Coronavirus (COVID-19) and travel: The situation around the world is changing dramatically. Various governments have changed their travel warnings to restrict travel during this time. To understand how this may impact cover under your policy, please go to our FAQs and select your country of residence.
For the latest travel warnings and alerts around the world, read about lockdowns and border restrictions.
While Kenya is a safe destination compared to some surrounding African countries, there are issues with crime in major cities, and many government travel advisories warn travelers of the threat of terrorism. Check your Government's travel advice for the latest information.
Travelers will always attract unwanted attention from beggars and potential pickpockets. From street scammers to more serious threats, a little common sense goes a long way in Keyna, and staying up to date on the local situation is essential no matter where you go. These are the things you need to know to stay safe in Kenya.
Be especially careful when eating meat in Kenya. Sometimes the quality of meat, or other ingredients used in local dishes, doesn't agree with visitors' stomachs. After a few days in Kenya, your tummy will adjust.
Don't eat raw foods, such as salads or fruits that cannot be peeled. Always opt for well-cooked meals – and there are plenty of delicious cooked meals to try, from rice dishes to samosas and bean stews.
The risk of contracting traveler's diarrhea is higher in places where sanitation and hygiene standards are poor. If you begin to feel anything more serious than a slight case of the runs and an uneasy stomach, find a local doctor. Don't let traveler's diarrhea go untreated.
Also, always eat with your right hand – do not touch food with your left hand while in Kenya.
Don't drink tap water unless it has been boiled or purified. Carry a reusable water bottle and purification tablets or a water filter bottle, such as the Grayl water bottle, and keep it topped up with purified water to avoid buying bottled water.
Before you go to Kenya, make sure all your routine vaccinations are up to date. There's a very high risk of malaria in Kenya, so talk to a travel doctor or your GP about using malaria pills. Research the pros and cons of taking them, and stay covered up at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
Carry any medications you need from home, in case local pharmacies don't have the medical supplies you require. Unfortunately, fake and poor-quality medications being sold around the world are one of the key reasons malaria has not been eradicated, especially in African countries.
Watch out for biting wasps, mosquitos, scorpions, and acacia thorns – these are often more dangerous than the Big Five, so come prepared with insect repellent and long-sleeved clothing.
If you're going bike riding, bring a tire repair kit with you – acacia thorns will easily tear through the rubber.
Crime and protests can increase during elections, and travelers can get caught in the middle. Avoid any public demonstrations, and if you see a crowd gathering, walk the other way.
Stay informed on your trip. Check the news and ask locals, your guide or accommodation staff about any rising tensions. Problems can escalate very quickly.
Having a good grasp of what's happening in the country can make your visit far more interesting.
Crime is common in major cities, coastal beach resorts, northern Kenya (including the North Eastern province), the northern parts of Eastern, Coastal and Rift Valley provinces and north of Malindi. There's no need to be paranoid and change your travel plans – just heed the advice of your Government.
Exercise common sense and take precautions where possible to avoid crime as you would anywhere you travel: keep valuables out of sight, only carry the amount of cash you'll need for one day, don't walk alone at night.
There are some crime hot spots travelers should avoid in Nairobi. These include slums, such as Kibera which is the largest urban slum in Africa. Eastleigh, in Nairobi's east is considered a high- risk area due to the number of terror-related incidents that have occurred since 2012. Violent crimes have also been known to occur in Buruburu, Kasarani, Mathare, Pangan, South B and South C.
Every Kenyan will tell you to avoid River Road in daylight or at night.
Bag snatching and other petty crime are common around transport hubs. Violent crime in Nairobi is increasing in some suburbs with armed carjackings, kidnappings and home invasions. Dave Stamboulis shares more tips on staying safe in Nairobi.
Compared to the capital Nairobi, Mombasa's crime rate is lower, however, it's still necessary to take precautions when out and about.
Travelers should be alert and take caution in the Old Town area of Mombasa and the Likoni Ferry. Avoid hanging out at the beach at night, and take taxis wherever you need to go at night rather than walk.
