28 Most Common Tourist Scams in Kenya

Safety at Nairobi, Garissa, Kabarnet, Kisumu, Lamu, Lodwar, Malindi, Mombasa, Nakuru
Note: If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. World Nomads Travel Insurance, backed by Lonely Planet & National Geographic, is one we recommend. Check it out before your adventure.

 

Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru

 

Kenya is located in the stunning East African Rift Valley and is one of the best places in the world to enjoy gorgeous wildlife.

You can spend time watching the migrations of wildlife in some the most famous game reserves in the world such as the Maasai Mara, or you can head to Lake Nakuru which attracts an abundance of flamingos.

To see the modern side of Kenya, all you need to do is visit throbbing metropolis like the capital city of Nairobi or journey to vibrant Mombasa.

However, Kenya has a relatively high crime rate and you may come across a number of scams.

Read on to learn how to protect yourself here!

 

 

A.TOURIST ACTIVITIES

1. Low quality safari tour touts

Giraffe at a safari in Kenya

Giraffe at a safari in Kenya

 

How it works:

Never fall for the nice-sounding bargain, “cheap” or “good” safari tours coming from the many touts in town or the “beach boys” roaming the beaches going by the title “Captain”.

Like in Tanzania, the cheap safaris are unfortunately not so good.

They will be playing on the late entry and early exit scheme where you will be paying for 2 days but they only pay the rangers for one day (between $30 and $32 per person, per day).

If not, they will make every attempt not to pay at the official entry and control points.

Should they be caught during a check by a ranger, they will say that it was actually you who has not paid!

 

What to do:

Engage a licensed, reputable tour operator, which you can find via:

  • TourRadar: all the best multi-day tours by established names like Intrepid Travel, G Adventures, Trafalgar, etc can be found here with best price guarantee.
  • Viator: largest platform of day tours globally and in Kenya with low price guarantee.
  • Your hotel / hostel affiliated tour operator: reliable but generally not the best or cheapest.

Before you pay or start the safari tour, demand that the official cards / tickets be given at the park entry point to verify against what you have paid for.

Always ask for a detailed programme for the safari even if just a 2 day excursion plus the total number of hours for your “game drive”.

This allows you to know what is included and not included in what you are paying for, otherwise at the end of your safari you get supplement items charged which you never saw or used.

It’s important as well to see and verify the state of the vehicle you will be using as it’s your safety / life at stake.

Finally, confirm the number of people you will be sharing the vehicle with especially when it’s a minibus because you could end up being packed to the brim!

 

2. Fake tour guides

Elephants at Amboseli National Park

Elephants at Amboseli National Park

 

How it works:

Like in Colombia and Tunisia, there are fake tour guides and operators across Kenya.

Many will ask you for an upfront payment, often made online before you even arrive in the country.

Once you have made the payment the company will arrange to pick you up from your hotel but they will never arrive.

This is particularly prevalent with online tour companies offering safari tours or touts in the street who will also offer to take you to some of the national parks in Kenya.

 

What to do:

If you want to take a game tour of Kenya then it is best to book one with a licensedreputable tour company via:

  • TourRadar: all the best multi-day tours by established names like Intrepid Travel, G Adventures, Trafalgar, etc can be found here with best price guarantee.
  • Viator: largest platform of day tours globally and in Kenya with low price guarantee.
  • Your hotel / hostel affiliated tour operator: reliable but generally not the best or cheapest.

Should you prefer to engage a tour operator offline, ask these questions:

  • Is the operator licensed and has a professional website, physical office, business email and working telephone number?
  • Are there online reviews? Do they sound legitimate?
  • Is the price too low to be true? What does it cover (vehicles, guides, safety, insurance, hidden fees, etc)?

When paying:

  • Avoid paying in full upfront unless through a reputable platform / operator.
  • If using an online platform, do not make payment off the platform

 

3. Pickpocketing

 

How it works:

Crowded streets, train stations, public transportation (e.g. on matatus, Latema and River Rds area), markets, shopping malls, restaurants, tourist attractions, hotels, nightspots or anywhere tourists hang out at are pickpockets’ favourite spots.

These thieves work in gangs, and will hang around to spot anyone carrying an expensive or neglected valuable / bag and where it is stored.

Once they mark a target, they will surround you and work like this:

  • One keeps a lookout and blocks passer-bys from seeing the scene.
  • Another blocks, pushes or distracts you (e.g. ask you a question / drop something).
  • A third steals your valuable / slashes your bag and then passes it on.
  • The last hides the loot under a jacket / coat / newspaper and then escapes.

 

What to do:

Stay alert and watch out for suspicious characters, though that is easier said than done.

The best solution is still, to not make yourself look like a target. 

Make it impossible for thieves to steal from you:

  • Carry a photocopy of your passport instead of the actual one.
  • Carry small amounts of cash in a cheap spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Avoid leaving in your back pocket.
  • Conceal small valuables in a money belt / hidden pouch, large valuables in a slash-resistant and lockable anti-theft bag.
  • Leave most valuables in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe, secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Get a good travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) to cover loss of valuables.

 

4. Fake police

 

How it works:

This common scam in Kenya happens in two parts.

  • A friendly, seemingly educated local will approach, tell you some interesting facts about Kenya, and will invite you for a drink.
  • Once at a cafe or restaurant they will tell you a sob story (need money for medical reasons, have not been paid, due to corruption, etc). He then asks if he can borrow some money.
  • If you do lend, he leaves and accomplices pretending to be police officers will swoop in and accuse you of buying drugs or a similar crime.
  • A fine is then demanded.

There are other variations, such as asking you to write an email on a piece of paper.

  • Once you hand it over, fake police policies will appear and catch the scammer who possess counterfeit bills and drugs, which they accuse you of handing over.

 

What to do:

Avoid going and giving money away to a stranger.

If you have not obviously broken the law, be very skeptical when a “police officer” approaches you.

Three steps you can use:

  • Verify badges and identification. Threaten to call the police hotline (end of this article).
  • Never give your passport if asked. Show only a photocopy of it.
  • If they want to fine you or check your bags, insist to only do so at a police station (use your GPS to find it or check with a local) with a lawyer or someone from your embassy.

Next, you should have hidden your valuables in a money belt or hidden pouch and use a cheap spare wallet with not much cash inside.

This way, the scammers may simply let you go since you do not seem to have much cash.

 

5. Pay to stop harassment

Image source: chickabouttown.com

 

How it works:

At Carnivore, a popular restaurant and nightclub in Nairobi, in the past incidences have been orchestrated where local women harass foreigners on the dance floor.

They do so in hoping that a crowd will form, and then demand money / compensation from you.

 

What to do:

Decline and move away if you find yourself harassed.

 

6. Drink spiking

Image source: pulselive.co.ke

 

How it works:

Scammers will slip drugs into food or drinks in bars and nightclubs which will render you incapacitated.

They will then offer to help you back to your hotel and take you to an isolated area where they will rob you of your possessions.

 

What to do:

Do not accept any drinks that you have not seen made in front of you.

Also, do not leave your drink unattended as this gives a scammer time to slip something into it.

Choosing canned or bottled drinks is a good choice as it is more difficult for someone to put a sedative inside.

Finally, do not flaunt your valuables. Leave them in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe room which you can further secure with hotel safety tools.

 

7. Overpriced goods

Image source: Flickr – Meaduva

 

How it works:

For tourists, souvenir will be sold over 10 times what the locals would pay.

While not really a scam, as the tourists pays willingly, it doesn’t make sense to part with several hundred Kenya Shillings just to get a wood carving.

 

What to do:

Always bargain. Else, two other options are to:

  • Head to fixed price shops such as the Utamaduni Craft Centre.
  • Sign up for shopping tours (such as through Viator) and get a professional guide to help you get the best quality products at the best price.

 

8. Overcharging vendors

 

How it works:

There are a variety of ways overcharging can happen here.

For instance, there are shops at the airport which will claim that credit cards do not work (they do) and you have to pay in cash.

This is so that they can overcharge you with sleight of hand tricks.

Another variation is when paying for an item or service and you give KShs. 10,000 (10 notes of 1,000 each).

The attendant or waiter will walk away and then come back claiming you mistakenly gave 9 notes of 1,000 Shillings and 1 note of 100 Shillings (KShs. 9,100).

 

What to do:

Always be very clear what you hand over. For instance, you can count the notes as you hand them over to the cashier.

 

B. TRANSPORT

1. Airport security queue cut

Image source: ktla.com

 

How it works:

These thieves usually work together as a group.

At the airport security screening queue, someone will cut in front of you and trigger the conveyor alarms with metal keys in their pockets, claiming to forget taking them out.

Should you get distracted, an accomplice will steal / snatch something belonging to you from the conveyor belt.

 

What to do:

At such queues, always keep your valuables and bags in your line of sight.

For further protection and peace of mind, getting travel insurance from a reliable provider (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – our review) is highly recommended.

 

2. Baggage handlers theft

Image source: mexiconewsdaily.com

 

How it works:

Like in Argentina and Cuba, there have been reports of unscrupulous baggage handlers at Wilson Airport in Nairobi.

These baggage handlers will go through your luggage and remove any valuable items they can find.

Sometimes, counter staff is in on it as well.

If they spot something valuable in your luggage, they may label your luggage with a sticker and then inform a baggage handler who is an accomplice to target your luggage.

 

What to do:

There are four key steps to protecting your property:

 

3. Overweight luggage scam

Image source: kaa.go.ke

 

How it works:

This is an old scam globally, where your airline counter staff leaves his foot on the scales while weighing your luggage and then demand you pay more for the “excess weight”.

It has been reported at Mombasa Moi International Airport, though it is not really that common here.

 

What to do:

Before your luggage is put on the weighing scale, check to see if it starts at zero.

When your luggage is being weighed, look to see if the staff has left his foot there.

Ideally, weigh your luggage first or have a sense of how much your luggage should weigh before proceeding to checking it in.

For instance, you can bring along a mobile digital weighing scale on your trip.

 

4. Corrupt traffic police

 

How it works:

If you drive in Kenya, you may be pulled over by a corrupt traffic police who will accuse you of crimes such as speeding.

Should you not pay a bribe, your car keys will be confiscated.

Note that even locals (e.g. Matatu drivers) are not spared.

 

What to do:

Pay and go. Unfortunately there is no other choice.

Though you should still conceal your cash and valuables in a money belt or hidden pouch and use a cheap spare wallet with not much cash inside.

This may allow you to negotiate the bribe down when you show that you have not much cash on you.

Corruption has permeated through the police ranks so even if you wish to report this, tough luck.

 

5. Carjacking

 

How it works:

Carjacking is a problem in Kenya and can be very dangerous.

This is prevalent in Nairobi and Mombasa, particularly in slum areas and in Old Town Mombasa.

Scammers will set up a fake road block or pretend to have a problem such as a flat tire. When you stop and get out of your car they will rob you, often at gun point.

 

What to do:

Take care when driving in areas close to slums or rural areas late at night.

If you see debris on the road such as car tires then drive around it and do not stop.

If someone tries to flag you down or if you see someone in distress, do not stop. Instead, you can stop elsewhere and notify the police.

Should you choose to stop, only step out in full view of traffic and others, but even that is not recommended.

Do not leave any valuables exposed in the car:

Also, get travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) for two key purposes:

  • Monetary compensation for any loss of valuables.
  • Medical coverage in case you are assaulted.

 

6. Non-metered taxi scam

Image source: kenyayote.com

 

How it works:

Official taxis in Kenya use meters although drivers often do not want to use them.

They may say that the meter is broken and offer you a flat rate fare instead although this will usually be very expensive compared to the meter price.

Another variation they use is to first offer a cheap flat fare and then halfway through the journey at a secluded spot, demand a higher fee.

 

What to do:

Always negotiate the fare before getting into a taxi. Agree on the currency, price, and that it is for the taxi, not per pax.

You can estimate a fair price of any route by checking:

  • With your hotel / hostel staff.
  • An online taxi fare estimator / online travel forums.
  • Taxi booking apps like Uber, Taxify, Little Cabs.

