Staying Safe in Kenya

Due to safety concerns regarding a rise in discrimination towards LGBT people in Tanzania, we’ve rerouted our our annual luxury safari through neighbouring Kenya.

Despite the dark trigger, we’re actually ecstatic about the new destination. Kenya has some of the best preserved national parks on the continent, a wealth of wildlife that includes the Big Five, Earth’s largest flock of flamingos and The Great Wildebeest Migration, not to mention delicious food and top-notch accommodations. Also, it’s noted as the birthplace of the modern safari!

All that said, we’re aware Kenya comes with it’s own concerns and considerations. Please find a helpful list of frequently asked questions regarding safety in this sensational south African country below.

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How gay-friendly is Kenya?

Great question. And one worth exploring in depth.

In comparison to the majority of Africa, Kenya is relatively safe for LGBT travellers. But on a world scale, it pains us to say Kenya isn’t particularly LGBT-friendly.

According to Equaldex and Pew Research, general opinion sits around 90% against homosexuality. Also, the laws surrounding the LGBT community are quite negative: Sodomy could land you 14 years in jail while all other forms of “unnatural” or “indecent” sexual acts between men are punishable by up to 5 years.

But worry not! Although homosexual acts are technically illegal, there is currently no major push by local authorities or governments to enforce these laws.

Also, as is the case in most countries, gay western tourists are granted a certain amount of leniency when it comes to homosexuality. So long as you are being discreet and respectful, you won’t ruffle feathers or draw unwanted attention.

If you’re looking for an extra level of security, we at Out Adventures ensure all of the hotels, guides and drivers used on our luxury safari are not just gay-friendly, but gay-welcoming. This means your dollars are supporting Kenya’s progressive allies!


What vaccines should I get before jetting off to Kenya?

Okay, this is a biggy and we’ll answer it as best we can. But please note: while we’ll give you an overview of some of the most common medical concerns travellers face, we do not give medical advice. We recommend visiting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for in-depth and up-to-date information. Print off the CDC page and consult your doctor on what vaccines and medications might be important for you.

Malaria
First and foremost, if you’re properly medicated, your chances of contracting Malaria is minimal. But regarding prevalence, yes, Kenya has very high rates of Malaria. Especially in lower altitude regions, some of which we visit on our Kenya: Safaris & Savannahs tour. We recommend speaking to your doctor about medication to prevent an infection.

Hepatites A and Typhoid
The CDC lists both diseases as a top concern for most travellers due to their prevalence in contaminated food and water. On our tour we eat at well-maintained restaurants and facilities. If you stick to our dining itinerary, your risk of infection is low. That said, a vaccine is often prescribed to Kenya-bound travellers anyways.

HIV/AIDS
We’re happy to say the prevalence of new HIV/AIDS infections in Kenya has dropped in recent years. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously. Speak to a medical professional if you have any questions about the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Other Medical Concerns
We know we keep referring back to the CDC, but it really is the best resource to stay up to date on all diseases, outbreaks and vaccines relevant to different destinations. Another resource is the US Government’s travel advisory website. Finally, book an appointment at your local travel clinic.


How dangerous is the wildlife?

Despite the tusks, teeth and claws, Kenya’s incredible wildlife poses an extremely minimal risk to your safety. During our Welcome Meeting, we’ll discuss game drives and a few ground rules regarding safety. So long as you follow the rules, we’re confident saying you’ll be heading home unharmed and limbs attached 😉

Here’s a little preview of the major rules we’ll discuss:

Rule #1 – Do not get out of the vehicle unless your guide says it’s okay.
Rule #2 – Do not try to get an animal’s attention or make it “pose” for pictures.
Rule #3 – Do not eat or drink anything other than water on safari. Make sure you’ve had a full breakfast before heading out.
Rule #4 – Shh. The animals startle easily. Unexpected noises can cause them to either scatter or attack.
Rule #5 – We can’t believe we’re going to say this but… Don’t try and pet the animals!

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I hear pickpockets are common. How do I prevent theft / stay safe?

First of all, pickpockets, theft and burglary aren’t any more prevalent in Kenya than any other economically developing country. Second, these issues are only common in major cities like Nairobi which we don’t spend time in on our safari.

If you’ve slotted in a little extra pre- or post- vacation time to explore Nairobi, here’s a few specific tips to hold on to your wallet:

  • Avoid walking around poor neighbourhoods,
  • Don’t wear flashy jewellery or clothing,
  • Don’t carry a wallet in your back pocket. Keep your money and cards in a hidden travel pack,
  • Keep cellphones and cameras out of sight when not in use,
  • Keep important documentation such as passports and large sums of money in your hotel safety-box.
  • If you’re going out at night, take a certified taxi — they’re parked in front of most hotels and bars.

I hear you can drink the tap water in Kenya?

Yes and no… Yes, some travellers say they use tap water in Kenya to brush their teeth, wash their produce and (*GASP*) drink, but as far as we’re concerned: don’t! Only drink bottled, sealed or boiled water (such as coffee or tea). Better to be safe than sorry 🙂

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Before we wrap up, we want to emphasize that Kenya is one of the safest countries to visit in Africa. Kenyans are some of the most hospitable people in the world, constantly going out of their way to ensure visitors feel welcomed and comfortable. It would be a real disappointment if you forgo this trip of a lifetime simply because of nerves.

All photos by Kevin Robitaille.

Kenya is the birthplace of the modern safari. Take in the country’s wildlife on our Kenya: Safaris & Savannahs tour.

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