2023 IVSA Annual Conference – Travel, Accommodation and City Info
Many travellers to Kenya require a visa to enter the country and this visa must be acquired before arriving. You can see the countries that require a visa here:
A single entry visa is $51. Visas can be acquired through the official Kenyan e-visa website:
Be aware that there are several companies whose websites appear on Google that look official, but will charge much more than $51. Use only the Kenyan government’s e-visa site. It is best to apply for a tourist visa and not a business visa. Invitation letters are not necessary for tourist visas and IVSA cannot provide Invitation Letters.
Proof of a yellow fever vaccination is required. Kenya also currently has vaccination requirements related to COVID. These change frequently. We encourage delegates to check government guidance on these requirements, such as the UK guidance here:
In addition to COVID and yellow fever, some delegates may want to receive other vaccinations or acquire prophylactics against malaria before coming to Kenya. We encourage you to read government guidance, such as that from the US Centers for Disease Control:
Most of the organizers do not take malaria pills but it is an option.
Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (code NBO) has direct flights from Europe, the Middle East, and a direct flight from JFK.
One can travel affordably and safely around Nairobi (including to and from the airport) using rideshare apps, including Uber and Bolt. There are also several local companies you can try, like Little Cab. It should cost less than $20 with today’s exchange rate to take an Uber from the airport to the city center. Avoid private taxis that you might find outside of the airport, hotels or on the city streets. You have to haggle for prices and end up paying way too much.
Nairobi’s traffic can be bad. Rideshare drivers know the best routes. So you can generally trust them if it seems like they are going a different way than Google Maps might recommend. They are likely taking a faster route. Sometimes you will get stuck in traffic and might be delayed. So leave extra time if you need to get to your destination at a fixed time.
The conference will be held at the main campus Multimedia University of Kenya (MMU). It is located in a quiet area of Nairobi, about 25 minutes from the city center/downtown area. Nairobi National Park is across the street. This is the exact location:
Note that MMU has at least two other campuses in the greater Nairobi area. So be sure to use the above address only when using a rideshare app.
There is no official conference hotel. We encourage you to use AirBnB, Booking.com or other similar services to find a place to stay. We recommend three areas:
- Central Nairobi: The central neighborhoods of Nairobi (Central Business District, Westlands, Parklands, Lavington, Kilimani) offer an urban feel with lots of restaurants and nightlife close by. Without traffic, you can get to the conference location in around 30 minutes from these neighborhoods. Just remember there is serious traffic during rush hours.
- Karen: Karen is a quiet area with a more rural feel, and the former home of Out of Africa author Karen Blixen. There are some lovely restaurants and lots of natural beauty here, but less urban nightlife. The center of Karen is 25 minutes to the conference location without traffic.
- Close to the conference: For those who want to be really close to MMU (and not worry at all about traffic), there are a few hotels/AirBnbs very close to the university (use the map view on your booking website). You can still be close to restaurants. Galleria Mall is a 10-minute drive from MMU (towards the city center) and has several places to eat.
Having a mobile phone with a data plan makes moving around Nairobi much easier. It’s really hard to use the rideshare apps without it. If you have a phone and a data plan at home, check with your carrier about how much it will cost to use your data plan in Nairobi. For instance, AT&T (in the USA) allows you to pay $10 per day and then just use your phone as usual. Or, one can purchase a SIM card locally from Safaricom. This will probably be the least expensive way to go. Make sure your phone is unlocked (able to be used with a SIM card from any company). SIM cards can be purchased from Safaricom shops around the city (including in Galleria Mall, by MMU). Be sure to bring your passport when you purchase your SIM card. The SIM card itself costs less than one dollar and for less than $10 you can buy 5GB data.
The conference is located in a quiet neighborhood of Nairobi. The campus itself is gated with security checks at entry points. If you are traveling between the conference, your lodging and popular restaurants/bars/activities by rideshare, you should feel safe as you move about the city. Some might feel safer traveling in groups or pairs. Like any major global city, if you find yourself in a crowded area, look out for pickpockets and be cognizant of your surroundings when using your phone.
Kenya has a ‘Level 2’ travel warning from the US State Department which has identified some areas of the country to avoid, and a few neighborhoods of greater Nairobi to avoid. Conference delegates can easily avoid these locations.
Many animals call the MMU campus home (including warthogs, baboons, monkeys and birds of prey). The animals are used to people, but don’t get too close and don’t feed them!
Homosexual activity is illegal in Kenya. Yet, there is a gay community in Nairobi and one can easily find gay bars and clubs. There is also an increased advocacy for LGBTQ communities by local non-governmental groups, such as Gay Trust Kenya and the Nest Collective. We recommend delegates read government advice about LGBTQ issues such the UK’s advice about Kenya, and more general advice from the UK and the US governments.
In greater Nairobi:
- Nairobi National Museum in central Nairobi is definitely worth a visit. Stay for lunch at one of the restaurants on site.
- Shop at Masai Market for hand-crafted goods. Be ready to bargain.
- Enjoy a hike at Karura Forest and have lunch at River Cafe in the forest.
- See many animals at Nairobi National Park. One must find a driver which can be booked online at many sites, such as here. Keep in mind that most prices exclude the park entry fee, which is $43.
- Visit elephants at the Elephant Sanctuary which is very close to MMU. There are no elephants at Nairobi National Park, so this can be a good option if one wants to see elephants up close.
- Feed the giraffes at the Giraffe Center.
- Visit Karen Blixen’s house.
- Check out the Nairobi Gallery and other art galleries.
- Lake Nakuru National Park is another great place for a game drive. One can stop at Lake Naivasha Lake Elementaita on the way to see flamingos. It is 3 to 4 hours from Nairobi to Nakuru, so it is best to spend at least one night at a hotel or lodge on one of the lakes.
- The two most famous game parks in Kenya are Masai Mara and Amboseli. One can stay overnight in these parks, but the prices can be very expensive.
- Visit the coastal cities of Mombasa or Malindi for swahili cuisine and warm ocean water.
Nairobi has a vibrant food scene. Here are some of the organizers favorite restaurants: