Kenya Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Kenya
How safe is Kenya?
Threat level: High
The current travel advice for Kenya is to exercise extreme vigilance, as there are many current travel advisories in place in the country.
The whole country is at risk from attack, although the majority of these attacks so far have been carried out in the north eastern region, mainly in Dadaab, Wajir, Garissa, and Mandera counties.
There have been many attacks near the Somalian border by terrorist factions, in response to Kenya's deployment of its troops in Somalia. In recent years, there has been an increase with insurgent and intra-communal attacks. As such, a great degree of caution should be expressed, especially if you are a western-based traveller to the country.
Since 2011, there have been a number of terror attacks in Kenya, all carried out by the Islamist militant group, Al-Shabaab. These include the September 2013 attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, killing at least 69 people.
On the 2nd April 2015, a large scale terror attack took place at Garissa University, in which at least 148 people killed.
May 2016 saw a terrorist plot foiled to use biological weapons, a large scale Anthrax attack, targeting westerners and locals in Kenya.
On the 15th of January 2019, five armed islamist al-Shabab militants stormed a luxury hotel in Nairobi and killed 21 people.
Violent crime have been committed against western nationals visiting the country. And with some having resulted in murder, it is imperative that you keep a low profile and diminish expressions of wealth, such as wearing jewellery or expensive watches.
Armed robbery, carjackings and muggings are common place in larger cities and the slums, however there is a lesser risk in the safari destinations. The current travel advisories, therefore, do not cover the popular safari travel destinations and they are deemed to be relatively safe areas to visit. It is advised not to use the Airport South Road and Jogoo Road, due to the carjacking and attack risk.
A separate set of dangers exists in the safari and wildlife destinations, usually attributed to the animals and terrain of the area. It is advised that research is undertaken on the chosen destinations, including wild species and insects for that region to be wary of.
Terrorist attacks are becoming more frequent and more sophisticated, including suicide operations, bomb and grenade attacks, kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports.
Crime is high in all regions of Kenya, particularly Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and at coastal beach resorts. There are regular reports of attacks against tourists by groups of armed assailants. Pickpockets and thieves carry out “snatch and run” crimes on city streets and near crowds. Thieves on motorcycles will assault pedestrians and speed away. It is advised that you do not carry large amounts of cash or important documents, instead favouring copies of passports and ID.
Kenya's International Relations
There has been much instability and conflict with neighbouring Somalia over the years. Due to diplomatic incidents, Kenya’s relationship with the USA, Russia, United Arab Emirates and China has somewhat been turbulent at times, however foreign policy, foreign aid and military negotiations have improved the ongoing situation. The United Kingdom is Kenya’s closest western ally, being a major private investor.
Travelling around Kenya
All visitors should plan travel in great detail and ensure that logistics are in place, prior to any travel outside of the main towns and cities.
Multiple kidnappings of westerners have occurred in Kenya, and visitors should take precautions at all times when travelling in rural areas. There have been incidents where tourists have been attacked by armed men on the roads in rural Kenya. In December 2018, a family travelling by vehicle came under attack by men armed with machete who tried to robb them, they escaped unharmed.
It is advised to not walk between locations within cities at night.
The road conditions in Kenya are of relatively poor standard, with many drivers failing to maintain their vehicle. Cars frequently ignore road regulations, and driving can be erratic and unpredictable. You should take extreme care if you plan to drive during your trip to Kenya.
Emergency services in Kenya:
Police emergency: 999
Police emergency: 020 272 4154 or 020 355 6771
Medical emergency: 999 or 112
AMREF Flying Doctors: 315454/5
Fire emergency: 999 or 112
Currency: Kenyan shilling
Time now in Nairobi:
Consular information for Kenya
U.S. Embassy Nairobi
United Nations Avenue
Telephone: +254 20 363 6451
Emergency telephone: +254 20 363 6000
Fax: +254 20 363 6501
British High Commission Nairobi
Upper Hill Road,
P.O. Box 30465-00100,
Telephone: +254 20 287 3000
Telephone: +254 20 284 4000
Visa requirements for Kenya
A visa is required for all travel to Kenya, which is available either upon arrival to the country or online prior to your departure via the Kenyan visa application. There are costs associated with visas: $50 for single-entry visas and $100 for multiple entry visas. See Notes for visa-exempt countries.
No visa is required for nationals of the following countries:
Barbados, Maldives, St. Lucia, Belize, Malta, Swaziland, Botswana, Mauritius, Seychelles, Brunei Darussalam, Namibia, The Gambia, Burundi, Nauru, Tanzania, Cyprus, Papua New Guinea, The Bahamas, Dominica, Rwanda, Tonga, Fiji Island, Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana, Samoa, Tuvalu, Grenada, St. Kitts and Navis, Uganda, Jamaica, Sierra Leona, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Singapore, Zambia, Lesotho, Solomon Islands, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa (for less than 30 days stay), St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Malaysia (for less than 30-day stay), Ethiopia, Eritrea and San Marino.
Healthcare and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Kenya are up-to-date with primary boosters, such as MMR. It is recommended for most travellers to also get a Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid vaccinations.
If you are coming from a country where there is a risk of Yellow Fever, or transiting for longer than 12 hours in an at risk country, you will have to provide a certificate of Yellow Fever vaccination. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure, as the vaccination is not suitable for all travellers and does have some unpleasant side effects.
Malaria is an issue within parts of the country. Use of antimalarial medication is advised. The viral illness Dengue Fever that is transmitted to humans by mosquito bites is an issue in Kenya. There is no vaccine and prevention is through avoidance of mosquito bites. More information on Dengue fever can be found here: Dengue Fever facts
Schistosomiasis (parasitic infection also known as bilharzia) is also an issue, so contact with fresh water including activities, such as swimming, bathing, or paddling in fresh water lakes and streams is advised against.
Personal hygiene must be paramount, the local water supply avoided at all costs and bottled water inspected prior to consumption. There have been a number of cases of bottled water being refilled with tap water and re-sold, which can lead to illness.
Medical facilities are very good in Kenya, more so in the cities. In rural areas, it is advised to get to the nearest city and not attend local medical centres.