The Comprehensive Guide to Volunteering in Kenya

The Comprehensive Guide to Volunteering in Kenya

This eBook provides you with all necessary information regarding popular tourist destinations, activities, and programs in Kenya. A thorough understanding of this book will prepare you for the best experience of your life.

This comprehensive guide also includes helpful tips on safety precautions, packing lists, and other factors to consider when joining a program offered by volunteer organizations in Kenya

Chapter 1 : Becoming a Volunteer in Kenya: Starting the Process

Welcome to Kenya

The beautiful African country of Kenya has everything and more that you could possibly want to explore. From massive herds of wildlife roaming across spacious savannas to glistening, palm-tree lined beaches along the Indian Ocean, Kenya offers its visitors a glimpse to a world unlike any other; no wonder volunteering in Kenya is so popular.

Famously known as Africa’s best safari destination, Kenya is blessed with thousands of animals that migrate across the Maasai Mara every year. The region is home to the Great Rift Valley, a small stretch of land that once threatened to divide the entire continent. Geologists, biologists, anthropologists, photographers, and journalists continuously flock to the wondrous African country for a glimpse into a foreign world that will truly inspire them.

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Considering its natural beauty, Kenya remains one of the most popular volunteer destinations in the world.

Volunteers in Kenya can choose from a vast selection of programs from child care to wildlife conservation. Your efforts as a volunteer will undeniably bring joy to not only the people with whom you interact, but you and your family as well.

Why you want to volunteer in Kenya

Kenya is home to some of the friendliest and most welcoming people on Earth!

Described by many as a country of ‘perfection,’ volunteers in Kenya earn the rare chance to explore one of the most beautiful places in the world while sharing their skills, passions, and emotions with others. You will relish in ethereal beauty as you live with fascinating tribal communities and enjoy scenery that National Geographic and other nature magazines have captured time and time again. Everyone in the world deserves at least one visit to the incredible country of Kenya.

The Great Migration

Joining volunteer programs in Kenya between the months of July and October allows for a safari tour through the famed Maasai Mara National Reserve. With your feet planted firmly on the ground you can watch fields of animals migrate across shimmering valleys towards the fabled Mara River, a typical spot for feeding crocodiles. Known as the “World Cup of Wildlife,” watch as daring wildebeest attempt to cross the crocodile infested waters alive. The spectacle is officially recognized as one of the “seven new wonders of the world.” Journey there yourself to see why.

More Wildlife Opportunities to Explore Including Incredible National Parks & Reserves

Kenya Safari Zebras'

If your volunteer trip to Kenya falls outside the months of July and October, fear not! There are plenty of other wildlife destinations to explore. From the swamplands of Amboseli National Park to the Maasai Mara National Reserve you can watch lions, leopards, cheetahs, buffalos, zebras, elephants, and giraffes roam free in their natural environments.

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Throughout Kenya you’ll find the “big 5” species, which includes elephants and buffalos, as well as the “little 5” species, which includes leopards, tortoises, and ant lions. Each park, reserve, and private conservation area houses these animals. If you’re a bird watcher, you’ll be thrilled to discover that Kenya’s wetlands and lakes in the Great Rift Valley serve as the home to massive flocks of flamingos, pink-backed pelicans, and fish eagles.

The communities of Kenya and the cultures they offer

Volunteering in Kenya is a unique experience that offers participants the chance to live amongst various different ethnic groups and cultures. Just a few of these are the Swahil, Kikuyu, Maasai, Luhya, Samburu, and Somali people, but there are countless more. Each tribe speaks their own indigenous language, observes their own traditions, and crafts their own artisan goods. This incredible diversity makes Kenya a unique melting pot of cultural diversity.

The inviting and welcoming people of Kenya

Kenya People

When you’re not indulging in Kenya’s natural beauty take a moment to converse with the welcoming people of Kenya. Within seconds you’ll realize why so many volunteers before you have praised the bright smiles and light-hearted sense of humor that so many of the Kenyan people offer. As you volunteer in Kenya, you’ll see how the children and staff members you work with treat you like family.

Picturesque coastlines and tropical beaches

Admire crystal clear water as you sit along the coast of the Indian Ocean with your feet in the water. Tiny islands, coral reefs and white sand beaches line the entire sea border. In your free time journey to the ocean islands of Kiwayu Manda, Lamu, Chale, and Funzi for a day of pure relaxation. The island of Lamu features an attractive blend of 13th century architecture.  If staying close to shore is more appealing when volunteering in Kenya then explore the coastal city of Mombasa, which features tiny streets, churches, mosques, and other Arabian architecture. From the beaches to the culture, everything about the Indian Ocean lifestyle will blow you away.

