Traveling to Kenya... need some advice please

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by jrm27, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. jrm27 macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008
    Hi all,

    I'll be traveling to Kenya for a couple weeks in just under a month. With a 1 year old at home, I'd really like to be able to stay in touch with my wife as much as possible. So, I'm trying to figure out the best way to get my phone set up.

    My phone is an iphone 4 and I'm currently beyond my original contract. I've contacted ATT and have opened a case to have them unlock the phone. I'm waiting to hear back from them on that, but do not assume there'll be any problem. My main concerns with my phone's abilities are making calls back home, receiving texts/pics, and being able to send texts and maybe a picture or two. I'm not too concerned about keeping up with email on my time away, so data usage in that format isn't that important to me.

    Would it be best for me to get an ATT international plan? Or would I be better off getting a local Kenyan SIM? Maybe the correct answer is "both"? Get the ATT plan to call home, and then get a Kenyan SIM for local data (so i can send pics home, etc...)? Any thoughts or direction? Thanks!

  2. ThatsMeRight macrumors 68020

    Sep 12, 2009
    Try to compare Kenyan telecom providers to AT&T. I think you'll definitely be cheaper of when you settle with a local provider for data, but I'm not too sure about calling.

    Oh, and be careful - especially when you use shiny, expensive devices like the iPhone. Kenya is a really poor country and there's a lot of criminality. It's not uncommon for tourists to be kidnapped.
  3. jrm27 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008
    Thanks for the info.

    I just called ATT and unfortunately, they dont offer nay international plans that include service in Kenya. So, phone calles are $4 a minute and data is $20 a mb. Ouch. Hmmm... i wonder if any other telecom provider has something that might work.

    Thanks for the thoughts on safety too. Much appreciated.

  4. nburwell macrumors 601


    May 6, 2008
    Another option could be to use Skype. However, wifi hotspots might be hard to come by since Kenya is not a developed country.
  5. PharmDoc macrumors 6502

    Oct 10, 2010
    I would stick to local sims. The providers there are Zain and Airtel Kenya. Coonectivity and Internet speed may vary. I'm originally from there but left 30 years ago. I still have relatives there who I can ask if you need more info.
  6. Eddy Munn, Aug 6, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012

    Eddy Munn macrumors 6502

    Eddy Munn

    Dec 27, 2008
  7. smellalot macrumors 6502

    Dec 6, 2011

    I believe you're more likely to see a Tiger in Kenya although there surely are more developed areas where you might run into a Lion or even a Mountain Lion. ;)
  8. biggy52 macrumors regular

    Oct 22, 2009
    Tanzania (East Africa)
    Tigers??? Lol ...No Tigers in African Jungles :)

    I am from neighbours with Kenya...(Tanzania). I do frequent kenya, so i might be able to give some assistance. If you decided to go ATnT roaming, i cant help you much, as the prices will be based on ATnTs pricing structure. If you do decide to opt for local lines, then you have 2 top providers, namely Airtel Kenya and Safaricom

    Both providers have the same pricing give or take a few USD here and there.

    The pricing will be as follows;
    Prepaid sim will cost you about 10 USD in the airport or 1-3 USD in the street.
    International Calling to the US is around 0.06 USD per minute (Voice)
    Data packages range from 5MB - 25GB....approximately 1.5GB costs you 1000kshs (12 USD) per month

    The internet isnt as good as that you get in the US, but you can manage with eMails, pictures, chatting etc....Also skype will work, but dont expect it to be smooth and clear all the time. The internet speeds depends on your location as well, as not all Kenyan cities are covered with 3G.

    Hope this helps!



    Forgot to Mention, to use the local sim there, you will need a factory unlocked iPhone or at&t unlocked for worldwide usage.
  9. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68040


    Feb 9, 2010
    Dude, if you could find some proof that Obama was born there, Trump will pay you big time.
  10. biggy52 macrumors regular

    Oct 22, 2009
    Tanzania (East Africa)
    Maybe the next time I take a vacation, it will be solely to look for proof. Until then my time is very valuable to be digging back in time.

    Thanks for the tip :)
  11. jrm27 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008

    Thanks so much for that information! That is really really helpful. It sounds like going with a local provider is going to be my best option then! Those voice rates and even data rates would be great. Do you think they include any international texting?

    I went to safaricom and airtel Kenya's websites, but didn't see the prepaid options you were mentioning. But perhaps I dont quite know what I'm looking for.

