Is It Safe to Travel to Nairobi?

Residential area/slums of Nairboi

Andrii Chagovets

There are many things that draw travelers to visit Nairobi, Kenya, from the host of exhilarating safari game drives to cultural activities and sites like the Karen Blixen Museum to the array of shopping districts. However, there are safety risks that you have to consider before jetting off to Nairobi. Unfortunately, the city does not have the best reputation when it comes to crime and safety and due to a lack of resources, police and emergency services may have difficulty responding to incidents. 

Visitors should be careful in certain neighborhoods such as Kibera and Eastleigh, especially in the evenings, due to a higher risk of crime and petty thief. While many have enjoyed trips to Nairobi without incident, it is advisable stay informed and prepared. Read on to learn more about safety precautions you should take and be aware of in order to have your time go as smoothly as possible.

Travel Advisories

  • There is a Level 2 Travel Advisory from the U.S. Department of State for all of Kenya due to crime, terroism, health issues, and kidnapping.
  • The United States advises travelers to avoid the Nairobi neighborhoods of Eastleigh and Kibera due to the risk of violent crime and kidnapping. It is noted that local police may lack the proper resources to respond to serious crimes effectively and timely.
  • The United States has also noted that terrorist attacks have occurred in Kenya with little to no warning targeting both Kenyan and foreign government facilities, transportation locations, hotels, resorts, tourist attractions, and places of worship.
  • In addition to Eastleigh and Kibera, the Canadian government also advises its citizens to avoid traveling to the Pangani neighborhood in Nairobi.

Is Nairobi Dangerous?

As the capital of Kenya, Nairobi draws many people from around the world as a tourist destination. While the city is developing at a rapid rate, there is no denying the incidence of petty crimes is an issue in the city. Many tourists who visit do not bear any issues. Nevertheless, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and the fact that certain areas can be considerably dangerous such as Kibera.

Certain crimes have a higher risk than others such as muggings, carjackings, and possibly armed robberies. It is strongly advised to keep a guide with you and to follow the instructions by your guides, drivers, and any hotel staff that are able to be of assistance during your trip. Avoid venturing out in the evenings alone to lower the risk of becoming a victim of a dangerous crime as the above mentioned.

Is Nairobi Safe for Solo Travelers?

Traveling solo in Nairobi is relatively safe for most people. It is best to move about with a guide if it is within your budget to do so. Due to the capital city being an up-and-coming destination and hub for business travelers, solo travel is becoming more common. It’s a good idea though that you don’t move about alone at night and stick to well-populated areas while venturing out. Additionally, always consider moving about by taxi over using public transportation where you might get lost.

Is Nairobi Safe for Female Travelers?

In general, it is safe to travel to Nairobi as a woman either solo or in groups. However, it is advisable to not walk around in the evenings, especially in beach settings, as it can be dangerous for any traveler. While overall, locals tend to be quite accommodating and helpful, though as in any big city, sexual assault is still a risk for women traveling alone.

Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers

Homosexual acts were outlawed in Kenya during the colonial British rule and post-independence, those laws still persist. Nevertheless, same-sex couples can move about freely in Nairobi, as long as they are discreet and avoid public displays of affection. Unfortunately, homophobia is a huge risk that one may encounter during travels to Nairobi, so it’s important to stay well aware of your surroundings as crimes have occurred such as harassment and kidnapping. Many LGBTQ+ people have traveled safely to the city, as there are even tour operators who cater to LGBTQ+ travelers interested in visiting Nairobi and other parts of Kenya.

Safety Tips for BIPOC Travelers

Nairobi is a pretty safe place for BIPOC travelers. Regrettably, colorism does exist in Kenya, and across the globe, where lighter skin is believed to be better, and thus lighter-skinned travelers may receive preferential treatment or services in some cases. However, overall extreme cases of abuse or discrimination are rare in Nairobi as tourists from varying backgrounds are equally desired and welcomed to contribute to the local economy.

Safety Tips for Travelers

Here are some general tips for anyone traveling to Nairobi:

  • Make sure that you are using a taxi that is registered such as Yellow Cab Nairobi and that you do not accept rides from strangers.
  • Avoid walking the streets at night solo and stick with a group if you can.
  • Ensure that you convert your money inside a reputable bank and not with strangers.
  • Nairobi has strict smoking rules in most places, so ensure that you are aware of places with designated smoking areas inside and outside of the facilities.
  • Before traveling to Nairobi, visit your doctor to get a prescription for malaria pills if you are planning to spend great amounts of time outdoors.
  • Avoid high risk areas for danger such as Kibera unless you are moving about with a trusted guide.
  • Plan out your outings around town based on rush hour traffic. If you must travel during rush hour between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., then plan your travel times accordingly.
  • Be aware of tourist scams such as unregistered tour guides and thieves dressed as police officers.
Article Sources
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  1. U.S. Department of State. "Kenya Travel Advisory." October 19, 2020.

  2. Government of Canada. "Kenya." February25 , 2021

  3. National Public Radio. "Kenya's Judges Uphold Laws That Criminalize Gay Sex." May 24, 2019