From distant nationwide parks and spectacular hikes to balmy coastal cities and the vigorous buzz of Nairobi, you may need to expertise all the pieces on a visit to Kenya. Whether or not you depend on inside or chartered flights or taxis for longer distances, or hop right into a matatu (minivan) or Uber, Kenya is a comparatively simple place to get round as soon as you realize your choices.
For some journeys, it’s attainable to journey slower and extra sustainably. Crusing on a conventional dhow alongside the Kenyan coast or taking the prepare from Nairobi to Mombasa are nice examples, and also you’ll see a lot extra of Kenya on the best way.
Listed here are our ideas for getting round Kenya, from the seashores to Mt Kenya and the Masai Mara.
Take the airplane if time’s a problem
Flying isn’t probably the most sustainable possibility, however a number of home airways present useful connections between Nairobi, Mombasa, different coastal cities resembling Malindi and the Lamu Archipelago, and smaller airports near nationwide parks. Almost a dozen airways join these locations, together with Kenya Airways, and a few fly to only three or 4 fashionable nationwide parks, such because the Masai Mara, from Nairobi.
The relative affordability of home air journey makes it interesting and sometimes unavoidable – present safety guidance to Kenya from the UK authorities, for instance, advises that folks journey to the Lamu Archipelago by air. Taking the bus or prepare or driving is a greater different for some journeys, however among the extra distant lodges are solely accessible by way of a chartered airplane, which comes at a value.
Buses join virtually each city in Kenya
Kenya has an intensive bus community connecting bigger and smaller cities, particularly in western Kenya, with frequent hyperlinks to the capital and coast. You’ll discover providers are much less frequent as you head into northern Kenya. A number of personal corporations function bus providers across the nation, and for probably the most half, these long-haul buses are comfy, inexpensive, comparatively quick and protected. The newer long-haul buses typically have recliner seats, and a few have wi-fi.
It is best to take bus journeys in daytime due to issues over crime, so goal for morning departures for lengthy journeys. Firms resembling Modern, Dreamline, Coast Bus and The Guardian Coach are dependable, however the record of bus corporations is exhaustive, so ask round when making a specific journey, as the corporate you select will typically rely on the route you’re after.
Journey gradual and take the prepare for lengthy journeys in Kenya
In the event you’ve received the time and also you’re heading to Mombasa from Nairobi or vice versa, take the train. The Madaraka Express passenger prepare at present operates thrice a day, together with a continuous night time prepare, with journey occasions of between 5 and 6 hours. The present service began in 2017 and it follows the identical route because the outdated Mombasa prepare.
Within the days of colonial rule, this was a sleeper prepare that took 15 hours, broadly generally known as the “Lunatic Specific” due to the cruel situations staff endured constructing it, from harmful animals to tropical ailments. It’s a fabulously scenic journey, as you journey from the town by way of the Tsavo East and Tsavo West nationwide parks, and get a glimpse of Kilimanjaro as you head in direction of the coast (or again to the capital).
You may also journey to Nanyuki from Nairobi by prepare. The journey takes seven hours, touring by way of Thika, but it surely’s a scenic solution to journey to the gateway city for journeys to Mt Kenya National Park. A weekly Kisumu Safari Train on Fridays at 6am goes from Nairobi to the city of Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria, returning on Sundays at 6am.
Hop right into a matatu (shared minibus)
It received’t be everybody’s first alternative of transport, however matatus (shared minibuses) are probably the most used type of public transport in Kenya for locals, particularly in Nairobi, though they’re slowly being phased out in favor of extra regulated, larger-capacity buses.
These privately-owned minibuses depart when full – which frequently means full to the purpose of discomfort – however in case you get fortunate with a less-packed car, it’s a enjoyable solution to journey brief distances, resembling inside the downtown space and suburbs of Nairobi. Fares are mounted, and also you pay on board to the motive force or conductor.
