Is it Safe to Travel to Colombia?

Vibrant, diverse and alluring, Colombia is a fascinating blend of history, culture and natural delights overflowing with glorious wonders for all travellers. Its story, beginning with indigenous people, dates back thousands of years with many settlers, civilisations and immigrants bringing their varied influences throughout its past.

Colombia has attracted huge fame for its coffee and music. Its natural beauty, stunning mountains, beaches and tropical rainforests are world-renowned. It has a rich cultural history and it is considered one of the most biodiverse countries in the world.

The only country in South America to have islands and coastlines on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, Colombia’s population exceeds 50 million people. The Caribbean Sea is to the north of the country and borders are shared with Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Brazil. Further territories owned by Colombia are actually in the continent of North America.

Although it has at times had a reputation of being a riskier place to travel to than other countries, the vast majority of trips to Colombia are trouble-free.

Despite this, Colombia is still considered to have high-levels of crime, so it is important to be aware of your surroundings and take appropriate precautions.

It is, as always, vital that you receive the most up-to-date advice before booking to travel or arranging to visit certain parts of the country. Travellers should always ensure they are comfortable with the regions they will be visiting and what is involved in going to them.

Health Concerns in Colombia

Before travelling to Colombia, you must seek medical advice from your GP. They will be able to give you the very latest information and advise you on what vaccinations you may require. An appointment should be made at least eight weeks before your trip and further information can be found on the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) website.

If you are on long-term medication, clarification should be sought as to the legality of your medication in Colombia, and whether you will be able to acquire anything you need when in the country. It may otherwise be necessary to take plentiful supplies of medication with you, although it will be vital to check the limits of what you can and cannot take.

Travellers are always advised to be up to date with vaccinations before visiting a country and that is also the case for Colombia.

All travellers should be vaccinated against Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid before a visit to Colombia. For some people visiting certain regions, vaccinations against Rabies and Yellow Fever may be appropriate. Dengue fever and malaria are also present throughout the country, and there is a risk of Zika transmission, so all precautions should be taken against potential mosquito bites.

It is vitally important to have comprehensive insurance cover when travelling to Colombia. Medical facilities in the country vary widely in quality.

Public health facilities, particularly those in smaller cities or more rural regions, are generally poorly funded and badly-equipped. Services, including emergency attention can be unreliable and difficult to come-by in quieter areas, while public hospitals may lack the resources and supplies to treat some conditions.

In the larger cities, you are likely to find private health facilities which will offer good quality care even for more complex issues. However, not all insurance policies will cover such care, so you should be careful when making your choice.

Medication can generally be found in pharmacies in large cities, though more complex treatments may be unavailable in rural areas. Prescriptions may be required to attain certain forms of medicine.

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Food and Water

Eating and trying local delicacies is a huge and important part of travelling somewhere new to many people. It does, however, bring risks and dangers with it. That is not a reason to miss out, though, and by following simple suggestions it is still possible to taste the delights that different countries have to offer.

Due to having had such a varied history and cultural influences affecting the country across the years, Colombia’s food has understandably developed a unique blend of recipes and flavours. Its biodiversity also means it has a stunning assortment of ingredients to choose from.

To make the very most of the delicious food that Colombia has to offer, it is important that you stay healthy. Following simple rules will help you to do so.

Eating in trustworthy restaurants, particularly those often frequented by tourists, reduces the risk of illness. Ensure food is well-cooked and you are happy with how you feel it has been prepared. Fruit, nuts and vegetables washed with treated water, or where you have removed a protective layering yourself are a good option. Treated dairy products should also be safe.

Undercooked and underprepared meat should be avoided at all costs. Uncovered or unwashed food, as well as food using raw ingredients are more likely to cause illness and should therefore be avoided. If you are in any doubt, it is best to move on and choose to eat something somewhere else.

Sometimes when you are abroad, it is tempting to eat the same food that locals do, particularly street food. If locals are choosing it, it is almost certainly delicious. However, as a tourist, you should show great caution here. The locals eating at such places are likely to have digestive systems used to eating from different conditions to a visitor.

