Frequently Asked Questions
How long is the travel time? How do you get to Kithoka? Depending on their starting point in the US, travelers usually take two flights to get to Nairobi, Kenya. Many US travelers connect through the Amsterdam airport in Europe. The Amsterdam to Nairobi flight is approximately 8 hours, and we encourage MichiKen travelers to go on the same flight. Once we arrive in Nairobi, we spend the night at a hotel. The trip from Nairobi to Kithoka is approximately 5 hours driving time on paved highways, with a stop for lunch.
Why go half-way around the world, when there are people in our local areas who need help? We don’t consider this an either/or question. Almost everyone involved in the Kenya projects also volunteer locally to help those in need. Why Kenya? It’s where many of us were introduced to the needs of developing countries, and we have been impressed by the level of partnership in the Kenyan projects. It’s not us helping them, it’s Kenyans and Americans working together.
Is travel to Kenya safe? We believe MichiKen trips are very safe, and have taken students and adults to Kenya with confidence. We are picked up at the airport by experienced drivers who stay with us the whole trip. Our single night in Nairobi is at a gated conference center. The travel companies and lodging hosts in Meru have provided service to travelers from Michigan for many years. The Kithoka area in which we work is like a second home to us. That said, the US State Department has issued travel warnings for Kenya for the past five years. There is particular concern for travelers in the large city of Nairobi and the refugee camps and towns near the Somalian border. See http://travel.state.gov for more information. Meru and Kithoka are located approximately 120 miles northeast of Nairobi, and approximately 220 miles west of Somalia.
Are vaccinations required for travel to Kenya? Yes, please contact a local travel clinic at least two months in advance of your trip to determine necessary vaccinations. You might also consult the Center for Disease Control traveler information at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/kenya.htm Note that the Meru area is approximately 5000 feet elevation, which minimizes the risk of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria. For that reason, most trip participants do not take malaria medications -- but you should make your own decision about that.
What about Ebola? The Ebola outbreak in 2014 and 2015, which has since been completely contained, was in an isolated section of western Africa. Africa is a huge continent, and Kenya is in eastern Africa, thousands of miles away from the Ebola affected areas (see article).
Will my time in Kenya be productive? Do I have the right skills for the trip? A common worry of first time travelers to Kenya is whether they will be useful on the trip and contribute effectively. The answer is “Yes, absolutely!” These trips are about relationship, caring, and cooperation. While some people in your travel group may have special skills for particular projects, there will be lots of work and community activities which require only your presence and enthusiasm!
Can children go on the trip? We often have a few middle-schoolers and high-schoolers on the trip, traveling with their parents. We engage the youth in our activities, and many have found the trip to be transformative. We're happy to connect you with parents who have traveled with their children to learn more about this opportunity.
What should I pack? See our comprehensive pack list. It’s filled with information about things to bring, and some cultural training as well!
More questions? We'd love to tell you more! Contact us!