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So, what do you know about Kenya, Africa??

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Chrysalis123 posted 3/31/2014 22:12 PM

I have an opportunity to spend 2 weeks in southern Kenya this summer. What do you know about it?


purplejacket4 posted 3/31/2014 22:47 PM

Make sure you see a doctor before going if you haven't had your hep A and typhoid shot. You will probably need malaria prophylaxis too. Don't drink the water, wear sunscreen and have fun!

gahurts posted 4/1/2014 08:40 AM

I once worked with a guy who worked an ex-Pat job in Nairobi for two years. He loved it there. Could not stop talking about it. From what he says if you have an opportunity to go, take it.

Sad in AZ posted 4/1/2014 08:55 AM

Go to the US State Department's website and check out any warnings, alerts, and general travel info. Then go to the CDC website for health alerts and vaccination information. Some of the shots have to be started well ahead of time.

Are you traveling with a group? What is their record on travel to Kenya? I sent tour groups to Kenya and other spots in Africa safely for many years. We had to deal with unrest on several occasions centered around election times, so be aware of what's going on in the country at the time you're going.

If you have any specific questions, PM me. I may be able to help you with the research.

Chrysalis123 posted 4/1/2014 09:22 AM

Thanks all! If I decide to go, I will be traveling with an organization that has brought people from around the world for many years to Kenya. I also would be traveling with some people from my area that have done this 3 times before and have complete faith in this group. One is also a physician, and she will help me with the immunizations needed, but thanks Doc PJ!

I am very excited about this opportunity. We shall see what is in store for me.

TrulyReconciled posted 4/1/2014 09:53 AM

Sorry but Kenya is too dangerous for Americans right now.

Remember this?

circe posted 4/1/2014 10:48 AM

When DS and I lived in South Africa before I married my current H, part of my work took place in Kenya and Tanzania and we traveled there quite a bit. I still have work and family connections there and we've gone back a few times to revisit some of our old haunts, and though a lot has changed, it's still one of my favorite places on earth.

Yes, there was a horrible mall attack, like we have horrible school shootings and other attacks here in the US. But that's far from the norm. Most of the crime I've encountered there was of the "scam" variety, and naturally if you're a tourist you're more of a target for that kind of thing, or theft. I've never gone there as part of a group or organized tour, but I've seen plenty of tours and tourists getting in and out of buses and vehicles while I've been there and they all look so excited and enthusiastic and well cared for and comfortable.

My best advice would be to check tripadvisor forums because the people who post on the forums tend to have more up to date info from being "on the ground" - they'll know and post in great detail about crime, scams, weather, maximizing your exchange rates, vaccinations and the like.

For instance the CDC website says that you don't need a Yellow Fever vaccination, and that may be true by the letter of the law, but at certain times people have reported being asked for their yellow card in the airport even when traveling from Europe or the US, and good luck arguing that by law you don't need one - and things like that are good to know from people who have just been there.

Also pay attention to the advice about exchange rates. In some cases if you have to pay a large fee in US dollars, like in customs or just for exchange, they want a specific year of bill, like for instance 2007 and newer, with no creases or wrinkles. I don't know if that's the exact year, but you get the picture. And certain denominations of bill are trusted while others are not. Being prepared for random stuff like that makes things so much easier when you're there.

Other than that, find a doctor who is up to date on their knowledge about anti malarials. I love the once a week variety, but it's also the one that can cause all kinds of severe emotional problems if it hits you the wrong way. My current doctor won't let me take it at all, and so I have to take the once a day ones, which is a huge pain, but I'll defer to his judgment about the safety issue.

I'm sure your friends will have a lot of this knowledge covered for you if they've been there before!

So are you going on safari? And do you know where all you'll be going? What an exciting thing to do with your summer!!

Stillstings posted 4/1/2014 11:15 AM

You're going to find violence everywhere in the world. We've also had our fair share of mall or school shootings here as well over the past year.

