You do not need to be afraid to go on safari. When CNN described Kenya in 2015 as a "hotbed of terrorism", it drew attention to some crazy myths that must be prevalent to prevent travelers from reaching Kenya. I want to dwell on some of these myths to help ease your mind and feel confident in trying out the list of bulldozers you've always wanted. This will not be a marketing game. I live in Kenya until I know good and bad and ugly and I will share it with all of you.
Myth 1: Kenya is full of terrorists
CNN's description of Kenya is strange to say the least. Kenya has suffered several terrorist incidents during 2013 and 2014, the most prominent of which was the attack on Westgate Shopping Center. Most of the activities were much smaller – grenades were thrown at bus stops, churches, and nightclubs. Two major attacks occurred in April 2015 at Garissa University and in January 2019 at the DusitD2 complex. It is reported that Al-Shabab, a group linked to Al-Qaeda from Somalia, is the main perpetrators.
Unfortunately today, terrorism occurs everywhere and anywhere. In the past five years, we have witnessed attacks in Paris, Sydney, Brussels and Istanbul. But travelers are still flocking to these places.
50 million people live every day in Kenya, so your chance is very good because you will come out alive. Kenyans want peace as much as the next person. Moreover, the parts of Kenya that you hesitate as a traveler are not terrorist targets – there have been no attacks on any national parks or game reserves yet. There is a terrorist threat near the Somali border and in parts of Nairobi.
The current Australian travel advice is that only some areas are dangerous and not the whole country. Dangerous areas do not receive much attention for medium safari trips.
Myth 2: Nairobi is "nai burglary"
A decade ago, burglary, armed robbery, and theft were relatively common in Nairobi, as the city gained the nickname "nai burglary". But one mayor has done a lot of work with street children and now Nairobi is as safe (or as perilous) as any other big city in the world. Expatarrivals.com says the crime in Nairobi is "opportunistic, uncomplicated and comparable to other capitals of the world." The crime rate has decreased every year since 2012 according to Standard Digital.
I lived in Nairobi five years ago and have not been subjected to physical attacks at all. One evening, my phone was hijacked – but I was walking downtown in the evening alone and talking on my phone; it was completely my fault. However, everyone who saw the thief chased him and recovered my phone! The Nairobi themselves are tired of crime in their city, especially towards foreigners because they do not want travelers to have a bad experience in Kenya
Myth 3: Corruption is widespread and foreigners are targeted because they think they have more money
I cannot say that corruption is not widespread. It is, but as a tourist, you are unlikely to encounter it. If you book a full safari, there will be no chance for the police or any other official to ask for a bribe. Tourists are rarely targeted. Foreigners are not an easy target because we tend to ask many questions and do not always understand what is really happening. It is not our practice to slide some money into the door handle of a traffic policeman for example. Expats who participate in corruption mean that crime continues unpunished and Kenya's development remains frustrating. The phrase "when in Rome …" should not apply to bribery and corruption.
President Kenyatta says the right things about cleansing corruption in Kenya, but it will take a major shift. However, it is definitely no reason to avoid the Kenyan safari!
Myth 4: Tour operators are dishonest and will lose your money if you pay in advance
Yes, there are some bag companies, but in this Internet age, you can definitely do due care and avoid being cheated. There are a lot of review sites online and many allow you to contact reviewers directly to inquire about their experience. Use Trip Advisor, search, and check rates.
The tourism industry has suffered greatly over the past decade (due to the myths I write about here!) And tour operators have been desperate to sell. But if the garden fees are included in your package, check that the total price can cover those fees. For example, it is $ 80 for a 24-hour ticket to Maasai Mara. So if you are booking a two-night safari to Maasai Mara for $ 200, you can do some simple math and calculate that $ 160 is the park fee, leaving only $ 40 for transportation, accommodation, and food. Garden fees are general information so you can do some rough calculations. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is! Either the operator pays bribes at the garden gate, or your car has not been serviced, or your food will be substandard. Or you can get three! Please, this does not help Kenya fight corruption to encourage tour operators to pay bribes at the gate so you can get to the park cheaply.
The Kenya Association of Tour Operators and the Kenyan Ministry of Tourism are also working hard to implement measures to reduce fraud.
Thrilling media is destroying Kenya's main industry and the economy is suffering as a result. So, if an African safari is on your bulldozer list, find the headlines and see Kenya on the amazing country that already exists.