 

7. Long taxi routes

 

How it works:

Taxi drivers in Kenya are often loathed to use a meter but if they do then they may try to add to the fare by deliberately taking a long route to your destination.

 

What to do:

First, especially for long routes, make sure to estimate the fair price by checking:

  • With your hotel / hostel staff.
  • An online taxi fare estimator / online travel forums.
  • Taxi booking apps like Uber, Taxify, Little Cabs.

In the cab, be very clear when communicating the destination you are heading to. You can also mention the famous landmarks around your destination.

During the route, you can check your phone’s GPS at intervals to make sure you are headed in the correct direction.

Note that sometimes though, drivers do take detours to avoid traffic jams, but that should not detract from the correct general direction.

 

8. Train scams

Image source: techweez.com

 

How it works:

Trains in Kenya can be a haven for thieves.

One of the issues with train compartments in Kenya is that they can only be locked from the inside. This means that if you leave your compartment then you can’t lock it from the outside.

Scammers will often pose as helpful passengers and will offer to watch your luggage while you go to the bathroom or the dining car and will then steal your possessions.

Often when you return your luggage will still look intact and you will not realize that anything has been taken until you open your bags or suitcase again at your hotel.

 

What to do:

To make it impossible for thieves to steal your bags, here are some steps you can take:

  • Keep your bag on your lap / beside you instead of in the overhead compartment.
  • Should you wish to take a nap, make sure to use a TSA lock / cable lock / cable ties to lock your bag and to lock the bag to yourself / your seat.
  • Or simply get a lockable anti-theft bag that comes with a mechanism to lock to yourself / your seat.
  • Hide small valuables in a money belt / hidden pouch.
  • Finally, get a good travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) to cover any loss of bags / valuables within.

 

C. MISCELLANEOUS

1. M-PESA scam

Image source: hustleyetu.co.ke

 

How it works:

The scam works by first someone calling you about having sent you some money by mistake through the Safaricom mobile transfer system M-PESA.

They will then ask you to check your messages where you will discover a message like this one:

“MCG8AU052I Confirmed. You have received Ksh5,850.00 from SYLVESTER ***** 0717****** on 16/3/18. New M-PESA balance is Ksh (LOCKED).Pay bills via M-PESA.”.

The hope of the scammer is that you might get “convinced” and send back the money you received by mistake while the truth is that you actually received nothing.

They usually use random numbers but sometimes they use crooked means to acquire numbers of unsuspecting potential victims.

 

What to do:

A real money transfer message only comes from the official Safaricom telephone number and never a private number or private individual.

The (Locked) insert should alert you instantly that it is a scam because a genuine money transfer should tell you the new balance in your M-PESA account.

Forward such suspicious messages to “333” for further action by Safaricom.

 

2. Fake online visa application site

Image source: screenshot of kenya-evisa-online.com

 

How it works:

There are fake websites being used to con those seeking visas to Kenya which are also charging almost 3 times the normal visa fee of $50.

Additionally, because they want you to pay using a credit card, it exposes you to potential card fraud.

Two fake sites are kenyaonlinevisa dot com and kenya-evisa-online dot com using the email kenya.immigration@gmail.com.

 

What to do:

The official government website for making online visa application is www.evisa.go.ke.

 

3. Snatch theft

 

How it works:

Generally, there are two versions of snatch thefts – strike and run, or distract and grab, in many possible contexts:

  • Bikes / mopeds riding past, with a pillion rider doing the snatch.
  • Snatching from behind you, then running into a getaway car to escape.
  • At restaurants, stealing unattended bags / valuables on the chair or table.
  • Hotels airports, where distracted / tired tourists carry all their valuables out.
  • The beach where tourists are relaxed, or when they head to the water.
  • Nightclubs, where “prostitutes” pretend to proposition tourists by grabbing them but are really trying to steal your valuables.
  • Seats beside a train’s doors where a thief gets out just before the doors close.
  • Stealing of bags on overnight trains / buses.
  • Valuables snatched through a car / bus window.
  • Thefts around ATMs.

