what to do about US Travel warning?

Oct 29th, 2003, 11:10 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 38
what to do about US Travel warning?

I am getting some bigtime grief from my parents about a trip i am planning In January to Kenya & Tanzania.
I have never traveled anywhere with a Travel warning before.
I called the US state deptment & they said that this level of warning means if there is a problem the US Gov. will not be responsible to help you. Not that I was ever counting on any help.
at this point I have not even told my girlfriend about the hightened alert.
I would like the opinions of some seasoned travelers
wishuwerhere is offline  
Oct 29th, 2003, 01:11 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 592

As you know, no-one can assure you with 100% certainty that you will be safe anywhere in the world today.

That said, I have just returned from Kenya this month. I am an older woman who traveled alone and I felt very comfortable and safe my entire trip. I was also there in January following the bombing at the hotel north of Mombasa.

There are steps you can take to be relatively sure you can be safe. First is to book with a reputable tour company and heed their advice. You can book with a company here or in Kenya. They will take excellent care of you.

When in Nairobi or Mombasa don't leave your hotel alone. If you want to go shopping or sightseeing your tour company can arrange a ride for you. There are muggings and robberies in the city, so you do need to be careful there.

Once you get away from the city and into the parks you will feel very safe from any threat, terrorist or otherwise. You will have to be careful of the animals, walk on the designated paths and follow instructions given by your tour, lodge or tented camp hosts.

It would also be wise not to carry a lot of money with you. Most hotels and lodges have safety deposit boxes in which you can deposit your valuables, including your passport for safe keeping.

I am sure other Fodorites will respond to your question. Many of us have traveled during this "travel warning" period and none of us had any problems at all.

If you think it would help have your parents write me and I'll be glad to tell them my experience. ([email protected]).

Good luck. I know you will love Kenya and Tanzania, and January is a good time to go weather-wise.

JanGoss is offline  
Oct 29th, 2003, 07:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 723
When we went to Kenya and Tanzania last year, it was during the time that the US was proposing the resolution on military action in Iraq. The travel warning following the events of Sept. 11 had been reinstated, etc. We discussed between ourselves if we should postpone the trip or just go ahead and go ... happily, we chose the later. At no time did we feel threatened or our security at risk. And once we were in the bush, we were completely ignorant of happenings elsewhere in the world. Ignorance is bliss ... I would simply remind you that terrorism can happen nowadays anywhere in the world. Whether it be Asia, South or Central America, or, as we have seen, on US soil. Just be a knowledgable and alert traveler.
SusanLynne is offline  
Nov 1st, 2003, 03:21 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,751
Is it correct that in Nairobi you cannot leave your hotel alone? What about Mombasa? I had friends last year who travelled to East Africa plus Zambia and S.A and loathed the trip because also in Lusaka the hotel concierge insisted they could not walk outside of the hotel even for a stroll, although I trust my friend's judgement I have an up-coming business trip to Nairobi, is it 'that' bad? Tks
JamesA is offline  
Nov 1st, 2003, 06:51 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
As long as you are going on safari and not staying in the cities, you should be fine.

I was in Zimbabwe, less than a week after President Mugabe's "re-election", and while there was some tension in the town, once I was at Matetsi Water Lodge, 40 miles outside of town, there were no problems whatsoever. This was during a U.S. State Department's warning for Americans not to visit Zimbabwe.

Stay out of the major cities as much as possible and you should be fine. I have yet to see a terrorist bomb a game reserve! (Probably scared of the lions and elephants that will be encountered along the way)
Roccco is offline  
Nov 1st, 2003, 08:56 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 592

I won't say it is never possible to go out on your own in Nairobi or Mombasa. In some areas you may be fine. I would certainly heed the advice of your hotel employees as they know what areas to stay away from. Being a male, you have a distinct advantage and are less likely to be "hit" upon.

As a woman traveling alone I have only twice walked from my hotel. At the Nairobi Safari Club I asked about walking to the City Market during the day. I was told not to take a purse or wallet, to take off my rings and inexpensive Timex watch and only carry a small amount of money in my pocket which I could afford to lose. While at the Nairobi Serena I was advised not to go anywhere alone.

