Backpacking Kenya. Travelling by Public transport.

We went to Kenya in May 2015,
during a complete trip (8 months), 
through Southern and Eastern Africa.

If you are planning a budget trip in Kenya, the cheapest way to move around is by public transport
We travelled with our backpacks, independently and didn´t have any problem. 
Here you can find useful information about prices, services, etc.


Main roads in Kenya are tarred and in quite good conditions, even if secondary roads have often many potholes.
The Mombasa - Nairobi - Uganda road has heavy traffic, with many trucks. The road has been renew, but still under works closer to Uganda.

Petrol prices: 80 Sh/l diesel, 90 K/l for unleaded in average (less than 1 €), more expensive in remote places.

 Road heading to Maralal (remote Kenya) and big avenue in Nairobi

Entering Kenya by car you have to pay a tax fee (no list of prices at the border post).

You don´t really need a 4WD in Kenya, except if going to remote places (further north) or some parks (in rainy season). Many safari companies in Kenya just use normal vans and no jeeps! A normal 2WD should be good for Masai-Mara!
Safari open vans

Rent a car in Kenya: 
Not too usual, cause quite expensive (but cheaper than in Tanzania). Mainly in Nairobi and Mombasa. 

Expect to pay around 50 €/day for a sedan car and 75 €/day and more for a 4WD. Budget seem to have good prices in Kenya. Try!


Matatus: how to travel around Kenya in a van
  • Many matatus wherever you go in Kenya (except maybe remote areas). There are vans, different sizes and passengers, some old and some new, correct. They leave when full, all day long. Usually they always respect the number of passengers (police controls in Kenya). 
  • There are matatus stations, at least one, or a few ones, depending of directions. Ask around. Sometimes there are offices too. More or less organised and usually crowded.
  • Vans departing have signs with towns route and sometime price, useful to find your matatu. Usually you pay the fair price but other they try to charge foreigners more (like around Naivasha or Nakuru or Baringo... tourist places). Try to ask first at the guesthouse or shop about the price to have an idea.
  • Usually not too many stops, but it depends of the routes. 
  • Speed is quite correct (controls).
  • Price: around 200 Sh/ 1 hour trip (around 50-80 km), quite cheap. 
  • It´s the way we travelled around Kenya, OK.

 Shared taxis /taxis in Kenya:
  • Same concept than matatus but in rural small areas, carring less passengers (like around Baringo). Always ask for the price.
  • Also possible to get a special hire, you rent all the car, much more expensive.
  • In big towns, like Nairobi, there are taxis.  You can even hire one to visit Nairobi National Park!

Buses in Kenya:
  • Different bus companies, all over Kenya, with big buses, on main roads only (mainly Mombasa-Nairobi-Nakuru), for longer distances. We never used them.
  • Also international coaches, from Mombasa, Nairobi and main Mombosa-Nairobi road towns, mainly to Tanzania and Uganda.
  • In Nairobi, there are local buses, different lines. Correct and cheap. Safe. We took them, on main routes.
Boda-bodas and tuk tuks in Kenya:
  • In main towns, always many around. Boda-bodas are moto-taxis. They are cheap but always agree about the price in advance.
   Trains in Kenya   

The main line goes from Mombasa to Nairobi and continues west to Kampala (Uganda). It seems that they are doing a new one and also a new line going to Ethiopia. So maybe trains are not operating during the works. Try to update.
Around Nairobi, there are local trains, not very convenient for travellers.

   Flights in Kenya   

Kenya Airways the biggest company, Fly 540 a kenyan low-cost company (domestic flights, and also South Sudan and Zanzibar), ALS, Air Kenya (regional flights), Safari Link.

The main airports (international) are Jomo Kenyatta in Nairobi and Moi in Mombasa. No departure tax. Important Africa airports, well connected with Asia, Europe, Middle East.

To compare prices and find a cheap fly to Kenya, use SKYSCANNER, with option "flexible day" you will have all the month or year.

Our return flight: Kenya-Spain.
We paid 335€/pp one way, from Nairobi to Madrid, via Abu Dabi with Etihad.