Matatus are sometimes colorfully painted, typically with slogans or portraits of well-known individuals, and lots of have music blaring out. Some even have free wi-fi and films or pop movies enjoying. Questions of safety could be a concern: there are guidelines about seat belts for instance, however they’re not at all times adopted, and the standard of driving is variable.
For security causes, it’s greatest to take a matatu with different vacationers you realize, and to solely use them within the daytime for city journey. All the time lock your baggage and maintain valuables with you. Keep away from the entrance seat subsequent to the motive force due to the danger of collisions.
For quicker city hops, take a shared taxi, aka Peugeot
A substitute for matatus is the shared taxi or “Peugeot.” These station wagons take round seven to 9 passengers, and like matatus, they depart after they’re full. The upside is that they’re hardly ever over-crowded, and so they don’t cease between the beginning and finish factors. You’ll typically discover shared taxis operating on mounted routes in north and west Kenya.
Use ride-hailing apps to get from A to B
Uber and Bolt have had large success in Kenya, particularly in city facilities resembling Nairobi. Ensure you obtain and arrange an account on the app in case you don’t already use it, and if attainable, add a fee card that doesn’t cost additional for abroad transactions (fares shall be calculated in Kenyan shillings).
With so many drivers obtainable, the apps make discovering a raise extremely simple, plus you’ll be able to share your journey info if you need mates or household to have the ability to monitor your journey. Uber has additionally launched UberASSIST for passengers with disabilities, highlighting drivers who can provide additional assist and whose vehicles are outfitted for wheelchairs.
Take a conventional taxi
Taxis are in plentiful provide in main cities and cities. You’ll be able to often discover them at taxi ranks round vacationer sights, bus stations and different key areas. They’re not at all times metered although, so make sure you agree on the fare upfront. The place attainable, get an concept of what a journey from X to Y ought to roughly value – for instance by asking at your lodging or quizzing your information.
Taxis are nice for longer-distance journeys as an alternative choice to flights; in case you’re in Mombasa and need to rise up to Kilifi or Malindi or all the way down to Diani Beach, it is the best possibility. When break up between just a few individuals, they are often extremely good worth, with the bonus which you can choose your departure time and cease when you might want to. At night time, it’s advisable to take a taxi in cities whenever you’re heading again to your lodge if it is any distance away.
Highway journey with your personal wheels to achieve distant areas and nationwide parks
Driving in Kenya is a superb alternative if you need the final word freedom to discover, cease off and be spontaneous. However if you wish to tackle Kenya’s roads beneath your personal steam, being ready is essential. You could have a global driving license in addition to your nationwide one, and also you often must be at the least 23 years outdated, although some automobile rent corporations have a minimal age of 25. It helps to know the car (4WDs are greatest for nationwide park journeys) and know the best way to change a tire, as a result of breakdown help might be gradual in case you’re not on a primary stretch of street.
All primary roads out of Nairobi are paved, and surfaced single-lane highways are frequent. Being a assured driver will assist as a result of the principles of the street are typically “every to their very own.” For security, solely drive throughout the day in areas you’re not accustomed to, or which can be identified to be unsafe due to carjacking and different crimes, although perceptions of the danger are sometimes increased than the fact of the state of affairs on the bottom. Even be cautious of poor lighting and street situations, resembling potholes and unpaved roads in some areas.
Test up-to-date steering out of your authorities or with native guides or different contacts, for instance, at your lodging, on areas to keep away from. Be very cautious when parking in a single day – by no means depart something worthwhile in your car and hunt down safe, guarded parking.
Safari operators can prepare transfers to your subsequent vacation spot
In the event you’re reserving an organized safari, it’s value figuring out that some corporations can maintain transport between your begin and finish level, relying on the route and distances. For instance, in case you’re beginning your journey in Nairobi, operators can choose you up for a switch to Tsavo Nationwide Park, then take you on to Mombasa for the seashore element of your trip on the finish of your safari. It’s time-saving for one factor, and it may additionally save on prices for organizing separate taxis, flights or car transfers.