 

What to do:

At crowded places, even seemingly safe places like at a restaurant or hotel:

While out walking / on transport:

  • Use a cross body anti-theft bag facing away from the road / windows of your vehicle.
  • Do not carry valuables in your hands when walking by the road or when beside a vehicle window / train door.
  • Avoid wearing obvious jewelry which can be easily ripped off.

Other protection measures:

  • Leave valuables in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Get a good travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) to cover loss of valuables.

 

4. Robberies and assaults

 

How it works:

Crime is a regular occurrence and a nickname given to Nairobi is Nairobbery.

Unfortunately, the authorities have limited capacity to deter and respond.

Hotspots include (non-exhaustive):

  • Nairobi: Buruburu, Kibera, Eastleigh, Kasarani, Mathare, Pangani, South B, South C.
  • Mombasa: Old Town in Mombasa, around Likoni Ferry.
  • Others: Kisumu, coastal beach resorts.
  • Night: even safe places in the day such as the CBD and Uhuru Park are not safe at night

 

What to do:

First, avoid looking like a tourist or easy target.

Use a cheap spare wallet with some cash inside to give up, while hiding other valuables in a money belt or hidden pouch.

Bulk of your valuables should still be left in your hotel / hostel / apartment safe, secured with hotel safety tools.

Finally, get travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads, trusted by Lonely Planet and National Geographic – check our review) for two key purposes:

  • Monetary compensation for any loss of valuables.
  • Medical coverage in case you are assaulted.

 

5. ATM fraud

 

How it works:

Generally, ATMs can be rigged in two ways.

First, the card skimmer and pinhole camera / keypad overlay set up:

  • A card skimmer is installed over the card slot to capture your card details.
  • The pinhole camera / keypad overlay is used to capture your PIN.

Second, the card trap:

  • The card slot can be rigged with cheap tools to trap your card.
  • When your card is stuck, someone will come over and tell you that if you retype your PIN, your card will be unblocked.
  • Obviously, your card will still be stuck, but the scammer will now have seen your PIN.
  • Should you head into the bank / somewhere to seek help, the scammer will unblock your card and escape.

 

What to do:

Avoid using ATMs at dark, secluded areas. Use only those in controlled environments such as in banks.

Scan the area as well for any suspicious looking characters, and cover your PIN when typing it in.

Also, although not directly relevant, consider using a RFID blocking wallet.

That will prevent your cards’ details from being skimmed by thieves with a mobile RFID reader / scanner.

 

6. Credit card skimming

 

How it works:

Credit card fraud is a problem in clubs, bars, restaurants, and shops in Kenya.

Often scammers will use a hand held credit card machine and will ask you to input your PIN number in front of them.

They will then take both the machine and your card away with them and will then input several more transactions using the PIN number that they memorized.

 

What to do:

If you have to pay for something in a business using a credit card then make sure that you do not let staff take it out of sight.

Should they say they need to take it to the main credit card terminal then follow them and complete your payment at the cash register.

In a legitimate business there should be no problems doing this.

Also be very careful and cover the machine with your hand when you input your PIN number.

 

7. Fake charity workers

 

How it works:

This scam is common all over Kenya and takes the form of a local who will tell you that they are working for a charity.

They will sometimes ask you to sign a petition or they will launch into a long story about the charity they work for which is supplying wheelchairs to children who can’t walk or another similar story.

Sadly however this is usually a scam and they do not work for a charity.

 

What to do:

You should be skeptical of anyone who says they are working for a charity in Kenya and tries to extract funds from you.

If you want to donate then choose a reputable charity that has been registered in the country and has an official donation system.

 

8. Sob story

Image source: booking.com

 

How it works:

Around the former Nakumatt Supermarket area in Mombasa, there is a man who poses as a worker at the famous Voyager Beach Resort who tries to coax tourists who stay there to visit his “local village”.

Once you get there, you will be pressured into donating money to “assist” local needy kids.

 

What to do:

Avoid.

 

9. Fake beggars

 

How it works:

You will find these fake beggars hanging around major shopping centres.

These are usually middle class kids or adults out to earn a quick buck, or people from other countries (e.g. Tanzania, India) smuggled by criminal groups into Kenya to beg.