A useful tip is to think about where many tourists are eating as the vendors are more used to serving food prepared in conditions more friendly to visitors. This means that you don’t miss out, while reducing the risk of catching something that could see you fall ill.

When it comes to water, tap water is only safe to drink in Bogota. In all other parts of the country, you should drink bottled water. Tap water should not be used for brushing your teeth or cleaning fruit and vegetables ready to eat, except for in Bogota.

cocoa-picking

Crime

Crime rates are a problem that Colombia are trying to tackle, though rates remain high despite improvements in security. Criminals linked with the drugs trade, including armed groups, carry out serious crimes in the country including kidnapping for political and ransoming purposes, money laundering and racketeering for extortion and prostitution.

In major cities, street crime remains a problem. Violent muggings and incidents of pickpocketing have occurred. To reduce the chances of becoming embroiled in an attack, you should stay vigilant and avoid more deprived areas of cities. Limiting the value of the possessions you are carrying and travelling during the day further reduce the chances of a robbery.

Taxis should only be used when pre-booked, and it is wise to seek advice from reputable locals, such as hotel staff, before making a booking. Fake police are known to operate in some cities to carry out scams on tourists. Short-term kidnappings, where people are taken while the criminals extract money from bank accounts, do occur and people have been seriously hurt and even killed after resisting such attacks.

Terrorism

It is considered very likely that terrorists will try and carry out attacks in Colombia. Drugs, organised crime and terrorism are inextricably linked in the country. Much of the terrorist threat within Colombia comes from the National Liberation Army (ELN), dissidents from demobilised guerrilla groups.

Attacks may occur with very little warning and may be indiscriminate. While tourists are not usually the intended targets, public areas and events may be targeted. You should always be vigilant and ready to follow the advice of local security forces.

Armed gangs are most likely to operate in areas significant to the drugs trade. It is vitally important that you research the areas you intend to travel to and take the advice of security personnel when you are in the country.

Family Travel Safety (Colombia with Kids)

Colombia has so much to offer people of all ages. From stunning beaches and wildlife, to fascinating history, culture and people, there are activities to appeal to everyone.

Popular options include holidays close to the Caribbean coast where snorkelling and scuba diving will gain the interest of young travellers, or more adventurous trips to some of the more rural areas or larger cities of Bogota and Medellin. Learning about Colombia’s coffee history on tours or visiting some of its most famous museums are captivating experiences for the whole family.

Colombia is a safe place to travel as a family, providing you take usual precautions that you would in Colombia as well as those you would expect when travelling anywhere with children.

Before you go, ensure that the whole family are up to date with vaccinations. Pack carefully, ensuring you have enough sun cream and that children have hats to protect their head and necks from too much sun exposure. Carefully consider the potential impact of altitude on the people in your travelling party, as well as factors such as travelling times.

If you are worried about taking care of the children while working out logistics, you could consider travelling with a tour company or a guide to reduce some of the stresses. This also allows you to concentrate your attention on the children rather than worrying about where to head next!

colombia-mountain trekking

Family Travel Safety (Colombia for Women)

People’s individual experiences influence how they see a place and the safety of people travelling to it. The majority of people have a trouble-free trip to Colombia, and that includes female travellers and those travelling on their own.

A good way to avoid falling into a dangerous situation when travelling anywhere, though, is to be aware of things that may happen so that suitable precautions can be taken.

Female travellers should be aware of their surroundings and of their possessions, as pickpocketing is fairly common. Great care should be taken with valuables and it is sensible to only carry a small amount of money.

Colombia does still have a very machismo element to its society in some parts. This has its benefits to women in the chivalrous attitudes of some men, but an overflow of it can lead to cat-calling and unwanted attention that may be unfamiliar and uncomfortable to some women. Avoiding walking alone, at night or in certain areas of cities may help to limit experiences of this.

Drugs have been used to subdue and temporarily incapacitate unsuspecting victims. They are known to have been administered through food, drinks, cigarettes, aerosols and paper flyers. Criminals use this to leave their victims vulnerable to crimes including robbery and sexual assault. When in Colombia, you should never leave drinks or food unattended, or accept anything from strangers that could potentially be used in this way.