Bandits or shiftas are an unfortunate problem in Kenya, and many of these people originate from neighboring Somalia. The issue is widespread in Kenya, which means you need to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions if you plan to travel beyond the urban centers. It's best to avoid traveling at night.
Tourists are rarely targeted in game reserves and national parks in Kenya, but there have been incidents involving tourists on safari, even in the popular Masai Mara and Samburu reserves. Police and security forces are present in these areas, and if your safari guides tell you to put your windows up, pack away your camera and other valuables while traveling through a village; listen to them, as the occasional snatch and grab does happen.
Banditry, cattle rustling and ethnic clashes have caused sporadic violence in these areas. Travelers aren't always targeted, but it's better not to put yourself in a situation where you could be at risk.
Travel advisories warn travelers not to travel to or near these border zones. All three countries are experiencing localized conflicts. Violence, such as armed banditry, violent cattle rustling, counter raids and tribal warfare, are common along the Kenya-Ethiopia border.
Kidnapping, armed banditry and clan warfare occur along Kenya's borders with Sudan and Somalia.
In November 2008, two visitors were kidnapped from Kenya, close to the border with Somalia, and taken into Somalia. Somalia's border has long been a no-go zone for any travelers due its ever-present internal conflicts and terrorism issues.
Anti-Somali government extremist group Al Shaabab continues to threaten Kenya with attacks on shopping centers, foreign embassies and other tourism areas. Most government travel advisories indicate that travelers should exercise a higher than usual level of caution while in Kenya.
Kenya is targetted by Al Shaabab due to its military intervention in Somalia and highly developed tourism (which guarantees media coverage of their nefarious activities). Several of the latest terrorism incidents have occurred near the border with Somalia such as the 2015 Garissa University attack where around 150 people were killed and many injured. Attacks have continued in Garissa county and neighboring Lamu county.
In 2013, Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Centre was targeted. In the shooting, carried out by Al Shaabab militants, 67 people, including visitors, were killed. In the coastal town of Mombasa, a police station targeted in a stabbing and petrol bomb attack by three assailants, leaving two police officers wounded.
The Kenyan Penal Code criminalizes homosexual activity, with a recent ruling upholding a law with a punishment of 14 years in prison for offenders.
That said, plenty of gay and lesbian travelers visit Kenya, and while public displays of affection aren’t tolerated, visitors are left alone in resorts and hotels.
The same modest code of conduct and dress also applies to heterosexual couples, as Kenya is a conservative and traditional country.
For the most part, female travelers to Kenya will have a trouble-free trip. The locals are friendly, respectful, hospitable and most people speak English.
There have been reports of women experiencing harassment by men. Avoid hanging out at the beach or walking around alone at night. Take a taxi if you plan to head out at night, even if you are with others. And as you would at home or anywhere else, avoid getting too intoxicated.
Here are our top safety tips to keep in mind while traveling around Kenya.
Before you buy a travel insurance policy, check your government travel warnings and health advice – there may be no travel insurance cover for locations with a government travel ban or health advice against travel.
You can buy at home or while traveling, and claim online from anywhere in the world. With 150+ adventure activities covered and 24/7 emergency assistance.
How to stay safe on a wildlife safari in Africa, from safe photography distances to the 4 important rules of every safari adventure, here's what you need to know.
You can buy at home or while traveling, and claim online from anywhere in the world. With 150+ adventure activities covered and 24/7 emergency assistance.Get a quote
The company I work for is telling me to visit Nairobi for expanding business but after reading this have to think twice thanks for the information. Take Care.
Robbery is so common in Nairobi that it's best just to know how to deal with it. Here's one way to deal with it: https://medium.com/@kyleschutter/how-to-deal-with-a-robbery-f0993dadf1e6
This article paints a truly dark and dated picture ... there's need for balance.
All one needs to be is smart and sensible.
Why walk a slum unescorted?
Should you be in the darker side of the city at night, or be in the brighter, more 'alive' restaurants and malls?
I live and work in Nairobi and have only been pick-pocketed once, 20 years ago, drunk in a bar.
