Kenya is Beautiful and Alluring But May Be Sporadically Dangerous as a Tourist Travel Destination

Friends of mine who own a hotel in Orlando, Florida are originally from the African country of Kenya. They are all Americans now but still visit Kenya, each year or so. Their glowing descriptions of the country and the natural beauty, as well as their personal invitations to stay with them, have made me seriously consider travel to Kenya.

“Kenya is rich with adventure and a very fascinating country,” they enthused. “You’ll love it!”

Well, I also really wanted to visit the timeshare resort of Residence Karibuni. The unique timeshare destination is located at Mambrui, about 20 kms north of Malindi, according to the brochure. The resort is made up of villas which are surrounded by bougainvillea and lawned areas. I could visit the local market, and buy fresh pineapples and fancy wood carving souvenirs. Or I could go on Safari to see the animals in the National Park, or perhaps visit the Tsavo East Natural park. In the south of Malindi there is even a marine reserve with snorkeling, white sand, and adventure trips in glass bottom boats to peek at the coral reef and colorful marine life.

A Kenya timeshare preview trip and seeing my friend’s home country seemed like a pretty good idea.

Earlier today, however, my day dreaming ended when I received an email alert about travel to this part of Africa from the U.S. State Department. You too should always stay alert to current political situations in any country you may be planning to visit.

There is apparently widespread violence in parts of Kenya, including the areas of greater Nairobi and the cities of Eldoret, Kisumu and Mombasa. Trouble escalated since the December 30 announcement that President Kibaki was the winner of the December 27 election.

Although the violence has subsided in recent days there are still reported isolated incidents of unrest. The good news is that the availability of food, fuel, cash, and cell phone air cards is improving. So far there have been no reports of American citizens being injured.

The three western provinces of Kenya, Western Nyanza, and Rift Valley, are most affected by the unrest. Road travel in western Kenya remains unsafe. Sporadic illegal road blocks by gangs or criminal elements make travel often possible only with police escorted convoys.

Some, but not all, official American citizens, who were outside of Kenya when the violence started and delayed their return to the country, have since returned. The Peace Corps Volunteers who left the three western provinces have not yet returned to the areas in which they were initially stationed. American citizens residing in Kenya have been advised by U.S. officials to carefully consider their own safety. Security and safety situations make travel very risky both within and outside Kenya.

Kenya’s international airports (Jomo Kenyatta in Nairobi and Moi in Mombasa) are reportedly operating normally. My travel advisor tells me seats are available for international flights out of Kenya. Most domestic flights are still operating in Kenya, although some flights continue to be cancelled due to fuel shortages.

It appears that protest demonstrations are likely to continue sporadically. These protests often arise rather quickly and without advanced notice. American citizens have been warned to avoid all demonstrations and protests, since even protests intended to be peaceful can turn violent within minutes.

The situation in Kenya is likely to remain politically unstable and volatile for the immediate future. For the near future, then, I am postponing any travel there. No matter how persuasive my friends may be, and how fascinating the country, the travel risk appears too high.

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