Safety and Security for Tourists in Kenya

Is Kenya Safe for tourists ?

Kenya is a well known tourist destination with world renowned national parks and reserves offering the best game viewing and wildlife experiences that the African continent has to offer. The tourist industry is very well established and represents about 10% of the Kenyan economy, and as such the government makes security a high priority to ensure that tourists can feel safe within its borders.

The most popular safari destinations in Kenya include Masai Mara (famously known for the great wildebeest migration), Amboseli [ Known for its large elephant herds and views of immense Mt. Kilimanjaro ], Tsavo East & West, Samburu, Laikipia, Meru, Mount Kenya, Aberdares National Park, Lake Nakuru and Lake Naivasha.
The most popular places for a tropical beach getaway include Mombasa, Malindi, Diani, Lamu Island, Manda Island, Kilifi and Watamu.

All travellers planning for a trip, and before they travel are advised to check the latest travel advisory for places they plan on visiting. See Kenya Travel advice here . You can also see Kenya's info on other countries here. Travellers can also check their Government’s travel advice for the latest information.

Below we will be discussing in detail why Kenya is a safe destination for tourists.

1. Kenya - Oasis of Peace in Sub Saharan Africa

As one of the most innovative, stable and political vibrant democracies in sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya contributes greatly to the prosperity and stability of East Africa region and Africa as a whole. This can be seen from its decades of domestic stability and growth, a political model based on accommodation and government cohabitation, and a vibrant, educated youth driving innovation.

It is also important to note that Kenya was elected to the United Nations Security Council and its two year term started in January 2021. Kenya’s term on the Security Council will help foster the pan-Africanist agenda of global peace, solidarity and multilateralism. Kenya is also the country in the region most impacted by instability in Somalia, becoming a regular target of Al-Shabaab attacks, which led it to contribute troops to AMISOM – the African Union Mission in Somalia. As an illustration of Kenya’s importance in the region, President Uhuru Kenyatta was the first African leader to receive a call from President-elect Joe Biden.

Kenya has recently be considered as one of the fastest growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, and ranks among the top three on ease of doing business and innovation. Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport; which is the largest aviation facility and the busiest airport in East Africa, is the hub for regional flights with frequent flights Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda and Uganda and to many other nearby tourist hotspots; Making Nairobi city the perfect stopover destination before carrying on an East African tour. As such Kenya is regarded as East Africa’s financial and communications hub and is a magnet for tourism.

2. Global Head Quarter of UNEP & of many Multi National Corporates.

Nairobi city is also taking off as a hub for global corporations with many embassies located here as well as headquarter offices for many international organization such as the United Nations.

3. Famous Tourist Destination attracting millions of Tourists.

Kenya is well known for some of the famous tourist destinations in the world, such as Masai Mara National Reserve (famously known for the great wildebeest migration), Amboseli National Park ( Known for its large elephant herds and views of immense Mt. Kilimanjaro ), Samburu, Laikipia, Lake Nakuru and Tsavo East & West National Parks as well as the white sandy beaches along the Kenya Coast. Every year thousands and millions of tourists visits these incredible wildlife conservation areas in Kenya without any safety or security related incidents. These statistics indicate how safe the parks are for visitors.

Safari game drives in Masai Mara

4. Politically Stable: Vibrant Democracy with Rule of Law.

Kenya is a multi-party Democracy, with a large number of political parties representing a range of interests and a univocal Parliament which creates laws which are orchestrated by the Executive arm of the Government. Kenya also has a Constitution which is a body of Laws that govern the political system and defines the powers of the various levels and division of the government and enumerates the rights of the people. It also ensures that the elections are free and fair. Kenya also has a vibrant media environment which promotes freedom of speech and democracy.

5. Highly secure National Parks & Reserves.

Out in the National Parks and Reserves, there are no obvious signs of increased security, but these places have not been a target at any time. As we have seen in the past, terrorists aim at population areas where the maximum impact on life and property can be made. Tourists in Kenya are therefore advised to avoid the following areas; eastern border of Kenya, Garissa county and Tana River county.

In 1998, the private sector in tourism in Kenya, established Kenya Tourism Federation Safety and Communication Centre, which is a body that monitors the security situation in the country with particular emphasis on the tourism circuits, and receives alerts on any security incidents or concerns in the circuits. Based on the alert, the Safety and Communication centre, through its extensive communication capability which includes industry telephone contacts database, HF Radio, email and social media, circulates safety advice to tourism operators, e.g safe alternative routes.
The organizations also works closely with the relevant institutions such as Tourist Police Unit, the Department of Tourism, Kenya Wildlife Service and air ambulance service providers to ensure timely response where needed, e.g. evacuation of the affected to Hospital or to safety. This organization also provides tourists planning to visit the country with useful information regarding requirements for travel to Kenya such as visa requirements, safety advise and vaccinations required.