I have a few friends who grew up in Kenya and loved it. The problem areas probably would be near the Somali border, but Kenya is a huge country.

English is also one of the official languages as it is taught in schools so that will be helpful.

Dadtryingtocope posted 4/2/2014 10:10 AM

I lived in Tanzania, Africa for 6 months in 1994 on work assignments (Just south of Kenya). It was an incredible experience and even though I worked there I took the opportunity to travel around and see things just as a "tourist" would do. It is an incredible place. If you have never been in a third world country it is eye opening and will give you true appreciation for what we have here. Yes you will need to be careful, that would be true visiting places here in the US as well. But in general the people of both African countries are polite, very kind and understand that vistors such as you and I are an important part of their economy. I took great interest in their culture and how they live, work and play everyday. Most live on very little money so any gifts/money you give to them will be greatly appreciated.

If you have an opportunity to get to Ngorongoro Crater do it. I did not get the chance to go and I wish I had. I think anyone who goes to Africa wants to experience the safari and that area has been touted as the best. I went on safaris while I was in Tanzania but never to the crater. It is supposed to be amazing.

Good luck. Get your shots before you go. Malaria medication can be taken while you are there as I recall (I think I took a weekly pill). Of course you can buy medication for it over there as well - for a lot less money I might add. But your other shots you will need to get here.

Have fun. It's an amazing place with amazing people.

Chrysalis123 posted 4/2/2014 12:08 PM

Thank you everyone! My group will be mostly work and a little bit of safari/vacation. We will fly in Nairobi and travel south ending our time at the Maasai Mara National Reserve during the time of the year when the wildebeest migrate.

I feel very secure with the people I will be with. We will be joining an American woman that has lived in Kenya her entire life and she is arranging all the transportation.

Lovedyoumore posted 4/3/2014 14:17 PM

Check the State Department website on travel alerts. They change often. We canceled a trip to Kenya a few years ago due to a rise in the warning. If the threat is low then go enjoy yourself. The alerts are usually not related to individual violent acts but patterns that mean US citizens are at a specific risk. They put travel alerts out for a reason and should not be ignored. When we canceled there was a no travel alert that included statements such as....US citizens could not be guaranteed US consulate protection or interventions.

TrulyReconciled posted 4/3/2014 14:30 PM

Kenya initiated military action against al-Qaida affiliate al-Shabaab by crossing into Somalia on October 16, 2011, and on June 2, 2012, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) whereby it formally joined the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Kenyan troops within AMISOM are now actively pursuing al-Shabaab in southeastern Somalia. In response to the Kenyan intervention, al-Shabaab and its sympathizers have conducted retaliatory attacks against civilian and government targets in Kenya.

In the past year and a half, there have been numerous incidents involving shootings, grenades, or other explosive devices in Kenya in addition to the attack described above. More than two dozen of these attacks occurred in North Eastern Province, mainly in Dadaab, Wajir, Garissa, and Mandera. Four attacks occurred in Mombasa. Twelve grenade and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks have occurred in Nairobi, illustrating an increase in the number of attacks and an advance in the sophistication of attacks. Targets included police stations and police vehicles, nightclubs and bars, churches, a mosque, a religious gathering, a downtown building of small shops, and a bus station. One of the deadliest attacks occurred in Nairobi on November 18, 2012, when an IED detonated on a passenger bus in Eastleigh, killing ten.

Seventeen people were killed and about 50 people were injured in an attack on July 1, 2012, with two simultaneous assaults on churches in Garissa. Additionally, Kenyan law enforcement has disrupted several terrorist plots, which resulted in the discoveries of weapons caches and other dangerous materials, and the arrests of several individuals.

Multiple kidnappings of Westerners have occurred in Kenya. In September 2011, a British woman was kidnapped and her husband murdered at a coastal resort near the Kenya-Somali border. The British hostage was released in March 2012 after payment of ransom. In October 2011, a French national was kidnapped from a private residence on the popular tourist destination of Lamu Island on Kenya's north coast. She died while in captivity in Somalia. Also in October 2011, two Spanish nationals working for a NGO were kidnapped in a Dadaab refugee camp, in northeastern Kenya. They are still being held. On June 29, 2012, four international aid workers (from Canada, Pakistan, Norway, and the Philippines) were kidnapped in Dadaab. All were rescued on July 1, 2012.