It is important to find balance in understanding the potential dangers for female travellers in Colombia. They are present, can be very serious and should therefore not be underestimated. However, it is also important to remember that the vast majority of people experience no troubles and leave only with incredible life-long memories. All usual precautions possible to protect yourself as a traveller should be taken.

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Tips for Staying Safe in Colombia

Buy the Right Insurance

Always make sure you are covered for any specific activities that you are planning, or may end up doing, when on your travels. A wide range of insurance policies exist, but it is wise to make sure that you take out the most comprehensive cover you can.

In Colombia, it is also important to consider the level of medical care your policy will cover. Because the standard of healthcare varies greatly, it is worth ensuring that your policy will cover you for private healthcare and any treatment that you may require. This will give you peace of mind should something really unfortunate occur.

Learn the Language and Customs

Learning the language of the country that you are travelling to has so many benefits. It provides opportunities for you to engage with the culture and locals, as well as helping you to communicate in any necessary situations that may require a simple grasp of the language (for example, calling the emergency services).

Columbia is a country that due to past and present problems has some strict prohibitions, particularly surrounding drugs. This may cross over into medications that you may be taking to the country with you. It is important that you always know of any such prohibitions before travelling so that you can avoid any inadvertent offences.

Knowing of local customs not only allows you to strike up friendships, but also avoid causing offence by accident. As customs may be general across the country or specific in certain regions, it is worth the time reading up about them before you travel.

Be Vigilant at All Times

Remaining vigilant will help to ensure that your trip is remembered for wonderful reasons. Keep your possessions close and not on show, use reputable companies for activities, travel and eating and be wary of strangers approaching and offering to sell you things.

Colombia is a country with so much to offer, and it can be a safe place to travel as testified to by the majority of the near two million visitors it receives each year. But, as with anywhere around the world, it is safest when travellers take all the reasonable precautions they can.

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If you’re travelling to Colombia, then stay safe and keep covered in the event of an accident by taking out a comprehensive travel insurance policy with Navigator Travel Insurance. 

Is it Safe to Travel to Cuba?

The Republic of Cuba, comprising the island of Cuba, Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos, is found in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean meet. Its main island, Cuba, is the largest in the Caribbean and the second-most populous with over eleven million inhabitants.

Cuba has been inhabited for thousands of years, first by the Ciboney Taíno people until Spanish colonization in the 15th Century. It remained a colony of Spain until 1898 when it was occupied by the United States, gaining nominal independence as a de facto United States protectorate in 1902. Cuba’s 20th Century history includes political radicalisation, social strife, coups and times under the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Corruption and oppression led to Batista’s ousting in 1959 and communist rule being established under Fidel Castro. Since 1965, the state has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba.

Due to its varied history, Cuba is a diverse country and its culture has been influenced by customs from across the globe. Its primary influences are of Spanish and African in origin. Cuba is considered part of Latin America.

Much of Cuba’s reputation is built on its kind, friendly people with warm, beaming smiles. It has unique flora and fauna, including the Cuban crocodile, over 350 species of bird and over 100 species of palm trees of which one, the Royal Palm, is a national symbol. The country’s natural beauty extends to its famous beaches. With over 3,500 miles of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the beaches are known for varying in colours, from brilliant white to volcanic black, and for the pristine clear waters lapping gently over them.

For a relatively small country, Cuba is brimming with World Heritage Sites, fine architecture and world-renowned sights. From Old Havana and its fortifications to the stunning and graceful city centre of Cienfuegos, which features French-inspired architecture, Cuba is overflowing with staggering history and beauty. Classic American cars are a common and sought-after sight, while its music is known across the globe and a sound synonymous with the country.

