Has the turmoil in Kenya affected your travel there?

Jan 10th, 2008, 04:47 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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Barefootbeach, I doubt that AAC could get any kind of refund from the Kenyan companies at this late date, so you would lose your money if you canceled. It's not AAC's place to "eat" your costs if you cancel because you are nervous about going. I think they are just trying to help you out so that you don't lose your money and so that you can have a great safari. There have been no problems in the tourist areas of Kenya, so far, so the Kenyan companies would have no reason to refund you. Is this your first trip to Africa? As I said previously, the thought of traveling there can be intimidating until you've done it for a while.

As for the travel advisory to Kenya, I think there has been one in place for almost 10 years, about which Kenya regularly complains.
ShayTay is offline  
Jan 10th, 2008, 05:05 PM
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OK, Tom, you got a deal. I'll report on the lens but not a trip report! How's that work for ya?! I'm terrible with trip reports, as most of you know by now!

Wasn't it you who did a mobile with Kibo? I'm doing 5 nights with them in the Serengeti. Who were the guides you recommended?
divewop is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 05:57 AM
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Topping for today; thanks everybody for posting your thoughts. I'll follow up with something later.
Katie_H is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 07:11 AM
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I just received this email this morning from my contact at the Governor's Camps in Kenya. Thought you guys might be interested.

"...All seems to be calming down in Kenya now - and despite many cancellations, the bookings are still coming in, which is great. Majority of the Kenyans deplore the violence that has taken place. And whilst the incidents were localized, were contained by the security forces, and are no-where near our areas of operation the whole situation has been totally distressing. Like you I hate conflict - and it's all the more horrid when it happens in your home country! We are all hoping for a swift and peaceful resolution so that Kenya can recover well from all of these disturbances......"

So those of you traveling to the camps in and around the Mara should have some peace of mind now.

I'll post this as well on the updates from the ground thread.
divewop is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 07:40 AM
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Hi Divewop,

I've had some great guides with Kibo:

Allen Mnyenye, who also oversaw the building of some of the Tanganyika properties like the Farmhouse, Marmaboi Camp, and Lake Burungi Camp. Allen is a great guide in terms of teaching you about all aspects of Tanzania, great spotting capabilities, and has been to the US, so he has an understanding of Americans.

Peter Njau, who was our lead guide in June. He was always looking for ways to make our visit special, such as taking us to a Maasai village that hadn't had visitors before. He had been talking to the head man for a couple of months and chose our group for that first visit. We spent over three hours there, which included an hour long Q&A session with the women of the village.

Godliving Limo, who was our second guide in June. He's a delightful young man who would also be a great guide for you if Allen or Peter is booked.
ShayTay is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 10:38 AM
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You asked where I am, not in Africa is the answer. Tauck cancelled on Wed morning, we were leaving Thursday evening. First time I unpacked a suitcase and ALL the clothes were clean.

Spent the day yesterday cancelling arrangements. Everyone waived their fees except Air Kenya. They charged $50 for a short, cheap flight from Nairobi to Arusha. I emailed them to complain, we'll see what happens. Although either Tauck or Berkeley travel insurance will pick up that fee anyway, it's the principle of it being charged that bothers me.

Advice to anyone planning a major trip, take out travel insurance, the kind where you can cancel for any reason. Yes, it is expensive but it's worth it.

Jess, what's happening with Micato?
ICASH is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 10:45 AM
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I'm back to wondering if I'll be able to go to Kenya in February as the opposition party has called for 3 days of protests next week.

That's not a good sign of things to come.

rosetravels is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 11:34 AM
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We still plan to go this summer. I hope everything has calmed down by then! If not, then things really are bad.
lbodem is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 12:34 PM
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I am decidedly not a nervous traveler, but I would view with skepticism the statement that things are calming down, esp. coming form people who stand to lose money from cancellations. Of course people decry the violence, we all do. But that's not to say you won't have problems. It's just that nobody knows right now. I've been carefully reading reports from the big newspapers, and things are very iffy right now. The negotiators have left the country, and new waves of rioting threaten to break out.
Whether to go is a very personal decision. But I can understand people not wanting to be put in harm's way on their expensive holiday. The situation shouldn't be sugar-coated by people in the business.
LAleslie is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 12:50 PM
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Kofi Annan is supposed to arrive next week to mediate between Kibaki and Odingo. We'll see how that goes. Odingo has called for rallies before, then cancelled them.