 

What to do:

Avoid.

 

10. Hotel credit card scams

 

How it works:

You may receive a phone call late at night in your hotel room, often when you are already asleep.

The caller will identify themselves as being a staff member from reception and will say there was a problem processing the payment on your credit card when you checked in.

They will then ask you to confirm your credit card details and PIN number and are relying on the fact that you are tired and not paying attention.

Once they have all your details they will use these to make purchases on your card.

 

What to do:

Do not give out your credit or debit card details to anyone over the phone, even if they say they are a member of staff at your hotel.

If they say there is an issue with your card payment then say you will come to reception the next morning personally to sort out the problem.

 

11. Rental listing scam

Image source: kayak.co.uk

 

How it works:

Scammers will use newspapers to place adverts about vacant houses. This also happens online – because the prices appear affordable, many will call to inquire.

However, when you get to the “office”, you will be informed that due to high demand, you need to secure or book the house with a deposit.

You are then allocated a day for viewing and a contact phone number. On the actual day, you will discover no house existed and even the “office” has been vacated.

Some other red flags:

  • Illogical descriptions because they copy and paste without any edits.
  • Dodgy sounding reviews.
  • Payment only by bank transfer off the booking platform.
  • Or payment to a foreign bank account or via Western Union (sure sign of scam as transfers are irreversible).
  • If the “owner” refuses to provide more details or to allow for a tour of the place.

 

What to do:

Only book via legitimate sites such as:

  • Booking.com: Frommer’s tests have found the site to offer the best selection and rates amongst competing sites most of the time.
  • HomeStay: if you are up for gaining genuine insights of Kenya by staying with a local host!

Next, some due diligence to be done on individual listings:

  • Search online reviews and Google the names of the owner.
  • Call the phone number provided on the listing.
  • Grill the “landlord” by asking specific questions, such as room dimensions or something unique as seen in the photos.
  • You can even pretend something exists in the online photos and test if the “landlord” can call your bluff.
  • Search if the property has another online presence or contact number and engage that to see if they are consistent.
  • Test the owner by requesting for a visit from a local friend before booking – it doesn’t have to happen, you just want to test the owner’s receptiveness.

Finally, avoid paying in full upfront or making payment off the platform.

 

12. Property scam

 

How it works:

This happens when people try selling you land or property that doesn’t actually belong to them using fake documents.

They can even sell land from an area reserved for road development (land reserve) or grabbed land.

 

What to do:

To avoid being conned, do the process yourself although you can still use a registered agent or a lawyer and only deal with the verified property owner.

Take PDF copies of the land title and go personally to the Lands Office for search and verification.

 

D. KEY SAFETY ISSUES

This is not meant to be a fear mongering exercise, as most visits are trouble free as long as you exercise some common sense.

However, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Information below has been compiled from:

 

1. Violent crime, hazards, hotspots, terrorism, civil unrest

Image source: smartraveller.gov.au

 

How it works:

A brief summary:

  • Violent crime: regular and increasing.
  • Hazards: improvised explosive devices in hotspots.
  • Hotspots: Kenya – Somalia border (Somali militias and bandits), Kenya – South Sudan – Ethiopia border (cross border violence), some parts of north and west (tribal conflicts).
  • Terrorism: attacks by terrorists linked to Al Shabaab as retaliation against Kenya’s military involvement in Somalia.
  • Civil unrest: demonstrations can sometimes occur.

 

What to do:

Stay alert, avoid secluded areas, travelling alone at night, and don’t look like an easy victim (e.g. looking like a tourist / flaunting valuables).

Monitor local media in case of any terrorist threats, and avoid participating in demonstrations.

Definitely avoid these areas:

  • 60 km of Kenya-Somalia border: Mandera, Wajir, Garissa.
  • Coastal areas: Tana River county, Lamu county, areas of Kilifi county north of Malindi.
  • 100 km of borders with South Sudan and with Ethiopia.

