Traveling Luck for Kenya. Kenya, Africa

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Kenya is located in Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Somalia and Tanzania.

Land in Kenya is low plains rise to central highlands bisected by Great Rift Valley; fertile plateau in west.

Kenyan land covers an area of 582650 square kilometers which is slightly more than twice the size of Nevada

Kenya has borders with Ethiopia for 861km, Sudan for 232km, Somalia for 682km, Tanzania for 769km and Uganda for 933km.

Kenyan flag Kenyan national flag (Flag of Kenya)

As for the Kenyan climate; varies from tropical along coast to arid in interior.

Kenyan(s) speak English (official), Kiswahili (official), numerous indigenous languages.

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Places of note in Kenya

Kenyan Map Kenyan map

Regions of Kenya

Founding president and liberation struggle icon Jomo KENYATTA led Kenya from independence in 1963 until his death in 1978, when President Daniel Toroitich arap MOI took power in a constitutional succession. The country was a de facto one-party state from 1969 until 1982 when the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) made itself the sole legal party in Kenya. MOI acceded to internal and external pressure for political liberalization in late 1991. The ethnically fractured opposition failed to dislodge KANU from power in elections in 1992 and 1997, which were marred by violence and fraud, but were viewed as having generally reflected the will of the Kenyan people. President MOI stepped down in December 2002 following fair and peaceful elections. Mwai KIBAKI, running as the candidate of the multiethnic, united opposition group, the National Rainbow Coalition, defeated KANU candidate Uhuru KENYATTA and assumed the presidency following a campaign centered on an anticorruption platform.

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Country Profile for Kenya

The regional hub for trade and finance in East Africa, Kenya has been hampered by corruption and by reliance upon several primary goods whose prices have remained low. In 1997, the IMF suspended Kenya's Enhanced Structural Adjustment Program due to the government's failure to maintain reforms and curb corruption. A severe drought from 1999 to 2000 compounded Kenya's problems, causing water and energy rationing and reducing agricultural output. As a result, GDP contracted by 0.2% in 2000. The IMF, which had resumed loans in 2000 to help Kenya through the drought, again halted lending in 2001 when the government failed to institute several anticorruption measures. Despite the return of strong rains in 2001, weak commodity prices, endemic corruption, and low investment limited Kenya's economic growth to 1.2%. Growth lagged at 1.1% in 2002 because of erratic rains, low investor confidence, meager donor support, and political infighting up to the elections. In the key December 2002 elections, Daniel Arap MOI's 24-year-old reign ended, and a new opposition government took on the formidable economic problems facing the nation. In 2003, progress was made in rooting out corruption and encouraging donor support. GDP grew more than 5% in 2005.

Kenyan natural resources include limestone, soda ash, salt, gemstones, fluorspar, zinc, diatomite, gypsum, wildlife, hydropower

the Kenyan Highlands comprise one of the most successful agricultural production regions in Africa; glaciers are found on Mount Kenya, Africa's second highest peak; unique physiography supports abundant and varied wildlife of scientific and economic value

Kenyan religion is Protestant 45%, Roman Catholic 33%, indigenous beliefs 10%, Muslim 10%, other 2%.

Natural hazards in Kenya include recurring drought; flooding during rainy seasons.

Travel Advice for Kenya

Kenya

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments throughout.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • Kenya shares with neighbouring countries a high threat from terrorism.  This threat remains.  Previous attacks have been against civilian or visibly Western targets where foreigners have been present.  These have included bomb attacks on a hotel and a western Embassy, both of which resulted in significant loss of life, and an unsuccessful attempt to bring down a civilian airliner in Mombasa.

  • Muggings and armed attacks are prevalent, particularly in Nairobi and Mombasa.  There have been a number of violent attacks and murders of non-indigenous residents since 2004.  Incidents of car-jacking and armed robbery in and around Nairobi are commonplace.  On occasion, these result in fatal shootings, most recently in January 2007.  You should avoid travelling at night outside Nairobi and remain vigilant.

  • We remain concerned about the inadequate security arrangements in place at Wilson airport in Nairobi.  The airport is mainly used for domestic flights, including charters.  These have been raised with the Kenyan authorities.  We continue to monitor the situation.  You should remain vigilant at all times.

  • Political rallies will be held in the run-up to elections in late 2007.  You should avoid political rallies and demonstrations and exercise caution.

  • The Kenyan government closed the Kenya - Somalia border on 3 January 2007 due to increased instability in Somalia.  There have been skirmishes and inter-clan fighting in the North Eastern Province, along the Somalia border.  People have been killed. Travel in the north east should only be undertaken with care and after consulting the Police.

  • An outbreak of Rift Valley Fever has been reported in the Central, Coast, Eastern and North Eastern Provinces of Kenya.

  • Around 150,000 British nationals visit Kenya each year.  The main types of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Kenya are road accidents and muggings (5 and 8 cases respectively in 2006.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see Travel Insurance


SAFETY AND SECURITY

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You should read the Security and General Tips and Risk of Terrorism when Travelling Overseas on the FCO website.

Crime

Incidents of car-jacking and armed robbery involving foreign nationals in and around Nairobi are commonplace. On occasion, these result in fatal shootings, most recently in January 2007.
You should avoid travelling at night outside Nairobi and remain vigilant at all times, particularly on the roads that link the city centre to residential areas. You should avoid stopping at the side of the road and drive defensively, with vehicle doors locked and windows closed at all times.
Muggings and armed attacks by gangs can occur at any time, particularly in Nairobi and Mombasa.  Avoid walking around after dark as attacks can occur anywhere, but especially in isolated areas such as empty beaches.  There have been 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 courses.  Be alert at all times.  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 or the Kenya Tourist Federation (Tel:  + 254 20 604730).  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.
There are many deprived areas in Nairobi, not normally frequented by tourists.  You should seek local advice if you are considering a visit to such an area.
If you travel to remote areas or border regions you could be the target of attacks or kidnappings.  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 (See Local Travel for more information).
You should take sensible precautions for your personal and vehicle safety, travelling in convoy in remote areas.
Political Situation

Kenya Country Profile.

