Is safari in Kenya safe for female travellers?
Annoying as it is, as a female traveller in Kenya there are extra questions you’ll want answered. It can be tough travelling as a woman, especially when the culture in your destination country is so different to home.
At Flash MC Tours, we do get asked questions about safari as a female traveller, either as a group of women or a woman on her own. We’re completely honest – Kenya isn’t perfect when it comes to safety issues or women’s rights. That can’t be changed overnight, although we do our small part with over 60% of our employees being women, and some training to be safari guides, too.
Whilst we wait for attitudes to shift towards equality for women, there are things you will want to know about your African safari adventure. In this blog, we’re going to answer some common questions about safety for women in Kenya, including:
- The safety of the capital, Nairobi
- Clothing for women tourists in Kenya
- Interactions with people in the countryside
- How you’ll be received as a woman in Kenya
- Other issues you should be aware of
How safe is Nairobi for female travellers?
Most times, your African safari trip will start and end in Nairobi. If this is your first trip to Kenya for safari, it could feel a little overwhelming with lots of noise, bustle, and traffic. No wonder, with 4.7 million people living in the city, and an estimated 2.5 million of that in slums.
With this is mind, sadly street crime such as mugging does happen in the city. There are simple steps you can take to avoid being mugged – for men as well as women:
- Stay in busy areas so you can’t be singled out
- Don’t show off valuables like expensive watches or smartphones
- Avoid engaging with strangers who approach you
- Carry your money in a money belt under your clothes
We’d also recommend you avoid being out in the city alone after dark and to take taxis to and from any restaurants or events you visit.
A lot of these things are general traveller common sense, whether you’re taking a safari in Kenya or any other trip.
What clothes are safe to wear as a woman on Kenyan safari?
Kenyans are mainly Christian, with 70 percent of the population identifying as such. It’s a conservative country, partly due to this religiosity.
You’re unlikely to see Kenyan women wearing short dresses or strappy tops. Keeping knees and shoulders covered with long skirts or shorts and t-shirts will stop you from standing out. We’ll never tell you to change your clothes, but we do ask that you’re respectful and plan the clothes you bring carefully.
Especially away from the cities, you may encounter people who will stare at you; men and women. You’re a new sight to them, and here it’s not rude to stare, but you’ll attract less attention when you dress on the conservative side. This is important to note when visiting Masai villages particularly.
A good tip is to carry a lightweight scarf with you. You can cover your head or shoulders quickly, and even wear it as a sarong if you need to cover your legs.
How do I interact with the people I meet on Kenyan safari?
Out in the countryside of Kenya on safari, things are dynamic. Cultures and ideas shift as you cross the country. In some areas where there are large Muslim populations, your guide may remind you that men won’t be able to shake your hand, for example.
Female empowerment is happening in Kenya, but these things take time. There are lots of projects to give women more access to:
in more remote areas. Whilst this is progressing it’s safest to listen to the advice of your safari guide each time you visit a village.
You’re not likely to get hurt when interacting with people incorrectly in villages. Your time will, however, be more pleasant if you stick to the social rules and norms of the area that you’re in.
Will men treat me differently because I’m a woman travelling in Kenya?
In terms of our team at Flash MC Tours, certainly not. You’re one of our valued guests, no matter your gender and will be treated with respect.
We expect this will be your experience all during your time of safari in Kenya. If at any point, you’re uncomfortable or feel unsafe, raise it with your guide in the first instance. You can also ask to take the contact details of one of our female members of staff, if you’d like.
General tips to stay safe on Kenyan safari
Although information like crime stats and reports on female empowerment and education are very important when assessing a country, word on the ground is also valuable. We believe you’re going to be safe as a woman in Kenya and ask you to follow these guidelines:
- Keep your valuables on your person, in a money belt under your clothes
- Dress respectfully with a reference to your surroundings
- Have a back up source of funds like a credit card in case you do fall victim to crime
- Buy travel insurance to cover your valuables in case of theft
- Listen to your guide – they know the society and culture and what’s expected
- Don’t show your valuables such as phones and cameras when you’re in public places (in your tour vehicle is fine!)
- Ask your guide for any help you may need
There are challenges of archaic social attitudes and a lack of opportunities for women in Kenya. As a nation, we’re working on that. In the meantime, we ask female tourists to not be put off travelling to Kenya.
You’ll receive a warm and happy welcome from our guides and office team, as well as the hotel and park staff you’ll meet along the way.