Kenya

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Tuesday, 15 April 2014.   It contains new information under Safety and security (information of early April 2014 suggests that attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa could occur in the near future; further civil unrest and violence in Mombasa is likely following the killing of a Muslim cleric on 1 April 2014). In light of the current security environment, the level of advice for Nairobi and the Mombasa region has been increased. We now advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Nairobi and Mombasa region due to high threat of terrorist attack and high level of crime. We also continue to strongly advise Australians not to travel to border regions with Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan, because of the extremely dangerous security situation. Outside of these areas the overall level of advice remains at Exercise a high degree of caution.

Kenya overall

Nairobi and Mombasa region

Border regions with Somalia, South Sudan and Ethiopia

Isiolo, Moyale and the connecting A2 highway

Summary

  • Information of early April 2014 suggests that attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa could occur in the near future.
  • We advise Australians to minimise travel in Nairobi and the Mombasa region at this time. Kenyan authorities are at a high state of alert. Monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • We advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Nairobi and the Mombasa region due to the high threat of terrorist attack and the high level of crime.
  • Australians in Nairobi or the Mombasa region who hold concerns for their safety should consider leaving.
  • A series of terrorist incidents have occurred in the Mombasa region and Nairobi since December 2013. These include recent bombings in Nairobi that killed seven people, an attack on a church in Mombasa that killed five people, the discovery by authorities of a large quantity of explosives and weapons in Mombasa, an IED explosion at a restaurant at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, an attempted grenade attack on a vehicle carrying two British tourists near Mombasa, an explosion on a public bus in the Pangani area of Nairobi in which six people were killed and a grenade attack on a popular tourist restaurant/bar at Diani Beach (south of Mombasa) that injured ten people. See under Safety and security: Terrorism for details.
  • The terrorist assault on the Westgate Shopping Mall in the Westlands district of Nairobi in September 2013 resulted in a large number of deaths, including one Australian, and injuries. There have been a number of other violent armed terrorist attacks over recent years in Nairobi, Mombasa, Garissa and Wajir. These attacks have targeted a broad range of public places. The Westgate attack underscores the continued risk of large scale acts of terrorism in Kenya.
  • Kenyan authorities announced enhanced security measures across Kenya on 31 January 2014. These include enhanced security checks at all Kenyan airports. Local authorities have advised travellers to arrive one hour ahead of the normal time (i.e. at least three hours before scheduled flight times) to complete security formalities.
  • There is an ongoing very high threat of kidnap to Westerners, including residents, tourists, journalists and humanitarian workers. A number of Westerners were kidnapped in 2011 and 2012 in areas of Kenya close to the border with Somalia. See under Safety and security: Kidnapping for further information on recent kidnappings. For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.
  • Violent crime against Westerners, including armed carjacking and home invasions, occurs frequently in and around Nairobi. There have been a number of recent home invasions in Nairobi targeting the foreign community that have resulted in the deaths of householders, including an Australian citizen in November 2013. For further details see the Safety and security: Crime section.
  • Australians should be aware of particular risks in the Nairobi suburbs of Kibera, Mathare, Kasarani and Eastleigh. Three separate explosions in Eastleigh in late-March 2014 killed seven people. See under Safety and security for more information.
  • On 1 April 2014, a Muslim cleric was killed by gunmen in Mombasa, leading to unrest in the city. Further civil unrest and violence in Mombasa is likely over the coming days.
  • Protests in the form of matatu/taxi strikes caused major disruptions in Nairobi in March 2014 and may continue, with the potential for these to become violent.
  • We continue to advise Australians in Kenya to monitor media and avoid protests and political rallies as they may turn violent. See under Safety and security:Civil unrest/political tension for further information.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel to the border regions with Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia because of the extremely dangerous security situation. Along the border with Somalia, this area includes all of Mandera and Garissa Districts, Wajir and east of Wajir and the area north of Pate Island in Lamu District. Cross border violence occurs, including attacks by armed groups, kidnapping, armed banditry, and violent tribal and clan disputes.
  • We advise you not to travel to Isiolo and Moyale in Eastern district and along the A2 Highway connecting these two towns due to sporadic clashes that have caused a number of deaths and injuries. See under Safety and Security: Civil unrest/political tension for more information.
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Kenya for the most up-to-date information.

Kenya is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. If you are arriving from a country infected with yellow fever you will be required to present a valid yellow fever certificate to be allowed entry into Kenya.