Following a series of security incidents attributed to violent extremists, including al-Shabaab, the Government of Kenya announced on December 13, 2012 that all urban refugees (primarily Somalis) should relocate to refugee camps. This directive is being challenged in court and is not currently being enforced; however, U.S. citizens of Somali descent should be aware that they may encounter interruptions in their travel due to increased police scrutiny based on this directive. It is very important to carry at all times proof of identity and legal status in Kenya (i.e., valid visa). If you are detained by police or immigration officials, you should request to speak to someone from the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

As a result of these recent events and threats, U.S. Embassy personnel are prohibited from traveling to the North Eastern Province, including the cities of El Wak, Wajir, Garissa, Mandera, and Liboi. U.S. Embassy personnel are also restricted from traveling to the coastal area north of Pate Island, including Kiwavu and north to Kiunga on the Kenya/Somalia border.

Although these restrictions do not apply to travelers not associated with the U.S. government, U.S. citizens in Kenya should take these restrictions into account when planning travel. The Embassy regularly reviews the security of these areas for possible modification.

Clashes occasionally occur in and around Isiolo and Moyale and in 2012 there were numerous instances of sporadic violence and protests elsewhere in the country. Rioting occurred in Mombasa shortly after a local Muslim cleric with alleged ties to al-Shabaab was killed in a drive-by shooting, resulting in the deaths of three policemen and four church burnings. Demonstrations in Kisumu (Western Kenya) following the murder of two prominent Kenyan citizens in October 2012 turned violent, leaving at least four protestors dead. More than 160 people were killed in clashes in late 2012 between two communities in Tana River County, in Kenya's Coast Province. While this violence is not directed at foreigners, protests and ethnic clashes are unpredictable. U.S. citizens are advised to check conditions and monitor local media reports before traveling to these areas.

There are no restrictions on U.S. embassy employee travel to Kenya's most popular tourist destinations such as Masai Mara, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru, Tsavo, Lamu Island, Hell's Gate, Samburu, Mount Kenya, Malindi, and Nairobi. Travelers should keep informed of local developments by following local press, radio, and television reports prior to their visits. Visitors should also consult their hosts, including U.S. and Kenyan business contacts, hotels, tour guides, and travel organizers.

Violent and sometimes fatal criminal attacks, including armed carjackings, grenade attacks, home invasions and burglaries, and kidnappings can occur at any time and in any location, particularly in Nairobi. U.S. citizens, including U.S. Embassy employees, have been victims of such crimes within the past year.

U.S. citizens in Kenya should be extremely vigilant with regard to their personal security, particularly in crowded public places such as clubs, hotels, resorts, shopping centers, restaurants, bus stations, and places of worship. U.S. citizens should also remain alert in residential areas, at schools, and at outdoor recreational events. U.S. citizens should use commonsense precautions at all times, to include the following practices: avoid crowded transportation venues; visit only legitimate businesses and tourist areas only during daylight hours; use well-marked taxis and be sure to lock vehicle doors and keep windows up; lock all lodging doors and windows; carry minimal amounts of cash and credit cards; do not wear jewelry which attracts undue attention; know emergency phone numbers; do not resist or antagonize armed criminals; and always be aware of your surroundings. These measures can help ensure your travel to Kenya is safe and enjoyable.

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Kenya are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

circe posted 4/3/2014 16:37 PM

And the worst part is, if we listed all of the attacks, shootings, violence and kidnappings that happen here in the US to Americans and foreigners alike, we'd never want to live here because it would sound like a lawless, violent jungle.

One thing I found interesting when I lived in South Africa and traveled regularly to east Africa - you'll commonly find people there that are afraid to come to the US because we have so much violence and crime.