Presidential and parliamentary elections will be held in Kenya in late 2007.  Most political parties will hold rallies in the run-up to the elections.
You should avoid all political rallies and demonstrations and exercise caution.  If you are involved in any security incident you should insist with both the Kenyan authorities and your tour operator that the British High Commission be informed straight away.
Local Travel

Most visits to game reserves and other tourist areas are trouble-free.  In 2006 there have been robberies on visitors to game parks, including the Masai Mara.  If you wish to visit reserves you should use reputable tour operators and arrive at your destination in daylight hours.  You are strongly advised not to buy safari tours from touts but only through reputable agencies or from your hotel.
There have been a number of accidental deaths in game parks in 2006. 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.
Due to the instability in Somalia there is increased tension along the Kenya-Somalia border and the border was closed on 3 January 2007.  Rural areas, and in particular the north and north eastern parts of Kenya, experience sporadic cattle rustling, counter-raids, ethnic conflict and tribal or clan rivalry.  An incident, on 12 July 2005, involved the massacre of more than 50 people, including 20 children, at a school in Turbi, on the main A2 Moyale-Marsabit road (the main overland route between Ethiopia and Kenya).  There have been a number of serious incidents involving armed bandits around Songa forest near to the town of Marsabit in Eastern Province and repeated skirmishes and inter-clan fighting in Mandera District in the North Eastern Province bordering Somalia, in which a number of people have been killed.
Whilst foreigners are not usually the targets of this type of 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.  You should be alert and avoid demonstrations and gatherings of people in these areas, which could turn violent.
In addition landmines have in the past been used in attacks around Moyale, close to the main A2 road south.  Vehicles crossing the 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 (but see warning above on Songa forest).
You should, if possible visit Lamu Island by air.  This is for security reasons and also because of the bad 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 in convoy.
Road Safety
A UK driving licence is sufficient in Kenya.  Only hire vehicles from reputable companies.
Take care if driving, especially at night, as road conditions and driving standards are often poor.
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.
Rail Safety
First and second class sleeping compartments area available on the Nairobi-Mombasa train.  Doors can only be locked from the inside.  If you are leaving your compartment, it is advisable to take your valuables with you.
Air Safety
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.  These have been raised with the Kenyan authorities.  We continue to monitor the situation.  You should remain vigilant at all times.
The Kenyan government has confirmed that there was a security incident at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on 8 June 2006.  Individuals in possession of high-level airport security passes are reported to have drawn unauthorised firearms on airport officials.  No member of the public was involved or injured in the incident, and the individuals responsible were subsequently arrested and deported.  The Kenyan government has established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the matter.  We urge all nationals travelling through Kenyans airports to remain vigilant.
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

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.

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 customs and sensitivities at all times, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

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 passport holders need a visa to enter Kenya.  Visas may be obtained on arrival by air with a cash payment of 50 US Dollars or in advance from:  Kenyan representation in the UK.  More information, including application forms and visa fee rates is available at http://www.kenyahighcommission.net.  In Kenya there is also an airport departure tax of 20 US Dollars, which is normally included in the price of airline tickets.

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.  British nationals living in Kenya are advised to register with the British High Commission in Nairobi:  Kenya: British High Commission Nairobi

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at Immigration, please contact the Kenya High Commission in London.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  Medical facilities, including ambulance services, outside major cities are very limited, and your insurance should cover you for the possibility of medical repatriation.  You should check also any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance

In December 2006, January and February 2007, there was an outbreak of Rift Valley fever in Central, Coast, Eastern and North-Eastern Provinces.  The North Eastern Province (Garissa, Wajir and Ijara Districts) and Coast Province (Tana River District) of Kenya have been most affected.  Cases have also been reported in Kilifi (an area frequented by tourists).  Rift Valley fever is a mosquito-borne disease.  You should take necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites if you are travelling in this area.  For further information please see: http://www.nathnac.org/pro/clinical_updates/rvf_010207.htm.

Malaria is endemic outside of Nairobi and in areas below 1,800 metres above sea level.  However, in 2006, there was an outbreak of highland malaria in the West Pokot District (north western Kenya) that was associated with several fatalities. More than three-quarters of British travellers who contracted malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as malaria prevention tablets. However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in Kenya.
HIV or AIDS is also widespread and transmission may also occur through sub-standard medical facilities.  Water is of variable quality and you are advised to drink bottled water wherever possible.
Food prepared by unlicensed vendors should be avoided at any time.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date. For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at:  www.dh.gov.uk


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help

British nationals visiting Kenya for more than a month and/or travelling to remote areas should register with the High Commission on arrival.

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 or by e-mail to:  safetour@wananchi.com

We advise that you leave your passport in the hotel safe, but carry a photocopy for ID purposes

It is advisable to confirm return flights.

Local time is three hours ahead of British winter time (GMT) and two hours ahead of British summer time.

Money

It is unlikely that you will be able to exchange Scottish or Northern Irish banknotes in Kenya.  ATMs are widely available in Nairobi and the main towns.  Credit cards and travellers’ cheques are widely accepted.