As for "sugarcoating" reports, there could be some of that, but the situation is different for tourists than for locals. If you live in Kibera, yes, you have to be on your guard. That was true even before the elections. If you're a tourist in the Masai Mara, you're not in danger. That's what the people in Kenya are trying to communicate.
ShayTay is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 01:24 PM
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I didn't mean to give a negative impression of Africa Adventure Company...yes, I wish they would've changed countries for us, but I do understand that they've already paid their operators over there and would be out of the money. They have been very diligent in calling and assuring us their contacts indicate that all should go well. I have to trust their judgement, because they are a very reputable company, and yes, I'm a first-timer to Africa who prior to this was merely worried about being devoured by a lion as I slept (altho I read one explanation for why they don't enter the tents is that they don't have any hands/fingers to open the zipper!)
Given that, I still think there's a good chance for the violence to escalate out of control, especially in Nairobi. It feels like we're voluntarily going into a war zone, from all the international news reports...it's certainly not just the US media...and I'm as far from being a soldier as possible!
If old tribal tensions have been smoldering for years, who says that even some reconciliation regarding the elections will dampen their appetite for violence...although I did love the report that the looters returned stolen goods in Mombassa because of a witchcraft curse. Plus, how can retaliation by the family and friends of those hacked/burned to death not take place? Anyway...we're going and hopefully we'll return to write a trip report.
Thanks so much for the guide/driver recommendation. We'll go easy on him. How did you request him ahead of time...through their website or through your tour arranger?
barefootbeach is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 01:29 PM
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No doubt, I can understand people's hesitation, especially the newbies who have never traveled there before.

I have to disagree with the statement that the camps and lodges would sugarcoat the unrest because of cancellations and how it would affect their business.

My friends who have lived in Kenya for years and run camps wouldn't purposely sugarcoat anything or make anything sound better than it is, jeopardizing the lives of tourists for the almighty dollar. I know them too well. The collateral damage from "sugarcoating" would do more harm than good in the long run.

People will make their own decision on whether or not to go. I'm just trying to tell the other side of the story by sharing what my friends and acquaintances over there are telling me.

I'm probably not going to report in even if I do have access to a computer, because nothing I can say will change anyone's mind. Those who still want to go, will go. Those who won't, won't.
divewop is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 01:31 PM
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Our Kenya trip leaving 19th Jan has been changed to Tanzania. Hopefully the others in our small group will agree to the change.

I mentioned on the other thread about waiting for an email from a young Kenyan man (friend of a friend) living in Nairobi. He works in the tourism industry. Here is what he wrote to me yesterday (Jan 10th):


It is true that the western media has done what they are good at, paint the wrong image, or exagarate some of the stories and manupulate them to imply what they want. The killings were real but now calm has returned in most of places.

Not all countries have issued travel warnings. Canada happens to be one of those, but this does not mean its all calm.

Mayfair holiday Inn, is safe given its located in City Center and next to Israel Embassy, even in normal times, its always guarded heavly..So Mayfair takes advantage for its location.

Going by land to Mount Kenya will be safe to my knowldge. Given its Kikuyu area dominated.

Road to Nakuru, many people are telling me is not safe yet, for example many vihicles are escorted by the police or miltary..Not a good touristic mood..

The way to Samburu too will not be advisable. Also, one can advise that Eldorel where most of people have died is some hours from Nakuru! Flying to Massai Mara will be safe.

Yes, the tention is everywhere, but some areas are more sensitive than others, mostly outside Nairobi.

Personal Opinion: Part of my business in East Africa and South Africa region is to design and find holidays for my clients from differents parts of the World. At a situation like this, I advised all my clients to postponed their holidays till at least there is a political solution to the crisis. Others were able to divert other safaris in neighboring countries, eg Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. But those are few...This is to reduce the security risk..

Many flights coming into Kenya are empty, and those leaving fully booked. Those were some of the indicators that made me conclude that Its better to forgo money. The two politicians have not met yet, we dont know if they are meeting on Friday yet. There are many mediators here, including former heads of States in Africa. But we dont know what will happen.

While I understand the excitment you have to travel to a new destination for holiday and having planned it ahead, it maybe advisable to consider all kinds of situations that may happen. Therefore, I will point out for your some questions to debate as you take a decision:

1. Given that there is no political dialogue or agreement, What if riots errupt again while you are here? Near or far from where you will be enjoying your holiday? How will that make you feel?

2. There is a humaniterian Crisis in different parts of the country, are you ready to read these in the newspapers and expose your mind to this kind of suffering while you are on holiday? Since you suggest it maybe viewed as being selfish. Its about you, few here will care and if they did they will not make contact with you...

3. Are you in a position to come and ignore all that is going on?Just do the headline but switch off and focus on your holiday and your photography?