Use your skills to better the world

Volunteer in Kenya gives you the opportunity to better the world. Apply your skills and passions to a foreign environment where your efforts will be greatly appreciated. Whether you find yourself teaching English in a small community, or working alongside medical doctors on a health project, you will gain invaluable field experience while helping build, rebuild, and sustain the many communities of Kenya.

Venture outside of your comfort zone

As many volunteers before you will claim, the best way to grow personally is to immerse yourself in an unfamiliar setting. Volunteer in Kenya offers just that, as you will spend weeks living without cell phones, air condition, and social media. Welcome the unfamiliarity and expand your global perspective as you live in a society that needs your help!

Discover new skills and abilities

From learning the art of beaded jewelry to memorizing bits and pieces of an indigenous language, you will emerge from your volunteer program in Kenya with countless skills you never would have possessed otherwise. By living in a nomadic hut made of mud, or with a host family, you will catch a first-hand glimpse into the native lifestyle of the Kenyan people. Discover your ability to thrive in an exotic environment while advancing your particular field of interest during your volunteer hours.

What are some of the best volunteer opportunities in Kenya?

We offer a huge variety of volunteer programs in Kenya. From working in an orphanage to aiding wildlife conservation efforts, your volunteer program will provide a life-changing experience. Because of Kenya’s tribal culture, the majority of projects will place volunteers in a rustic environment where locals have had little to no experience conversing with foreigners such as yourself. No matter your location, you will develop life-long friendships with fellow volunteers, natives, and staff members.

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Join an orphanage

Kenya Orphanage

The majority of orphanages in Kenya are attached to schools, and so require help with both academic and childcare needs. Volunteering in Kenya at an orphanage means that you are expected to teach English, sciences, religion, social studies, and math during the day. Do not fear if you lack experience teaching in these fields as the main purpose of your presence is to expose the children to fluent English. As a volunteer, you may also share household duties including cooking, preparing activities, and helping children with their homework.

Teach at a school

Volunteers in Kenya who seek to teach in schools will work primarily with communities where most children are either orphaned or come from a single-family household. Many of the children you will work with suffer greatly from over-crowded and under-staffed classrooms. The primary purpose of your volunteer program is to provide your students with ample attention while educating them. You will work alongside teachers and help develop lesson plans to create exciting and interactive ways to engage your students. You will also help teach a life skills workshop as well as lessons regarding safety, nutrition, first-aid, hygiene, and basic healthcare. Be prepared to sing, dance, and interact with the children every day!

Work in healthcare

Volunteers in Kenya hoping to work in the health sector will primarily help to educate communities about HIV/AIDS related issues and other sexual/reproductive health concerns. Healthcare workers will also work to conserve local sanctuaries such as the Kakamega rainforest, whose ecosystem features rare animals and medicinal plants. Your role will be to promote these health campaigns as a door-to-door advocate gathering support to these campaigns. Your list of responsibilities includes assisting with forest rehabilitation and conservation, academic outreach programs and HIV/AIDS education programs.

Female empowerment

Volunteer programs advocating for female empowerment in Kenya are based out of Kibera, Nairobi, one of Africa’s largest urban slums. In Kibera, local volunteer community groups hope to eradicate the struggles associated with extreme poverty by addressing the socio-economic problems related to underprivileged children, women’s rights, environmental degradation, and basic health care necessities. Volunteers in Kenya assisting with female empowerment will help teach entrepreneurial and marketing skills as well as basic economic information. Counseling and support will also be provided to the children who are victims of domestic violence.

Agricultural conservation

Agricultural volunteer programs in Kenya are located near Nakuru, in the very fertile Rift Valley. On this project you may harvest vegetables to help feel malnourished children, maintain the farming property, and help to increase your weekly yield. The farm you will work on occasionally does famine feeds, or journeys to desert tribes to feed mass populations. You will assist with both the agricultural and transportation needs.

What are some of the best places to volunteer in Kenya?

Kenya consists of seven different provinces that spread across the country to form an area twice as large as the state of Nevada. With such a geographical footprint you enjoy the freedom to pick your personal favorite location while still maintaining the opportunity to explore the rest of the country before your volunteer program in Kenya ends. Whether you want to be based in a capital city or in a quaint beach town, every location offers its own unique qualities and attractions.

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Live and work in Nairobi

The name Nairobi finds its origin from the phrase “Enkare Nairobi,” which translates to “cool water.” The name refers to the famous Nairobi River, which weaves through Kenya’s capital city. If an urban experience with a natural environment suits your interests then Nairobi is the perfect choice for you.

