Kenya travel advice

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.

Remain vigilant at all times. Avoid stopping at the side of the road, particularly at night, and should drive defensively, with vehicle doors locked and windows closed at all times.

Muggings and incidents of armed robbery can occur at any time, particularly in Nairobi and Mombasa. Be alert at all times. Avoid walking around after dark as attacks can occur anywhere, but especially in isolated areas such as empty beaches. 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. Following 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 course.

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.

You should take precautions for your personal and vehicle safety and travel in convoy in remote areas.

If you are involved in any security incident you should insist with both the Kenyan authorities and your tour operator.

Large public gatherings and demonstrations occur from time to time and should be avoided. Any rally, even if advertised as peaceful, could potentially turn violent.

We advise against all but essential travel to low income areas of Nairobi, including all township or slum areas, which experience high crime levels. Such areas include, but are not limited to, Kibera, Mathare, Huruma, Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Mukuru Kwa Reuben, Korogocho, Kariobangi Kangemi, Mwiki and Kawangware

You should remain vigilant against the risk of car-jacking, particularly in Nairobi and Mombasa, at night and on the roads that link Nairobi city centre to residential areas. You should use the Mombasa road between Jomo Kenyatta Airport (JKIA) and Nairobi city; there is a higher risk of car-jacking on the old airport road (Airport South Road) and Jogoo Road.

If you visit Lamu Island, you should do so by air if possible, for security reasons and also because of the poor 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 convoy.

Rural areas, and in particular the arid north and north eastern parts of Kenya experience sporadic cattle rustling, banditry and ethnic clashes which regularly cause fatalities. Whilst foreigners are not usually the targets of localised 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.

Most visits to game reserves and other tourist areas are trouble-free.

Robberies of visitors to game parks have also occasionally been reported. A robbery within the Masai Mara on 8 October 2009 involved two British nationals. If you wish to visit reserves you should use reputable tour operators and arrive at your destination in daylight hours. You are advised not to buy safari tours from touts but only through reputable agencies or from your hotel. You should always follow park regulations and wardens' advice, but be aware that there are risks associated with viewing wildlife, particularly on foot or at close range. 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.

The area of Mount Elgon in Western Kenya (next to the Ugandan border) has been the site of armed clashes since December 2006. A large-scale security operation in early 2008 has stabilised the area but a large security force presence remains and there continues to be a risk of further incidents. You should seek local advice if intending to travel in the area of Mount Elgon.

The border with Somalia has been closed since 3 January 2007. In addition landmines have in the past been used in attacks around Moyale, close to the main A2 road south. Vehicles crossing the Kenya-Ethiopia 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.

Take care if driving, especially at night, as road conditions and driving standards are often poor. You are advised to avoid driving at night wherever possible.

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.

Passenger trains run between Nairobi and Kisumu and between Nairobi and Mombasa. Quoted arrival and departure times may vary. First, second and third class compartments are available on both routes. Doors can only be locked from the inside. Passengers are advised to take care of their belongings while on the train and at the railway stations. If you are leaving your compartment, take your valuables with you.

We are concerned about the lack of security arrangements in place at Wilson airport in Nairobi. The airport is mainly used for domestic flights, including charters. Concerns have been raised with the Kenyan authorities. We continue to monitor the situation. You should remain vigilant at all times when transiting airports.

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.

Local Laws and customs

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. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

Smoking in all public places (except in designated areas) is prohibited throughout Kenya. This applies to areas such as hotel grounds, lounge areas and entrances. If you wish to smoke in your hotel room please confirm first with hotel management that it is permitted. Smoking outdoors in any public street or on the beach, is not banned under the Act However, it is advisable to check before doing so or, if in doubt, to refrain from smoking. Offences attract fines ranging from 50,000 to three million Kenya shillings and/or imprisonment for six months to three years.

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.

You 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 any doubt about what a building is used for, do not photograph it or film around it.

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.

Entry Requirements

British nationals need a visa to enter Kenya This can be obtained from the Kenya High Commission in London, or at the airport on arrival.

You must hold a valid passport to enter Kenya. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Kenya. We advise that you have two blank pages in your passport on arrival.

If you are coming to live and work in Kenya, you should be aware that there can be delays in obtaining work permits. It is illegal to work without a permit and this also applies to voluntary work and to the self-employed.

Health

Cholera and malaria occur in Kenya. The latter is found outside of Nairobi and in areas below 1,800 metres above sea level.

You should seek medical advice before travelling to Kenya and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.

General

There is a Safety and Communication Centre operated by the Kenya Tourism Federation which can give up to the minute advice on tourist and travel matters, road conditions etc. as well as providing help in an emergency. This can be accessed at any time by telephoning +254 20 604730 .
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