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Obtaining KSH while in Tanzania?

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Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
869 posts
34 reviews
Obtaining KSH while in Tanzania?


I will be entering Kenya and visit Masai Mara and Lake Nakuru for the first time via Isebania (from Serengeti), so will not be reach Nairobi until I am done with these 2 national parks.


1) How do I get KSH before entering Kenya? Should I exchange KSH using USD dollar notes while beginning my journey at Zanzibar or Arusha? Will I get a good rate or lousy rate for KSH in Tanzania? Worth the effort involved?

2) If #1 is not possible at all, can I tip or buy stuff in Masai Mara and Lake Nakuru using USD? I guess the conversion involved will never be favorable for me? I read in TA forum that it seems USD notes are not so widely accepted in Kenya (as opposed to Tanzania) outside of tour guides themselves since local residents prefer their own currency (understandable). So what other options do I have? Should I ask my tour company to bring over some KSH for me while beginning Kenya journey from Isebania?

3) If #2 is possible, then what type of USD notes is favored by the Forex folks in Tanzania and Kenya respectively? I know $100 and $50 USD notes is favored by TZ when changing into TSH, so i guess sames goes if you change into KSH? What about when you try to change USD into KSH while in Nairobi, is $100 or $50 notes more favored as well versus smaller denominations?

Please help, thanks!!!

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
869 posts
34 reviews
1. Re: Obtaining KSH while in Tanzania?

Sorry, i have to edit

3) If #1 is possible, then what type of USD notes is favored.....

NOT #2

Level Contributor
14,084 posts
2. Re: Obtaining KSH while in Tanzania?

You don't really need KSH in Kenya if only for a bar tab, staff or guide tips. Even souvenirs. Everything is priced in USD.

I've always (over 18/yrs) used USD.

Only if staying and expecting to be spending for food or other while in NBO, where as this is often my arrival point, will withdraw from ATM or a Forex office, obtain some local KSH (maybe $50 worth). When on safari, I only use USD.

While in Tanzania they gladly accept USD$100 notes, not so in Kenya as many feel the notes are counterfeit. So you'll be fine with $50, 20, 10, 5 and 1s.

I sure wouldn't exchange USD for KSH while in TNZ... terrible rate.

Never crossing at Isebania though, there miight be an ATM on the Kenya side, if you feel you 'must' use Ksh.

Edited: 10:37 am, October 03, 2013
Level Contributor
1,276 posts
78 reviews
3. Re: Obtaining KSH while in Tanzania?

While traveling in Kenya, some of the souvenir shops as well as the lodging gift shops price their items in KSH or in USD. I've seen it both ways, but more times than not, items were priced in KSH.

I've done both - taken only USD and also gotten KSH before I arrived in country or converted to KSH at a bank.

I carry a currency cheat sheet with me for both Kenya and Tanzania. You can find it at:


You can pick rates from USD to KSH or USD to TSH and the reverse. If you print these sheets out, they print at wallet size. Then I have laminated them and carry them with me. So when I find an item I might be interested in purchasing, I look at the table and figure out what the cost is. Then I determine if I want to purchase it (and these tables will also help you if you are dickering on prices). Makes it a snap.

When the shops or lodging bills are presented to me and they are in the local currency, then I ask what the price is in USD, I really have not found the conversion factor to be much difference. Now at a major hotel in Nairobi, that usually is different.

Nyeri, Kenya
Level Contributor
1,256 posts
16 reviews
4. Re: Obtaining KSH while in Tanzania?

I think that the statement that 'Everything is priced in USD' it is a bit misleading. Outside the sphere of the hotels and airport duty free, everything in Kenya is priced in Kenya Shillings. It rather depends whether you want to buy anything outside hotel gift shops, for example.

For tipping, although USD are accepted, local currency will be more appreciated and also shows that you have given some consideration and forethought.

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
869 posts
34 reviews
5. Re: Obtaining KSH while in Tanzania?

yes, agree! i think it's always better to just use local currency whereever you are unless explicitly asked not to...

6. Re: Obtaining KSH while in Tanzania?

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