Dangers & Annoyances

The strong warrior traditions of northern Kenya’s nomadic people have led to security problems plaguing the region for years. With an influx of cheap guns from conflict zones surrounding Kenya, minor conflicts stemming from grazing rights and cattle rustling (formerly settled by compensation rather than violence) have quickly escalated into ongoing gun battles that the authorities struggle to contain.

While travellers, who rarely witness any intertribal conflict, may consider the issue exaggerated, the scale of the problem is enormous and growing. Over the past decade hundreds of Kenyans are thought to have been killed and tens of thousands displaced by intertribal conflicts. Fortunately, security on the main routes in the north, and anywhere a tourist is likely to be, is generally good. The road from Marsabit to Moyale – previously a banditry hotspot – is no longer a jutted gravel road and banditry incidents have dropped dramatically.

The remote northeastern region around Garsen, Wajir and Mandera is still unstable and you should avoid travelling there due to continuing conflicts. Likewise, a full-scale Kenyan military invasion of Somalia and renewed fighting in the region is a strong reason to stay well clear (the border is also closed).

Improvements or not, security in northern Kenya is a fluid entity. Travellers should seek local advice about the latest developments before visiting and never take unnecessary risks.