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Is it Safe to Travel to Kenya in 2021?

- Updated 29 September 2021 -

Is Kenya safe to visit? Well, we would never send our clients to places we wouldn't visit ourselves with our own families. Kenya's superb safari destinations are safe to visit and its warm, hospitable people will make your trip a memorable one.

Since our establishment in 1998, we've lived our ethos of 'we know because we go'. All our Africa Safari Experts are permanently based in Africa, are well-travelled on the continent and have extensive first-hand experience with the destinations they recommend. Being based in Africa means we continuously have members of the team discovering new destinations and experiences to ensure they are safe and meet our clients' expectations.

Kenya Travel Advisory

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Although there is a long-standing travel advisory from the US State Department, it relates to very specific and strictly non-tourist areas – mostly in the distant east of the country. It is not a blanket ban and the majority of Kenya is safe to visit. In fact, thousands of American tourists visit Kenya's incredible wildlife areas like the Masai Mara, Samburu, Amboseli and Laikipia every year without incident.

An influential promoter of Kenya tourism is Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson (he owns Mahali Mzuri in the Masai Mara). Branson has stated that travel advisories hurt countries and help terrorists. He argues for two main considerations: firstly, incidents occur very far from the premier tourism attractions. You’re much safer on a game drive in a private conservancy in the Masai Mara than driving your car on a multi-lane turnpike. Secondly, without tourist dollars, unemployment in rural areas skyrockets. This inevitably leads to a general increase in crime but, worst of all, poverty makes people more vulnerable to being recruited into organisations like al-Shabab.

[Travel] advisories destroy economies, causing dire circumstances and resentment, from which environments are created where extremism is more likely to thrive.

– Sir Richard Branson

Where extremism gains a solid foothold, it becomes more difficult to extinguish. The conservation of Africa's wildlife relies heavily on the foreign currency generated by tourism. Without these funds, important conservation projects would have to scale down or close, national parks are forced to lay off rangers and anti-poaching units, and poaching thrives. If the tourism industry suffers, the domino effect of suffering for rural communities and endangered wildlife are truly horrifying.

Is Terrorism a Problem in Kenya?

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Kenya’s authorities deal with the international terror threat in much the same way as other allies of the USA and Britain. You’ll find strict security at airports and visible policing in public places like shopping malls and outdoor markets, ensuring it is safe to visit Kenya.

The country’s impressive military is active along the eastern border with Somalia. It’s important to know that tourists do not visit eastern Kenya at all. You will explore the famous game reserves far away on the opposite side of the country, along Kenya’s western border with Tanzania. This area is so stable and peaceful that the national border separating Kenya’s Masai Mara from Tanzania’s Serengeti is marked by simple stone cairns. You can see from the Mara into the Serengeti and, of course, millions of wildebeest walk this way every year on their annual migration.

Considering a Safari but Cautious of Travelling?

See our updated COVID-19 T&Cs and our advice on safety:

Is Nairobi Safe?

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Kenya, like many other democracies across the globe, occasionally goes through short periods of political change. This is centred around Nairobi, far from the country's sensational safari areas. In fact, in some instances you’ll fly out of Nairobi immediately after landing, heading to the Masai Mara, Amboseli, Samburu or Laikipia.

Go2Africa staff and clients travel to Kenya regularly, staying in both Nairobi and the Masai Mara. Travellers report high levels of airport security and that some hotels in the capital city have instituted security measures for additional peace of mind and ensuring it is safe to visit Nairobi.

As part of Go2Africa’s seamless approach, our guests don't drive themselves or take any form of local transport.

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It certainly added to our sense of comfort and security to be met at the airport and being in the care of a local guide or driver throughout our visit.

– Ashley Gerrand, Africa Safari Expert

At Go2Africa, we tailor our guests' itineraries to allow for chartered flights and private transfers with trusted and professional suppliers every step of the way, ensuring that you are in the best hands as you explore Kenya from peaceful retreats and luxury lodges.

Is Kenya Safe to Visit?

