In the cities there are public coin and card phones on the street. Phone cards can be bought from post offices, street vendors, or small shops. You can make direct international calls from these. Phoning from hotels is expensive, as they add a hefty premium.
To call Kenya or Tanzania from another country: Dial the international access code: 011 from the U.S.; 00 from the U.K., Ireland, or New Zealand; or 0011 from Australia. Dial the country code 254 (Kenya) or 255 (Tanzania) and then the local number minus the first 0.
To make domestic calls within Kenya or Tanzania: For all calls within the countries, drop the country code, but the full area code (including the first 0) must be dialed along with the number. All numbers begin with a three-digit area code.
To make international calls from Kenya or Tanzania: First dial 000 and then the country code (U.S. or Canada 1, U.K. 44, Ireland 353, Australia 61, New Zealand 64). Next dial the area code (drop the first 0 if there is one) and number. For international operator-assisted calls, dial 0196. Note that calls between Kenya and Tanzania and Uganda are charged at long-distance tariffs and not international. To call Kenya from Tanzania and Uganda, dial 005 followed by the area code and number. To call Uganda from Kenya, dial 006 followed by the area code and number, while calls to Tanzania require the prefix 007. Kenya and Tanzania have discontinued their "collect call" facilities. Toll-free numbers in the U.S. cannot be accessed from Kenya or Tanzania. Use of international long-distance calling cards is very limited.
Kenya and Tanzania are awash with mobile phone operators; you'll spot advertisements for Safaricom, Zain, Celtel, and several others in even the most remote corners of the country. Surprisingly, there may be mobile services even in far-flung wilderness areas (where cellular connectivity is the only means of communicating with the outside world), but limited coverage in national parks that are relatively close to major towns or cities. Most of the local operators have partnerships with international service providers -- if you want to investigate these services, it's best to make inquiries through your home operator before departure. Using a mobile phone to call internationally is very expensive, so try to avoid doing so. You'll also pay dearly for international roaming through your service provider back home. The simplest way to have mobile phone access is to purchase a SIM card when you arrive and stock up on prepaid charge cards, which are available everywhere from formal phone shops to street vendors. If you are traveling to other African countries, opt for a Zain SIM card. They operate borderless roaming across 22 African countries, and call costs are local, not international. International calls from a Kenyan or Tanzania SIM card are about 50¢ a minute and local calls cost about 20¢ a minute.
Cellular Abroad (tel. 800/287-5072; www.cellularabroad.com) has a number of services that are handy for travelers to Kenya; these include satellite phone rentals and various conventional cellphone and SIM card rental packages that can be tailored to your specific needs. Although their SIM cards are not as cost-effective as buying one locally, they'll be more useful if you're visiting Kenya as part of a multidestination trip and wish to continue using the same card. They also sell the National Geographic Travel Phone, which enables you to keep the same number no matter where in the world you're visiting and save on international calls; the per-minute rate for a call from Kenya to the U.S., the U.K., or Australia, for example, is $1.55.
Internet & E-Mail
Internet cafes in major tourist spots and in the towns and cities are easy to find. The Kenya Post Office now offers access in almost all of their branches, even in the small towns. Hotels and lodges, too, are increasingly offering Internet access to their guests, though this is usually more expensive than a street-side cafe. Generally, you won't find Internet access in remote safari destinations. Although speed connections from landlines can be slow, satellite connections are continually increasing and the cost is lowering; expect to pay little more than $1 per hour. Wi-Fi is catching on in Kenya and Tanzania (Arusha's International Conference Center), and the airports and some hotels and coffee shops (such as the Java chain) now have Wi-Fi.
Online Traveler's Toolbox
Veteran travelers usually carry some essential items to make their trips easier. Following is a selection of handy online tools to bookmark and use.
- Airplane Food (www.airlinemeals.net)
- Airplane Seating (www.seatguru.com; and www.airlinequality.com)
- Foreign Languages for Travelers (www.travlang.com)
- Maps (www.mapquest.com)
- Time and Date (www.timeanddate.com)
- Travel Warnings (http://travel.state.gov, www.fco.gov.uk/travel, www.voyage.gc.ca, www.smartraveller.gov.au)
- Universal Currency Converter (www.oanda.com)
- Weather (www.intellicast.com; and www.weather.com)