For starters, Better Me’s Volunteer Program is located in Kisumu, near the Ugandan border. Kisumu is one of the safest cities in Kenya, embedded in one of the safest regions of the country. Few mzungu’s (white people) find their way here, so expect to be asked many questions and even to be photographed at times. It is very safe to walk around town during daylight, however don’t try this at night. Women traveling alone should not have any difficulty, although you should look after yourself and don’t be too nice to the men, as they will think that you are interested in them ;).
Like in all African cities, some safety precautions are necessary. Do not flash around any fancy mobile phones, cameras, laptops or tablets. Pick-pocketing is fairly normal so take care of your belongings. In general, Kenyans are extremely friendly and they love meeting you! When taking a matatu (minivan that functions as public transport), expect to be asked many many questions. People are super interested in you and want to know where you come from! Again, mzungu’s are rare and many people find it exciting to meet you.
For example, we accidentally ended up at a very big party last week, organized by Tuskers! Tuskers is the biggest beer company in Kenya and they organized a huge party in Kisumu, with live music and barbecues. The atmosphere was good and the drinks were cheap, always good! We were the only mzungu’s though, and we got more attention than the famous artists on stage! People got really enthusiastic just to see us and we were photographed all the time. So, basically you can go anywhere, and Kenyan people love to meet you, but take precautions and look after yourselves.
When it comes to terrorism, it is not safe to go near the Somali border. The terrorist organization Al Shabaab is active here and it would be unwise to go to this area. However, this area is thousands of kilometers away from Kisumu, so don’t let this stop you from seeing this beautiful country! The majority of Kenya is safe to travel and the people are incredibly friendly. Safari parks such as the Maasai Mara, Nakuru, Hell’s gate or Tsavo are more than safe to visit and are stunningly beautiful!
Keep in mind that terrorism is a global phenomenon that is unfortunately spreading throughout all regions of the world; so put it into perspective. So, yes it is safe to travel to Kenya and it is an amazing country to visit, but use your good senses when it comes to safety and nothing will stop you from enjoying your stay!
Click here to learn more about our Volunteer Opportunities. See you in Kenya?! 🙂