[This message edited by circe at 4:38 PM, April 3rd (Thursday)]

TrulyReconciled posted 4/3/2014 16:43 PM

YMMV - I never get my travel safety information from the foreign media, though. Then again, I've only been in about 40 countries. Some people here (Moo) are much better travelled.

I've actually stood in the same spot abroad where AQ blew up a 17 year old French girl (and just a few months after) - pretty damned sobering.

Traveling with an experienced guide and in a group as Chrysalis123 describes makes quite a difference.

[This message edited by TrulyReconciled at 4:56 PM, April 3rd (Thursday)]

BrighterFuture posted 4/3/2014 17:36 PM

I'm from Kenya, and would advise you to take the opportunity and visit if you can. There are more shootings and terrorists attacks in the US but still people don't stop visiting. Get your immunizations, learn a few Swahili vocabulary and enjoy your trip. You're going in a group, you will be fine.

You'll realize that advise that says don't go, are usually from people who haven't been there. Tourism is a very big industry in Kenya. It wouldn't be if no tourists went. Most of them it's not their first time either.

While safety is important, terrorist attacks are very rare occurrences and most people don't own guns so shootings from civilians is highly unlikely. If you have questions, just PM me. I will be happy to answer all the questions you have.

[This message edited by BrighterFuture at 5:44 PM, April 3rd (Thursday)]

circe posted 4/3/2014 20:39 PM

BrighterFuture, you're from such a beautiful country! DS and I were talking about this earlier and I think I've spent only a total of 8 months in Kenya over the years -DS more than that, as he spent 2 full summers there with friends since we moved to the US- & we both feel so attached to it. I miss the community, the friendliness with neighbors, the ease with holding hands with friends, the caring of the people there...and we both still crave ugali, chapati and kuku and and chips mayai.

[This message edited by circe at 8:40 PM, April 3rd (Thursday)]

HUM1021 posted 4/3/2014 20:48 PM

I've spent quite some time in Kenya.

Southeast Kenya is wonderful; Southwest Kenya is problematic.

If you go to Luo territory (Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori) you'll be very happy.

Get your shots, and enjoy the experience.

Chrysalis123 posted 4/3/2014 21:00 PM

Isn't SI wonderful? There is such a wealth of wisdom here, even for unusual questions like mine!

I am going to Kenya!!! Only 3 months to I better start learning some Swahili. I have heard how wonderful the people are and I cannot wait to meet them and learn about their culture. And I am also excited to see the land and animals. We will be spending a lot of time in the rural areas and my friends told me how amazing it was to go to sleep listening to lions and hyenas.

And, this will be my first trip to another continent. After the ongoing ordeal with the court case with NPDx this is going to be a balm to my soul.

So, Brighter Future, any cultural things I need to be aware of so I don't offend anyone?

BrighterFuture posted 4/3/2014 22:58 PM

circ, yes I am from Kenya. I was born in Mombasa but my parents are from Luo, Nyanza. I've actually visited Barack Obama's grandmother's homestead which isn't too far from my maternal grandma's home. So, all those places HUM1021 mentioned are places I've been to a lot.
Another thing, I was supposed to go on my Spring Break, March 7th for a week with my two little ones but didn't because we were sick from a flu. My brother is also married to a Finnish woman whom he met in Kenya while she was visiting for the first time. She loves it so much she actually wants them to settle in Kenya instead of Finland.

Btw, I'm a good cook of all those meals you mentioned. We actually had ugali, fish and mboga for dinner, lol.

Chrysalis123: Kenyans love tea, so when you visit anyone's house if you're offered tea or any food be willing to try it. Kenyans get disappointed when visitors don't eat their food.

Also, here's a list of a few words to know:

Jambo - Hi
Chai - Tea
kahawa - coffee
Gari - car
Pesa - money
Jua - sun

I'm sure you will learn more with time. If you need more simple vocabulary, please PM me. I'm glad you're going. Enjoy

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