Mission Africa FAQ
Find answers to frequently asked questions about our mission trips to Karatina, Kenya and Pavilion Village Children's Home.
Do I Need a Passport?
Yes, a valid passport is required for travel from the United States to Kenya. For more information on how to apply for a passport or to renew your passport use this link: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html
Please remember your passport must have a minimum of 6 months remaining before expiration
Is a Visa Required for Travel to Kenya?
Yes, you must have a valid Visa in addition to your passport in order to enter this country. Kenya requires e-Visas issued in advance and no longer offers Visas on Arrival. The cost of a single entry Visa is approximately $50 and is the responsibility of the participant to obtain in addition to the published cost of the trip. You may apply for an e-visa at the following link: https://evisa.go.ke/
What "Reason for Visit" should be listed when I apply for my Visa?
Tourism (you will be on a cultural tour of a local orphanage and conclude your visit with a safari in one of Kenya's National Parks or Wildlife Reserves). Kenya is open to spiritual/missions visits and it is not inappropriate to list missions as a reason for your visit, however, it generally requires less explanation to simply indicate that you are visiting friends or coming for safari.
Are any vaccinations required for entry into Kenya?
US citizens have not COVID related entry requirements when traveling to Kenya. A Yellow Fever vaccination is required if you have previously visited a country where there is a high risk of exposure. Patria does not require team members to be vaccinated for any illness not required for entry, however, we do strongly encourage that each team member prescription medication to prevent malaria. A list of recommended vaccinations may be found here: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/kenya
What type of clothing should I pack?
Check the weather for the time of year and area you will be traveling to. Temperatures in the Mount Kenya (where Pavilion is located) can vary from the lower 50s (F) to the upper 80s (F) depending on the time of year. Game park temperatures vary by location but can be much higher. You should also be aware that Kenya experiences rainy seasons and dry seasons. April and November are considered wet season and you should expect rainfall during your trip.
Kenya is moderately conservative, but that doesn’t mean you need to cover your shoulders and knees everywhere. In Nairobi, in towns and on safari, shorts, dresses and sleeveless tops are fine to wear, and the same goes for most beach resorts, although walking around in swimwear isn’t appropriate. Please be modest in your dress at all times (no short shorts or skirts for example) Women should plan to wear dresses and men should bring a dress shirt and tie for Sunday church services and some events.
While you may be allowed multiple bags by the airline, Patria limits you to a single bag and carry on. This limitation is based upon the size of vehicles you will be traveling in throughout the ground portion of the trip. Please pack in the smallest possible luggage size and remember that Kenyans often wear clothing more than once without washing (thus allowing you to "fit the culture" even if you re-wear some garments). If your trip includes a flight to or from the Safari Park, you will need to be able to back down to a back pack or carry on and forward your larger luggage to Nairobi for pick up after the safari. Any excess baggage allowance from the airlines will likely be used by the team to carry supplies, sound equipment and other items for use in the mission. Many team members come prepared to leave lightly used clothing behind for distribution to those in need.
Is there anything I shouldn't bring?
Kenya banned single-use plastics in 2017, so leave any carrier bags (and preferably single-use plastic water bottles and straws) at home. The bag ban is countrywide – luggage is often scanned, so don’t pack shoes or other items in plastic bags.
Single-use plastic bottles and straws are banned in national parks – bring a reusable water bottle from home.
How much money should I bring?
The cost of your trip includes transportation, lodging and meals. Drinks other than water, hot tea and regular coffee are at your own expense. You should also be prepared to pool funds with other team members to provide a tip for your driver and safari guide when their services have concluded (we recommend $20 per passenger for drivers and $30 per passenger for safari guides). You may wish to tip porters and other support/service staff, but these tips are primarily on a per service basis and no more than $1 or $2. Sodas cost between $1 to $2 depending on where purchased. If you wish to purchase souvenirs, plan to spend between $50 and $200 depending upon your taste. If you are conservative with your souvenirs, snacks and drinks you can get by on $75 - $100 or less.
Credit cards are accepted in more and more places in Kenya now, but don't count on them as your only source of funds.
What to Expect
Can USD ($-Dollars) be used in Kenya?
Some places do accept US Dollars, but don't count on it. Your team leader will be able to assist you with currency exchange after arrival and will generally pool everyone's dollars to get the best exchange rate. The current market exchange rate can be found here: https://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/convert/?Amount=1&From=USD&To=KES
Expect to receive no more than 90-95% of this rate from the FOREX and even less at gift shops, restaurants and hotels.
