Kenya is currently on the U.S. State Department travel warning list, but that warning pertains explicitly to the major cities and high-density tourist areas. We meet all students at the Nairobi airport and transport them to Mpala by van. At the end of the trip, we send them off on a late evening flight in similar fashion. Students therefore do not spend time in Nairobi or other cities. The Mpala field station is in a relatively remote area that is far from the parks most visited by tourists. 

Potentially dangerous animals such as elephants, buffalo, lions, cobras, and hippos are common at Mpala. In both the camp and field, all students are accompanied at all times by highly experienced Mpala staff; these local field guides grew up in the immediate area and their job is to ensure that students and researchers avoid any dangerous animal encounters. This protocol applies to all researchers at Mpala, which has been free of serious animal incidents throughout its history.



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Malaria is not common at Mpala because of its high altitude, but it may occur there and we recommend taking anti-malarials during the course even though the risk is low.  You may need to obtain vaccinations or boosters before coming to Kenya. Should emergencies arise, a part-time medical clinic with trained nurses is available at Mpala and a fully equipped hospital is approximately one hour away by car. Additional medical facilities are 3-4 hours away in Nairobi and can be reached easily (and more quickly) by bush plane; Mpala has separate airstrips for both light planes and large planes. 

All students must arrange for a mandatory meeting with a travel clinic to discuss immunizations and health risks with the Heath Services staff at the Travel Medicine Program (

We recommend the following immunizations and preventative medications when traveling in Kenya, but you should discuss this with the health staff:

            Hepatitis A
            Hepatitis B
            Polio booster
            Tetanus booster
            Yellow fever

  1. *Discuss all prescription medications with your physician. We note, however, that you may want to avoid the antimalarial prophylactic Doxycycline because it makes many people extremely sensitive to the sun. Several past Kenya course students have suffered painful sunburns while taking Doxycycline, despite their taking the usual precautions of using ample sunscreen and wearing hats.

Each student participant is automatically covered by SOS International 24-hour Worldwide Assistance & Emergency Evacuation Services.  To find out more information about this service visit the website at:

Tropical Biology