As the quarantine requirements for yellow fever vaccination differ between countries, we recommend that you check the yellow fever entry requirements for all countries you intend to enter or transit by contacting their foreign missions in Australia. Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country. For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the Department of Health website.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Nairobi and Mombasa

We advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Nairobi and the Mombasa region due to the high threat of terrorist attack and the high level of crime.

Information of early April 2014 suggests that attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa could occur in the near future.

We advise Australians to avoid unnecessary travel in Nairobi and the Mombasa region at this time.

Australians in Nairobi or the Mombasa region who hold concerns for their safety should consider leaving.

You should evaluate your personal security situation, the continuing terrorist threats and public warnings of possible attacks. Should you choose to visit public places at this time we recommend that you exercise heightened vigilance and closely monitor the local media for information affecting your safety and security.

Ongoing high threat of terrorist attack:

A major terrorist attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall in the Westlands district of Nairobi on 21-24 September 2013 resulted in a large number of deaths, including one Australian, and injuries. Kenyan authorities have implemented heightened security arrangements at public places in response to the incident.

Several terrorist attacks have occurred in the months following the Westgate attack. Kenyan authorities are at a high state of alert and further attacks are likely.

Five people were killed in an armed attack on a church in Likoni, Mombasa on 23 March. While this attack did not target foreigners, tourists travelling from Mombasa airport to south coast resorts utilise a vehicular ferry which arrives at Likoni. You should monitor the local media for developments which could affect your safety.

We continue to receive regular reports that terrorists may be planning attacks against a range of targets in Kenya, including in Nairobi, and the surrounding region, and in Mombasa. On 17 March 2014, a large quantity of explosives and weapons was found in a car impounded by police in Mombasa. Media reports indicate Kenyan police are aware of further similar bombs in the area, and are pursuing these threats. Kenyan police have suggested that the likely targets of the bombs are heavily used buildings, including Mombasa Airport.

In planning your activities, you should avoid the kinds of places known to be terrorist targets.

Australians should be particularly vigilant in the lead-up to and during religious festivals, including Christmas, Easter and Ramadan, and days of national significance as militants have used such occasions to mount attacks.

Locations that may be subject to terrorist attack

Kenyan authorities have encouraged extra vigilance against possible terrorist attacks on public places. These attacks could occur at any time and could be directed against any locations known to be frequented by foreigners, including Australians. You could be caught up in attacks directed at others.

Attacks could be indiscriminate and target Kenyan institutions as well as places where expatriates and foreign travellers gather. You should take extra care in public places and at public events.

Possible terrorist targets frequented by Westerners include Western embassies, UN premises, hotels, airports, shopping areas, markets, bars, sports bars and nightclubs (including venues broadcasting international sporting events), restaurants and cafes, tourist resorts (including beach resorts and beaches particularly in the region surrounding Mombasa), safari lodges, international schools, churches and other places of worship, commercial airlines and other places frequented by foreigners.

Other possible targets include Kenyan Government buildings, transport hubs and infrastructure, and refugee camps near the Kenya-Somalia border where Western aid workers may be targeted.

Terrorist acts could include suicide bombings, kidnappings, roadside IED attacks, attacks on civil aviation and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports.

You should exercise particular vigilance if attending sporting events including football matches. You should also avoid public venues, such as sports bars, nightclubs and restaurants that broadcast sporting events, particularly international events, as well as public transportation to these events.

Recent terrorist attacks in Kenya include:

  • On 23 March 2014, five people were killed in an armed attack on a church in Likoni, Mombasa.
  • On 16 January 2014, an IED explosion occurred in a restaurant at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. There were no injuries.
  • On 2 January 2014, a grenade attack at a popular tourist restaurant/bar at Diani Beach (30 kilometres south of Mombasa) injured ten people.
  • On 14 December 2013, an explosion on a public bus in the Pangani area of Nairobi killed six people and injured a further 24.
  • On 12 December 2013, a grenade was thrown at a vehicle carrying two British tourists in Likoni, Mombasa. The grenade failed to explode.
  • On 21-24 September 2013, a major terrorist attack on the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi resulted in a large number of deaths and injuries. An Australian citizen was killed in the attack.
  • On 23 June 2013, a grenade attack on an internally displaced camp in Banisa, Mandera killed 15 people and injured a number of others.
  • On 9 June 2013, a grenade attack on church compounds in Mombasa and Eastleigh injured several people.
  • On 4 April 2013, an attack on a market in Garissa killed one and injured several others.
  • On 4 March 2013, attacks by armed youths on police stations and clashes with police in the Mombasa area killed at least 15 people, including a number of police officers.

