9 Strange Phobias that are a Traveller’s Worst Nightmare

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It is amazing how many types of phobias that can be linked to travel-related activity there are in the world. Photo courtesy of sciencedaily.com

It is amazing how many types of phobias that can be linked to travel-related activity there are in the world. Photo courtesy of sciencedaily.com

Some many years ago I found myself standing in the middle of one of the most inhospitable places on earth – the Chalbi desert, in northern Kenya. Eremologists (those who study deserts) regard it as the only true desert in Kenya. It is also the hottest place in Kenya. I recall then my inability to make a single phone call here and the accompanying feeling of sheer fear and disillusionment that comes with that realisation.

A friend I later narrated my Chalbi experience to, told me I was gripped by Nomophobia – the fear of losing cell phone reception. He tickled my curiosity for discovery and I began to do more research on this phenomenon. What I came across was really strange if not shocking. Read on and discover with me.


This is the fear of wild animals. It’s a condition that affects travellers who were raised in a secluded urban setting where no contact with any kind of wild animal – even in a zoo was possible. When they come across such animals for the first time, usually during a game drive for the first time, it triggers a sense of fear called agrizoophobia. Not a good thing when your aim is to catch a glimpse of the BIG FIVE of Africa.


This is the fear of extreme cold. Woe unto you tour guide if you are leading a mountain climbing expedition to Mount Kenya and one of your team members is cryophobic. If you have not done some basic first aid training on how to deal with such people, then I cannot imagine your nightmare.

But do I hear you say they should be aware of their condition so why make such a trip? Well, humans are strange. How many times have you hidden a limiting condition in pursuit of adventure and greater conquests of life?


For those who are used to fast and efficient service delivery then slow customer service would quickly trigger this condition in them which doctors define as the fear of long waits. I wonder what a Macrophobic would do at some of our border points where the waits can sometimes be excruciatingly long.


Many who travel to Africa are usually driven by the desire to come and enjoy our richly warm, sunny tropical climate. The thought of basking for hours on end under the African sun is a temptation many cannot resist.

Yet in this same world of sunshine lovers, there are those who would do whatever it takes to keep away from the effects of this celestial body. These are the heliophobic who have the fear of the sun. They would rather stay indoors than go out. Nature walks or trails and game drives in our famous national parks would be anathema to them.


Limnophobia is the fear of lakes. Limnophobics would therefore never fancy a trip to the world-famous Lake Victoria. They would most certainly not be headed to Lake Turkana where everyone is planning to be this coming November 3rd to catch the total solar eclipse phenomenon either (read our Solar Eclipse story).

They just have a certain fear of such water bodies. Have you ever come across a limnophobic?


Do you have a fear for escalators? If you do then you fall in this category. It means you will not be going shopping around Yaya Centre and you would not have been seen in Westgate as well.

These ultra-modern shopping malls in Kenya have escalators that facilitate moving up to the higher floors. An escalaphobic would rather scale the stairs in a building than come anywhere near an escalator


One thing we have a passion for at Enchanted Landscapes is the love and respect of ancient architecture and age-old empires, monuments now long gone and that kind of thing. In other words, places like the ruins of Gedi at the Kenya Coast, have a special place in our hearts.

We constantly advocate for their restoration and preservation because they tickle our imagination at how old kingdoms and empires lived and went about ordering their daily lives. On that note, we can safely conclude that we have no fear of old buildings and ruins – which is what Atephobia is all about.

Atephobics do not want to be anywhere near such places. So if your tour package includes places like Fort Jesus and the old ruins of Shaka, then you are out of luck with an atephobic.


This one is interesting because it almost makes majority of Kenyan seem like they would fall under this category. Whether it is the fear of crossing the street (Agyrophobia) or the fear of being run-over by the crazy matatus and Proboxes driven by lunatics on our roads that is to blame, I would not know but Kenyan fear crossing the street – zebra crossing withstanding. Are we agyrophobic or matatu/proboxphobic? You be the judge of that.


As they say – one man’s loss is another man’s gain. If you do not fancy travelling by road, which makes you a hodophobic, then you would certainly prefer air or sea travel (unless you also have a fear of water and heights).

The road transport services we have in Kenya will never see a dime from you while the airlines may be laughing all the way to the bank when they see you. Hodophobic travellers never feel secure travelling by road and would just be uncomfortable in a tourist van heading to the Maasai Mara.

Most of these phobias (except matatuphobia and proboxphobia which we are not too authoritative on) are only treatable through counselling. They are of course not life-threatening, they only deny you indulgence in a few luxuries of life but if worked on people have been known to come out of.

You may have heard of the pilot who chose a career in aviation to overcome their fear of flying or the tight rope walker who went into that kind of business to overcome their fear of being in tall buildings. Talking of that, maybe I should ask Nik Wallenda if that is his inspiration behind doing such hair-raising tight rope-walking stunts.

Do you know of any other travel-related phobias? Share them with us by commenting below.

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About Henry Muuthia

Henry Muuthia is a travel writer and photographer. He writes for a range of online platforms including Technorati, Google+, EzineArticles and ArticleBase where he has published several articles, mostly on Kenyan travel. He is a resident writer for Enchanted Landscapes Travelogue and also occasionally writes for the travel section of Nakumatt''s SmartLife Magazine.
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