4. How many people are you travelling with and are they aware of this situation and can be comfortable to predict how they would be affected if the situation creates a higher tention? Are there children in the group and how will you protect their innocent opinion so that you dont have to explain the complexity of the situation and ensure their sheltered hearts are not affected?

5. Are you able to postponed your travels or what is the tour company advise? Or what will be the cost if you re-schedule?

I hope my comments, advise and questions are clear and can lead you to a solution or just e-mail back any more questions you may have?

I hope this is helpful...

Take care.
mydogspud is offline  
Jan 11th, 2008, 03:53 PM
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Thanks for clarifying. I hope you have a wonderful trip with no complications.
I agree any sugarcoating does more harm than good in the long run. But I retain my healthy dose of skepticism because as a retired journalist I know how the tourism machine tends to work. We used to chuckle in the newsroom after a tsunami, earthquake, hurricane or reports of poltical unrest in any given place, because like clockwork in a matter of days, sometimes hours, we'd get urgent press releases from countries and their agents saying "Everything's fine. Come on down!" We knew from our reporters on the scene it wasn't true. So I'd just have a tendency to be skeptical of the machine, not the people on the ground in one particular place. And many in the business panic at a time like this, particularly the newer ones, who don't, or can't afford to,think of long-term consequnces.
And I would guess the majority of tourists ARE newbies. I think a report would be VERY useful in helping people make up their minds. The more information from people on the ground the better.
First your source takes the predictable course and blames the media, then says, essentially, it's all true! But it's a very helpful memo with specifics on places to avoid and questions to ask yourself before you commit to going.
The planes are empty going in, full going out. Maybe I'll book a last minute trip!
LAleslie is offline  
Jan 12th, 2008, 08:56 AM
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Has anyone heard whether Abecrombie & Kent has cancelled their tours?
barefootbeach is offline  
Jan 12th, 2008, 03:34 PM
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I spoke with A&K and Micato yesterday and they both said that none of their tours have been cancelled. I have a tour booked to Egypt then Kenya departing 1/29 through Afican Travel. Although they have not cancelled their tours to Kenya, they offered a full refund or a full credit to rebook for another time or location. We elected to rebook the Kenya portion to Tanzania despite the fact we still must connect in Nairobi to Arusha. I can't say enough nice things about African Travel as they have been very sensitive to our concerns. Our agent was Anais Chavez and she jumped through hoops to put something together to Tanzania at such a late date.
lovevizslas is offline  
Jan 12th, 2008, 03:49 PM
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Just got back from Kenya yesterday. Wanted to quickly inform everyone on my thoughts - I was in Tsavo before results, Masai Mara after and spent a day at a hotel in Nairobi. The only change we made to our trip was to fly from the Serengeti to the Mara (thru Nairobi Wilson) instead of driving since our agency said you can't be sure what is happening along the roads as some patches had more tension than others. Personally, I felt very safe in the parks and at the hotel in Nairobi as tourists aren't the target of the rioting, etc. Happy to answer any question - but while watching CNN there wasn't good for my nerves, I never felt affected by what was happening and am very happy I didn't make any changes to our plans.
shothyme77 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2008, 05:55 AM
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Latest msg from my friend-of-a-friend in Nairobi:


Kindly, be advised that the oppostion just announced that there will be riots from Tuesday when they open parliement, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday! This maybe be violent and bloody in different parts of the country...We are not sure of the situation anymore...

mydogspud is offline  
Jan 13th, 2008, 06:24 AM
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be advised that the oppostion just announced that there will be riots from Tuesday when they open parliement, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday! This maybe be violent and bloody

Thanks for the update Spud ... the timing could hardly be better as it corresponds precisely with our arrival in Nairobi and the beginnings of our all-drive safari to the hinterlands

If we have email over there at our camps I'll email updates to my Fodorite friend Janet, who will post them on a thread we'll get started before I leave.

Bill_H is offline  
Jan 13th, 2008, 08:12 AM
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Lucky for you that African Travel is recognizing the potential for violence and allowing you to change/cancel your itinerary in Kenya.
I have to say that I'm surprised by the lack of this customer responsiveness by the major US tour operators, given that so many other countries are accomodating clients' wish to avoid traveling in a powder-keg situation, not to forget a major huminatarian crisis. At the best, the quality of the camp experience must be less than promised with food/fuel and staff issues. Sure, you may have more one-on -one time with staff, but if they're only cooking for one or two couples, given the cancellations...how much effort are they going to put into this?
Will it take many more deaths from the expected riots next week to change their policies...or worse yet, not change them?
I imagine that those reading these posts and planning future safaris will pay close attention to those companies that were responsive to their clients, eg: Tauck and African Travel.
barefootbeach is offline  

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