Nairobi adopts an East Indian culture from the colonial railway workers and merchants that comprise its land. The British helped transform the land and ignite the tourism industry by offering large game related expeditions. Now, Nairobi has become a central hub for safari trips to the Nairobi National Park, an area known for the endangered black rhinos, giraffes, zebras, and lions.

In Nairobi, you can also visit the Giraffe Center, the National Railway Museum, the Elephant Orphanage, and the Nairobi Gallery.

Be aware that because of its dense population, Nairobi is known for its theft and petty crime; however, as long as you follow basic safety precautions and advice you will remain perfectly safe. Just remember: don’t walk alone at night or carry large amounts of cash on your person.

The most popular volunteer programs in Nairobi include teaching English, helping with childcare, teaching sports, providing music lessons, and aiding female rights movements.

Live and work in Mombasa

Nestled along the coastline of the Indian Ocean, Mombasa is Nairobi’s second most populated city. The quaint city has a large international port, dubbing it a central trading hub for the world. Historically, this trading hub has been controlled by foreign national powers. While these external powers have led to numerous security concerns, they have also sculpted Mombasa into one of the most culturally rich places on Earth.

Pulling its influences from a mixture of African, Arabian, and Indian culture, Mombasa serves as the home to the Swahili people. As a result, both Swahili and English are the official languages of Kenya.

If you’re looking for paradise, look no further. While in Mombasa, you can gaze out at the diverse marine life, analyze the mixture of Portuguese and Hindu architecture, shop in the Old Town, and live in the historic district. Keen adventurers can enjoy bird watching, nightlife and mountain bike tours in Mtwapa Creek or nature safaris and tours in Haller Park, a local zoo.

Possible volunteer projects in Mombasa include working in an orphanage, teaching at a school, and helping at a medical clinic or hospital.

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Live and work in Nakuru

Kenya’s 4th largest city, Nakuru offers volunteers in Kenya direct access to Lake Nakuru, a famous lake in the Great Rift Valley. The city itself gets its name from the Maasai people of Kenya, though volunteers will also find a small population of international travelers living there. With a small-scale cosmopolitan feel and a hearty tourism industry Naruku is a great place to stay in Kenya.

Year after year hoards of travelers arrive in Naruku for a chance to witness the Great Migration in Maasai Mara, but take note that the city offers various other adventures. Take a day trip to Lake Nakuru National Park or Menegai Crater, a volcano that overlooks Nakuru and the Great Rift Valley.

Popular volunteer programs in Nakuru include teaching English, HIV/AIDS counseling, community service projects, conservation assistance, and caregivers.

Live and work in Maasai

The Maasai people are a welcoming people with a semi-nomadic lifestyle. Unlike many communities, the Maasai people live under a communal land management system. With a population nearing half a million people, the Maasai people spread across 160,000 square kilometers, and adopt a lifestyle based on rearing cattle and finding locating fresh water and pasture.

Each self-sustaining village within the Maasai region lives with kraals, or village huts, made of sticks, cow dung and mud. Houses are protected by small fences and arranged in a circle to promote a sense of community. The men in the Maasai system are responsible for herding livestock, while women build homes and improve security.

The Maasai people are a fascinating people, but, like all communities, they too have their issues. Unfortunately, as private ownership increasingly polarizes their community the Maasai people have experienced heightened challenges when it comes to their livestock business, and access to natural resources such as water.

Volunteers in Kenya who choose to live in the Maasai region will help locals adjust to the unfamiliar social and environmental changes. You will do so while living amongst and learning from the Maasai people and their ways of life.

Volunteer projects in the Maasai region include community development, medical projects, childcare, female empowerment, education, youth sports organization, construction, and agriculture.

When is the best time of year to visit Kenya?

For the best possible weather and most engaging activities, we recommend traveling to Kenya during the dry season between the months of June and October. These months offer the highest peak for safari tourism, so prices may rise higher. The heaviest rainfall is recorded between March and May.


How to Volunteer in Kenya: Beginning Your Application

When applying to volunteer in Kenya, make sure that sincerity and relevant motivations are at the core of your application. Note that a volunteer organization will pay more attention to your interests than your training and experience. Be sure to align your application with the organization’s mission statement so that both your goals and the organization’s goals align.

Most applications require personal references, so reach out to professors, advisors, and coaches prior to submitting your application. Make sure that your application and all the documents associated with it clearly state your commitment to volunteering. We know you want to travel, but explain why you want to volunteer! Show the organization what your specific motivation is for the project you are selecting. Perhaps you love to teach children or maintain the environment. Whatever your calling may be, be sure to describe why in your application!


Preparing to Volunteer in Kenya

Kenya Orphanage

You’ve found the perfect program and received your acceptance letter! Now it’s time to prepare for your trip to Kenya. If you have ever traveled internationally before, you should be aware of the time, money, and research required to ensure a carefree trip. Take note that you will require several documents, appointments, and supplemental items to complete the process.

We recommend that you begin planning for your trip no less than 2 months before your departure date. This will provide you ample time to raise money and lock down the most affordable travel rates.

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Visa and Passport Requirements


Like most countries, Kenya requires an entry visa for travelers coming from most European countries, the UK, and the USA. The easiest and most flexible visa for foreigners to acquire is the multiple entry, which costs $100 and permits travelers to enter and exit the country as many times as they want within a 6 or 12-month timescale.

When acquiring your visa, you must apply at least one week in advance. You must also have a passport valid for at least 6 months after your travel date. Your application must also include proof of your vaccination against yellow fever and cholera, financial stability for the time you plan to spend abroad, and a letter from your volunteer organization documenting your intended purpose of travel. Visa requirements may change suddenly, so make sure to double check with your organization for any modifications to the application.


To enter Kenya, you must possess a passport valid for at least 6 months after your arrival date and your passport booklet must have at least one (preferably two) empty pages to receive a visa stamp. Consult with local staff members and authorities to verify your country’s unique visa requirements. Approval time, application fees, and other required documents may vary depending upon your country of origin. US citizens should expect to wait anywhere between 4-6 weeks for their acceptance and pay $110 USD.

Required Vaccinations

According the Center for Disease Control, you should verify your vaccinations and medication list at least 4-6 weeks prior to traveling to Kenya. Standard vaccinations for travel to any country include your MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chicken pox), influenza, and polio.

For travelers to Kenya, we recommend obtaining your Hepatitis A, typhoid, and yellow fever vaccines. Prescription drugs to prevent malaria will also help. Before traveling, you should consult the official CDC website as well as your local doctor for any final suggestions.


The cost of your airfare is by far the largest expense of your travel budget, as most people have to fly at least 12-15 hours across the globe just to arrive in Kenya. If you plan on traveling during the popular safari (dry) season your tickets will run more expensive, but with proper planning you can secure a reasonably priced ticket on any discount travel website.


you’re in need of money to volunteer in Kenya, consider creating a fundraising campaign to support your travels. First, we recommend calculating a detailed estimation of your budget for the entire trip. Such an estimate should include your airfare, program and application fees, travel insurance, spending money, immunizations, and other related expenses. Note that the final sum will not be small as volunteering in Kenya is not a cheap endeavor.

Fortunately, if you’re eager enough to volunteer in Kenya, then you’re a driven individual more than capable of garnering the support you need to make your dream come true. Use social media outlets, create a fundraising campaign and network to friends, family, and those beyond. Popular fundraising websites include and With only a few short clicks, a well written campaign, and a true motivation, you can reach out to more than enough people to fund your adventure.

While social media can help greatly, you should not solely rely on it for your fundraising needs. Look for any scholarships available in your area – perhaps at your local university or alma mater. Send a few hand-written letters to local business owners to gather support as well. A letter in the mail proves much more efficient than a short email.

People are kind, so don’t assume that no one wants to support your cause. When people like you seek to better the world, friends will always support your cause. Pick up the phone and call your dentist, doctor, or parents’ friends. Watch as your fundraising progress creeps closer and closer to your goal. Before long, you’ll have more than enough money to volunteer in Kenya.

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Suggested Reading

We always recommend a guidebook for your basic travel needs, but a true understanding of the people with whom you will live requires much more research. For a better grasp of Kenya’s history, culture, and environment, read through one of these nonfiction books written by early settlers, or discover the life of Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan hero for many.

Here are a few suggesions: West with the Night by Beryl Markham, The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley, Straight On Till Morning by Mary Lovell, Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen

Helpful Packing Advice and Tips

Packing for your volunteer trip to Kenya can offer an impressive challenge, but with these helpful tips you can rest assured that you will have everything you need.

Apart from the basic list provided below, take note that certain items may depend upon your travel intentions. Extra camera batteries and relevant electronics are always good to have, especially if you intend on taking a safari during your time. If you plan on traveling to a Muslim area, make sure you pack modest clothing as well, (long skirts). Make sure to leave anything too valuable at home, particularly jewelry!

Here is a basic list of packing essentials, but make sure to speak with your organization for any unanticipated suggestions:

  • Passport and all travel documents including travel insurance
  • Limited cash
  • A secure money belt, security pouch, document organizer
  • All air, train and various transportation tickets
  • Travel itinerary
  • Bathing suit and beachwear
  • Insect repellent
  • Malaria pills and any prescribed medication
  • Mosquito net
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun block
  • Guidebook
  • Credit cards & travelers checks
  • Backpack for daily activities such as hiking
  • Suitcase or duffle bag
  • Sweater and one warm outfit for mountain and evening weather
  • Windbreaker
  • Long sleeve lightweight shirts to protect from sun and insects
  • Plenty of light clothing for spring/summer
  • Toiletries (razors, lotion etc)
  • Electronics - laptop, chargers, batteries etc
  • Camera
  • First aid kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Wristwatch
  • Raincoat or poncho & umbrella
  • Towel
  • Contact lenses with case and cleaning kit
  • Clothing that’s appropriate for your project (business attire if necessary)
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Personal entertainment
  • Anything else you think you will want or need
  • Hat, if possible with net for insects, brim and chin strap
  • Bandana (for dust and washing)
  • Comfortable and breathable socks
  • Undergarments and sleepwear
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Project Gifts:

When you arrive in Kenya, it is a very kind gesture to bring a token of your appreciation for your host family, children, or staff members. This does not mean you should go on a spending spree! Simply find one or two items that represent your home country. They can be small and inexpensive! Imagine the gift you would bring a foreign relative and bring that.


Must Know Information Regarding Your Volunteer Project

What to expect when volunteering in Kenya

Kenya Orphanage

There is no such thing as having too much information when traveling to a foreign country, especially when you have no experience volunteering or traveling abroad. Remember to ask your organization for a detailed report of your daily assignments and responsibilities.

Here are a few travel points to verify with your organization before your departure:

  • The name of your project.
  • Exact project location, address and contact details including phone number, email address, website, and social media webpages.
  • Your specific job role, duties and responsibilities.
  • Your daily schedule, including any break timings. 
  • Dress code and any other dress recommendations (warm or light clothing, conservative or casual etc).
  • All rules and regulations that you must follow.
  • Number of people that you are responsible for.
  • Daily transportation details (to and from your project) plus safety instructions for returning to your host family after dark.
  • Number of other staff members and volunteers.

Become familiar with your host family

One of the best parts about volunteering in Kenya is living with a host family. You will become a member of their family and gain unrivaled insight into indigenous lifestyles throughout Kenya. You will share meals, clean and forge unbreakable bonds, so to facilitate the cultural exchange and improve your experience, reach out to your host family before you arrive to learn about their lifestyle, culture, customs, and traditions.

Some useful questions to ask your organization about your host family assignment are:

  • How many family members live together on the home? What are their ages, genders, and relationships to one another?
  • Has the family hosted volunteers in the past? If so, can the organization provide any references or reports from past volunteers?
  • What religion does your host family practice? How do they observe it, and do you have to dress or act in a particular way?
  • Will you have a separate, private bedroom?
  • Is hot water readily available?
  • How will you do your laundry?
  • What times are meals served?
  • Does the host family have any rules, regulations or curfews for volunteers?
  • How far is the home from your volunteer project location?
  • How far is their home from the nearest bus or train station?
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Connect with your local staff

Before departing for Kenya, gather as much information as you can about the in-country support you will have access to. Record your project coordinator’s name and their contact information.

Is there a nearby office available to support your needs? If so, what are their hours of operation and where are they located? Is there at least one person available 24/7 in case of an emergency?

Place the final call

Write down a list of last minute questions to ask your organization. The list should include weather conditions, details about your host family, travel details and anything else you are curious about. Place one final call to your project coordinator. Record your answers and verify your flight details.

Make sure to ask for any physical descriptions of who you are meeting at the airport. These will come in handy when you arrive in Kenya after a long flight.


Volunteering in Kenya

Kenya volunteering

A myriad of factors contribute to the quality of your experience while volunteering in Kenya, but the most important ones to consider are your attitude, mindset, ability to adapt, and your understanding and acceptance of foreign cultures.

By now, you’ve successfully applied to a volunteer program in Kenya and gathered the necessary funds to support your adventure. It’s finally time to begin your journey, although simply traveling to Kenya is not enough to ensure a positive experience. Make sure that you keep an open mindset and positive outlook as you travel to Kenya. A zealous, welcoming spirit will guarantee a great experience and immense personal growth.