Most expats live in the leafier sides of the city, where people walk their dogs late into the night, where security is guaranteed either by the police or private firms.
There are lots of superb local and international hotel chains, international country offices, and great local restaurants.
Food for thought.
Thank you for commenting Richard. I am from the US and am planning on going on a medical mission trip to provide care for those that are in Kenya. I'll be in the more remote parts of Kenya. How is the crime in those areas?
When did kenya become so dangerous to westerners?
Kenya got a beautiful nature, so much to visit. But, robbery and crime is so rampant in Kenya. The police seem part of the practice; The locals kind of approving it. In my 6 months stay in Nairobi, I was attacked 4 times; but none while working in neighbouring countries (Tanzania for 2 years, Mali 1 year, Sudan 2 years, and Djibouti 1 year). My advice is plan short trip, go with stuffs you don't mind losing, watch out your surroundings and avoid walking alone. That applies all over Kenya, though Nairobi is worse.
Snatch and grab is real threat in downtown Nairobi. I am experienced traveler and don’t wear flashy clothes or jewelry when traveling. I do almost always wear a small gold cross on a chain that is always worn under my top. It is not worn out in the open. Within one hour I was “attacked” from the side and from behind while crossing streets. Twice, men lunged at my throat, clawing at my neck to try to snatch gold chain from my neck. You could barely see the chain, but being a “mizunga”, (white person) theives take more time to check you out for a crime of opportunity. Both times my husband grabbed the guys who fled, and my chain clasp held tight. It was a very unpleasant day in nairobi. It made me suspicious of any person walking anywhere near me.
I'm Kenyan and I'm surprised at some of the claims on here.
Yes, some, like, petty theft and pickpocketing etc. may be true but just as true as in any other country.
I, for one, have never been robbed in Nairobi and I've had several friends from abroad who've had a great stay in Nairobi and Malindi without any issues.
And the thing about eating with the left hand....huh?
All this becomes irrelevant when you find a trustworthy escort. Before you go ou5 make sure to make a friend with a local (quite easy as they are friendly). You will never be attacked not even at midnight. Seeing yo with a local wins their trust and respect.
One of the DUMBEST articles ever written. The writer starts with a photo of Nairobi in the 80s. Since some readers have never been to Africa let alone Kenya, sadly they have to listen to people who don't tell them that if you are in a foreign country, know the dangerous areas (every country has one), find a local to show you around or to advise, stay street smart, Common sense says don't go to crowded places alone, don't expose yourself.
Glad I woke up in Nairobi Kenya, !!!
Be carefully anywhere in africa.
Now Imagine Kenya with all its diversity in cuisines, cultures, in its nature!
Imagine creating connections and have friendly people showing you places where are not on the internet, always willing to give a memorable experience.
And it's not only about Kenya but the whole Africa.
The danger of the single story is that it can and would be passed to generations after generations.
There is nothing wrong with prevention but hope that your next publication will tell a different (positive) story.
Imagine the good contribution you would have made to a traveller planning to visit Kenya and its wonders when the world go back to normal.
Hi there. Whilst there are some validity in most of the points made in this article, I feel that it is strongly focused on the negatives. Sadly, there's too much negativity out there about Kenya and other African nations. The mainstream media do not help. I can imagine that many people would be completely put a trip to Kenya after reading this - it sounds horrendous! However, it doesn't paint the true picture. Kenya is a beautiful country with so much to offer. Despite what you read, there's not a mugger hiding around every corner and a carjacking on every street. The truth is that many incidents are avoidable with a few precautions. I've put together a post which I feel is more balanced - feel free to take a look: https://traveltribeafrica.com/kenya/is-kenya-safe-for-families-your-practical-guide-to-a-safe-trip/
This article paints a horrible picture of Kenya. It is wrong to defame a country and base all it's positive aspects of such a minor issue that more often than not happens in close to every country in the whole world for crying out loud. I completely disagree with this because I am from Kenya, I live in Kenya and I'm proud of my country. So if you have some rave reviews yes do share them but try and focus on the positive too because you end up depicting a rather monotonous mindset when all you do is point out the negative. You can't define an entire nation of off such mediocre terms and events. So check yourself before you ruin others.