What type of accommodations should I expect?
Is the food and water safe?
Bottled water is provided at all meals and generally available at all times. Do not drink water or brush your teeth with from the tap. You should generally not use ice and not drink from a glass that has been rinsed with less than boiling water.
As for food, most places will provide safe food, but it will be necessary to take risks that honor your hosts in some cases. Generally when in doubt ask your team leader. You are safe to eat any fruit or vegetable that was peeled with a clean utensil. Salads are highly discouraged and should NOT be eaten in most places.
What type of ministry will we be doing?
Each trip is different, so be sure to connect with the organizer for the types of work that will be done on your trip. The following descriptions are based on the most common types of ministry work we do and may or may not be included in your specific trip:
Pastor/Ministry Leaders Conference: team members will teach sessions at the pastor/leaders conference. Topics must be approved by your team leader and a general outline of your material should be submitted in advance of departure from the US. Team members not chosen for teaching assignments or not wishing to teach will provide support as hosts and ministry/prayer team members.
Church Services: trips which include at least one Sunday will include a visit to a local church service. Team members who are comfortable preaching a Sunday sermon should make this known to the organizer in advance. All team members should be prepared to share a brief greeting and/or testimony as a part of the church service and be ready to participate in prayer ministry at the conclusion of the service.
Construction: team members will assist in the construction of the facilities (houses, churches and various support structures) identified for any particular trip. Construction skills (carpentry, masonry, electrical, plumbing, etc.) are a plus but not required. Team members should notify the organizer in advance of any special skills that they possess and assist in the organizational aspects of this mission project to insure proper supplies and tools will be available.
Life Skills Workshops: team members will provide training (or assistance in the training process) workshops that assist the local community to gain various life skills that will either improve their living conditions (ie, use of clean water, budgeting and finance, communication skills, etc.) or provide a source of income (ie, making a product, offering a service, general business management skills, etc.). Team members who have experience training in various areas should notify the organizer in advance of any such skills in sufficient time for that experience to be evaluated and determined if it is transferable in the local culture.
Children's Ministry: team members will teach short bible stories and lessons or assist with games and activities for children ages 3-14. Team members should create their own lesson plan or activity and submit it to the trip organizer in advance (if a team member is unable to come up with a lesson or activity on their own resources and planning support is available or the team member may be assigned as an assistant to a group leader). Lessons or games/activities should be planned in time increments of 15-30 minutes. Any resources necessary for lessons, games or activities should either be supplied by the team member or a request for availability should be submitted at least 30 days in advance of departure from the US. The expected number of children on a given trip will be available approximately 30 days prior to departure from the US.
Evangelism/Prayer: every team member should be prepared to share their testimony and pray for the members of the community that they will be serving. In some cases specific evangelistic and/or prayer projects will be planned - ask your organizer for specific information in such cases.
Medical: team members with medical skills (doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, nurses, therapists, etc.) will provide health care evaluation, advice and when possible treatment options for members of the local community and/or for the children at Pavilion Village. Other team members will provide support service and prayer teams.
Special Projects: team members with special skills not indicated above should make these known to the organizers as early as possible. Where possible accommodations can be made for these team members to offer special programs or lead special projects related to their skill sets and ministry styles.
What should I expect on Safari?
Each trip ends with a 3 day safari in one of Kenya's world famous national parks or wildlife reserves. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the beauty of God's creation. Safari's typically involve 3 days and 2 nights at a 4-5 star safari lodge or tented camp (ie, Keekorok Lodge or Mara Napa). Our teams will have their own vehicles and drivers for game drives and are not dependent upon the lodge or camp for these services. Depending upon the time of year game drives will consist of either four 3-4 hour tours or two 3-4 tours and one 8 hour tour with a box lunch (all day game drives include several rest stops with the ability to get out of the safari vehicle). Meals include lunch and dinner on the first day, all meals on the second day and breakfast on the third day and are prepared in a 4-5 star manner. While there can be no guarantees on what wildlife will be seen, team members frequently experience close encounters with: gazelle, zebra, wildebeest, warthogs, hyenas, elephants, giraffe, hippo, cape buffalo, lions, cheetahs and occasionally leopards and rhino. A host of birds and other smaller wildlife is also seen on game drives.
Are there any limitations on who can participate?
While we do not set fixed age limits or have specific rules on physical capacity, each person should evaluate there own ability to participate. Parents with children and individuals with physical limitations should discuss the requirements of the trip with the organizer before making application. Children 18 must be accompanied by a responsible adult and submit a signed waiver if a parent is not also participating.