Gamewatchers Safaris
SECURITY UPDATE: MOMBASA

May 16th 2014
 
To all our travel partners: 
 
Dear friends,
 
Following recent developments, we would like to update you on the present situation so that you may inform and reassure any clients who are concerned.


As you will have heard, the British government has changed its travel advice for Kenya and for the present time is recommending avoiding non-essential travel to Mombasa island and an area between Mtwapa, north of Mombasa and Tiwi, south of Mombasa.

Many people think "Mombasa" refers to all the beach resorts on Kenya's coast but this is incorrect. 


To clarify:
1. Mombasa is actually an island (as can be seen in the attached map) and is the commercial centre, port and city. It is not a beach resort.
2. The beach resorts of Bamburi, Nyali, Diani etc. are not in Mombasa but are on the mainland.


The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office advisory covers the area from Mtwapa to Tiwi (see map below) and this includes the beach resorts of Shanzu, Bamburi and Nyali to the North as well as Likoni and Tiwi to the south where a number of the leading beach resorts are located. 

 

Diani and Galu on the south coast are not affected and visitors continue staying at all the hotels there as usual.  The airfield of Ukunda near Diani, which we use for Pinewood Village and the beach resorts along Diani beach, is also not included in the non-essential travel advisory. 

 

The following beach areas to the north of Mombasa are also not affected:

North of Mombasa to Lamu:
Kikambala
Kilifi
Watamu

Malindi 

Che Shale
Mambrui

Lamu

Manda 

 

The main Mombasa Airport (Moi International) is not affected and flights continue to operate there as normal. 

 

As a result of the British government advice against non-essential travel to Mombasa and its environs, the large British tour operators using charter flights to Mombasa have had to stop operating holidays to the affected beach resorts listed in the new Travel Advisory and consequently have had to cancel all their charter flights between now and October as the bulk of their passenger bookings were to those resorts. Their last flight was yesterday and all their customers on holiday in Kenya and booked on their charter flights were obliged to come back on that flight and to curtail their holidays regardless of whether or not they were staying in the areas affected by the non-essential travel advice. However all other international airlines continue operating their scheduled flights as normal to Nairobi and Mombasa.

 

The present British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice against non-essential travel can be summarised as follows:

           

            Avoid all non-essential travel to the following:

 

            * Areas within 60km of the Kenya-Somali border

            * Kiwayu and coastal areas north of Pate Island

            * Garissa District

            * The Eastleigh area of Nairobi

            * Low income areas of Nairobi, including all township or slum areas

            * Mombasa island and within 5km of the coast from Mtwapa creek in the north down to and                    including Tiwi in the south (this area does not include Diani or Moi international airport)

 

The change to the British Travel Advisory on Kenya comes about following recent incidents of small home-made explosive devices being set off in Mombasa and Nairobi by the Al Shabaab terrorist organisation resulting in a number of deaths and injuries to our fellow Kenyans.

 

These attacks have taken place at remote towns near the border with Somalia or in the slums of Mombasa and Nairobi at public bus terminals, at bars or eating-places in low income housing areas, on public buses heading out of Nairobi coming from one of the big bus terminals, and with the latest today in a crowded market place near the Eastleigh area of Nairobi. They have all been relatively small-scale apart from eight months ago when there was an attack by a number of terrorists at a crowded shopping mall in Nairobi which received wide international media coverage. 

 

These incidents have been tragic for those Kenyans who were killed or suffered injuries and for their families and friends but no foreign tourist visitors were affected and these incidents happened mainly in areas where tourists normally do not venture. They tend to be places where there is a less effective security presence unlike the airports or international hotels where enhanced security has been in place for some time. Such incidents have never affected any of the areas where we operate safaris in Kenya's well-known wildlife parks and game reserves. 

 

As we live in Kenya and go about our normal daily lives in Nairobi we are well placed to ensure the safety of all our customers. We have been operating here for over twenty-five years, and every year we look after thousands of visitors, whose safety is our absolute priority. We had already taken action to see that our customers are not at risk and these actions include the following: 

  

            * We keep abreast of the security situation on a 24 hour basis and monitor the advice of the foreign embassies based in Kenya (and indeed in the past, several have sought my personal advice as in recent years I was the Chairman of the Kenya Tourism Federation and Chairman of the Kenya Tourist Board and have interacted with the embassies of the US, UK, Canada, France, Netherlands and others regarding security issues).

 

            * In accordance with the advice of the security agencies, including the British FCO, we totally avoid any areas subject to travel warnings or non-essential travel advisories. (See UK FCO map below and I can confirm that we do not go anywhere near the area shown in orange and, apart from Lamu which is currently considered safe to visit, we do not go within 200kms of the border with Somalia).

 

            * We meet our guests on arrival at the international airport and transfer them to Nairobi hotels which are in safe locations. We recommend that guests do not wander off on their own trips in Nairobi or go into the back streets on foot but allow us to transport them so that they do not inadvertently head into an area which we would not consider to be entirely safe. Just as in parts of Europe or North America, where there may be areas of a city that are not considered ideal for visitors, we know which places to avoid in Nairobi. So we take care of our guests from the time of arrival until their final departure.


Kenyans are well known for being very friendly and welcoming and our visitors often remark to us that they felt extremely safe and well looked after while they were here.  For the reassurance of clients who may be anxious about staying in Nairobi we use hotels in safe locations, for example, the Eka Hotel which is convenient for the international airport on arrival and is south of Nairobi so clients do not actually need to go into the city at all. I attach a map showing the location of the Eka Hotel and the route (in grey) to Wilson Airport. We also recommend our own Nairobi Tented Camp which is located inside the Nairobi National Park and protected by the Kenya Wildlife Service. On safaris such as our Porini Wilderness Safari, guests are transferred by us down the Mombasa road and on to Porini Amboseli Camp after which they fly straight to  all the other camps, finally arriving back into Wilson Airport from where they will have a a transfer to the international airport. The Porini Camps and all the other safari camps and lodges which we use in Kenya are in areas considered safe for tourist visitors and have never been the targets of any terrorist acts.


I hope that this information will help you to reassure your customers that they will be well looked after while in Kenya and will be taken only to places considered safe but please let me know if you have any comments or need any further information. Of course, terrorism is a global threat and certainly not unique to Kenya alone and the aim of the terrorists is to cause anxiety and disruption to normal life wherever they can in the free world. 

 
All tourism facilities and services in Kenya continue to operate as normal without any disruption to our clients' itineraries and with all the international airlines operating into Kenya it is business as usual throughout the country. President Kenyatta has urged international visitors not to be deterred from coming on holiday to Kenya and not to allow terrorists to achieve their aim of damaging the country's economy by frightening people so that they fear to travel. 
 
I can confirm that all our clients in Nairobi, at the coast and on safari at the present time are enjoying themselves and that we continue to receive excellent comments from everyone at the end of their stays and I am confident that you will hear the same from your own customers once they return! 

We look forward to welcoming your clients to Kenya and will continue to monitor the situation carefully as our highest priority is the safety of all our guests.  
  

With best wishes   


 

Jake Grieves-Cook
Director
Gamewatchers Safaris

Tel: + 254 (020) 7123 129+ 254 (020) 7123 129 , 7121851, 7121242/3/4

 + 254 (0) 774136523/4/5, 774136519 

Mobile: +254 - (0) 722509200+254 - (0) 722509200 /735339209/702975922/3, 0733999015

Emergency contact - After Hours: +254 (0) 723979370+254 (0) 723979370 /733718904

Email: info@gamewatchers.co.ke