How to ensure a positive volunteer experience

Whether your trip to Kenya lasts one week or ten you’ll be amazed at how fast time flies. Cherish every moment as though it were your last, because before you know, your trip will be over!

Here are a few helpful tips to consider to help ensure a positive experience abroad:

1. Expectations are key

While your mission is to volunteer in Kenya, you will also endure incredible personal growth along the way.  The cultures and customs with which you interact may surprise you, and furthermore some volunteer activities may not be the most thrilling in nature. However, such unfamiliarity is necessary for a rewarding experience. Expect nothing more but to help the communities you live and interact with. The more passionate you are about volunteering, the more rewarding your experience will become.

2. If you have a problem, say something!

Your project coordinator and fellow staff members are there to support you, so if you ever have a problem with issues relating to your host family, emotions, transportation, or any other related matter, don’t hesitate to reach out! Make sure you know the local area by heart, so that you can find help at any time. It helps to have your project coordinator’s contact information on hand in case of emergencies. You are free to contact them at any time.

3. Accept your circumstances and don’t complain about the little things:

Your accommodation while volunteering in Kenya could be anything from a rural village mud hut to a shared volunteer housing unit. Just remember that no matter your location, you are in a developing nation where modern-world assets are hard to come by. Part of your responsibility as a volunteer is to project a sense of leadership, so even if you don’t have hot water or air-conditioning try to embrace the discomfort in silence. You will only experience these living circumstances for a few weeks at most, whereas your family may never know an alternative.

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4. Welcome every adventure:

Everything from public transportation to ordering lunch will serve as a new experience. Welcome each endeavor as though it were its own adventure. Traveling in a foreign country is difficult, but by working closely with your fellow volunteers, you will see how teamwork can triumph over any unpredictable situation. The more relaxed you become in your actions, the more enjoyable situations like these will become.

5. Do not teach or attempt to become a guru:

The Kenyan people adopt a way of life that differs drastically from what you are probably used to. Keep in mind that you are a guest in their home. Do not try to manipulate or change their beliefs, customs, or cultures. When you teach, focus only on your mission goals whether that be teaching English, health and safety tips or teamwork. You are not traveling to Kenya to change their world.

6. Enjoy the opportunity!

By volunteering in Kenya, you are joining the ranks of all those before you who have volunteered. You are continuing their mission to help improve the lives of foreign communities, so take solace in the fact that after you are done, more volunteers will follow. If you do not see any drastic changes during your volunteer project, realize that it takes time for changes to develop and with the help of future volunteers, these changes will surely come to fruition. Whether you know it or not, every single thing you do will contribute to the lives of those you interact with.

7. Relish the local food and culture:

Kenyan Food Ugali

The Kenyan people speak Swahili, English, and several other regional dialects. Not to mention, they incorporate influences from countless neighboring countries that manifest themselves in their festivals and traditions. The best way to immerse yourself in their culture is to hunt out local gatherings; attend festivals, visit museums, partake in cultural events, and indulge on the various styles of food Kenya offers. You will find influences stemming from Indian, Arabic, and African roots.

Feeling Safe in Kenya

Since Kenya is still a developing nation, you must remain vigilant at all times. There is no need to feel paranoid, as the Kenyan people are very welcoming, but due to the extreme poverty some locals may target tourists for robberies and other wealth related crimes.

Cities like Nairobi are well-known for their prevalence of petty crime, so make sure to mind your belongings will traveling in public. Don’t wear flashy jewelry, try not to walk alone at night, and always keep your personal belongings within grasp. If you find yourself in a rural area of Kenya, you will most likely never encounter any of these problems, but you should still remain vigilant.

Women especially may experience verbal or sexual harassment. We recommend traveling with at least one friend at all times. Stick to the neighborhoods you know best and always keep your eyes peeled for threatening situations. 

Do’s and Don’ts in Kenya


  • Make sure to visit one of the national parks or join a safari during your stay; a diverse ecosystem is the heart of Kenya.
  • Walk through at least one Maasai market. Admire handcrafted artisan goods from jewelry to clothing, as this is the perfect chance to snag a trinket to remember your time volunteering in Kenya.
  • Ask about basic laws and prohibitions in the area. This may include not walking across the street on your cell phone or smoking in certain local areas.
  • Keep your belongings by your side at all times.
  • Enjoy Kenyan tea and coffee. Both are considered some of the best in the world.
  • Try Nyama Choma, or the famous Kenyan barbecue!
  • Learn as much Swahili as you can. Doing so will help you build stronger bonds with locals.
  • Make as many friends as you can, treat children with kindness, and be helpful to fellow volunteers.
  • Emit a warm and friendly spirit around your host family
  • Prepare yourself for the great outdoors. Pack proper outdoor clothing for safaris and other excursions you may take.