    I'm going to keep looking into these. Thanks so much! If you have any other thoughts or info, they would be very welcome.

    Thanks again.

  12. roblin macrumors regular

    Apr 5, 2007
    Get the local sim card, you get free traffic for a month for penuts, using your own sim card will cost a lot. Tou actually get decent reception at some of the bigger game parks, Olare Lamun not so great, but in Masai Mara Big Game reserve and Nakuru etc you actually get a decent signal.
  13. KVet79, Aug 7, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012

    KVet79 macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2010
    Kenya is very safe. To be honest, I felt more worried when visiting America, which is probably a more dangerous country for travellers! I'd be careful with your phone but, like anywhere else, avoid dodgy areas. I've travelled extensively throughout. You won't get any data signal outside of the cities (mainly Nairobi), and phone signal is intermittent. There are loads of Internet cafes throughout.

    Have a great time, it's an amazing country, with lovely people.

    Ps. There are NO TIGERS in Africa! Some of you need to travel more...!
  14. jrm27 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008
    Thanks all! Seems like the local sim is the way to go. We're going to be in Eastern Kenya doing humanitarian work, so I'm not sure what the reception will be like in those areas. However, I'm not too concerned. It'd be nice to be able to call home a couple times and such, but if I have to figure something else out, it's not a big deal.

    This info is all very very helpful! Please keep it coming if you can!

  15. slykens macrumors member

    Sep 30, 2011
    Had a user in Kenya a few years ago and he used Orange. I believe it worked right out of the box - no setting APN or messing with network settings on the iPhone. Reasonable pricing too, iirc.

    At the risk of going off topic, what are you on about? Kenya has an intentional murder rate five times that of America. (20 per 100k versus 4 per 100k)

    I would caution the OP to read the Department of State's Consular Briefing Sheet for Kenya. While these are sometimes strongly worded they give a clearer picture of the situation on the ground than an opinionated fool on an internet forum. This is especially important for this OP as he intends to travel to Eastern Kenya where there have been numerous NGO kidnappings in the last year - some related to the situation in Somalia.

    I certainly wouldn't discourage humanitarian work but one must be cognizant of the real risks involved in some areas on our world.
  16. jrm27 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008
    Hi Slykens,

    I appreciate the info and the suggestion.

    Not to take the thread in a too divergent a direction (all the info and discussion is helpful), but yes, I have read the Department of State's Consular Briefing. I've traveled quite a bit and make it a point to keep an eye on them when travel is immanent. Such documents are informing me about many things on this trip. One of my main responsibilities is to document the work (photo and video), and understanding local risks is helping me understand when/what to document, and how to do it in a discreet manner when needed/possible. Thanks for bringing that up. Some travels have more risk than others, and hopefully by being informed I can mitigate that risk a bit.

    I'll check out Orange too. Thanks!

  17. biggy52 macrumors regular

    Oct 22, 2009
    Tanzania (East Africa)

    You can visit

    The airtel site is a bit outdated and lack information. But all charges are almost same across networks.

    NOTE : Please use Firefox to browse the Safaricom site, Safari doesnt load the page properly.

    On the left side navigation, choose PrePay to get information about Prepaid Sim Services OR Choose International Voice to find out for rates and other charges.

    1 International SMS will cost you around 10 Kshs = 0.12 USD

    Hope this helps and feel free to ask anything else u need.

    Karibu East Africa...(Welcome to East Africa)

  18. jrm27 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008
    Ahh, thank! I think that points me in the right direction! I guess I'll just land, get a SIM card and go from there. Thanks for your help! And thank you for the warm welcome.

  19. jrm27 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008

    can you shed some light on the type of power adapter I would need in Kenya? I ordered one off amazon, but I'm getting conflicting information on what type of plug is used in Kenya. Thanks!

  20. moosquared macrumors regular


    Nov 10, 2010
    OP, keep in mind that your iPhone 4 uses a micro-sim card.
    I'm not sure how iPhone friendly Kenya is, you might need to cut your local sim card (if you cut it wrongly, it'll be unusable).

    Here is a quick info for the power outlet and voltage in Kenya

    If you do a lot of overseas travel, get yourself one of those power adapter & voltage kit. Got mine from brookstones. Haven been using it for years.
  21. Dennis187 macrumors regular


    Jun 26, 2010
    below you
    Watch out for the animals trying to steal your iPhone!

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