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Stop-over at Addis Ababa

Hey guys…..dum dum dum (drum rolls*), welcome to my blog!

Can you tell how excited I am about this blog post? Haa, this one ma loud gan…lol.

If you have been following my blog posts, you would know that I promised to post the second part of my “Solo trip to Osun State” next. However, since I traveled to Kenya, a lot of people have been asking me so many questions about the trip and I thought it best to put together a series of blog posts to answer the questions. So please, permit me to put out these blog posts about my trip to Kenya and I will definitely still fulfill my promise to put out the blog post that I owe you all.

If you are new to the blog and you are wondering what post I am referring to, please click on this link to catch up with us. This would be worth your while, I promise. (smiles…)

So now that we have that settled, let me get into this Kenya gist.

My first day in Nairobi…

What made me decide to go to Kenya sef?

Last year around July, I was thinking of my next birthday and how I was going to be hitting a milestone age. Then I began to think of ways to mark my birthday and typically I thought of a photo-shoot first. After romancing the idea of a photo-shoot for a while, I felt like it didn’t make sense for me to spend so much money on a photo-shoot when I could actually go somewhere I’ve never been with the money. At this point, I was thinking of somewhere within Nigeria. Let’s face it, it’s not like I had all this money lying in my bank account waiting to be used. So travelling out of Nigeria or West Africa was not even a consideration.

A few weeks later, I joined a financial/investment club and my first assignment was to set financial goals for myself some of which could be short, medium or long term. I found out I actually didn’t have a short term goal at the time, there was nothing I really wanted to save for on a short term basis but I had medium and long term goals. But I had to set a short term goal so I began to think of what I would love to do in the next 6 months and traveling out of Nigeria came up. So, I set a short term goal, “birthday vacation” and put a target amount. (Will reveal this amount pretty soon)

The next thing was for me to decide which country I could visit with the amount I had set. I began to follow many travel guides and agencies on social media to see my options and compare prices. I eventually narrowed my options to Kenya, Morocco and Egypt. I later dropped Egypt and Morocco when I found out I had to get visa from here. To be honest, at the time, I just couldn’t deal with any visa hassle. I wanted a country I could stroll into and get my visa on arrival. So yes, I finally decided on Kenya.

Once I decided on Kenya, I knew I was in for a good time because I have a close friend there who had been asking me to visit for a while. Also, half of my book club members are Kenyans who actually reside in Kenya.

from L-R; Nana, Sheryl, Abbie and myself (@africangirlsread book club ladies)

What are the things I had to put in place for my travel?

When I told a few of my friends that I was visiting Kenya, many asked if I was going with a travel tour company. When I told them I was going alone, they were surprised and asked how? Lol…I have always been a solo traveller, I enjoy going to new places alone and I actually believe that Google can provide me with most of the basic information that I need when travelling. I also don’t mind “trial & error” which makes me less worried about the “what ifs”. Most of all, I believe I have a gift for finding budget friendly deals so I would rather plan most of my travel myself.

Contrary to what some might think when they see all my “fun and baby girl lifestyle” posts from Kenya, I didn’t break the bank to go on this trip. This is what I want to show you in these series of blog posts.

Last day in Kenya, eating at a Brazilian restaurant -Fogo Gaucho
  1. Accommodation plans

Well for me, I had to think of my accommodation options first. Was it going to be a hotel or an airbnb (bed &breakfast)? So I went searching on booking.com, tripadvisor and airbnb websites. Eventually after comparing costs and also considering some online reviews that I saw, I decided on an airbnb.

For those who might not know what an airbnb is, it is a package that is also called “bed &breakfast”. Usually there is a host who lets out his or her apartment to people to stay. Sometimes it’s a big house with several rooms being let out, other times it’s just a small house with a room being let out. However, the host mostly lives with you in the same house. The advantage of airbnb is that it can cost less than staying at a hotel and you get to have a host who can get you settled in fast and might also offer to be your local travel guide. For people who love their privacy and can’t bear to share houses with other people, hotel might be a better option for you. If you check booking.com, you would find different accommodation options and price ranges and I am sure you would find something within budget.

Luckily, my friend who lives in Kenya later told me not to bother about getting an accommodation and offered her place for me to stay. So, that cost was taken off my budget. But just so you know that airbnb is totally affordable, I had found a good one that cost $10 per night which means I would have just spent $80 for a total of 8 nights.

My friend, Nana and I on her street in Nairobi

2. Visa

Like I said earlier, I needed to research well to make sure that whichever country I would be visiting would be a “visa on entry” country for Nigerians. Here is a list of countries you can visit as a Nigerian without getting a visa from Nigeria. Please note that the list might need some updates as some countries might have changed their immigration laws like Tanzania for example. So it is advisable to visit country specific immigration websites to find out about their immigration rules and visa requirements.

To get a visa to Kenya, you can either apply through their immigration website to get your E-visa or you can get the visa on arrival in Kenya. The visa is $50 for Nigerians and I can tell you the process of getting it in Kenya is hassle free. I was surprised at how easy and effortless it was especially because the immigration officers here at the Nigerian Airport had made it seem like it would be a big deal when I get to Kenya.

There are some things I need to let you know about dealing with the Nigerian Immigration at the airport when travelling but I will put it up on my next blog post so this post does not become too lengthy for you to enjoy. So please watch out for my next blog post.

Ndemi road, Kilimani Estate, Nairobi

3. Flight Tickets

Once you have settled your accommodation and visa plans, the next thing you are probably thinking about is flight ticket. Personally, I didn’t start checking for ticket prices until January, but if you can start checking earlier, it might be better. I used skyscanner and travelstart to check and compare ticket prices. Please note that it pays to get a return ticket rather than a one-way ticket when travelling. This will save you cost and also save you from getting into problems with the Immigration officers either at departure or point of entry.

I eventually settled for Ethiopian Airline because it was the cheapest flight I could find after comparing prices online. Now pause, I know what you’re thinking…Ethiopian Airline?? Yes, yes, I know one of its airplanes just crashed and you might be scared of flying the airline again. Trust me, I was scared too especially because I was very close to the crash location when the crash happened. However, do you know Ethiopian Airline is the best African ran airline in Africa? The way I see it, this is just a setback for the airline. I believe if they can truly ground the Boeing 737 800 Max plane from flying, the airline should be okay for flying.

But for the fainthearted, you can try other airlines for now. Just bear in mind that the other airlines might be a bit pricy. When I got my tickets in January via travelstart, it was for 170,000 naira ($470) and it was a return ticket. This was far cheaper than RwandAir which was about 255,000Naira ($705) and Kenyan Airways which cost about 300,000 Naira ($830).

However, if you fly Kenyan Airways, the advantage is that you get a straight flight to Kenya without stop overs which should be roughly 5-6 hours I think. If you fly RwandAir, you could choose to opt for the multiple destinations option while booking your flight and stop over for a day to see Rwanda. Rwanda is also a “visa on entry” country for Nigerians so you won’t need to crack your head about visa. For Ethiopian Airlines, you get to stop over at Addis Ababa but mine was for just 2 hours. But if you want a stopover that will allow you sleep over in Addis Ababa you can book a flight that has long hours of stopover especially overnight. Note that this will not give you access to tour the city, you will only be transported to the hotel and back to the airport. If you want to tour Addis Ababa during your stop over, you need to apply for an Ethiopian visa from Nigeria (it’s not a visa on entry country for Nigerians).

Ethiopian Airline, Economy.

4. Yellow card

So the other travel essential you need to take with you to Kenya is a yellow card. For those who do not know what a yellow card is, it is a vaccination card for yellow fever vaccine. Most tropical countries require the yellow card when visiting.

Firstly, the yellow card is valid for 10 years. In Nigeria, the e-yellow card was recently introduced and people who have the old one are advised to get the e-yellow card. This means if you have a valid yellow card that is not the e-yellow card, you might need to upgrade to the e-yellow card. You won’t need to get the vaccine again since it’s valid for 10 years, you would just pay to upgrade the yellow card to e-yellow card.

Getting the yellow card has become standardized in Nigeria since they introduced the online payment method. This prevents you from getting extorted by the officials issuing the card. To get a yellow card, go to yellowcardnigeria to register, make payment online (2000 Naira) and generate the e-receipt. Then you can take the printout of your e-receipt and a copy of your passport data page to the nearest Port Health Agency to you. (Hint: Port Health Agency is a federal government agency). At the Port Health, you will be given the yellow fever vaccine before you are issued the yellow card.

Day 3 in Kenya walking the length and breadth of Karura Forest

Wow, my hands are beginning to hurt from writing and I know you too must be getting tired, lol…. So I will be rounding off this particular blog post here while I retreat to go dig out some more information for the next blog post. Don’t even try to sleep on me oh, you better stay woke and watch out for the next blog post which should be up next week.

What to expect on the next blog post? How to avoid immigration problems, likely cities to visit in Kenya, how to plan your travel within Kenya, how to plan your visit to different tourist attraction sites and many more.

At one of the tourist attraction sites;Nairobi Animal Orphanage

I do hope that you found this post useful. Please feel free to ask questions or make clarifications in the comment section below and I will gladly respond. You can also share this post with your family, friends or whoever you feel might need this information.

Thank you for reading, till next time on the Small Town Girl blog.

Peace and Love,

Sophia Zoe