Kenya transport and travel - how do you move around?

Getting around Kenya is easy once you know your options. Flying, getting a car hire, using the train system, taking a taxi or experiencing Kenya's popular public transport system are all viable options for your Kenya travel.

Kenya travel by train

Kenya train travel Nairobi to Syokimau
The new Syokimau train station offering daily service between Nairobi city and Syokimau

Local train services to serve the main cities within a radius of 15KM is in progress starting with the launch of the modern commuter rail service between Nairobi city, Athi river, Kitengela and Syokimau, all complete with a "park and ride" option for drivers who wish to park their cars and commute to the city center by train.

For long distance travel, getting around Kenya by train is limited to specific routes. You can travel between Nairobi and Mombasa by train, normally on an overnight trip lasting 14 hours. Another route that is served by daily overnight trains is the Nairobi-Kisumu route, with additional service to Kampala in Uganda.

The train cabins are compartmentalized into first, second and third class with the former two offering bed and breakfast service. If you are traveling to Mombasa by train, you will enjoy a fantastic view of the Tsavo National Park while enjoying your breakfast. Train tickets can be booked at the railway station from which you will depart or through a local travel agent.

Domestic flights in Kenya

If you can afford it, traveling by air with Kenyan airlines is the most practical way to get around long distances in Kenya. If you are visiting Kenya on a vacation tour, holiday or business trip, time is often very short and at a premium. Kenya has a number of airlines that offer safe and efficient domestic flights between the major cities of Mombasa, Malindi, Kisumu and Eldoret, as well as charter planes that fly to smaller cities, game parks and northern Kenya.

Kenya air travel is convenient and quick, and flight times between the major cities are an hour at the most. A popular domestic air travel route runs between Nairobi's JKIA and Mombasa International Airport. Other domestic airports include the Wilson, Malindi, Eldoret, Kisumu and Lokichoggio airports.

Some domestic Kenya flights can be booked online while others require local booking through travel agents.

Major airlines and charter airline companies that offer domestic Kenya air travel include Kenya's national carrier, Kenya Airways, as well as Air Kenya,Fly540, JetLink, East African Safari Air Express (EASAX), African Express Air, and Marsaland among others. You are required to be at the airport an hour before departure for domestic flights. When you arrive at your destination airport, you have an option of taking a hotel shuttle bus (if you have made prior arrangements with the hotel), renting a car, paying for a taxi or arranging with family or friends for your ground transportation.

Car hire / rentals in Kenya

If you want control and flexibility in your Kenya travel, then getting a car hire will certainly allow you the freedom to travel and explore your surroundings. If you can drive and find your way around, hiring or renting a car in Kenya is a convenient way to travel around the country.

Cars are readily available for hire at the airport and from car rental companies in all major cities across Kenya. If you prefer not to do the driving, you can always hire a car with a driver and save on the insurance cost while benefiting from the knowledge and services of a local driver. Here is one reasonable and convenient car rental company that we often recommend to our web visitors.

If you want to travel short distances or take a one-time trip across the city or the suburbs, there are plenty of taxis/cabs that will charge you an upfront fee to drive you a few miles across the city or to longer distances in the suburbs or to other cities. In Kenya, people drive on the left-hand side of the road and all vehicles in the country are right-hand driven.

Getting around Kenya by bus, Matatu or taxi

The public bus system and matatus (privately owned minibuses) are the cheapest and most popular mode of transportation in Kenya. If you don't have your own vehicle or cannot afford to pay for a taxicab or rental car, then public transport is your best option. Kenya's public buses and matatus have a mass appeal for short and long distance travel in all cities and towns across Kenya. Buses are regarded as safer and follow the same route as matatus. However, while buses are often quiet and operate in a timely manner, matatus play loud music, have erratic schedules with frequent stops, and provide a more dramatic Kenyan public transportation experience.

Buses and matatus offer convenient and express services between the major cities, suburbs and towns across Kenya. Fare is paid onboard. Long distance commute buses to major cities require advance booking, which can be done at their booking offices before the day/time of travel. Taxis/cabs are available for a quick or one-time commute across the city and suburbs, with rates as low as $5 to drive of few miles.

Driving on Kenyan roads

Getting around Kenya can be a challenge for those who are not used to driving on the often crowded, sometimes rough, dusty or untarmacked roads. Kenyan roads throughout major cities are tarmacked and in good condition, although one is likely to find potholes on some roads and streets. The roads also tend to be narrow. While roads in main cities and towns are tarmacked, most roads in the remote areas, including the game parks, are plain terrain, all-weather roads. Often, some remote roads experience flooding that renders them impassable during the long rainy season.

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