Why it is OK to travel to Kenya

Every few years, a country falls victim to ‘travel pariah’ syndrome.  Which means that for a variety of reasons, people don’t want to go there.  The causes are many, ranging from dread disease (SARS, Ebola, bird flu etc.) through political instability & insurrection to crime, extreme drought and terrorist or insurgent activity.  Right nowKenya is squarely in that box because of a perfect storm of events, bad timing and negative publicity.

The tragedy of this situation is that this perception of danger associated with traveling to Kenya is totally out of line with the reality of the situation.  Kenya is every bit as safe a destination as several other African safari destinations.

Here is a typical comment from someone who just got back from Kenya a couple of weeks ago:  “Bert, just a quick note to say the trip far exceeded my expectations. It was a dream of a life time and you made it so very special. Lydia, William, Joel and Edwin [of Origins Safaris] were all wonderful and took great care of us. I always felt very safe and did not have to worry about anything due to your wonderful people.

‘And the camps were great.  My favorites were Tortilis and Lewa Downs. All the safaris were great and different. Thanks for making it memorable.”

Those of us who have been in Kenya recently know all this and so of course do our partners on the ground there.

Despite the recent attack at Garissa (which has been off the tourist track for decades) there has been no change on the travel advisory for Kenya which is to avoid the area adjacent to Somalia and the northern coastal area.

There are no issues at all in the safari regions of Kenya – in fact visitors are likely just as safe there as in their country of origin.   The hard truth of it is that there is nowhere truly ‘safe’ in the world; attacks and random shootings can and do occur anywhere, also in the USA.  Going on safari is one of the safest things one can do, because of the near total absence of other people, vehicles and ‘civilization’ as we know it.  Yes you may have to spend a day or two in Nairobi but it would have to be a co-incidence of monumental proportions for any specific visitor to be involved in an incident or attack at the time of their stay.

So while isolated attacks, bombings etc. are deplorable and disastrous for those involved and their families they do not change the safety situation elsewhere in the country.  Just like the Boston Marathon bombing of a couple of years ago did not automatically make other parts of Boston or Massachusetts – or the rest of the USA – less safe than previously.

If our Kenya partners Origins Safaris thought that it was not safe for anybody to travel to Kenya, they would be the first ones to let us know.  None of us ever put our clients in any kind of danger – that would be foolish and we just don’t it.  We have in the past recommended to clients that they postpone travel around the time of the Kenyaelections, for example.

Currently there is no cause for alarm and visitors can and are traveling to Kenya without taking any undue risk.  Better to be ‘safe than sorry?’  If someone really wants to try to avoid all risk the best place is probably in bed – alone.  But we don’t want to live like that, do we?

For more background on this, please take a look at this blog post:

Travel warnings do more harm than good


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