On my two most recent trips I stayed at the Landmark, now the Jacaranda again, in Westlands and I did walk across the street to the Sarit Shopping Center to do some shopping and I felt safe during the day.

Since President Kibaki took over last January things are slowly improving in Nairobi. They have taken most of the "street children" and put them in camps to give them vocational training. Plus you see far fewer beggars now.

Please just rely on the advice of your concierge and you will be safe.

JanGoss is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2003, 12:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,751
I have been booked into the Serena, are there shops close by, what about walking in town during the day? I heard from my friends that night-life is 'zero', I don't mind touristy things just don't want to be totally bored. Was thinking about a couple of days in Mombasa, not interested in beaches as I get enough of that in Asia, more into interesting sites etc
JamesA is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2003, 02:36 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 592

If you are not a beach person I would definitely try to get a two night stay at Satao Camp in Tsavo East. It is a tented camp which is a two hour drive from Mombasa. I have stayed there on all four of my trips and love it. Tsavo is a huge park, not many travelers and depending on whether or not there has been recent rain, you might see a lot of all kids of animals. Satao Camp has a borehole (piped water to the waterhole) so there is always water there for the animals. If the season is still dry, you will see hundreds of elephants getting their water there. Unfortunately once the rains have come, the animals tend to leave the park and feed outside until the food source gets scarce and the natural waterholes dry up. It really is a fantastic place. You can book directly with Torben Rune at www.southerncrosssafaris.com.

If you get a note from SwiftMombasa (a Kenya ISP) stating they have deleted your email just resend it. Kenya is having a problem with email. Either Torben or Joseph Chomba can arrange things nicely for you.

You won't regret it.

JanGoss is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2003, 02:57 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,751
I was thinking of that but when I have seen the costs of a Safari place I have fallen off my chair ! Is there anything 'cheap', I am certainly not looking to back-pack it at all but whenever I see prices they are all like $200+ a night or something crazy.
JamesA is offline  
Nov 4th, 2003, 04:52 PM
Posts: n/a
James -

I certainly don't know the prices of all the safari lodges/camps in Kenya, but unlike Asia, the price includes your three meals, and safari drives and guides - it's not a place where you backpack on your own. And as a single person you might be hit with the single supplement - but $200 seems reasonable. In some instances prices might even include your transfer? But can't confirm that. You'd have to get from NBO to the national park, whether Tsavo as Jan mentioned or Amboseli or Samburu or the Mara, etc.

As to walking in NBO - though not recommended, many do with the cautions listed - no jewelry, credit cards, take only little cash (or local currency), etc.

While no night life in NBO, one can go by taxi to the Carnivore for dinner or lunch, or sundowners on the terrace at the Norfolk Hotel. However, we found outselves so exhausted at the end of the day and usually had an early following morning - we weren't likely to see 10pm.

We were in Asia last year and the prices don't compare for some activities and services - it's a different environment in Africa, but one not to be missed. Anymore than one can compare London to Paris, can one Thailand (and the like) to Africa. Go for it, it won't disappoint.
Nov 4th, 2003, 05:04 PM
Posts: n/a
Wishuwerhere -

As I've mentioned in previous posts, we travelled to Kenya and Tanzania two-months after the Embassy bombings in '98 and though my travel partner for that trip (a gal friend) wanted to cancel, convinced her not to and we had a wonderful and perfectly safe trip.

And I again was on my way to SA, a few months after 9/11 and we loved every minute of our time in Southern African countries and felt perfectly safe.

Travel warnings are just that and they are listed by our "nervous" country to more places than one could think of. Again, I say, unless the bombs are falling or war breaks out in any country - I'm out of here and on my way. The tour operators are very much aware of the situation and yes, tourism has been off in many countries, but then again Americans are the biggest "wooses" (sp) - so these operators go out of the way to advise and protect their clients/guests to their countries and are very aware of your concerns.

And when did any of us ever listen to what our parents said - and as adults we should be making our own decisions. So many on this board - various ages, sexes, backgrounds and own experiences continue to travel - we can't all be wrong. And I won't bore you with the stories of those who chose to cancel travel to Africa (and elsewhere) because of warnings and are sorry they did.

But in the end you have to use your own good judgement.

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