Nairobi update

Jan 18th, 2008, 07:05 AM
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Nairobi update

This is the email I just got from the Nairobi based tour operator we're using:

All mass section was called off today by the opposition leader, we also know that the president has appointed a committee to talk to the opposition.

I do believe that we are on the mend and that all be OK. Norok is the closest town to the Masai Mara but it is still over 150 Km away (apprx 93miles). We have not had any details about this killing and it could be sadly that it was a street boy that was in the wrong place. All our clients fly anyway and being on Safari at present is great.

I fully appreciate your concerns especially after myself seeing what they are saying and showing on BBC, Sky and CNN. Please believe me that it is not at all that bad. We have political demonstrations on Wednesday and Thursday and today they were called off by the opposition leader. However before that we had had a very calm week and infact everybody is back at work. It is only a few 100 people that are actually demonstrating and they are all paid Thugs and Jobless youths. If you look carefully at the TV footage you will notice that their are no women, middle aged men or men in suits or children.

Police in Nairobi had to intervene to disperse the few and on TV it looks like masses it is not. I went shopping Yesterday with my wife to purchase two new bathroom fittings and the shop was actually full of people buying tiles and fittings. Today I went across town to a meeting and it was back to the usual Nairobi traffic jams. This would not be the case if the worry was that it was the end of Kenya. Kenya is safe and tourists are certainly not the target for these demonstrations. I live hear I have a family with two small children and quite frankly I would not live anywhere else.

The Travel Advisory we find is very unfair to Kenya and the travel advisories are actually never fair to anybody. Just written by a bunch of bureaucrats justifying there jobs. The UK Advisories mentions a whole list off things that have happened in Kenya over the last 10 years and then it says that last year Kenya had 280,000 Brits visiting and the incidents were - 4 muggings and 5 car accident injuries. Frankly this makes Kenya the safest country in the word to go on holiday.

We have clients out on Safari at present, we had Clients on Safari during the worst moments of the demonstrations, right after the elections, and nobody noticed and everybody had a great time.

We have had some rain this week and it is looking great. Trust me if we felt that it was unsafe we would be telling you not to travel.

We look forward to having you on Safari and your itinerary is great, with the little rain that we are getting this week you will see a very beautiful and green country.

barefootbeach is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 07:39 AM
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This is the most self-serving, unobjective piece of drivel I have read, but I wouldn't expect anything else from a Nairobi-based tour operator. That's not to say that I would not visit Kenya at this time, but I wouldn't base my decision on this unbiased, financially motivated statement.

They must have laughed when they wrote this: "Frankly this makes Kenya the safest country in the word to go on holiday."

thit_cho is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 08:08 AM
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While I'm sure that the poster has financial interests in bringing back tourists, I appreciate their view of what's actually happening in Nairobi. I have no reason to believe that it's any different that what they are reporting, and is similar to what other eyewitnesses have said.
ShayTay is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 08:18 AM
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barefootbeach or anyone else,

Have people cancelled their bookings to the Masai Mara?
HariS is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 08:54 AM
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I was in the Mara last week and while the lodge was quite empty given the large amounts of cancellations, we had the most amazing time and saw the most incredible things and felt entirely safe in the park. Everyone needs to do what they feel comfortable with, but I was very nervous and ended up having a fabulous time.
shothyme77 is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 01:12 PM
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It might sound self-serving, but a recent posting by Shane (Going_2_Africa) just reported his experience as being similar. On safari with his mom, flying to Samburu, then driving to Lake Nakuru and Sweetwater's and flight to/from the Masai Mara and Amboseli. Roads were fine, flights on time, shopping at malls in Nairobi, sightseeing for his mom...hakuna matata (no problems).

Camps/lodges almost empty, yes. Many Europeans especially have been cancelling as their govts said "no can go." The US, only has issued the Travel Alert, which is, surprisingly, a step-down from their "every six-month-Travel Warning."

My friend whose husband is Masai, living in Narok, advises they do have problems getting petrol for vehicles and cooking, but the Masai don't have a dog in this fight. His brothers, one working in Amboseli and another in the Mara, said all was fine, but for the empty rooms/tents... so unfortunate.

sandi is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 01:29 PM
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I appreciate all the postings from people on the ground. It's hard to see all the pain that the Kenyans are going through; I'm concerned about the kids that I sponsor in Kibera. However, from a tourist's standpoint, things are working well and that's good to hear. If we don't support Kenya's tourism industry, it will affect not only the people working in the business at all levels, but also the wildlife. News reports today pointed out the a collapse of the Kenya tourism industry would cause a collapse of their entire economy. Anyone ready for a $10 million Kenyan shilling note!?
ShayTay is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 03:23 PM
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Kenya may, in fact, be safe -- I have no firsthand information upon which to form an opinion, one way or the other. The point I was trying to make was the extremely one-sided and biased posts, such as these, are of very little help, especially when filled with hyperbole that Kenya is the world's safest travel destination. Even at its safest, I would hardly list Kenya (or any African country, or the US for that matter) as the world's safest destination.