Cuba’s fame is further boosted by its exports. Believed to be among the very best in the world, Cuban cigars are renowned worldwide for their quality. Rum has through history been a hugely important product of the country and continues to contribute significantly to the economy. Its reputation is built on it being lighter, smoother and crisper than other rums in the Caribbean and it is further enhanced by its use in cocktails. Mojitos, daiquiris, the Cuba Libre and the canchánchara have all made a name for themselves around the world in more recent years, though their popularity in Cuba stretches back centuries.

havana-cuban band

 

Health Concerns in Cuba

If you are travelling to Cuba, it is really important to be aware of the health risks and the relevant vaccinations that will protect you during your visit. Immunisation jabs or boosters may be required, so it is vital that you check any requirements and suggestions in advance.

A fantastic place to start looking when considering your trip and the requirements before you travel is the NHS-run Fit for Travel website. The site features a breakdown of different diseases, the risks associated with it and recommendations for how you should protect yourself.

Anyone travelling to Cuba should be up to date with the vaccines recommended in the UK. Included are vaccines for measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and diptheria-tetanus-polio. Anyone with specific medical needs, or who may be at increased risk due to their work or lifestyle choices should consult their doctor for additional information.

Most travellers to the country should be vaccinated against tetanus, while hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies and typhoid vaccines are recommended for some travellers, mainly where underlying health conditions, work, accessibility to treatment or lifestyle choices are more likely to pose a risk to an individual should an illness be contracted. It is of utmost importance that you seek advice on this from your doctor before travelling. A comprehensive list can also be found on the National Travel Health Network and Centre site.

Malaria is not normally present in Cuba, unless contracted abroad, but there is a threat of Zika virus and Dengue fever, both for which there is no vaccine. Therefore, precautions must be taken to avoid mosquito bites. The mosquitos that are responsible for Zika and Dengue are known to bite during the day and frequent urban areas, but it is good practice to be prepared at any time of day.

If you will be needing prescription medicine during your trip, you should check the legalities of the medicines you will be taking in Cuba and ensure you have a copy of a letter from your doctor explaining your condition. As many medicines are unavailable in Cuba, if you need over-the-counter medicines, you should first check the most up-to-date advice, then consider taking enough with you to last the duration of your trip.

Medical facilities in Havana are superior to other areas of the country, but specialist treatment may still require evacuation. Any treatment can quickly become very expensive, particularly if involving a stay in hospital, and often the cost may need to be covered prior to action being taken. Medical assistance can be sought through the emergency ambulance number 104. It is vital that you purchase comprehensive travel insurance prior to your trip to ensure you are covered even in worst-case scenarios.

beach cuba

Food and Water

Cuba is a culinary delight with delicious food and exquisite smells. As with many countries around the world, food is an integral part of getting to know the culture and adds to your experience immeasurably. Cuba is home to many unique, memorable dishes and following simple advice allows you to enjoy them safely.

Unfortunately, Cuba’s hot, rainy climate is not only an attraction for visiting tourists, but the ideal conditions for bacteria, viruses and pathogens to flourish. It is extremely important to avoid unwashed, unpeeled fruit and vegetables, raw eggs, undercooked foods and unpasteurised dairy products. While street vendors look appealing and may smell incredible, their standards for cleanliness will be far below those of reputable restaurants and should, therefore, be avoided.

Eating at well-known, respectable restaurants is likely to be a safer option, particularly if they are used to catering for tourists. If you are preparing meals yourself, ensure you thoroughly cook your food and use equipment that has been well cleaned prior to starting. It is also a good idea to carry products like hand-sanitiser with you at all times. Making sensible and careful choices about the foods you eat will help to ensure you have a healthy and happy visit.

Due to an ageing infrastructure, Cuba’s tap water is not safe for tourists to drink. Bottled water is commonly available in areas popular with tourists, and many hotels will have it available for sale. Even tap water that is perfectly safe for locals has been known to cause illness in tourists, so it is best to refrain from drinking tap water anywhere. If you are aware that you will be travelling to an area not frequently visited by tourists, or where bottled water may be hard to come by, it is important that you look at alternatives before travelling, such as a bottle with a built-in filter.