Reconsider travel to these areas:

  • Nairobi: Eastleigh, slum areas, Kasarani, Kibera, Mathare.
  • Mombasa: Old Town at night, Likoni ferry.
  • South coast: Kwale County.
  • Roads involving airport: old airport road (Airport South Road) and Jogoo Road, Mombasa road to Jomo Kenyatta Airport.
  • West: Mt Elgon.

Risky overland travel:

  • Route from Malindi to Lamu.
  • Roads between Nairobi and the Amboseli, Masai Mara, Nakuru and Tsavo game parks/reserves and the Mount Kenya / Aberdare area.
  • Main road between Nairobi and the Tanzanian border (also the route to Amboseli National Park).

 

2. Medical care

Image source: elsevier.com

 

How it works:

Medical care is adequate in Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, but very limited outside.

Diseases to vaccinate against / watch out for include:

  • Insect borne diseases: rift valley fever, zika, malaria, dengue, schistosomiasis, filariasis, trypanosomiasis.
  • Animal borne diseases: avian influenza, ebola, rabies.
  • Food and water borne diseases: travellers’ diarrhoea, tuberculosis, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio.
  • Human borne diseases: HIV.

 

What to do:

If you can’t afford travel insurance (e.g. World Nomads – our review), you can’t afford to travel, as:

  • Emergency health services can cost a bomb.
  • Insurance providers can make complex logistical arrangements to get you the best medical treatment fast.

Vaccinations to consider:                                                

  • All travellers: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, flu shot.
  • Most travellers: hepatitis A, typhoid.
  • Some travellers: hepatitis B, cholera, malaria, meningitis, polio, rabies, yellow fever.

Prevent insect bites:

  • Protective clothing.
  • Insect repellents.
  • Insecticide treated bed / cot nets.
  • Plug-in insecticides.
  • Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass.

Food safety:

  • Practise safe hygiene such as washing hands with soap.
  • Only drink bottled water or water that has been boiled.
  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy products, ice cubes, uncooked and undercooked food.

 

3. Natural disasters

 

How it works:

A brief summary:

  • Droughts: affect mainly the eastern, north eastern, coast area and parts of Rift Valley.
  • Rainy season: April to June, October to November, potential flooding and mudslides.
  • Earthquakes: lies on a fault line so tremors may occur.
  • Volcanoes: Mt Elgon area.

 

What to do:

Effective preparation and prevention involves staying at the “right” place, travelling at the “right” time and getting travel insurance (e.g. World Nomadsour review) that covers natural disasters.

Check the latest media reportsweather forecasts and sources such as the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System.

Reacting to one:

  • Earthquakes: drop (to hands and knees), cover (head and neck with arms), hold on (to sturdy furniture); expect aftershocks.
  • Volcanic eruption: avoid areas downwind and river valleys downstream of the volcano, do not drive in heavy ash fall, seek shelter (if no need to evacuate) or high ground if no shelter (crouch down away from volcano, cover head with arms).

 

4. Transport safety

 

How it works:

Road travel here can be dangerous, due to these reasons:

  • Minor roads are poorly maintained, unpaved, bumpy and riddled with potholes
  • Poorly maintained vehicles
  • Unpredictable driving habits
  • Heavy traffic jams
  • Reckless driving by matatus (public buses) and bodas bodas (motorcycle taxis)
  • Poor maintained trains and tracks during wet seasons

Public transportation:

  • Options: Matatus, bodas bodas, Likoni Ferry
  • Generally unsafe due to reckless driving, poor maintenance, overcrowding and high rates of crime.

 

What to do:

Make sure your travel insurance (e.g. World Nomadsour review) covers travel accidents.

Driving:

  • Only book via legitimate platforms (e.g. AutoEurope – world’s largest rental car aggregator).
  • Check latest media reports and weather forecast.
  • Stay alert, wear seatbelts, keep doors locked and windows up.

Other transportation:

  • To move around, use reliable taxi companies or the Madaraka Express Railway line (between Nairobi to Mombasa).

 

E. GETTING HELP

1. Emergency numbers to call

Image source: the-star.co.ke

 

  • Police emergency hotline: 112 / 999
  • Ambulance service: 112 / 999
  • Fire brigade: 112 / 999

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