  • Neglect to confirm taxi fares before your ride. Many taxi drivers don’t operate under a meter system, so they may try to change the prices without your knowledge. Get a recommendation from your host family or project coordinator to ensure an honest driver.
  • Carry large amounts of cash on your person. Fortunately, there is a mobile money revolution occurring in Kenya. You can balance cash, credit, and debit by registering a SIM card that works at local supermarkets, stores and taxi services. If you’re living in a city, this will be the safest and easiest way to navigate.
  • Walk by yourself at night in cities, empty beaches, or anywhere even remotely suspicious.
  • Drink tap water.
  • Carry large camera equipment, especially in cities.
  • Eat at unclean restaurants. Be wary of street food as well.
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Confronting Culture Shock:

Culture shock may occur when you suddenly relocate to a new environment, especially when that new environment is a developing nation with foreign value systems, traditions, customs, cultures, and beliefs. While your living scenario will vary drastically from your normal surroundings, with a calm and open mind you will adjust with ease.

You may find the differences in living scenarios overwhelming at times, but learning to accept your new surroundings will help you gain a whole new appreciation for foreign culture and lifestyle.

Here are a few important tips to consider while volunteering in Kenya.

  • Forge friendships with your fellow volunteers. Realize that they are probably going through the same cultural shocks you are. Work together to combat any issues that may arise and before you know it, you’ll be lifelong friends.
  • Keep in touch with your family and friends back home through Skype or another video chat program. The free services will save you massive amounts of money in comparison to long distance phone calls.
  • Make sure you are always well rested. You will need as much sleep as you can afford to succeed at your volunteer project. Maintain a healthy diet and exercise when you can, as you will feel a lot better about yourself every day.
  • Find captivating ways to spend your free time. If you’re not volunteering, reward yourself with an exciting excursion or adventure.

Activities to do in Kenya

You are working extremely hard as a volunteer in Kenya and you paid a lot of money to be there, so make sure you spend your off days rewarding yourself. After your project hours are finished, spend as much time as you can visiting Kenya’s many different cultural and natural landmarks. Your project coordinator and fellow volunteers will have trip suggestions, or they may even travel with you.

Here are just a few activities to keep in mind:

Amboseli National Park

This national park is a 392 sq. km wildlife reserve nestled at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak. Enjoy nature outings as you watch cheetahs, wildebeest, hippos, gazelles, lions, and elephants interact only feet away from you.

Mount Kenya

Summit the 4,986 foot tall volcano for an ethereal view of Arica. The snow-covered peak tops the second tallest mountain in Africa, and while it is now inactive, once it spewed molten hot lava into the air!

Nairobi National Park

If you find yourself situated in Nairobi, make sure to visit Nairobi National Park, Kenya’s oldest. The expansive park sits only 8 km. from Nairobi’s city center but will feel a world away. Lions, zebras, elephants, and more roam the park beneath the backdrop of a city skyline.

Lamu Town

How many times in your life will you have the chance to venture offshore to an island near the Somali border? In Lamu, visit historic mosques, Arabian architecture, museums, and fortresses beside a crystal clear ocean.

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Completing Your Project and Following Up

Completing Your Project and Following Up

Your volunteer experience in Kenya is bound to be one of the most memorable and life-changing experiences of your life.

Upon returning home, you may want to share your experiences and stories from Kenya with the rest of the world. Starting a blog is a great way to share your experiences with the world. Use your story and experiences to highlight the beautiful country. Include the good, the bad, and the ugly as well as any photos and videos you captured along the way.

A blog also serves as a great way to raise awareness for your volunteer mission in Kenya. Share the amazing work you completed and the achievements you and your team reached. Other volunteers and hopeful travelers will read your blog and become inspired to venture across the world themselves.

Once you’ve settled back into your normal lifestyle, take the time to provide your volunteer organization with quality and constructive feedback. Mention your experience with the booking and support team, host family etc. Your contributions will be greatly appreciated by the organization, because the information you provide will help enhance future volunteer projects in Kenya.

If you want, feel free to provide your volunteer organization with constant updates. If you are truly passionate about supporting the volunteer campaigns, continue to raise awareness for your project and similar projects by encouraging new, prospective volunteers to travel to Kenya as well.

To best show the world how amazing Kenya is, organize charity events, fun runs, film nights, talent shows, and fashion parades to demonstrate your support. You can even create exciting competitions and raffles. Sponsors will support your mission or donate to your online campaigns if proceeds raised go towards supporting the program you worked on.