I much prefer the ground reports from travelers (who have much less of an interest) than from the Nairobi based tour operator.

That being said, I would visit Kenya tomorrow based on what I've read in the worldwide press.

thit_cho is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 04:25 PM
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The "safest country to visit" comment was about the ratio of adverse incidents to visits: 9 to 280,000. I read it as a bit of a "tongue in cheek" comment, whether it was meant that way, or not. When we visit places like Kenya or Botswana, we are in a sort of "bubble", traveling to our tourist lodges and camps within wildlife areas. In one way, that's bad, separating us from getting to know the people and their everyday lives. Right now in Kenya, that bubble doesn't seem so bad.
ShayTay is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 05:24 PM
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Actually, travelling to Kenya right now is a great idea. Think about this - very quiet in terms of crowds, no surrounding the lions with pop up cars, great gameviewing in the Mara as always and pretty safe as long as you fly from Wilson airport to the Mara?
HariS is offline  
Jan 19th, 2008, 03:45 AM
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Sorry to be such an alarmist, but the following article from the UK Telegraph, (Google Alerts), plays into my worst fears about going. However, this did occur right after the elections. I also posted this on a different thread.

On the spot: a lucky escape in Kenya
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 19/01/2008
Clare Mann and her family have a narrow escape in troubled Kenya.

It was meant to be a sun-drenched, relaxing break. My husband, three children and I arrived in Zanzibar on Boxing Day for a few days before heading to the Rift Valley for a safari. Zanzibar was gorgeous and the hotel was fine. But within 48 hours my daughter, Georgia, became violently ill.

We left on December 30 to take her to hospital in Nairobi. By then, she was confined to a wheelchair and dosed up to ease her vomiting and diarrhoea for a few hours. But this was only the start of our problems.

Although aware of the protests surrounding the Kenya elections, we were advised that it was safe to travel. But we soon realised the seriousness of the situation. The Nairobi hospital was a no-go zone, full of machete and rape victims. So we headed south to Gilgil with a nervous driver, listening to disturbing radio reports as edgy crowds lined the roads.

advertisementMy husband, Edward, was also vomiting by now and Alexander was to follow.

At Gilgil it was announced that Mwai Kibaki had been sworn in as president. Hysterical crowds rocked our vehicle and banged the roof. We were terrified.

When finally we arrived at our destination, we were relocated to a lovely ranch further down the valley. The staff could not have been more helpful and Edward and Alexander were quick to recover. We went on excursions to Naivasha and Nakuru, two market towns in the Rift Valley. In Nakuru, we discovered that massacres had taken place the night before - crowds of men were standing around and the mood was tense.

On the final day, we set off in a clapped-out Range Rover with two African drivers for a day's safari in the Aberdare National Park. I was assured that people would be friendly and that we had plenty of petrol. We had seen on previous days how hard fuel was to come by. On the drive up, our car was stoned and fists shaken at us. But it was on the return that the situation deteriorated.

Despite the assurances, we ran out of petrol in a shanty town. Our car was mobbed outside a backstreet bar where our driver was attempting to buy a small can of very expensive petrol. The crowds were drunk, jeering and demanding money. Georgia had her head bowed as hands pawed at her through the window. They accused us of being American (and then, oddly, Russian) and we feared that our African drivers might run off. We insisted we were English, but our protests fell on deaf ears until someone said the magic words: "David Beckham." A cool-headed Alexander picked up on this: "David Beckham, Manchester United, Chelsea," he said, before listing all the African players he could think of. The tension was broken long enough for our driver to scramble back to the car. He managed to get it into reverse for the first time in three days, and we sped off with people still clinging to the vehicle.

We did not have enough petrol to get us back, so we were taken off-road on a "short cut". It was getting dark as we raced across bumpy, hillside passes. People shouted at us and threw stones but finally we made it back to the ranch.

With some difficulty, we chartered a tiny plane to return to Nairobi, but there was one more surprise in store - as we came into land so too did a private jet carrying US officials, and we had to abort our landing.

I love the country, warts and all, and we met some wonderful Kenyans. But what is happening there is all so sad. It is ironic to see all the schools desperately in need of teachers, when my eldest, Francis, was meant to be going out in April to help teach with a charity. Of course, that is cancelled.
barefootbeach is offline  

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