Getting Around Kenya – Local Travel and Transportation Options

Getting around Kenya is easy when you know your travel and transportation options. Taking a flight, hiring a taxi, using the train or a bus are viable options for Kenya travel. Regardless of whether you are in Kenya on a holiday, vacation, or business, time is often at a premium and very short. Traveling around Kenya by air is the fastest way to traverse different regions in Kenya.

Besides, the standard gauge railway train will offer you an enjoyable, fast and classic way to get around Kenya, particularly between Nairobi and Mombasa. Car hire services are readily available at the airports and railway terminus.

Getting around Kenya by Flight

There are several airlines that enable you to get around by offering efficient and safe domestic flights in Kenya. They help you travel between major cities and towns in Kenya including Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Malindi, and Lamu. In addition, there are several charter planes that fly between smaller towns and game parks in Kenya.

Air travel is the quickest way of getting around Kenya. The flight time between Nairobi and Mombasa is less than an hour. The most popular domestic flights run between Nairobi (JKIA) and Mombasa (MBA). Moreover, there are other domestic flights between Wilson, Kisumu, Eldoret, and Malindi airports. You can book and pay online for most domestic flights in Kenya. However, others require that you book and pay through travel agents.

The national carrier, Kenya Airways, is the leading airline company that offers domestic flights across Kenyan cities. Other airlines and charter companies that offer air travel within Kenya include Jambojet, Safarilink, Fly540, Air Kenya, African Express Air, and East African Safari Air Express. Travelers are supposed to arrive at the airport one hour before the plane’s departure time.

Once you arrive at the destination airport, there are various options for ground transportation. You may take a hotel shuttle bus if you had made prior arrangements with the hotel, rent a car, hire a taxi, or have your friend pick you from the airport.

Read: Getting to Kenya from any part of the world.

Car Hire in Kenya

Hiring a car will give you the freedom to travel and get around Kenya, giving you flexibility and control during your Kenya travel. In fact, renting or hiring a car in Kenya is the most convenient way of getting around Kenya if you can drive and find your way around.

There are car rental companies across cities and major towns in Kenya. You need to be familiar with the driving rules in Kenya. For instance, always drive on the left-hand side of the road. If you prefer not to drive yourself around Kenya, you can hire a car with a driver, and save on car insurance and at the same time benefit from the services and knowledge of a local driver.

Taxis are very convenient if you want to travel short distances or a one-time trip around cities and their suburbs. You can bargain with the taxi driver on a reasonable fare for your travel. You can talk to the hotel staff and inquire about the approximate taxi charges for the place you want to visit. Uber Kenya is among reliable taxi companies in Nairobi.

Getting around Kenya by Bus or Matatu

Kenya has a robust public transport system that visitors can use to get around the country. There are various bus companies that offer long-distance travel services between cities and towns, and to the neighboring countries. Minibuses and Matatus are the most popular and cheapest mode of transportation within cities and between various towns in Kenya. If you are on a tight budget, or do not own a car and cannot afford to rent a car, public transport is the best option.

Both buses and Matatus follow the same routes, though, buses are regarded as safer, besides offering comfortable traveling services. Moreover, buses operate in a timely manner and entertain passengers with cool music. However, most Matatus and minibuses have erratic schedules, play loud music, make frequent stops, and may have dramatic transport experiences.

Long-distance buses require prior booking, which can be done either from booking offices or through the company’s website. Matatus and minibuses that offer services within cities and suburbs are paid on board.

Getting around Kenya by Driving on Roads

Roads between cities and towns in Kenya are tarmacked and in good condition. If you are headed to a remote game park, you are likely to drive on plain terrain, all-weather roads at some point. Cities and towns experience heavy traffic both in the morning and evening. Thus, if you are not used to driving on crowded and sometimes rough roads, getting around cities and towns may be very challenging.

Driving Tips for Visitors to Kenya

  • The speed limit on highways and major routes is 80 km/hour
  • Always keep left, unless overtaking
  • You are allowed to use a valid international driving license or a driver’s license from your country
  • Gas (petrol) stations in Kenya are not self-service; an attendant will fill petrol for you. Most fueling stations accept cash in Kenya shillings.
  • Always used the road signs
  • Watch out for Matatus as they are associated with rough driving
Getting around Kenya by Train

The SGR train has brought an unmatched experience such that travelers are evading buses and Matatus. Besides being cheap, the express train takes 4 hours 30 minutes to travel between Nairobi and Mombasa. One of the breathtaking experience, as you travel between Nairobi and Mombasa, is spotting big game as the train snakes through the game park.

You need to book and pay for your ticket as early as one week in advance to avoid the trouble of rescheduling your trip after missing a ticket. This is because the train’s convenience, comfort, and affordable fare attract so many people. You can book and pay through online through the railway website or by dialing the short code (*639#). You can also book the SGR train through Mpesa. Moreover, tickets can be booked from any of the terminus between Nairobi and Mombasa.

Once you have your ticket, note that the train’s luggage weight limit is 30 kg per passenger. If you cancel your planned travel, you can get an 80% refund if you contact the ticket office prior to the departure of the train. If the train leaves before you report, you cannot get any refund.

Having familiarized with the available transportation options, getting around Kenya should be easy and enjoyable. You can now plan in advance the mode of transport you will use to get around Kenya.

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