General hygiene measures, such as regularly washing your hands, will also help to reduce the likelihood of illness, and packing medicines that can help should you be unfortunate is always advisable.

eggs ham cuban bread

Crime

Crime levels in Cuba are considered low and gun crime is virtually non-existent. The Cuban government does not release specific crime figures. Car-related crime and muggings have been known to take place from time to time and precautions should be made to reduce the risk of this. Travelling with a reputable tour operator and only using licensed taxis are measures that can be taken to increase your safety. Pickpockets and bag-snatchers may frequent areas popular with tourists, so be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Avoid wearing expensive jewellery and, where possible, leave expensive items in a safe place. Carry a copy of your passport rather than the original and be aware that hi-tech items, such as phones and computers, are highly sought-after by Cuban criminals.

Cuba is a one-party state and there is a high level of social control and strong police presence. Freedom of speech is restricted somewhat, and you should avoid demonstrations or large public gatherings.

Driving standards are variable and strict laws exist. If you are driving and involved in a serious accident, you could be subject to an investigation that may take months to complete. You may not be allowed to leave the country during this time.

havana-street

Terrorism Risks

There is no recent history of terrorist attacks in Cuba, although such attacks can never be ruled out. Travellers should be vigilant at all times.

Family Travel Safety (Cuba with Kids)

Cuba is an astonishing destination for anyone and this is particularly true for children. It is famous for its fascinating culture and has a deeply rich history, so it is an amazing experience for young travellers. Lacking in the advanced technology that they may be used to, it is an opportunity for them to reconnect with the world itself and delve deep into areas of life they may not be as exposed to at home.

Warm, welcoming and with activities to excite and entertain children, Cuba is a destination that should appeal to families. Its low crime level and relatively low threat from mosquitoes given its climate make the focus always turn to the people and their hearty smiles rather than anything problematic. Beaches, watersports and wildlife spotting are activities that can easily be enjoyed by all the family too.

Cuba’s care for children is evident in its education system, with an enviable system in place that has led to exceptional literacy rates among the country’s adults. This heartfelt approach extends to visitors, who are always appreciated and welcomed.

One thing to consider prior to travelling is what provisions you will need for your children. Specific items considered necessary in other countries may not be available for purchase, and the food may be very different from what your children are used to. If you know that this is likely to cause problems for your children, it is best to prepare in advance and consider what you can take with you rather than assuming that you will be able to purchase things once in the country.

Family Travel Safety (Cuba for Women)

From a safety perspective, Cuba is as good as it gets when travelling abroad, especially for women. Chivalrous machismo means that men will want to take care of women and will go out of their way to protect and help females. However, the excess of this, is that Cuban men can pursue women relentlessly. While local women may be used to this and give back as good as they get, this can be quite a shock to women not used to such forwardness. Ignoring such comments can be a start, but there is no substitute for learning some phrases in Spanish that can make your position crystal clear.

Typical tactics such as wearing plain and modest clothing will also help. If you are interacting with locals, such as through dancing or conversation, do not be afraid to make them aware of what is and what is not acceptable. However, Cuba is not a typical travel spot and is not a common spot for solo travellers. For this reason, there are few hostels and therefore fewer travellers in a similar position to keep you company.

Female sanitary products are not easily accessible in Cuba and some, such as tampons, are non-existent. It is, therefore, important that they feature on your ‘to pack’ list and are not forgotten.

cuban woman in doorway

Tips for Staying Safe in Cuba

• Buy the Right Insurance

It is obligatory for foreign travellers to Cuba to have medical insurance, so you must purchase a policy before travelling and ensure you have proof of this if it is requested upon arrival.

Furthermore, you should make sure that your policy covers you for any activities that you are planning on doing while in the country. Some policies may have exclusions, while you may find one that is better suited to your needs through more extensive research.

Remember to purchase a policy that covers you for medical evacuation should it be required. If you are travelling between June and November, Cuba’s hurricane season, ensure you are covered for any possibilities that may entail from being caught up in a natural disaster.

• Learn the Language and Customs

Cuba is quite a unique country and will in many great ways be so different from your homeland. However, this means it is vital that you learn some of the customs before travelling and that you ensure you will not accidentally involve yourself in something that could cause you bother.

Seeking up to date advice is always a good thing to do. More than this, it is a good introduction to what you can expect during your visit.

Cubans are renowned for being friendly people. Making the effort to speak to them in their language, even if you are limited, will always be well-received and appreciated. As well as this, learning particular phrases prior to your visit will help you in certain situations and will avoid ambiguity.

• Travelling Around

The roads in Cuba are not renowned for their safety. Laws can be strict around drivers, and while it is possible to drive on a UK Passport for six months, the conditions are likely to be very different from what you are used to. Rented cars have also been known to be targeted by criminals looking to take possessions off people.

Licensed taxis are generally a reliable method of getting around. You are advised against walking to and from places after dark.

A safe way to travel is with a reputable tour operator who will be able to inform you directly with good ideas, safety tips and things to avoid. It is important to remember that Cuba has a very good record of safety for travellers, but accidents and unfortunate events can happen, so you should guard against complacency, be vigilant and ensure that your trip is remembered for all of the incredible things that you will be doing!

If you’re travelling to Cuba, then stay safe and give yourself peace of mind with a comprehensive travel insurance policy with Navigator Travel Insurance.

Is it Safe to Travel to Kenya?

Kenya is a country that features close to the top of any nature or wildlife lover’s bucket list. And this is with good reason. Home to around 60 National Parks and Reserves, beautiful beaches and world-renowned scenery, Kenya is a destination that can change a person’s perspective on the whole world.

Officially the Republic of Kenya, it has the largest economy in eastern and central Africa. Tourism is a major economic driver, along with agriculture, tea and coffee and a blossoming fresh flower export trade.

Sadly, Kenya isn’t without its troubles. It has a volatile relationship with its neighbour, Somalia, and the country’s crime rate, on the whole, is considered high. This does include attacks targeted towards tourists, particularly car-jackings and increasingly common ‘snatch and run’ robberies. 

While this may seem concerning, close to 200,000 British tourists visit Kenya each year, with most leaving having had trouble-free and highlight-filled visits. Tourists from Germany and the UK are most likely to visit the country, and with tourism playing a key role in the country’s economy, it is in their interest to ensure these visits are safe and memorable for all the right reasons.

With some of the most incredible sights in the world, it is impossible to rule Kenya out. Instead, through simple adaptations, careful consideration and well-researched planning, you can organise a trip to Kenya that is not only mesmerising at the time, but life-enhancing moving forwards.

Kenya Elephants Safari

Health Concerns in Kenya

It is very important that anyone travelling to Kenya is aware of the health risks and the relevant vaccinations that will protect them during their visit. Checks should be made well in advance of your trip to ensure that sufficient time is available for immunisation jabs to take place.

A fantastic place to start looking when considering your trip and the requirements before you travel is the NHS-run Fit for Travel website. The site features a breakdown of different diseases, the risks associated with it and recommendations for how you should protect yourself.

Anyone travelling to Kenya should be up-to-date on immunisation for hepatitis A, polio, tetanus and typhoid. It is likely that you have already been vaccinated against some, if not all of these diseases, but it is vital that you check with your health advisor before your trip so that you can be confident that you are properly prepared.

Some travellers, depending on what they are doing or the specific areas that they will be travelling to, may require further immunisations. A comprehensive list can be found on the National Travel Health Network and Centre site. Suggestions include protection against cholera, hepatitis B, meningococcal disease, rabies, tuberculosis and yellow fever.

Malaria is a threat in Kenya and can be very serious, even fatal. While there is no vaccination, precautions can be taken to reduce the risk. It is spread by mosquito bites, so covering up skin with clothing or using insect repellent on exposed areas are essential measures. Sleeping under a mosquito net is a very sensible precaution. Seeking medical treatment swiftly is vital if symptoms do occur, and be aware that malaria can develop many months after exposure.

Travel Insurance that covers you in the event of an accident or illness in Kenya is vital. In major cities, private healthcare is well respected and reputable, so, if possible, find insurance that will cover you for this. It is also advisable that your insurance covers you for evacuation in the unlikely event that your health needs greater care and attention.

Mosquito Protection

Food and Water

Irrespective of where you are travelling in the world, food and drink are a huge part of the experience and embracing the culture. Kenya is no different, and many traditional dishes will be commonly found wherever you are in the country. 

Typically, Kenyans will eat three meals a day and break during the morning and afternoon for tea. Githeri and Ugali are Kenyan staples, while meat, stews and potatoes are also very common. More recently, cheese has grown in popularity in Kenya, predominantly among the middle-class people.

As with any country around the world, caution should be taken when it comes to eating and drinking. If you are planning on eating like a local or at unfamiliar restaurants, be sure to take care and do your research. 

Make sure that food is well cooked and hot when you eat it. Fruit, nuts or vegetables with a protective layer that you can peel and prepare yourself are ideal. If you are eating out, make sure you are satisfied that any fruit or vegetables have been properly treated before your meal.

Stay clear of any food that you are unsure of its preparation or care, unwashed or unpeeled vegetables and unpasteurised dairy products. If in doubt of anything, it is best to show caution and choose something else, as illness from food can be extremely serious and will, at the very least, reduce the enjoyment of your trip.

It is always best to drink bottled water in Kenya (be sure to check the seal is unbroken). Tap water is unsafe and should not be drunk or used for brushing your teeth. If there is no alternative, make sure it is either filtered and treated, or boiled first and left to cool. Avoid unpasteurised milk and juices, and don’t drink beverages with ice in.

Nairobi Kenya Food and Fruit

Crime

Most visits to Kenya are trouble-free and leave tourists with an enviable experience to cherish for life. However, it cannot be ignored that the country does have a high crime rate and that tourists can be a target for criminals.

Crime rates are high in all regions, but particularly in the larger cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa. Coastal beach resorts are also common areas for criminals to operate. Attacks can include car-jackings or bag snatches, while pickpocketing in populated areas like travel stations is rife.

Vigilance, self-awareness and blending in with the culture are effective methods to help avoid being a victim of crime. Always keep watch over your belongings and remain aware of your surroundings. Don’t wear expensive jewellery, or flash valuables. If possible, dress modestly like a local and avoid standing out as a tourist as much as possible. Avoid carrying large sums of money and, where possible, carry the money in different places, such as a concealed money belt and different zipped-up pockets.   

Educate yourself prior to your visit on local police customs and be wary of thieves posing as police officers or security guards. Scams are common, so be cautious of people telling sad stories in an attempt to make you part with money. Although some may sadly be true, this is a common technique used by criminals. Never accept food or drink from a stranger, as druggings have been known to take place so that possessions can then be stolen. Do not walk around after dark and stay in well-populated areas. Trustworthy local people, such as hotel staff and police officers, can help with advice on keeping yourself safe in different areas.

Be sure to take out comprehensive travel insurance before travelling so that there is no need to resist an attack and put yourself at risk. If you are the unfortunate victim of an attack, do not resist. Sentimental or irreplaceable belongings are best left at home or in a safe place and not taken out during your visit.

Nairobi Crowded Streets in Kenya

Terrorism Risks

It is considered very likely by the British government that terrorists will try to carry out attacks in Kenya. The heightened threat comes after a number of attacks over the last few years, with military bases, shopping malls and hotels among the places targeted. 

Travel close to the Somalian border is strongly advised against. Much of the terrorist threat in Kenya is from Al Shabaab, a militant Somalian group opposed to the Somalian government. They have made threats against Kenya due to Kenya’s military interventions in Somalia.

Kenya’s authorities have increased security as a result of terrorist threats. Tourism is an integral part of Kenya’s economy and accounts for a significant percentage of jobs, so it is vitally important to the country that they make tourists feel welcome and safe.

Kidnapping and ransoming are techniques that have been used by terrorists in the country.

Following the most up-to-date advice and reporting suspicious activity to local police will help to make visits safer for tourists. Vigilance and avoiding known crime and terrorist hotspots are further safety measures. Large gatherings or protests should be avoided as these can quickly turn and are a clear target for people wishing to cause trouble or harm. 

