Factors Affecting the Travel and Tourism Industry 1 - Advisory

Still Current at: 17 September 2006
Updated: 13 September 2006



§  Kenya shares with neighbouring countries a high threat from terrorism. Previous attacks have been against civilian or Western targets where foreigners have been present. These included bomb attacks on a hotel and a western Embassy, both suffering significant loss of life, and an unsuccessful attempt to bring down a civilian airliner in Mombasa.

§  Muggings and armed attacks are prevalent, particularly. There have been many violent attacks and murders of non-indigenous residents since 2004. In August 2006 there were a number of incidents of carjacking and armed robbery involving foreign nationals in and around Nairobi.  You should avoid travelling at night outside Nairobi and remain vigilant.

§  The Kenyan government has confirmed a security incident at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on 8 June.  It has established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the matter.  We urge all nationals travelling through Kenyans airports to remain vigilant.

§  Political rallies are being held in the run-up to elections in late 2007 (see Political Situation section below).  You should avoid political rallies and demonstrations, exercise caution and continue to monitor this Travel Advice.

§  There have been skirmishes and inter-clan fighting in the North Eastern Province, along the Somalia border.  People have been killed.  Travel in the north east should only be undertaken with care and after consulting the Police.

§  There have also been a series of attacks linked to cattle rustling against local farmers in the Eastern and Central Provinces including districts of Laikipia, Samburu, Baringo and Pokot.

§  Around 150,000 British nationals visit Kenya each year.  The main types of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Kenya are road accidents and muggings (four and 21 cases respectively in 2005).

§  We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.



Kenya shares with neighbouring countries a high threat from terrorism.  Previous attacks have been against civilian or visibly Western targets, normally where foreigners have been present.  There was a suicide car bomb attack on a hotel near Mombasa on 28 November 2002, in which at least 15 people died.  There was an unsuccessful attempt to shoot down an Israeli charter plane on the same day.  Raids in Mombasa in 2003 recovered anti-tank weapons.  There was a terrorist attack on the US Embassy in Nairobi in August 1998, in which 232 people were killed.  These incidents highlight the threat posed by terrorism in Kenya and neighbouring countries and the capacity of terrorist groups to carry out attacks.  This threat remains.


In August 2006 there were a number of incidents of carjacking and armed robbery involving foreign nationals in and around Nairobi. You should avoid travelling at night outside Nairobi and remain vigilant at all times, particularly on the roads that link the city centre to residential areas. You should avoid stopping at the side of the road and drive defensively, with vehicle doors locked and windows closed at all times.

Muggings and armed attacks by gangs can occur at any time, particularly in Nairobi and Mombasa. Avoid walking around after dark as attacks can occur anywhere, but especially in isolated areas such as empty beaches.  There have been a number of armed attacks on golf courses around Nairobi, be extra vigilant while playing in remote areas away from the Club House of any golf courses.  Be alert at all times.  Do not accept food or drink from strangers as it may be drugged.  Only stay in tourist camps with good perimeter security.   If in doubt, seek advice from your tour operator or the Kenya Tourist Federation (Tel:  + 254 20 604730).  Do not carry valuables or wear jewellery in public places.  Do not carry credit cards or cash cards unless you must:  people have been forced by thieves to withdraw cash.  Beware of thieves posing as police officers; always ask to see identification.

If you travel to remote areas or border regions you could be the target of attacks or kidnappings.  Incidents of armed car-hijackings are more prevalent in Nairobi and Mombasa but can occur in any area of the country.  Do not attempt to escape from hijackers or resist their demands (See Local Travel for more information).

You should take sensible precautions for your personal and vehicle safety, travelling in convoy in remote areas.

Political Situation

You should avoid all political rallies and demonstrations and exercise caution.  If you are involved in any security incident you should insist with both the Kenyan authorities and your tour operator that the British High Commission be informed straight away.

Local Travel

Most visits to game reserves and other tourist areas are trouble-free.  In 2006 there have been attacks on visitors to game parks, including the Masai Mara.  If you wish to visit reserves you should use reputable tour operators and arrive at your destination in daylight hours.  You are strongly advised not to buy safari tours from touts but only through reputable agencies or from your hotel.  There have been a number of accidental deaths when people have gone on foot in game parks and you should follow closely park regulations and wardens’ advice.  Bathing in rivers and lakes is forbidden in National Parks and is best avoided elsewhere due to the dangers from both wildlife and from water-borne disease.