With the constant development of the safari industry in Kenya and regular lodge and camp openings, the message is loud and clear: Kenya is thriving and open for business. And there's a reason it remains one of the most sought-after safari destinations: the game viewing is incredible year-round, the people friendly and the logistics easy.

Kenya Health & Safety Travel Tips

A safari game drive, Kenya | Go2Africa

As with travelling anywhere in the world, travellers need to be vigilant to avoid any unnecessary hassles. Here are some general health and safety tips for travelling around Kenya:

  • Before you leave for Kenya, you’ll need to see your doctor for a prescription of malaria pills because Kenya is a high-risk malaria destination. When you take your own medication, you eliminate the risk of not being able to find them at local pharmacies.
  • Be sure to pack plenty of insect repellent.
  • When you arrive in Kenya, be conscious of your belongings. Never leave anything unguarded and only take out your cameras or other valuables when necessary.
  • In some of the tourist-traffic towns like Nairobi and Mombasa, pickpocketing is sometimes an issue, it’s a good idea to be alert in busy places like markets.
  • When you are enjoying Kenya beaches, make sure that your belongings are being watched before you head off for a swim.
  • Make copies of all your travel documents and keep them in your luggage.
  • Our Africa Safari Experts will provide all information about what areas are to be avoided and guide you every step of the way, leaving you to focus on what matters, revelling in the experience.

Food Hygiene in Kenya

Lunch at a safari lodge, Kenya | Go2Africa

When you are on safari at top lodges and safari camps, you can rest assured that food quality will be of the highest standard. You will be bowled over by quality and local delicacies.

If you are passing through cities and towns, it’s advisable to be more aware of your food choices like meat, unpasteurised dairy products, and raw foods such as fruits or salads that can’t be peeled. A good rule of thumb is to always choose to eat well-cooked meals, and to use your discretion on the sanitation and hygiene of any establishment you visit. Avoid any restaurants or food vendors that appear unclean or don’t have many customers.

Our Africa Safari Experts live by the ‘we know because we go’ ethos and are valuable sources of personal recommendations for where and what to eat, making sure that your travel journey is seamless from start to end.

Is Tap Water Safe to Drink in Kenya?

Bottled water at a safari lodge, Kenya | Go2Africa

Kenya is a country that has been identified as having unsafe tap water for drinking. We advise all our travellers to always drink bottled water, which is cheap and readily available. Many safari lodges, camps and hotels will provide complimentary bottled water, ready for you in your room, safari tent, or when you are setting off on game drives.

Depending on where you choose to stay, you will be given a reusable bottle that can be filled up with filtered water as and when you need it. We also recommend that you use bottled water to brush your teeth, particularly in the cities and towns.

Is Kenya Safe for LGBTQ+ Travellers?

Quad biking experience, Kenya | Go2Africa

An unfortunate truth is that Kenyan law prohibits homosexual activity. However, many LGBTQ+ individuals and couples travel to Kenya and have the adventure of a lifetime. The safari industry generally accepts the LGBTQ+ community with understanding and tolerance, and safety is assured in the country’s prime safari destinations. The only advisement is to consider the conservative nature of Kenya, and to avoid public displays of affection.

Our Africa Safari Experts have extensive knowledge and experience with curating exceptional journeys for the LGBTQ+ community and have been doing so for many years with great success.

Is Kenya Safe for Female Solo Travellers?

Female solo traveller with guides, Kenya | Go2Africa

Kenya is safe for female solo travellers, in fact, most parts of Kenya are well-suited for solo travel in general. The locals are friendly and hospitable, and English is widely spoken. As a female solo traveller, it is always best to adopt the safety practices you would travelling anywhere in the world, like not walking alone at night in cities, or avoiding deserted beaches.

As Kenya is a safari-focused destination, many female solo travellers have chosen to fly into camps and enjoy shared game drives or group safaris for the social element, or to simply go it alone with a guide. Whatever the desire for a legendary female solo traveller journey, our Africa Safari Experts can tailor perfectly to preferences and budget.

If you're interested in a Kenya safari, have a look at our Beginner’s Guide to a Kenya Safari, or get in touch with one of our Africa Safari Experts to help tailor-make an itinerary that’s right for you: