September 23, 2013
Kenyans welcome you to their country! (Photo: Jane Zimmerman, Wildland traveler.)
Following the attack on the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi Kenya on Saturday September 21, 2013 we wish to update as follows:
We join Kenyans and the world in extending our sympathies and support to the bereaved families of those who lost their lives and others injured or otherwise affected by this tragic event.
The 4-day standoff at the Westgate Mall has been contained and seems to have come to its conclusion. All indications are that this attack was not aimed at tourists; the al-Shabaab terrorist organization claims retaliation directed at the Kenyan government for Kenya's military incursions across its distant border into Somalia.
Like similar events we have witnessed in India, Britain and Spain that were also aimed to instill fear in the global community, we know that Kenyans will not be deterred from living an open life, and like after events in the United States, India, Britian and elsewhere in the world, additional measures have already been taken in Kenya for the security of its citizens and foreign visitors. In the days, weeks and months ahead we will continue to monitor the safety of travel in Kenya and East Africa for those Wildland travelers currently in the region and others planning to travel.
Over the past several years there have been ongoing small-scale, isolated attacks in Kenya involving shootings, kidnappings explosions and politically-motivated violent uprisings that have not affected tourism. We always avoid less secure neighborhoods, crowded places, resorts and clubs on a Wildland Adventure. Foreigners who have been impacted are typically expatriates living in the country or travelers unaccompanied by local guides under the auspices of responsible in-country tour operators. Over the past few years hundreds of Wildland travelers have been safe and sound on safari throughout East Africa. The July 5, 2013 US State Department Travel Advisory
remains in effect and states that there are no restrictions on travel to Kenya's popular tourist destinations such as Maasai Mara, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru, Tsavo, Lamu Island, Samburu, Mt Kenya, and Nairobi.
We are in contact with local guides, safari outfitters and accommodations providers throughout Kenya who have reported to us that tourism services are normal on the ground and guests presently in-country are enjoying their safaris. This morning we received a personal email from Wildland traveler, Susan Marks, who was in Nairobi during the attack and sent the following message to us from Amboseli National Park assuring us she was safe and plans to continue her safari: "We all know about the attack which happened the day I was seeing things in Nairobi... Lots of security... but so far the trip has been amazing... Loving Ol donyo camp..."
You will be warmly received and much appreciated on your Wildland Adventure in Kenya.
(Photo by Jane Zimmerman, Wildland traveler.)
We are also in contact with over 100 professional colleagues attending the International Ecotourism and Sustainable Travel Conference
presently meeting in Nairobi not far from the Westgate Mall. They report the presence of additional security which actually makes them feel as safe as they would have been before the attack occurred. Many of them returned to Nairobi from pre-conference safaris throughout Kenya during the siege and all report that events at the Westgate Mall did not affect travel in the country.
The above reports correspond with a statement issued Monday, September 23 by Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Commerce and Tourism, Mrs Phylllis Kenadie, that ‘normal activities are going on in all parts of the country despite this grave and enormous challenge’ and that tourists are welcome.
We stand united with the professional tourism community in Kenya, the government and the people of Kenya and ask that you not be deterred from visiting this beautiful and peaceful country. If you have concerns please email or call 206-365-0686 to speak with Wildland Africa Program Director, Jeff Stivers
, or Wildland President, Kurt Kutay
For safari travel to Kenya see: Wildland Adventures in Kenya