COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Kenya is a developing east African country. Tourist facilities are widely available in Nairobi, on the coast, in the game parks and reserves.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport and visa are required. Detailed entry information (and departure tax information) may be obtained from the Embassy of Kenya, 2249 R Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 387-6101, or the Kenyan Consulates General in Los Angeles and New York City.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Kenya is in a political transition period, from a single-party democracy to a multi-party democracy. From time to time, political or ethnic tensions associated with this transition increase - resulting in localized areas of civil disorder. Although the December 1997 elections were generally peaceful, political meetings, demonstrations, and strikes, which can sometimes be violent, are likely to continue. There was also an outbreak of ethnic violence in early 1998 in parts of the Rift Valley Districts of Laikipia and Nakuru. For these reasons, Americans who plan to visit Kenya are urged to take basic security precautions to maximize their safety. Travelers should follow the print and electronic media to keep abreast of where and when any political rallies and demonstrations are likely to occur, and of the potential for confrontation. Rally and demonstration sites should be avoided.

Kenya has not traditionally been a target for international terrorists. On August 7, 1998, however, terrorists bombed the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, killing some 250 people and injuring many more in and around the Embassy. The U.S. Embassy has relocated after the blast to a different, temporary location. Although it has yet to resume all the functions the Embassy performed prior to the terrorist attack, it continues to provide emergency consular assistance to U.S. citizens.

Medical Facilities: Adequate medical services are available in Nairobi. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health care services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the U.S. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for the payment of medical services outside the U.S. Supplemental insurance with specific overseas coverage, including provisions for air evacuation, has proven useful. Outbreaks of Rift Valley Fever, cholera, and malaria have occurred in Kenya. Information on these and other health- related matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at 1-888-232-3228, the CDC autofax at 1-888-232-3299, or via the Internet at

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: There is a high rate of street crime against tourists in downtown Nairobi, Mombasa and at coastal beach resorts. During periods when police are occupied with civil unrest related to political tensions, there may be an increase in street crime and banditry. Reports of attacks against tourists by groups of two or more armed assailants continue; pickpockets and thieves also carry out "snatch and run" crimes near crowds. Visitors have found it safer not to carry valuables, but rather to store them in hotel safety deposit boxes or safe rooms.

There have been reports of thieves snatching jewelry and other objects from open vehicle windows while motorists are either stopped at traffic lights or in heavy traffic. Armed carjackings are common in Nairobi, with some ten vehicles stolen by armed robbers each day. There is also a high incidence of residential break-ins. Thieves and con artists have been known to impersonate hotel employees, police officers or government officials. Tourists who accept candy, biscuits, or juice from new acquaintances on intercity buses have been robbed after being drugged by ingesting these foods which have been laced with sedatives.

Highway banditry is common in much of North Eastern Province, significant portions of Eastern Province, and the northern part of Rift Valley Province--areas that are remote and largely unpopulated. Such incidents also occur occasionally on the Nairobi- Mombasa Road, particularly after dark. Air travel is the safest means of transportation when visiting any of the coastal resorts north of Malindi. Walking alone or at night in public parks, along footpaths or beaches and in poorly lit areas can be dangerous.

The Kenyan mail system can be unreliable, and monetary instruments (credit cards, checks, etc.) are frequently stolen. International couriers such as Federal Express or DHL have proven to be the safest means of shipping envelopes and packages.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The pamphlets "A Safe Trip Abroad " and "Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa" provide useful information on protecting personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available at the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page,, and from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Road Safety: Excessive speed, unpredictable local driving habits, and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards on Kenyan roads. In addition, vehicle travel outside major cities at night should be avoided due to the poor condition of the roads and the threat of banditry. Severe storms and heavy rains have led to extensive flooding and critical damage to roads and bridges, making travel and communications difficult in many parts of the country. Some roads are impassable. Travelers are urged to consult with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi and local officials regarding road conditions.

Service of Regional Airlines: Due to general safety concerns regarding African Airlines, a private airline company flying between Nairobi and destinations in Africa and the Middle East, the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi recommends that its personnel not use this carrier.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Kenya, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Kenya's civil aviation authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Kenyan air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Pentagon at (703) 697-7288.

CURRENCY REGULATIONS: Up to 100,000 Kenyan shillings may be taken out of the country. Destruction of Kenyan currency, even in small amounts, is illegal, and almost always results in arrest and a fine.

Game Park Security: In response to increased banditry and incidents of robbery in or near many of Kenyas national parks and game reserves, the Kenya Wildlife Service and police have taken some steps to strengthen security in the affected areas. Banditry does still occur in and around the parks. Travelers who do not use the services of reputable travel firms or knowledgeable guides or drivers are especially at risk. Safaris are best undertaken with a minimum of two vehicles so that there is a backup in case of mechanical failure or other emergency. Solo camping is always risky.

DRUG PENALTIES: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced. The penalty for possession of illegal drugs, including marijuana, is 10 years imprisonment, with no option of fine. The penalty for purchasing or selling illegal drugs, including marijuana, is 20 years imprisonment, with no option of fine.

Other Information: Local tap water is not potable. Sealed bottled water is safe to drink and can be purchased in local hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores. Travel via passenger train in Kenya is unsafe, particularly during the rainy seasons. The trains and tracks lack routine maintenance and safety checks.

Kenya telephone and telegraph has discontinued its collect call facility. 1-800 numbers cannot be accessed from Kenya. Use of international long-distance calling cards is very limited in Kenya. International long-distance costs from Kenya are higher than corresponding long-distance rates in the United States. Several local companies offer computer Internet access, including on an hourly rate basis. Many hotels have facsimile machines but often limit their access to guests; some facsimile services are also available at office supply shops. Travelers are urged to consider their method of maintaining contact with family and friends when making their pre-travel preparations.

Registration/Embassy Location: The Embassy is located at the USAID Building, The Crescent, Nairobi, Kenya. The telephone number is (254-2) 751-613.

Consular services are available at a separate site located at Peponi and Spring Valley Roads in Nairobi. The telephone number is (254-2) 580-742.

U.S. citizens visiting or resident in Kenya are encouraged to register with the Embassy and may fax biographic information, passport data, and itinerary to (254-2) 743-204, 749-590, or 749-892. Only emergency consular services are available at this time. The Embassy is currently attempting to determine when routine services can be resumed. In the event of an after-hours emergency, the Embassy duty officer may be contacted at (254-2) 751-871.

The Embassy's international mailing address is P.O. Box 30137 Nairobi, Kenya. Mail using U.S. domestic postage may be addressed to Box 21A, Unit 64100, APO AE 09831.

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