I am really grateful to read the below article.
Kenya is safe in every aspect since nowadays the government has now employed many undercover officers to deal with any unpleasant situations.
So, i urge all black people outside Kenya to come safe and Kenya is purposely meant for African families whenever they are.
For non-african kindly get the government instruction and you will be safe around during your stay.
One of the dumbest article i have ever read, how do you just decide to paint a country this dark just because controversial articles drive traffic? First off that picture is from 80`s if not 60`s. Please find your facts right..... NewYork and the likes are even more dangerous, no city is crime free, you just have to be careful and not dumb, like how do you walk with gold chains and watches anyhowly in any city? Be sensible please......
Soooo...according to this article and some various comments....Kenya is your worst nightmare.
It’s NOT!!!....but hey....I am a local who’s been living here all my life so my opinion might be slightly on the defensive side (I acknowledge that)
BUTTTT....while I do acknowledge that Kenya is not a perfect country and there is crime here and there (like in other independent countries), We are a relatively peaceful nation with very beautiful people, culture Etc and it SUCKS that other people will now have an obscure view about Kenya just because one tourist made some stupid decisions and had a bad day coz of it and decided to write an article about it
At the end of the day, as a person who also loves to travel, my advise is, travel smart and DON’T BE STUPID, and you will have a swell time here in Kenya
KARIBU KENYA, MAGICAL KENYA....
I have a great opportunity in kenya and so googled and found this article.
It is lucky people have taken the time to comment as your article has no balance, without comments I would have flatly refused to consider going. I will seek out some real information from facebook groups where posters have actually experienced living in the country.
You guys have a poor assessment of Kenya, as someone who lives there for over 16 years, I can personally tell you that most of the things here are quite exaggerated and are occur normally in any country and some events are quite rare, for example, terrorism in Germany in the last couple of years they have been more terrorist attacks than in Kenya but on this site stupid review of Germany you don't see them talk about terrorism. This biased against African countries makes it seem that bombs are falling out of the sky and likewise in western countries, there are generally some rougher neighbourhoods and like most places, common sense is required. Don't go judging a whole nation due to some tourists lack of sense.
It's a shame you wrote a subjective review based on a single experiences (generalization), a twisted point of view, and stereotype.
Well, you forgot to say lions stray from Nairobi National Park and walk the streets at night. And that CNN once referred to Kenya as a "hotbed for terrorism" and Donald Trump just described African countries as "sh*thole countries".
1. I've lived in Nairobi for 15 years. I've been mugged once walking in a busy market with a gold chain. What was I thinking? Who goes to dingy places with their valuables? Me 10 years ago. Don't be like me.
2. You can eat with your left foot if you can---let alone left hand. Nobody cares except my grandmother, maybe. We speak English with a twang, dress in jeans and T-shirts, and worship western idols.
3. Eat cooked food off the streets of Mombasa... not Nairobi. Here, in Nairobi, eat fruits only. There are KFCs, Subways and decent hotels where you can snack. It's a city, remember. With skyscrapers and all.
4. Acacia thorns, wasps, and scorpions? You'll find those in the Savannah. Our cities are concrete jungles. I repeat, CONCRETE. But yes, have a mosquito repellent.
5. Politics, civil unrests, etc? Refer to BLM protests. Protests happen everywhere. By all means, avoid Kenya during general elections.
6. Bonus points: avoid using your phone if your car window is open in traffic, don't talk to strangers - this is kindergarten knowledge, and, do travel light (some money, phone, water and such).
7. Avoid public busses to avoid pickpockets. Use Uber, Bolt, and such.
8. Don't be nervous.
I'm a westerner living in Nairobi nearly 9 years and this article is laughably, shamefully inaccurate. Clearly written with old information and borrowing from articles pinched off the internet. EVERY city has extremely unsafe areas, and Nairobi is no exception. Go there and get mugged, pretty simple. As a visitor you have ZERO reason to be in any of those places unless you are keen on a poverty porn/white savior tour of the slums and even those can be done safely if gawking at the stunningly less-fortunate floats your boat. The safe areas of Nairobi are captivatingly beautiful and perfectly safe, assuming you take the same precautions you would anywhere else. Terrorism is a concern globally now, and we honestly feel as safe or safer here in that regard than anywhere in Europe or North America. And we were in the middle of the Westgate mall terror attack in 2013, so we know of what we speak. The greatest dangers here by far are road accidents (especially after dark and especially outside of cities), getting conned into giving people money or getting set up to be mugged because you are an idiot, and the standard potential mayhem that ensues wherever humans and alcohol mix, just like anywhere else. Use your head and you'll be fine. If you are female, looking men in the eyes longer than just a glance is often interpreted as an invitation for "escalated interaction", again just like anywhere else but to a bit of a higher degree here. The food here is fantastic- Swahili, Indian, Arabic, East & Southeast Asian, continental, etc. The only thing that is hit or miss is the quality of the beef, which is only good about half the time. You definitely CAN eat salads, fruit, etc in the restaurants. There are restaurants that are as glitzy and sanitary as you will find anywhere on the planet, many with fantastic outdoor ambiance. The prices are very, very reasonable even at the nicest places with but a few exceptions. Way cheaper than the expensive parts of Europe and significantly cheaper than North America. There are also plenty of mid-level restaurants that lack the glitz or ambiance but have excellent food with great prices. You need to be cautious eating in the streets or in very cheap eateries, just like anywhere else- duh. And no eating with your left hand? Stunningly idiotic comment that is simply untrue and something I have never heard before. Seems clearly a reference to the minority Muslim population of Kenya and is simply a stereotypical, ethnocentric trope. The author should be embarrassed. Regarding lodging, there is a wide array ranging from high-end hotels that rival anything anywhere else, to very budget stays that need to be selected carefully to avoid unsafe neighborhoods. The Airbnb selection is also a great option. Downtown Nairobi is safe during the day but not particularly attractive for places to stay with things to do and see nearby either day or night. Get out into the leafy, safe suburbs for better lodging surrounded by a lot more to do and see. To get around, don't take the public busses, which are unsafe for crime and road safety, unless you are a hardcore budget backpacker type who is unbothered by such things. Uber and the other ride hailing services proliferate and are cheaper than you're used to back home. Hop on the back of a motorcycle taxi (boda boda) if you're brave, have good insurance and like a thrill- they are the fastest and cheapest way to get around town if you're up for it. At the airport, if you don't have transportation prearranged you can take one of the yellow airport taxis which are generally safe but an even better bet is to go up to one of the drivers holding signs for other travelers and ask them if there is any other car from their company immediately available at the airport. (These should be the drivers holding professionally-produced sign boards, not just pieces of paper). Chances are there is already one at the airport waiting for opportunistic fares, in which case the available driver will walk over to where you are and lead you to their vehicle. Make sure the company's logo appears on the car and you are golden. If the company you talk to has no car already at the airport, just ask a driver holding a sign from a different company. They will all see what you are up to and the ones with cars immediately available will make themselves known. Of course it's always best to have transportation arranged in advance, and you probably shouldn't do this if you are travelling alone while female. So yes, Nairobi and Kenya are very different than what you're used to at home, and they are phenomenal. Nairobi weather is the best in the world. The beaches are incredible, the wildlife and nature are stunning, and the people are friendly, fun, and welcoming. Ignore the crap in this article and visit Kenya, you will love it.
Am a Kenyan and I can authoritatively say that nairobi and Kenya as a whole is not a safe country. You must be alert whether travelling or at home. Here are the incidences that will buttress my shoutings.