It is always good to be prepared for any possible issue, so make sure your travel insurance covers you for any eventuality and that you will be able to get home in the event that you are caught up in something.

Family Travel Safety (Kenya with Kids)

Kenya is an enthralling destination for travellers of all ages. Although it may not be one that jumps out straight away for families looking to travel, it is one that the children will certainly thank you for later.

A whole host of activities, from safaris to white water rafting, waterfalls to snorkelling, make the country an adventure-filled paradise where every minute can be covered with activities if that’s your wish.

Kenyans are well known for making their visitors feel welcome and this is especially true of children for whom they will often go out of their way to make feel special. Many destinations in Kenya, such as the Masai Mara or the Southern Rift Valley are used to having young visitors and are therefore set up to accommodate them. Be confident in that, wherever you head, the whole family will have a stunning experience from beginning to end. 

Children in Kenya

Family Travel Safety (Kenya for Women)

Kenya is a safe place for female travellers, both in groups and individually, particularly in the common tourist hotspots such as safari regions. In day-to-day life, you are likely to encounter Kenyans who are respectful, friendly and helpful.

However, there are common precautions that should be taken. Taxis from trusted sources are an effective way of travelling around, and much safer than walking between venues at night. Avoid drinking alone in bars, as this can lead to persistent hassling. If this does occur, turn down and refuse all offers, and never accept a drink from a stranger.

Modest dress with shoulders and legs covered is advised. If you are a lone female traveller, avoid long stretches on the beach if you want to avoid hassle as this can attract unwanted attention.

Discrimination, around both gender and race, can be common in some areas of the country. It is always worth taking precautions and following advice from trusted sources in your local area as to local customs.

Woman driving in Kenya

Tips for Staying Safe in Kenya

Buy the Right Insurance

Make certain that you have the right travel insurance for what you will be doing during your visit to Kenya. Some activities that are possible in Kenya, and that will truly enhance your experience, may not be covered by a standard insurance policy. 

Check your policy carefully to see if there are any exemptions, such as places that will invalidate your insurance. If in any doubt, clarify this before you travel. 

Make sure that you are covered for emergency evacuation should expert medical attention be required.

Learn the Language and Customs

Kenya is a very diverse country with many different communities and languages spoken. Because of this, it isn’t possible to learn everything about the country or language before heading on your visit.

However, learning a little bit of the local language for where you are staying will go a long way. Most people you encounter will speak English, but traditionally they will speak in their mother tongue in their communities. Making an effort to learn just a few phrases will show respect and consideration.

It is also important that you research what may or may not be acceptable in your chosen destination, as again this can vary across the country. Take care to show respect and modesty in your clothing and actions. Be sensitive to people’s religion and avoid political discussions. Even if you disagree with some of the traditions you encounter, ensure you are respectful at all times.

If you are ever unsure, seek advice from a trusted source. Hotel staff, tour operators and the police are usually good sources of information and can advise you appropriately. Remember to be vigilant and self-aware.

Kenya Masai Mara Tribe

Respect Wildlife

Stunningly beautiful and one of the main reasons to visit, but fiercely dangerous. Use reputable companies for tours and safaris, listen to instructions and abide by laws and regulations.

Under no circumstances should you take a risk for that perfect picture, or seek to create your own interaction with the animals. The rules are there because they protect lives.

Keep your wits about you as wild animals are found all around Kenya, not just in the parks. While most animals won’t attack unprovoked, it is not always possible to tell what might be spooking them, or what you may be standing between. Take great care where you go, and never swim in inland waters where crocodiles may inhabit the waters. Some areas may be designated as nature trails where you can leave your vehicle. If this is not the case, then do not leave the vehicle!

Remember also that many people’s livelihoods depend on wildlife in Kenya. Be considerate and respectful of this fact. Kind words, praise and a thankful attitude will go a long way towards showing them that their work is appreciated.

Giraffes Amboselli in Kenya

 

If you’re travelling to Kenya, then stay safe and give yourself peace of mind with a comprehensive travel insurance policy with Navigator Travel Insurance