Nairobi suburbs of Eastleigh, Kasarani, Kibera and Mathare: Australians in Nairobi should continue to reconsider their need to travel to the Nairobi suburbs of Kibera, Mathare, Kasarani and Eastleigh due to the threat of extremist attack, violent incidents and high crime levels. Exercise extreme caution if travelling in these areas.

On 31 March 2014 six people were killed in explosions in the Nairobi suburb of Eastleigh. On the previous day, a suspected terrorist was killed in a residential building in Eastleigh, when testing an explosive device.

Australian officials in Nairobi:

Due to heightened security concerns, staff at the Australian High Commission in Nairobi have been advised to exercise greater vigilance and security measures have been increased, particularly when travelling to Kenyan Government buildings and the CBD. We advise you to do the same.

Kidnapping

There is an ongoing very high threat of kidnap for Westerners in parts of Kenya that are close to the border with Somalia. For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.

Threats to humanitarian workers: You should be aware that humanitarian workers and journalists covering the humanitarian situation in border areas may be targeted for abduction by kidnappers. Armed groups from Somalia have previously kidnapped Westerners in Kenya working in a humanitarian capacity along the border with Somalia including in recent years.

  • On 29 June 2012, four foreign aid workers were kidnapped from the Dadaab refugee camp near the border with Somalia. A Kenyan national was reportedly killed in the attack. The aid workers were later freed in a rescue operation.
  • On 13 October 2011, two Spanish aid workers were kidnapped from the Dadaab refugee camp.
  • In July 2009, three aid workers in Kenya were kidnapped by Somali militants and taken into Somalia.

Threats to tourists and residents: Tourists and residents in coastal resorts and towns in eastern Kenya have also been kidnapped by armed groups based in Somalia in recent years. On 1 October 2011, a French national was attacked and kidnapped from her beachfront residence of Manda Island (adjacent to Lamu Island) by an armed group. She later died in captivity. On 11 September 2011, two British nationals were attacked at a resort in Kiwayu, north of Lamu: one was killed and the other was kidnapped and held in captivity for six months. Both attacks took place at beach front properties. Kenyan authorities launched a response in order to improve security in the area but in light of these attacks we strongly advise you not to travel to areas along the Kenyan coast north of Pate Island in Lamu District.

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should ensure you have personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance.

Border Regions: We strongly advise against all travel to Kenya’s border regions with Somalia, Ethiopia and South Sudan because of the extreme threat posed by kidnapping, terrorism and violent conflict. Along the border with Somalia, this area includes Mandera and Garissa Districts, Wajir and east of Wajir and the area north of Pate Island in Lamu District, including Kiwayu and Kiunga.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

Civil unrest/political tension

Risk of civil unrest in Kenya: International events and political developments may prompt large demonstrations in Kenya. You should monitor the media and other local information sources for details about curfews, political events and possible safety and security risks. You should avoid all political rallies and protests as they may quickly turn violent. Demonstrations over high food prices, controversial media and tax legislation have resulted in violence and arrests in the past. In the event of violence or civil unrest you should avoid all protests, monitor the media for information that could affect your safety and security and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Protests in the form of matatu/taxi strikes caused major disruptions in Nairobi on 5 March 2014 and may continue, with the potential for these to become violent.

There have been regular outbreaks of violence across Kenya in recent years, though these usually take place away from areas frequented by tourists. Riots and clashes have occurred regularly in Mombasa in particular, with riots in February 2014, March 2013 and August 2012. Further such events are likely. In 2012, serious incidents with multiple fatalities occurred in Tana River district in the Coast Province and Samburu district in the Rift Valley Province, where more than 40 Kenyan police were killed.

On 1 April 2014, a Muslim cleric was killed by gunmen in Mombasa, leading to unrest in the city. Further civil unrest and violence in Mombasa is likely over the coming days.

On 2 February 2014, two people were killed during violent clashes between a group of youths and police in the Majengo area of Mombasa. The violence occurred following a police raid on a mosque.

Other recent incidents include:

  • On 3 October 2013 a prominent Muslim cleric was shot by unknown gunmen in Mombasa.
  • On 30 March 2013, clashes in Kisumu following the Kenyan elections Supreme Court verdict killed two people and injured many more.
  • On 27 August 2012, a prominent Islamic cleric was killed by an unknown gunman in Mombasa. Ensuing riots resulted in burning of vehicles, looting and attacks on churches in Mombasa.
  • On 13 June 2010, a grenade attack on a political rally in Nairobi killed six people and injured over 100.

Isiolo, Moyale and the A2 Highway: We advise you not to travel to Isiolo and Moyale in Eastern district nor to travel along the A2 Highway connecting these two towns, due to sporadic clashes that have caused a number of deaths and injuries. Recent clashes have caused approximately 50 deaths, a large number of injuries and significant displacement of local populations. The A2 Highway between Isiolo and Moyale has also been closed by spontaneous protests. Residents have fired shots and thrown rocks at passing vehicles. Tourists have been injured in these attacks. If, despite our advice not to travel, you decide to visit these areas, you should exercise extreme caution.

Crime

The level of crime in Kenya is high. Due to the prevalence of street crime you should avoid walking after dark and remain vigilant at all times.
Crimes targeting the foreign community in Nairobi: In Nairobi, violent crime against Westerners, including armed carjacking, kidnapping for ransom and home invasions, occurs frequently and can be brazen and brutal. A number of recent home invasions in Nairobi targeting the foreign community have resulted in the death of householders, including an Australian citizen in November 2013. We strongly recommend Australians living in Kenya invest in robust personal security measures and regularly review their personal security arrangements. Anecdotal evidence suggests that foreigners are increasingly being targeted in homes, tourist areas and while travelling by road. A number of recent incidents have occurred at night where criminals lay in wait outside residential security gates. You should be particularly vigilant when waiting in a vehicle while gates are being opened.

Violent robbery, car-jacking and kidnapping throughout Kenya: The risk of armed banditry, violent robbery, carjacking and kidnapping has increased in recent years. Crimes of this nature are common in Kenya's urban centres, coastal beach resorts, northern Kenya (including the North East Province), the northern parts of Eastern, Coastal and Rift Valley Provinces and north of Malindi. If you travel to remote areas or border regions, you could be the target of attacks or kidnappings. The incidence of crime generally rises during the holiday periods.

Other crimes; Muggings and armed robberies are common, though victims are generally not harmed if they don't resist. Jewellery and bag-snatching from open vehicle windows frequently occur while motorists are either stopped at traffic lights or in heavy traffic. You should also avoid displaying expensive items that can readily be stolen, including jewellery and watches, when travelling or in public. When driving, you should ensure that windows are up, doors are locked and valuables are out of sight.

Due to the very high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.

Scams, whereby criminals try to extort money from travellers using fake police, hotel and government identification, are common. You should always ask to see identification in order to establish bona fides.

In Nairobi, confrontations between police and criminal suspects occur regularly. Bystanders have been wounded or killed as result of indiscriminate gunfire in crowded areas. We advise you to remain vigilant at all times.

National parks and game reserves: There have been several attacks on Australian and other Western tourists on safaris in national parks and game reserves, including the Masai Mara. Police and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) have increased security in the affected areas. You should take care with personal security when visiting parks and game reserves.

Visitors to the Ngong Forest Reserve and Ngong Hills should get an armed escort from the KWS because of the risk of robbery. The Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO) can provide advice on reputable travel firms and guides.

North, north-eastern and western Kenya: Banditry, cattle rustling and ethnic clashes have caused sporadic violence in north and north-eastern Kenya and in the Mount Elgon region of western Kenya. Australians could inadvertently be caught up in violence directed at others. We advise you to seek advice from the police and travel in convoys or with police escorts if visiting these regions.

Borders with Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia: We strongly advise you not to travel to the border regions with Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia because of the extremely dangerous security situation. Localised incidents of violence, such as armed banditry, violent cattle rustling and counter raids, are common along the Kenya-Ethiopia border and Kenya-South Sudan border.

Borders with Uganda and Tanzania: There have been reports of banditry and robbery at unauthorised border crossing points on the borders with Uganda and Tanzania and along the road from Nairobi to the Tanzania border crossing.

Australians in other parts of Kenya: Australians in other parts of Kenya should exercise a high degree of caution in Kenya at this time due to the high risk of terrorist attack, kidnapping and high crime levels. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.

ATMs that accept international cards are widely available in Nairobi and major towns. Australian currency is not accepted in Kenya. Travellers’ cheques are accepted at large banks and foreign exchanges, though are not widely accepted in hotels.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Australians are required to pay an additional fee to have their passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

Airport security arrangements: Enhanced security checks are in place at Kenyan airports. Local authorities have advised travellers to arrive one hour ahead of the normal time ( i.e. at least three hours before scheduled flight times) to complete security formalities.

Driving in Kenya is dangerous due to poor road conditions, poorly maintained vehicles and insufficient street lighting. Australians travelling by road should verify local security conditions beforehand. Travel at night on major highways in and out of Nairobi and on rural roads is not recommended and should be avoided. Travel at night to and from Nairobi’s international airports (JKIA and Wilson) should only be undertaken with a reputable tour or taxi company.

We recommend that in Kenya you only use radio taxis and only from official taxi stands or via callout.

Bus terminals and other gathering areas for public and private transport have been the target of terrorist and criminal attacks on a number of occasions in recent years. They remain vulnerable to attack and you should exercise particular caution in such locations. Public transport (primarily buses and minivans – known locally as ‘matutus’) is dangerous as driving standards are poor and roads and vehicles are inadequately maintained.

For further advice, see our road travel page.

Passenger trains are considered to be unsafe, especially during the rainy season. Train services are also unreliable. Theft is common on trains and there have been cases where passengers’ belongings have been taken from their compartments.

The safety standards you might expect of transport and tour operators, including adventure activities such as scuba diving, are not always met. Sufficient safety equipment may not be provided and recommended maintenance standards and safety precautions may not be observed. You should only use reputable tour operators and check that safety measures are in place.

Piracy

Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of Kenya. To the immediate north of Kenya's waters, attacks by pirates against all forms of shipping around Somalia's waters and the Gulf of Aden are increasing in frequency. Somali pirates using motherships have attacked shipping further than 1,000 nautical miles (1,850 kilometres) from the coast of Somalia. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports on its website. See also our piracy bulletin for more information.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Kenya, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Some homosexual activity is illegal in Kenya and penalties may include imprisonment. Homosexual activity is frowned upon by some members of the community, and may lead to harassment by the public and/or police. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Penalties for drug offences can be severe and include lengthy jail terms.

Travellers are not allowed to work in Kenya, even in a volunteer capacity, without a valid work permit. Offenders may be fined, deported or jailed.

Destroying Kenyan currency of any denomination is against the law.

Smoking in public places is banned. Offenders caught smoking outside designated smoking areas face a substantial fine and/or jail for up to six months.

It is illegal to take photographs of some official buildings. If in doubt, seek advice from an official before taking any photos.

Distributing religious material in public without a licence is illegal.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australian overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Kenya, particularly in coastal and rural areas. You should take care not to offend.

During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.

Information for dual nationals

The new constitution on Kenya recognises dual nationality but this portion of the law has not yet been fully enacted. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Kenyan dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of medical facilities throughout Kenya varies. Medical facilities are adequate in urban areas, but may be extremely limited elsewhere. Public and private facilities will require either an up-front deposit for services, a guarantee of payment or confirmation of medical insurance before commencing treatment. In remote areas, air evacuation to a major city is sometimes the only option for medical emergencies. Costs for such an evacuation can exceed $A10,000.

Kenya is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is preventable by vaccination. We strongly recommend that you are vaccinated against yellow fever before travelling to Kenya. See the Entry and Exit section for important information about vaccination certificate requirements. For more information about yellow fever, see the Department of Health website.

Malaria is endemic throughout the year in Kenya, except in Nairobi and at altitudes above 2500m. Other insect-borne diseases (including dengue fever, Rift Valley fever, filariasis and African sleeping sickness (Trypanosomiasis)) also occur. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria, and to take measures to avoid insect bites, including using an insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing, and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof, including with treated mosquito nets.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including cholera, hepatitis, meningococcal, measles and tuberculosis) are also prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Outbreaks of polio have occurred in Kenya within the last 12 months. All travellers to polio infected countries should ensure they have completed a primary course of polio vaccinations and also need a booster dose prior to travel. If you are unsure of your polio vaccination status, check with your doctor or travel clinic, at least 6-8 weeks before you depart.

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Kenya is very high. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection. You can find out more information from the Department of Health.

A decompression chamber is located at the Kenyan Naval Base in Mombasa.

Where to get help

In Kenya, you can obtain consular assistance from the:

Australian High Commission

Riverside Drive (400 metres off Chiromo Road),
Nairobi KENYA
Telephone: (254 20) 427 7100
Facsimile: (254 20) 427 7139
Website: http://www.kenya.highcommission.gov.au/

If you are travelling to Kenya, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

There are two rainy seasons, from October to November and from March to June, when flash flooding and mudslides are common. Roads may be impassable during these times.

Northern and eastern Kenya are currently experiencing a severe drought. There may be disruption to essential services and delays should be expected when travelling in these areas.

Kenya is subject to earthquakes. It lies on a fault line and tremors occur infrequently. Volcanic and seismic activity can also occur near Mt Elgon, on the Kenya-Uganda border.

All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure.

Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, pay attention to warnings issued and follow the advice of local authorities.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.