Practical advice for Kenya
GETTING TO KENYA
Regular, mostly daily flights Nairobi and Abu-Dhabi, Dubai, Accra, Addis Ababa, Amsterdam, Bangkok, Cairo, Dar es Salaam, Dubai, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Lagos, London, Mumbai, Paris, amongst other destinations. Kenya Airways is Kenya’s largest carrier, however most major international airlines fly to both Nairobi and Mombasa.
TRAVELLING WITHIN KENYA
Between Nairobi and Mombasa, and other destinations such as Lamu and Malindi. Getting to Masai Mara: do not be deceived by the 270km distance from Nairobi, many of the roads are in very poor condition, and are even worse after heavy rains, which makes domestic flights (usually in a small, safe, turbo-prop plane) the most efficient option to reach Kenya’s national parks. It is also the most exciting option, with many animals and an incredible wild landscape visible below.
GETTING AROUND NAIROBI
Although taxis are not the cheapest option, they will make travelling around the city easier and safer. Always agree a price beforehand, and pay afterwards. Ask locals for prices to guide negotiations. Taxis are easily found parked outside hotels and tourist areas. If you find a taxi driver you like and trust, hire him for the full day to enable you to make multiple stops. However, the best option is to ask at your hotel.
Uber Easy Taxi
Although very cheap to use, matatus (minibuses) are notorious for being poorly maintained, badly driven and uninsured. There are frequent reports of matatus being hijacked, and passengers being robbed. Not recommended.
Recommended Insurers: World Nomads www.worldnomads.com
SAFETY AND TRAVEL RISKS
- Mugging, kidnapping, car-jacking and armed robbery occur regularly, particularly in Nairobi, Mombasa and other large cities. Foreigners are not generally targeted, however, it is essential that you take all sensible precautions and try to avoid a perception of affluence.
- Avoid walking around after dark, especially in isolated areas like empty beaches.
- If you’re attacked, don’t resist.
- Beware of thieves posing as police officers or private security guards.
- Bag snatching and passport theft are common in transport hubs like bus stations, railway stations and airports. Be particularly vigilant in these areas.
- Most visits to game reserves and other tourist areas are trouble-free. If you visit reserves, use reputable tour operators and arrive at your destination in daylight hours.
Low risk. Rural areas, particularly in the north and north eastern parts of Kenya, experience cattle rustling, banditry and ethnic clashes. Foreigners are not usually the target of localised violence and banditry, but you should take great care if travelling to these areas.
Terrorism Threat Level
High Risk. The main threat comes from extremists linked to Al Shabaab, a militant group that has carried out numerous attacks in Kenya. The most recent attacks have been carried out in a shopping mall in Nairobi and a University in Garissa County.
Official Travel Warnings
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to:
- Areas within 60km of the Kenya-Somali border.
- Garissa County.
- The Eastleigh area of Nairobi.
- Lamu County and those areas of Tana River County north of the Tana river itself.
- Within 15km of the coast from the Tana River down to and including Tiwi; this area includes Mombasa Island, Moi International Airport (including transit through the airport), Malindi, Kilifi and Watamu.
Do’s and Don’ts
There are risks associated with viewing wildlife, particularly on foot or at close range. Follow your guide’s advice at all times.
Smoking in all public places (except designated areas) is prohibited throughout Kenya. This applies to areas such as hotel grounds, lounge areas and entrances. However, a general rule would be to not smoke along the side of any roads or streets with pedestrians and/or vehicles. Be observant and take your cues from other smokers – if there are no smokers or cigarette butts on the ground, it is likely a non-smoking location.
It is illegal to destroy Kenyan currency.
Taking photographs of official buildings, including Embassies, can lead to detention. If in any doubt, don’t photograph or film around them.