Keep in touch with the locals, fellow volunteers, and support staff you became friends with while volunteering in Kenya. These people will serve as an excellent support network for future volunteer endeavors and campaigns.

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Frequently Asked Questions by Volunteers

How will I travel from the airport to my host family’s/volunteer house?

Your volunteer organization in Kenya should meet and escort you from the airport in Kenya to you desired accommodation. Be sure to confirm any dates, times, and names prior to your departure with one last final call.

Will local staff offer any support in Kenya?

Yes, at least one local staff member will be available to you and your fellow volunteers at all times in Kenya. Be sure to acquire said person’s contact information prior to your arrival in Kenya.

How many other volunteers will work with me?

The number of volunteers assisting you completely depends on your project assignment. Some volunteer programs in Kenya have a smaller capacity for volunteers, while others require larger numbers to complete the task. Contact your volunteer organization beforehand to check how many volunteers you will be working with, and whether or not you will be living with a roommate or host family during your stay.

If I volunteer with a friend, can we work on the same project and live together?

This should pose no obstacle in most cases, but make sure to talk to your organization well in advance so that they can make the appropriate arrangements necessary.

Are both meals and housing provided?

In most cases, program fees include at least two or more meals. As for accommodation, you will live either with a host family or in shared volunteer housing. Make sure to check with your project coordinator beforehand to resolve any questions you may have.

I am a vegetarian. Is that an issue?

Most programs offer vegetarian options but to be safe check in with your volunteer organization before your departure. Meat is a large staple of the Kenyan diet, so even if your host family offers vegetarian options, you may have to search far and wide for quality vegetarian restaurants. 

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Will my host family speak English?

To verify what languages your host family speaks, contact your volunteer placement in Kenya for the specific details. Since both Swahili and English are the two official languages of Kenya, rest assured that you will always be able to find someone to communicate with.

Can I travel to other towns and cities on my days off?

Of course, you can! And we encourage it. As long as your commitment to your volunteer project is fulfilled and no tasks remain for you to complete, pack your backpack and set out into Kenya for a chance to witness some of the amazing sights the country holds.

Do I have to bring my own bedding and mosquito net?

If you’re accommodation falls with a host family, then your local family should provide you with bedding. Host families will not, however, provide you with a mosquito net. Before traveling, research the seasonal conditions of when you are travelling. If need be, make sure to pack a mosquito net to protect from harmful pathogens. You might also want to consider bringing ear plugs as, in more urban areas, the nights bring loud noises.

How will I travel to and from my project every day?

Your travel necessities depend upon your project and accommodation location. You may find yourself living on the premises of your volunteer placement, or with a host family within walking distance. If you find yourself located further away, ask you organization for public transportation tips, or if they will simply provide you with rides back and forth.

Can I speak with a past volunteer who has completed the placement?

Yes, you should contact as many volunteers as you want. Ask your volunteer organization for the contact information of recent volunteers. You may also want to scour the internet for volunteer reviews of the program you will be completing.

What does the accommodation look like? Can I see pictures?

Feel free to ask your volunteer organization for pictures, videos, or a physical description of your accommodation.

What kind of food will I eat in Kenya?

All of your meals included in your program feel will be based on local cuisine. Typical Kenyan dishes include ugali (cornmeal starch made into a thick paste and paired with a meat stew) Sukuma wiki (collard greens), chapatis (an Indian influenced flatbread), and Pilau (spiced rice dishes).

How many hours per day will I volunteer?

Most volunteering placements in Kenya required between 4-6 hours of labor each day. However, before traveling confirm that both you and your volunteer organization are on the same page when it comes to time commitment. Some volunteer organizations require a 40-hour work week, while other smaller companies only ask for a half day of your time. If you find yourself working in the agricultural or construction industry, you may begin work early. Other projects may ask you to start later in the day. In any case of doubt, it is always best to check with your volunteer organization for any matters concerning your volunteer placement specifications.

How much money should I bring?

With a minimum of two meals and accommodation included, an average allotment of around $25 USD should be sufficient for any personal expenses. If you consider yourself an avid shopper, traveler, or nightlife connoisseur, consider bringing some extra money to accommodate your habits.

This free eBook has been written as a general reference for information regarding potential volunteers. We cannot guarantee the ongoing validity of the contents outlined in this eBook as there may be changes in reference to the destination. This should not be considered a definite guide to the subject covered as it is simply information to help aid volunteers. We cannot be held liable for any damages if you use this book without verifying its contents.

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Looking for safe, reputed, and affordable volunteer program?