d resorted to potentially getting my visas on arrival into both countries. Imagine my absolute shock horror when I looked late Sunday night only to find out that Kenyan eVisa could take up to 14 days to be processed and for Kenya there was no visa on arrival option.

I freaked the flip out to put it lightly. I thought (and said out aloud numerous times), how could I have been so stupid?

I ended up taking the Monday off from work (thankfully, my boss was extremely understanding) because I thought I may have to go into the Kenyan Embassy in Perth. I emailed every email address I could find.  I called more than 10 different numbers (some didn’t work, some rang out) before I found out that the Kenyan Embassy in Perth no longer exists and was directed to the Kenyan Consulate in Canberra.

After making what felt like hundreds of calls and a river of tears, I finally got through to a lady who I was told could help me. Before anything else, she scolded loudly me over the phone for not being more prepared and, like a remorseful little child, I apologised profusely.

The phone call was abrupt and short, but she said she would be able to help assist me with expediting the Kenyan eVisa.

The next 24 hours were incredibly stressful, wondering whether this lady would be able to push my visa through and save my trip. Or whether the worst outcome would come true and my silly little oversight would cost me a very expensive, bucket list trip (and annoyingly, stupidly isn’t covered by my travel insurance).

As I checked my emails for the 237th time on Tuesday, I could not believe it when I saw my Kenyan eVisa had come through in the afternoon. The wave of relief. I cried again. This time, very flipping thankful tears. I was going to Kenya!

Now, as for my Tanzanian visa, I also had gone ahead and submitted that application online too. However, I wasn’t so worried about this one as the Tanzanian Embassy confirmed with me that I could definitely get this visa on arrival (this information was true and current at the time I was travelling so please be mindful things could’ve changed). This meant if it didn’t come through in time, I’d still be able to enter the country but I’d just have to pay for another one.

The funniest part of this was that we barely had wifi in the lead up to the Tanzania border crossing. I ended up paying for another visa at the Tanzania border and when we got into wifi I noticed my visa had been emailed through just in time for the border crossing but I wouldn’t have had access it.

Moral of this story is to always double and triple check what you need to travel to any place well in advance.

How to avoid this happening to you?

Always double check information you read online – while things may be current at the time someone posts something, things change frequently, which is why it’s so important to cross check information about entry documents though a reliable source such as your home country’s or travel destination’s government website.

What is the visa process for Kenya and Tanzania?

I strongly recommend that if you have any questions about the visa processes to go directly to the sources. This means checking their government website or calling an appropriate embassy. Visa requirements and costs can change so an experience someone has a few years ago, may not be the same as the requirements now.

An example of this is I travelled in September 2023, where the visa process was very difficult, and in January 2024, the rules completely changed! Always double check legitimate government websites as they will be the most up to date.

How do I ensure I’m on a legitimate website to apply for the visa?

I always use smartraveller.gov.au. This is an Australian government website, but the links to visa websites will likely be relevant to non-Australian travellers too. I always check here for visa application links to make sure I’m going through a legitimate website.

Would you like to read more about Kenya (once I finally got there), you can see all of my other posts on money tips, what to wear and pack here.

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