Have a boda-boda expertise to zip by way of Kenyan site visitors
You’ll additionally discover motorbike taxis referred to as boda-bodas in most cities and cities in Kenya, particularly the place there aren’t as many commonplace taxis. Boda-bodas are low cost, nice at weaving out and in of site visitors, and plentiful, however poor security is a draw back. Helmets usually are not at all times provided, and regulation is sporadically enforced.
Boda-bodas are greatest for many who are already comfy on motorbikes; trip throughout the day for each private security causes and due to the native street situations. The vast majority of boda-boda drivers are accountable, however the nature of this type of transport means you need to keep alert in case you’re not an everyday rider.
Soar right into a tuk-tuk
Tuk-tuks (autorickshaws) aren’t widespread in Kenya, however you’ll discover them in abundance in Malindi, north of Mombasa on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast. These lined, open-sided automobiles are an effective way to get round, however you need to negotiate the fare with the motive force if there isn’t a meter. You might also discover tuk-tuks in Nairobi, Mombasa, Diani Seashore and Nakuru.
Sail alongside the coast by dhow for carbon-free journey
Whereas it’s probably not a type of public transport and extra of an expertise, nothing beats taking a dhow (conventional sailboat) to discover Kenya’s Indian Ocean shoreline. It’s a gradual, quiet and strange solution to recognize life on the Kenyan coast and the offshore islands.
You’ll be able to e-book dhow journeys from the seashore cities and resorts of Mombasa, Watamu and Diani Seashore, and from Lamu and Shela within the Lamu archipelago. For a cruise-like expertise, request a catered crusing or deliver your personal drinks and snacks. Journeys can vary from a few hours at sundown to hiring a dhow for a full day to go to totally different seashores and bays.
Take the ferry to cross rivers and attain islands
To journey between Mombasa Island and the mainland to the southwest, the ferry is a scenic solution to cross the Likoni Channel and luxuriate in views of the Indian Ocean. It’s a well-liked alternative for individuals touring to the seashore resorts of Diani and Galu, south of Mombasa, and it’s a vigorous expertise as properly, with the chance to speak with fellow passengers. Simply take care together with your belongings on the crowded ferries.
5 ferries are operational: MV Nyayo, MV Harambee, MV Kilindini, MV Likoni and MV Kwale, and plans are afoot to introduce extra boats. It’s free for passengers and cyclists, with a small cost for motorists and motorcyclists.
Accessible transportation in Kenya
Getting round by public transport in Kenya hasn’t at all times been simple for vacationers with disabilities due to a scarcity of funding, however issues are altering, albeit slowly. Some speedy transit bus providers have wheelchair areas and a ramp to get on, plus precedence seating for the aged, pregnant and different vacationers who want them.
Uber has rolled out UberASSIST in Nairobi, utilizing drivers who’ve been skilled to assist individuals who need assistance stepping into automobiles which have areas for folding wheelchairs and walkers. Relying in your wants, it’s the willingness of native individuals to assist that may be the savior of a visit to Kenya.
It’s simpler for vacationers with disabilities to rearrange personal transport. All the time let the information, journey firm and driver know what you want, whether or not it’s bodily help, a ramp, additional storage or security clamps to safe wheelchairs. For extra assets for accessible journey, see Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Resources.
Why the matatu is my favourite solution to journey in Kenya
It was throughout a Nairobi metropolis tour that my information, Maureen, a younger music promoter exhibiting me the capital’s edgier, evolving cultural scene, determined to offer me my first matatu expertise. We had been heading to the neighborhood of Kibera to satisfy a clothier when Maureen flagged down a brightly coloured minibus blaring out the music of an up-and-coming Kenyan artist that she acknowledged. Matatus typically play new songs to draw clients, and it clearly works.
As soon as inside, it was like a celebration bus, not raucously so, however there was a definite power. That’s to not say all matatu journeys are loud and chaotic, however some are, and whether or not that’s a plus or a minus is all the way down to you. The seats had been comfy, there was wi-fi, and a music video performed on the drop-down display as we bopped in our seats. It was the proper solution to arrive into Kibera, energized and danced out.