Northeastern Kenya has long had a reputation for lawlessness, but what was sometimes dismissed as the exaggerations and ignorance of “down-country” Kenyans acquired a more brutal reality in the 1990s, which continues to this day.

Since the flight of Somalia’s dictator Siad Barre in 1991, and that country’s anarchic disintegration into warring fiefdoms, northeastern Kenya has borne the full brunt of Somalia’s desperate refugee crisis, with increasingly violent bandits targeting commercial vehicles, foreign aid workers and refugee camps.

The northeast is also home to pastoralist tribes who frequently engage in livestock rustling and clash over grazing and water rights. You can be sure of one thing: there are more people than ever before with little to their names but guns and ammunition.

We’ve endeavoured to note the current security situation for all parts of the northeast, but the situation can change quickly and you are strongly advised to seek advice on the ground before travelling anywhere in this area. If you’re driving in this region, ask advice everywhere you go and always stop at police checkpoints and ask them about the road ahead. You may sometimes be asked to travel in convoy, or to take an armed police officer as an escort to your next stop.

The area to avoid at the time of writing, according to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s advice (the “orange zone” on their travel map at bit.ly/fcoKenya), is a large, thinly populated chunk of northeastern Kenya comprising: all of Garissa and Lamu counties; all the border areas within 60km of the Somalian border; and a thin strip along the coast as far south of the Galana River. The travel advisory does not include Shaba National Reserve or Meru National Park, both of which are safe.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Kenya features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Saving the elephants: on the poaching frontline in Kenya

Saving the elephants: on the poaching frontline in Kenya

The African elephant is under constant threat from poachers, and numbers have fallen by one third in seven years. Joe Minihane journeyed to the Samburu reserv…

26 Dec 2017 • Joe Minihane local_activity Special feature
23 incredible pictures of Kenya

23 incredible pictures of Kenya

Rough Guides photographer Tim Draper took an intrepid trip through Kenya to visit remote tribes and see stunning landscapes. Here, he shares his favourite pictu…

29 Nov 2017 • Tim Draper insert_drive_file Article
The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs