Your Security and Safety in Kenya:
Global Terrorist Threats:
A further terrorist incident took place in the Westlands suburb of Nairobi on 15th January 2019. A small number of armed assailants entered the Riverside Park business complex which contains office blocks, a hotel and restaurants, a bank and other commercial facilities. The terrorists detonated explosive devices and fired on innocent civilians within the main hotel building. The Kenyan tourist security forces arrived on the scene very promptly and immediately acted to cordon off the area, to evacuate civilians and to neutralise the terrorists. The incident started at around 3.30 pm and the Kenyan security forces worked throughout the night to clear the building floor by floor. By daybreak the incident was over and all the terrorists were eliminated but not before they had killed at least 20 innocent people and injured over 50 other civilians. President Kenyatta broadcast to the nation in the morning of 16th January to confirm that the incident was over and that all the terrorists had been killed. The President commended the quick and effective response by the security services in eliminating the terrorists and in rescuing and evacuating over 700 civilians from the building. He also thanked the emergency medical services and hospital staff who worked round the clock to provide assistance and treatment to the injured. President Kenyatta ended by saying, “I thank our international partners who are showing solidarity in standing with us at this moment, as they always have. We are on the highest alert, and shall remain so. I assure every Kenyan and foreign visitor that you are safe. Let us now go to work without fear and continue with our work of building our nation. God bless Kenya. God bless each and every one of you.”
We can confirm that in spite of this incident, life in Nairobi quickly got back to normal and it was business as usual with all services operating and people going to work and getting on with their daily lives. Our visitors from overseas all continued with their safaris and all tourism facilities and airports are running as normal but with enhanced tourist security behind the scenes. The governments of the United States, United Kingdom and the EU have all confirmed that their citizens can continue to visit Kenya’s popular tourism destinations. We joined all our fellow Kenyans in expressing condolences to the families who lost a loved one and in wishing a speedy recovery to those who were injured in the attack and we will not allow this incident to disrupt our way of life.
- 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 Kenya is not unusual in having experienced some isolated incidents in the past. 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.
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 tourist 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 Kenyan security and tourist information, 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.