Is Kenya a safe travel destination?
Is Kenya a safe country for a self drive safari? Safety aspects we consider are: road conditions, conflicts and crime.
Road safety in Kenya
Most roads are well maintained and most traffic users know and obey to the driving rules quite well. However, always drive defensively and at limited speed, lock your doors and avoid driving after dark due to badly lit roads and livestock that can cross the road unexpectedly. Do not leave valuables in your car when it's unattended and always carry cash, water and a charged mobile phone with you. Check our on the road tips.
How about crime in Kenya?
People in Kenya are generally friendly and willing to assist you. It is not uncommon for people to ask for a small incentive to help you, however. Negotiation on price is always done upfront. Along the main tourist attractions, you will be surrounded by street vendors. A firm “no thank you” will mostly do the trick. Although sometimes slightly annoying, it's harmless.
With regards to crimes such as theft, be streetsmart, as you are traveling in a country where the population is considerably less wealthy than you are. Don’t leave valuables in the car, always try to park the car at a secure spot, leave your diamond rings at home and try not to leave your valuables up for grabs in your hotel room. However, hotel theft is not a big problem.
Inter-tribal conflicts in Kenya have diminished in recent years. Unfortunately, Kenya has, like many countries in the recent past, faced terrorism attacks. These attacks were never specifically aimed at tourists. Although it is a very sad thing, and one can take precautions in mind such as avoiding crowded places, we can only hope that it never holds people back from doing what they really love: travelling. Tourism is usually one of the first economic sectors hit hardest as tourists shy away, whilst so many people depend on it for their livelihoods.
Some safety tips for tourists in Nairobi
If you are driving around in Nairobi, lock your doors, avoid driving after dark, and don't leave your car unattended with all your luggage in it. If you’re heading out to explore Nairobi town, it's better to take a taxi instead of your rental car. It's also more convenient for parking, etc. Some additional tips:
- Choose a (private) taxi or Uber over public transport, especially when coming from the airport.
- Do not walk on the streets after dark. Use taxi drivers to drop you inside a secure compound.
- Beware of people hanging around when you are going to the bank or the ATM, and preferably use ATMs inside shopping malls.
- The information section of the Lonely Planet tells you exactly which places are OK and not OK.