Rural areas, and in particular the north and north eastern parts of Kenya, experience sporadic cattle rustling, counter-raids, ethnic conflict and tribal or clan rivalry.  An incident, on 12 July 2005, involved the massacre of more than 50 people, including 20 children, at a school in Turbi, on the main A2 Moyale-Marsabit road (the main overland route between Ethiopia and Kenya).  There have been a number of serious incidents involving armed bandits around Songa forest near to the town of Marsabit in Eastern Province and repeated skirmishes and inter-clan fighting in Mandera District in the North Eastern Province bordering Somalia, in which a number of people have been killed.  In April 2006, at least 15 people have been killed in incidents related to cattle rustling in Central and Eastern Provinces, which include the Districts of Samburu, Laikipia, Baringo and West Pokot.

Whilst foreigners are not usually the targets of this type of violence and banditry, travel in the north and north east should only be undertaken with care and after seeking the advice of the police and in convoy with at least two vehicles to ensure back-up.  You should be alert and avoid demonstrations and gatherings of people in these areas, which could turn violent.

In addition landmines have in the past been used in attacks around Moyale, close to the main A2 road south.  Vehicles crossing the border at this point should stay on the A2, avoid staying at the rest house at Sololo, and travel directly to Marsabit Town before breaking the journey (but see warning above on Songa forest).

You should, if possible visit Lamu Island by air.  This is for security reasons and also because of the bad road conditions.  Buses and other vehicles on the road to Lamu have been attacked by armed robbers in the past and overland travel from Lamu to Malindi should only be undertaken in an armed police in convoy.

Road Safety

Take care if driving, especially at night, as road conditions and driving standards are often poor.

There have been a number of serious accidents involving Kenyan long-distance bus services.  Vehicles are often poorly maintained, and driven at excessive speed even on poorly maintained roads.  Check with any bus operator on the standards they observe before using this form of transport.  Another common form of public transport is the matatu, usually a minibus plying a specific route.  Though very cheap to use, matatus are notorious for being poorly maintained, badly driven and in some instances do not have proper insurance cover.  There are frequent reports of matatus being hijacked, or of passengers being robbed.  You are advised to think carefully before using matatus.

A UK driving licence is sufficient in Kenya.  Only hire vehicles from reputable companies.

Rail Safety

First and second class sleeping compartments area available on the Nairobi-Mombasa train.  Doors can only be locked from the inside.  If you are leaving your compartment, it is advisable to take your valuables with you.

Air Safety

The Kenyan government has confirmed that there was a security incident at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on 8 June. Individuals in possession of high-level security passes are reported to have drawn unauthorised firearms on airport officials.  No member of the public was involved or injured in the incident, and the individuals responsible were subsequently  arrested and deported. The Kenyan government has established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the matter.  We urge all nationals travelling through Kenyans airports to remain vigilant.

If you plan to charter a private aircraft, you are advised to check with the company's Safety Pilot about the condition of the aircraft and runways to be used.  If the company has no Safety Pilot, seek another that does.

In October 2004, a series of explosions caused serious damage to buildings at Wilson Airport in Nairobi heavily used for domestic flights. You are urged to remain vigilant at all times.


The use and trafficking of illegal Class A drugs in Kenya carries heavy fines and jail sentences.  The penalty for possession is ten years imprisonment.

Visitors must obtain a valid work permit before taking up any paid or volunteer work in Kenya; the penalties for not doing so can be a fine, jail or deportation depending on the nature of the offence.

The taking of photographs of official buildings, including Embassies, is not recommended and can lead to detention. If in doubt about what a building is used for, do not photograph or film around it.

Although there are no strict dress codes, you should note that the coastal areas are predominantly Muslim in tradition.  You should dress conservatively away from the tourist resorts and hotels, especially in Mombasa town, to avoid offending local sensitivities.

Permission to carry any kind of firearm must be obtained from the local authorities prior to entry

It is illegal to destroy Kenyan currency whatever the denomination.

Homosexual activity is illegal in Kenya.


We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  Medical facilities, including ambulance services, outside major cities are very limited, and your insurance should cover you for the possibility of medical repatriation.  You should check also any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.

Malaria is endemic outside of Nairobi and in areas below 1,800 metres above sea level.  However, there is currently an outbreak of highland malaria in the West Pokot District (north western Kenya) that has been associated with several fatalities. More than three-quarters of British travellers who contracted malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as malaria prevention tablets. However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in Kenya.

HIV or AIDS is also widespread and transmission may also occur through sub-standard medical facilities.  Water is of variable quality and you are advised to drink bottled water wherever possible.

Food prepared by unlicensed vendors should be avoided at any time.

You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date. For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at: