East Africa Inquiry

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Mar 3rd, 2006, 11:09 AM
  #1
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East Africa Inquiry

I am considering an escorted safari to Kenya and Tanzania through a high-end safari company in July and would love some perspective from recent, experienced travellers to the region.

Specifically, I am interested in thoughts on the safety of Westerners in the region in light of the current Sate Dept warning against nonessential US travel to Kenya. Know that I've travelled extensively to other parts of the world and believe strongly in the philosphy that one would never see the world by living in fear of current world events, but also want to make a smart decision about travel to this area. I'd so appreciate any additional perspective anyone is willing to share.

Itinerary has us passing through Nairobi staying at the Norfolk Hotel briefly, then Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Bateleur, Mt Kenya Safari Club, Tortilis.

Many thanks.
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 11:28 AM
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sandi
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Sounds like a Micato itinerary.

There are lots of threads on this board about the State Dept warnings which are simply reissued from year-to-years. For that matter there are warnings for travel everywhere these days. Think of recent occurrences of late in places as Paris or London and it hasn't stopped people from visiting these destinations.

You're as safe in East Africa as in your home town.
 
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 12:11 PM
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Agree with everything sandi said. Type 'travel warning' in the search box above and you'll find many previous threads on this subject.

I've traveled to Kenya twice when the State Dept warnings have been in effect including once when there was an extra travel advisory issued on top of the regular warning during the referendum vote last November and felt very comfortable.
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 12:59 PM
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July is a great month for your itinerary. Conservative travel companies and tours are booking trips for Kenya and are filling up.

There is also an East Africa and world wide travel warning at this time.

I was there in 2004 with no problem except lost luggage. The overall atmosphere did not seem different from previous trips prior to the travel warning.

Any high end safari company will have your safety in mind, so that is added insurance.

Enjoy and post a report.
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 01:09 PM
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Travel warnings
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 01:15 PM
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Not to take it too casually, but you will be just fine.
If you live in a big city here in the States you will probably be statistically safer in Kenya

If you have traveled to other places, you know just to be smart and keep your eyes open.
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 01:24 PM
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To Sandi (and others who might have some info to offer on this): Regarding travel warnings and INSURANCE! Sorry to bring up the avian flu, but now as we are putting the finishing touches on our itinerary for February in Kenya and Tanzania, we are being bombarded left right and centre with dire warnings about future border closings and quarantines!What precautions can one take (if any) to avoid the nasty possibility of losing a very hefty sum of money? It is really difficult sometimes to stay focused and excited about our trip when we tune in to the media. You are right in that we should go on living but is there ANYTHING we can do to minimize financial risk?
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Mar 3rd, 2006, 04:40 PM
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Africa06:

I have been to Kenya nine times since the US instituted its travel advistories against Kenya. You are as safe from terrorism there as you are anywhere.

However, that said, the thing I think we all need to think about it that should any kind of emergency arise when we are in Kenya or Tanzania, don't expect a response such as you would at home (police, fire, etc.) Third World countries do not have the resourses to respond quickly and adequately (i.e. I would never stay in a high rise hotel - Nairobi doesn't have fire fighting equipment that could rescue people from high floors).

Add to this the fiasco of the Kenyan government this past year and you will understand. The government is a total disaster and a beehive of corruption. Many ministers have been forced to leave recently. The President gave Amboseli National Park to the Maasai, is giving hundreds of African wildlife to the Thai government and this week had their hooded goons arrest three members of the press and then vandalized the offices of the East African Standard stealing computers, starting fires of the newspapers there and in general threatening all the Kenyan press saying "if you live with rattle snakes, be prepared to be bitten". Kenya is indeed going through a very trying time. People are starving and the crooks running the government just don't give a damn.

However, I still love Kenya and will continue to go. I just returned home three weeks ago and am already planning my August trip. I would not let it stop me. Just be sure to take out Flying Doctors Insurance before you go (only $25.00). However, we do all need to think about these things -- it then makes us feel so lucky to be living where we are, and at the same time feeling sorry for the Kenyan people.
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Mar 4th, 2006, 04:48 AM
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sandi
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carolines -

I don't believe anyone can really answer your concerns. And I don't mean to be cavalier about what is going on in the world today - whether it's travel warnings, advisories or "avian flu" - but to the latter, turn off the TV! Not that I do, but seems no one knows what's what when it comes to this particular situation.

There have been no cases of human to human transfer, rather cases of those who have close contact with infected birds. To me it sounds more like "freighten the public" whether disease or terror.

Consider Lyme disease, initially only in Lyme Connecticut, now found everywhere in the States. Consider West Nile Virus that jumped a plane and found it's way into NYC... they cautioned people, did spraying; most people were safe, those with delicate immune systems not so... West Nile has now spread, but when was the last time you heard anything about this one. Or Hanta virus found in the Four Corners of the Southwest a few years ago. Think of how many people, world-wide, die of flu every year... certainly more than avian flu. If the scientific and medical communities can't assure us one way or another............

Does anyone know what will be between now and a year from now? We all know that staying at home can be just as dangerous - only you can decide!

If you decide to continue with your plans, of course, insure your trip as it is an investment. Evaluate the various policies and what they cover and best for your situation as regards pre-existing medical, default, travel advisories, etc. Then go about planning for your trip.
 
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Mar 4th, 2006, 06:46 AM
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Carolines,

Seems you are more concerned about the effects of bird flu on transportation and your ability to get around than contracting the disease itself. I assume the bombarding is not from these sources, but media, friends, etc.

If you have insurance, ask the provider about disruptions due to bird flu (or other factors). Ask your travel agent/operator too. Maybe I've not been as atuned to the warnings and ramifications of bird flu as I should, but I have not seen wide spread border closings or transportation disruptions.

During a safari or any trip, there are things that can crop up that require itinerary and route adjustments. Most reliable operators would be able to accommodate these and still provide a great trip. I've had to change accommodations and have been re-routed several times for various reasons, not only in Africa. Not a big deal. I'm not trying to minimize the devastating effect of bird flu on those affected, just predicting it will not impede international travel or your trip.

Putting my $ where my predictions are, I have both Asian and African trips planned and partially paid for in the next year.


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Mar 4th, 2006, 11:06 AM
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I agree....I always feel safe in East Africa, and I always want to return.

Then again.....I always spend all of my time in the bush. Maybe I feel safer with wild animals than humans . You've got me thinking now......
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Mar 4th, 2006, 01:08 PM
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Hello,

The trip interruption section in many travel insurance policies does cover quarantines and related problems. Read through the fine print and see if this is the case for yours. If not, you may want to purchase separate trip interruption coverage.

I'm a doctor who is also an asthmatic (and thus particularly prone to respiratory infections) and I've spoken to my colleagues in infectious diseases and tropical medicine about bird flu, and it hasn't affected my plans to travel, though I think I'll avoid markets where lots of poultry are sold and slaughtered and local minibus taxis full of chickens and other livestock (which I would have done anyhow -- not really my travelling style ).

I'm going to Egypt in about two weeks, and there have been incidents of bird flu in Cairo, so like Lynn I'm putting my money where my mouth is. I'm also booked to go to Botswana and South Africa in June/July 2006, and am looking at Kenya for September 2006.

Cheers,
Julian
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Mar 7th, 2006, 07:05 AM
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Thank-you everyone for your thoughts and while it's true one can't predict the future I really appreciate your support! Indeed several co-workers here at the University have been posting the latest news on the bird flu front and it's difficult to stay optimistic sometimes! We have consulted with our agent and he is looking into insurance caveats etc. Sandi, it was interesting that you reminded us of the other illnesses going around that have not resulted in mass epidemics...and then there's SARS, for one , that did fizzle out...
Thanks for the tip about staying in highrise hotels. Just when you think you've read every guidebook tip...! My husband and I have travelled independently to other third world countries, in Asia and south-east Asia, but had never felt the concern we do now over this latest pandemic threat - and the possible devastation it could do to the African population and the birds and mammals there. We'll
hope for the best. So, fingers crossed -and Africa bound!
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Mar 7th, 2006, 08:12 AM
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Hello Africa06,
Having just returned from E. Africa - Tanzania with stop overs in Nairobi and I can attest that I've probably never felt safer and more taken care of than on any previous trips I've ever taken.

As others said, you will be mostly in tourist areas and carted around by your tour companies who seem to have the inside scoop on current areas of concern.

By a happy accident (air snag), we ended up staying at a downtown Nairobi Hilton for a half day. Rather than staying in the claustrophobic room, we decided to wander about in the very urban and sophisticated Nairobi (nice surprise). No one seemed to give us a second glance. We also stayed 1 night in Karen, Nairobi which is also a very peaceful looking suberb of Nairobi. Again, most people seem to be just going about their own business.

As for the contracting the flu from eating contaminated chicken, I've got to say that for some reason the only food that the Africans seem to cook to oblivion is chicken - don't know why. If any virus could thrive though that cooking process, no man shall be exempt from getting the virus as it would have to be the strongest virus known to mankind.

Rule #1: Ask for scientific proof to alarmests with dire predictions - interestingly, they usually can't produce any data.

Enjoy your trip!
Sherry
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Mar 7th, 2006, 09:16 AM
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Been there twice in the last year including during the infamous "orange or banana" vote last November - it is very safe. Just be a prudent traveler, be polite, don't go into questionable areas and ask if you have a question. Kenya and Tanzania are lovely countries and most of the people are very gentle, kind and gracious. I head back there April 5th and can't wait!
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Mar 7th, 2006, 09:48 AM
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carolines,

You wrote "several co-workers here at the University have been posting the latest news on the bird flu front"

To help put your mind at ease, knowing the motivation of your co-workers may be helpful.

Are these co-workers researchers in medicine and corresponding with colleagues through postings?

Are they in charge of travel for university staff and discouraging visits to any suspect areas?

Do these postings go to everyone or just to those planning personal trips?

Are they truly concerned for your well being or a bit jealous?

Just wondering.
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Mar 9th, 2006, 01:50 PM
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Carolines,

http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/condi...flu/index.html

Bird flu is coming here! What are those colleagues saying now?

I think you better seek refuge in Africa.
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Mar 11th, 2006, 07:44 AM
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Atravelynn,

Thanks for that latest thought! These particular colleagues appear to be completely obsessed with this pandemic thing (they access numerous blogs, I'm told) and in fact have stockpiled food, etc. for several months, apparently. I don't think it's a personal attack on me - but it's really disheartening sometimes! These are intelligent people in the Science field - though not medical - and I honestly think they will be disappointed if the flu fizzles out! We've decided to live life and take out lots of insurance. Our biggest fear right now is for the African population relying on poultry for their protein source, and for the wildlife of course.
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Mar 11th, 2006, 12:10 PM
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Carolines,

Your scientist colleagues do indeed sound obsessed. I hope they can turn their obsession into a solution for those affected, while your travel plans out of the equation.
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Mar 11th, 2006, 02:38 PM
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Sounds like the scientists also have lots of "duck"-tape stockpiled!
 
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