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  More about safety
Safety in the parks
The national parks of Kenya and Tanzania are guarded and patrolled by rangers from KWS and Tanapa. One of their tasks is protecting visitors.
Other types of parks, such as national reserves, game reserves and conservation areas, are not managed by the state and thus not guarded by KWS/Tanapa, but by rangers employed by local park authorities. This should be no problem for major parks, where visitors are many, but remote parks with few visitors may receive little funding, and protection of both wildlife and visitors may be poor.
Pictures not allowed
Avoid trouble by not taking pictures of police officers, military staff and sites, bridges, airports, communication systems etc.
Avoid offending people by not taking their picture without asking for permission.
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Safari glossary
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On safari:
Safety on safari
Compared to many African countries, Kenya and Tanzania are mainly stable and safe for tourists, and have generally been so since independence in the early 1960's.

The unrest in Kenya 2008
Events in Kenya in the beginning of 2008, when political-ethnical unrest following an election led to the death of more than a thousand people, indicate how fragile the political stability may be.

Both countries have multi-party systems, and transfers of power to new presidents have taken place in both countries during the last years, in accordance with constitutions. Blood has been shed during political demonstrations, though, and even if the political systems are maturing, they still have some way to go.

Corruption is still widespread, but usually not a problem or even experienced by tourists. Also HIV is widespread. The gap between the wealthy and the poor is vast.

For current safety information about East Africa, check with your embassy or foreign office.

Neighbouring countries
Some of Kenya's and Tanzania's neighbours have kept appearing in news reports for the last few years, because of internal conflicts or war. (During the last 30 years, most neighbours have had such problems.) Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia border Kenya, while the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi border Tanzania. Uganda borders both. Rwanda is mainly stable today, but there are still many refugees from the 1994 conflict living in Tanzania.

In the late 1970's, Tanzania fought a war with Uganda, after Uganda, led by its dictator Idi Amin, had occupied a province in north-western Tanzania. The Tanzanian forces took the province back, continued into Uganda and dethroned Amin.

Today, relations between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are good.

Most Kenyans and Tanzanians are friendly towards foreign visitors. Avoid problems by not offending people. For example, don't take pictures of people without asking for permission, don't call local staff 'boy' etc.

The police and military
Most safari-goers have no reason to see the police, and the police rarely bothers tourists. Should you need to deal with the police, we recommend that you bring local assistance. You may, for example, ask your tour operator for help. In serious matters, contact your local embassy or high commission. Corruption within the police force is not unknown.

The military is mainly involved with military matters and should cause you no problems, as long as you don't take pictures of staff or installations.

Thefts and robberies do happen to tourists, mainly in the cities and along the coast. Especially Nairobi has a bad reputation for crime, and is sometimes referred to as 'Nairobbery'.

You may evade such problems by playing safe. Don't move about in cities on your own, and always go by car or taxi after nightfall. Keep car windows and doors locked. Don't wear jewellery visibly, and don't carry valuables in bags. Don't leave valuables in your room, but deposit them in the reception.

In the parks, crime is not common. Thefts from rooms and tents may happen, even though we have not experienced it ourselves or in our groups, so don't leave money, cameras or other valuables there.

In the late 1990's, a number of highway robberies aimed at tourist vehicles took place in the area around Isiolo Town in Kenya, on the road to Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs National Reserves. The authorities took actions, and the robberies ceased. Similar robberies have taken place later in some areas in northern and north-eastern Kenya, and due to the general security conditions, travelling in convoy in such areas may be advisable.

Perfect driving conditions – good road and no traffic.

The traffic may be heavy in cities and major towns, but is much less so once outside these. Traffic still claims many lives in Kenya and Tanzania, proportionally much more than in for example Europe or America. A number of severe accidents involving busses have been reported during the last years. Road safety is impaired by poor driving skills, poor vehicles, poor roads, drunk driving etc.

The local tour operators that carry out most safaris in Kenya and Tanzania should operate pofessionally. You should not tolerate issues such as the above – poor driving skills, poor vehicles and drunk driving – from tour operators or their staff.

In 1998, terrorists simultaneously bombed the US embassies in Nairobi in Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. In 2002, a hotel in Mombasa in Kenya was bombed, the same day as a ground-to-air missile was fired at, but missed, an Israeli airliner taking off from the airport in Mombasa.

Dangerous animals
On most safaris, you approach the animals from within a vehicle, which is relatively safe. Few incidents resulting in injuries or casualties from animals happen. There are seriously dangerous animals in the parks, though. Elephants, hippos, buffalos, lions and crocodiles all claim many African lives every year. Avoid taking risks. Stay inside the vehicle, and don't venture into the bush on foot unless properly escorted. Do remember that the animals are wild. Act accordingly.

More about scary animals

Before travelling to East Africa, make sure to have the appropriate vaccinations. Talk to a doctor or clinic specialized in vaccinations. Biting mosquitoes may transfer malaria or yellow fever. Cholera and amoebas may be caught from drinking bad water, and other stomach problems from bad food. HIV is widespread, not only in the cities, but also in countryside areas, including the safari regions in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.

More about health

Volcanoes and earthquakes
The Great Rift Valley cuts straight through the safari regions in Kenya and Tanzania, and is an indicator of tectonic activity in the area; the rift is a result from tectonic plates drifting apart. During the last few million years, a number of volcanoes have come to life in East Africa, transformed the landscape, and subsequently gone extinct.

One volcano, Oldoinyo Lengai in northern Tanzania, is still active. During the second half of 2007, a number of earthquakes ranging up to 6 in strength were reported from the Oldoinyo Lengai area, and the volcano itself had unusually heavy eruptions. These have now subsided (October 2008).

The volcano is situated in a sparsely populated area, some 80 km/50 mi from Arusha and 180 km/110 mi from Nairobi. The quakes caused little damage, and did not affected tourism. The eruptions prevented safe climbing of the volcano and caused fallout (some reached the lodges on the Ngorongoro Crater rim).

Oldoinyo Lengai can be seen in the distance from the road between Ngorongoro and Serengeti, and on clear days, some smoke may be seen coming from the mountain.

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Page updated 27 April 2013