1. When I was at UON, those days, I was in session and I travelled home for a function. Coming back, I travelled at night. The bus arrived in Nairobi at 3am. As bold as I was, I said I will go straight to campus. Which is 15 minutes drive from where I was to take the matatu. On walking along tom mboya street to go and board a matatu, a security guard came from one of the buildings and told me to go with him. Since he was in uniform, I followed him and he told me 2 guys who were walking behind me were about to rob me. He had watched me walking down the street and formed an opinion that that guy is going to be robbed. We entered inside the building and he closed the metallic door with metal grillings behind. And the 2 men stood there outside, stranded. I stayed with the security guard until 6am. Then I went to campus. I thanked God for sending that security guard to help me.
2. While still in campus, I can't remember exactly the year but my friend told me when he was in Nairobi walking down to the street going I don't know where, one man followed him all along for a very long time. Until he had to turn back and shout at him that he backed off.
3. After finishing campus, I got a job. Now we had to go for orientation. After finishing the exercise we were givent posting letters and off I went to go and pack my things from an estate in Nairobi where I lived with a relative to go to my new job. Crossing Haille Selassie ave, a guy snatched my mobile phone which was in my trousers pocket.
4. While at my job, it was in upcountry in one of the small towns. My manager went home for a weekend. He came back on Monday and said robbers raided his his home while he was there with his wife.
5. This one is a serious one. While at my job at upcountry, I used to travel to Nairobi over the weekend since I have strong connections there. On one particular weekend, I was travelling to my job from Nairobi. I took the night bus on a Sunday. So that I will be at my house at around 3am, catch a lil sleep, then go to work a few hours later. At around 2am when we were almost near my destination, we passed a police road block. The police checked on us, found everything is ok and they let us proceed with our journey. Barely had we left the police road block, we negotiated a corner and there infront of us was another road block. This time it was a road block with stones and tree stumps. The robbers. The driver of the bus had no option but to stop. They came in, they had AK 47s. One of the took over the bus and started driving on one of the feeder roads to the bush. As others ransacked us. They took our phones, money, everything. They beat the conductor of the bus whom they said had been rude to them earlier on. I don't know what he had done to them. Seems they knew him. They also slapped me becoz I looked up at them on their faces. We were supposed to hand them phones and money while looking down. They found a gun on the floor in the bus! They then became furious. They said there was a police officer ammongst us. The theory was there was an armed police officer in civilian travelling as a passenger who was armed with a pistol. When he saw them with AK 47s, he knew he had no chance. The best thing for him was to offload his pistol becoz if they could have found it on him, they could have dealt with him accordingly. Anyway, they reached their destination, in the bush. Parked the bus, and took one beautiful lady who was in the bus with them. 2 remained with us and others went with that lady. I think they raped her. They came back with her after about 30 minutes and then left us and disappeared I don't know where. Now helpless, our bus driver took over the bus, drove us to the bus offices which were not far from my house where I lived. I heard some passengers say they know the robbers etc. Now at the bus offices, the police arrived at 6am. They took information from us on what happened. They asked the lady if they raped her, at first she said no, she didnt want to admit due to trauma and stigma. I felt sorry for her. Finally she agreed and said yes they raped her when they took her out of the bus. Becoz I was supposed to be at work shortly, I left them there and went my way. I was exhausted on that day at work coz I didn't sleep. I was just hitting the keyboard buttons with too much sleep in my head.
So did u hear that? Kenya is not safe. Well I love my country but we have to be honest. That's y when I will go back home soon-. (am now based outside the country), I will hire personal security becoz I dont anything unpleasant to happen to me.
Quite an unfortunate article. This is meant to paint a bad image of Kenya. Nairobi is the most beautiful city in Africa and in my own opinion, very safe because I live here. Am sure the writer has never traveled to Kenya. This article should be pulled down as it's not factual.
I have been to Nairobi countless times in the last two years for work never had any issues I have been all over and even to naivasha and never had one single issue. Everyone is friendly and helpful and glad to see you enjoying their country. This article paints a bleak picture and doesn’t even go into all of the fun people can have.
Getting raped and robbed is not fun
Tap water is safe in Nairobi. You can even feel the chlorine smell. Just imagine how water borne diseases would break out if this wan't the case.