Great Wildebeest Migration

6. Kenyan Hospitality.

It is worth noting that the Kenyan people are incredibly friendly people, with friendly smiles ready to welcome you from the moment you step your foot at the airport. This is the same with the locals you meet and the people who takes care of you during your safari. Therefore, Kenya is generally safe to visit. It is important to note that no matter where you travelling, taking reasonable precautions and abiding to rules and guidelines given is your best defence.

Samburu Women, Samburu National Reserve

7. Food & Hygiene.

Through ministry of tourism, all hotels and hospitality establishments have been tasked to adopt to a Food Safety Management System (FSMS) to prevent contamination to clients, staff and supply chain workers. It a requirement that all food handlers be trained on safe food preparation, preparation and service practices. However, all travellers are advised to be careful with quality of hotels they chose to eat in while on a safari in Kenya. The general rule of thumb is, the more high end an establishment is, the greater the safety of the food and drink within.

8. Tourism Industry.

Kenya has one of the biggest and most diverse tourism industries in East Africa, with offerings in a range of niches including the meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) segment and safari ecotourism. Due to country's political stability and good perfomance in governance and economic development, international hotel group chains are investing millions of dollars in Kenya and the wider East African region to cash in on the expanding hospitality industry. Some of these global hotel brands include; Kempinski, Marriot, Fairmont, Sun Africa Hotels, Serena Hotels and Crownie plaza. With the huge investments in tourism industry, the Kenyan Government, as a priority, has put in measures to ensure the personal safety of tourists visiting the county and the key national parks and reserves.

9. Tourist Police.

Kenya through Ministry of tourism has established a tourist police unit to further boost renewed growth in tourism numbers. The unit will be incharge of:

  • Protection of tourist‘s life and property.
  • Provide security and safety to tourists.
  • Handle and receive inquiries, claims and complaints by tourists.
  • Investigate tourists related crimes and prosecute offenders.
  • Patrol beaches, hotels and tourist circuits street/roads used by tourists with a view of averting attacks on them.
  • Provide escorts to tourists.
  • Protect tourist from harassment by beach operators, parking boys and hawkers.
  • To offer general advice and guidance to tourists.
  • Assist tourists during cultural festivals.

  • Tourists on a Guided Safari Walk accompained by a Tourist Police

    Is Kenya Dangerous to Visit ?

    While Kenya is a safe destination compared to some surrounding African countries, there are issues with crime in major cities and terror threats and attacks which occured in the past. Below we are going to list some of the things you need to know to stay safe while in Kenya for a Safari.

    1. Crime: Mainly limited to certain parts of Urban areas eg Nairobi.

    Crime in Kenya is mostly common in major cities which ranges from petty snatch theft, mugging to violent armed robbery, carjacking and kipnapping. As a tourist you need not to be paranoid, you should always keep your wits about you, and just heed the advice of your Government. All travellers are advised to exercise common sense and take precautions where possible to avoid crime as you would anywhere you travel: keep valuables out of sight, only carry the amount of cash you'll need for one day, don't walk alone at night.

    2. Politics and civil unrest in Kenya, which mostly happens during the election period.

    Kenya, like many other democracies across the globe, occasionally goes through short periods of political change. During election period crime and protests tends to be on the raise, and travelers can get caught in the middle. Avoid any public demonstrations, and if you see a crowd gathering, walk the other way. All travellers are therefore advised to stay informed by checking the current status of the country by checking news and asking locals, your guide or accommodation staff about any rising tensions. Having a good grasp of what's happening in the country can make your visit far more interesting.

    3. Threats of terrorism.

    Terrorism is, unfortunately, something you have to consider when visiting Kenya, although the vast majority of the country is safe to visit. In the recent past, Kenya has come under major terrorist attack on at least three occasions: in August 1998 the US embassy in Nairobi was bombed; in November 2002 the Paradise Hotel, north of Mombasa, was car-bombed at the same time as a rocket attack on an Israeli jet; and in September 2013 terrorists attacked the upscale Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi. Since then, security has been tightened considerably and 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.

    4. Health & Food Hygiene.

    It is recommended that before tourists come to Kenya, that they should be vaccinated well in advance (6 weeks) of their trip. The most common recommended vaccines for people traveling to Africa are Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Yellow Fever, Rabies and Meningitis.
    Tourists are also advised to be careful with the food that they eat outside the more upscale establishments. Before eating, make sure that the food is freshly and thoroughly cooked and served hot. Also avoid seafood, apart from the upmarket restaurants and hotels, and make sure that your fruits and vegetables have been properly sterilized in clean water. The safest fruits to eat are bananas and papayas. Do not drink tap water or brush your teeth with it. Only use bottled or canned drinks (especially popular brands). Also, do not use ice as it may also be contaminated water, and remember that alcohol does not sterilize a drink.