Earlier today I laid out how to obtain an e-visa to Kenya. In 2021, Kenya abandoned its visa-on-arrival program. For most nationalities, that means that you need to arrange your visa before stepping onto a flight to Kenya. That little detail slipped my mind, though I was able to save my trip through some last-minute maneuvering.
I Forgot To Apply For My Kenya Visa, But Still Managed To Travel There As Planned
I realized when I checked in for my flights to Mombassa that I needed a visa for Kenya. I’ve been to South Africa several times over the last two years, where no visa is necessary, but Kenya does require one and it is not available on arrival like in Zambia or Zimbabwe.
During my layover in San Francisco, I applied for my visa. I had hoped, like with Thailand during the pandemic, the visa would be generated instantly.
It was not.
When I reached the gate for my Munich flight, I was asked to present my Kenyan visa. Of course, I did not have it. I did have a .pdf confirmation that I applied, but of course, the agent said that was not a visa.
Boarding was 15 minutes away and she was about to offload me from the flight and pull my checked bag from the cargo hold when a bit of inspiration hit me.
I pulled out my laptop and bought a refundable ticket to Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines. Transit without visa is allowed in Kenya, so I figured I’d “keep going” to Ethiopia and hopefully by the time I reached Munich my Kenyan visa would be issued.
The gate agent laughed at this solution, telling me that Ethiopia now also requires an e-visa in advance.
I too could not help but to laugh. Most websites online indicated that visas could be obtained on arrival, but I pulled up the information on Timatic via Expert Flyer and indeed, visas on arrival are now only available for those of Ethiopian origin!
So I canceled the Addis Ababa ticket and booked a ticket from Mombasa to Cairo via Addis Ababa. You can certainly still obtain a visa on arrival in Egypt.
The agent smiled. I smiled. She handed me my boarding pass.
Crisis averted…at least until I reached Germany.
Thankfully, by the time I arrived in Germany, the visa had been issued. I then canceled the onward journey from Mombassa and was able to secure my baggage on arrival even though it was now tagged all the way to Cairo (via Munich, Frankfurt, Mombassa, and Addis Ababa!)
This was a stupid move on my part, but I’m thankful I was able to recover with minimal damage. Don’t be stupid like me: apply for your Kenyan visa early. But if you get caught without a visa, think about booking an onward journey to buy yourself some more time…
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