Your Safety and Security in Kenya:
Global Terrorist Threats:
- Like other countries in the free world there have been some random incidents of terrorism in Kenya in recent years. There was a terrorist incident five years ago in September 2013 when four terrorists attacked the up-market Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi and this received wide international media coverage. This shopping mall is popular with affluent Kenyans and expatriate residents. No foreign tourist visitors were affected. Apart from that incident, other acts of terrorism over the years have mostly been in very remote border areas far away from places visited by tourists such as in Garissa district, Mandera on the border with Ethiopia or the remote coastal village of Mpeketoni over 100 miles to the north of Malindi. These remote areas are very far from any of the wildlife parks, beach resorts or tourist accommodation and we never go anywhere within 100 miles of them. There were also a few small-scale random incidents in past years in some of the shanty areas of Mombasa or in some of the heavily populated slum areas in Nairobi but again these were not in places where tourists go and no foreign visitors were involved. The Travel Advisories imposed on Kenya after the shopping mall incident five years ago have recently been lifted but we always stick to whatever Travel Advice is issued by the UK, USA and other countries from where our visitors come. Last year, following a prolonged period of drought in the counties of Samburu, Isiolo and Laikipia, there were a number of incidents of ranches being invaded by armed herdsmen seeking grazing for their livestock resulting in some isolated incidents of violence and insecurity . Subsequently the situation calmed down but the wildlife areas to which we take tourist visitors had not been affected, namely Lewa Conservancy, Borana and Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the safari camps there continued operating as normal.
- At present the current Travel Advice is to avoid all non-essential travel to the following:
- Areas within 60km of the Kenya-Somali border and Garissa District in Northern Kenya.
- In Nairobi, there are no restrictions but it is recommended to avoid low income township areas in the city including all slum areas.
- At the coast: in the north, the mainland of Lamu County (excluding Lamu Island and Manda Island) and within 15km of the coast from the Tana River down to the Galana River north of Malindi.
It should be noted that there are NO restrictions on travel to Kenya’s most popular tourist destinations in the national parks, reserves and wildlife conservancies. The wording of the British FCO travel advice states clearly that there is NO restriction on travel to the main wildlife areas including the Aberdare National Park, Amboseli, Laikipia, Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara, Meru, Mount Kenya, Samburu, Shimba Hills, Tsavo, and all restrictions have now been lifted on the coastal beach resorts of Lamu island, Manda island, Malindi, Mombasa, Kilifi, Watamu and Diani.
Terrorism is a global threat and there have been many recent incidents in the last few years in countries such as the United States, Great Britain, France, Belgium and Australia so Kenya is not unusual in having experienced some isolated incidents in the past but generally these have been far away from places frequented by tourists. The Kenya government has been working closely with other international governments to ensure that every possible action is taken to ensure the safety of both international tourist visitors and residents of Kenya. The British and United States governments provide assistance with security equipment and specialist advice to Kenya, especially in keeping the airports safe and monitoring the borders. The British government has a long-standing military agreement with Kenya and carries out continual training and monitoring exercises. It has been noted that there has been a considerable improvement in the overall security situation within Kenya. Many well-known visitors have enjoyed trips to Kenya in recent months, including President Obama, Prince William, HH the Pope, Mark Zuckerberg and Victoria Beckham!
As we live in Kenya and go about our normal daily lives in Nairobi we are well placed to ensure the safety of all our customers. We have been operating here for thirty years and have looked after thousands of visitors every year whose safety is our absolute priority. We have taken steps to see that our customers are not at risk and these actions include the following:
- We keep abreast of the security situation on a 24 hour basis and monitor the advice of the foreign embassies based in Kenya to ensure we comply with their Travel Advisories including the latest advice from the British FCO. The current advice is to avoid travel within 60 kms of Somalia and we do not go within 200 kms of the border with Somalia.
- We meet our guests on arrival at the international airport and transfer them to Nairobi hotels which are in safe locations.
- We recommend that guests do not wander off on their own in Nairobi or go into the back streets on foot but allow us to transport them so that they do not inadvertently head into an area which we would not consider to be entirely safe. Just as in parts of Europe or North America, there may be areas of a city that are not considered ideal for visitors, and we know which places to avoid in Nairobi.
- We can meet our arriving guests at the airport when they fly in and we are ready to take care of our guests from the time of arrival until their final departure.
- Through our industry associations and the Kenya Tourism Federation which represents the private sector, we have participated in meetings with senior government officials from the Office of the President and the Security Services as well as the embassies of countries like the USA, UK, Switzerland, Canada, Australia etc to discuss ways of minimising risks for visitors and methods of counteracting the threat of terrorism.
Kenyans are well known for being very friendly and welcoming and our visitors often remark to us that they felt extremely safe and well looked after while they were here. Visitors will find it easy to communicate with Kenyans as English is the official language of Kenya (with Swahili as the national language) and lessons in the schools are in English.
For the reassurance of clients who may be anxious about staying in Nairobi we use hotels in safe locations, well away from the areas which have been recommended to be avoided. In Nairobi we also recommend our own Nairobi Tented Camp which is located inside the Nairobi National Park and protected by the Kenya Wildlife Service. On safari, the Porini Camps and all the other safari camps and lodges which we use in Kenya are in areas considered safe for tourist visitors and have never been the targets of any terrorist acts.
All tourism facilities and services in Kenya in the areas where we operate are functioning as usual without any disruption to our clients’ itineraries and with all the international airlines operating into Kenya it is business as usual throughout the country with literally hundreds of thousands of international visitors coming here every year without experiencing any adverse incident. We continue to receive excellent feedback from all our customers about their experience in Kenya and have no hesitation in encouraging visitors to continue visiting this beautiful country with its wonderful landscapes, magnificent wildlife, tropical beaches and friendly hospitable people.