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How to travel to Kenya: all the different modes of transport

by Visagov | October 27, 2022
4x4 car in a safari in Kenya

Kenya is a classic African dream, with vast expanses of savannah full of wild animals and some of the highest snowy peaks in Africa. You can also see nomadic tribes like the Masai, looking after their herds on the Masai Mara. If you are planning a trip, you need to know how to travel to Kenya. This article can help you plan your moves around the country. 

How to travel easy in Kenya: Airport Transfers

How to travel to Kenya? You are likely arriving at the main airport in Kenya: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. The airport is 18 km from the city center and it normally takes 30 to 60 minutes to get from the airport to the city. Below you can read some more information about how to get from the airport to the city. 


When you arrive in Nairobi you can also take a cab from in front of the main terminal. Another option would be to book a cab in advance online with one of the existing companies. A cab ride to the city center can cost 4,500KES and the journey takes 40 minutes.  


From the airport’s Terminal 1, you can take bus 34 which leaves every 20 to 30 minutes to downtown Nairobi. The journey takes about an hour and 15 minutes and arrives at the Ambassadeur Hotel and Kencom House in the city center. The bus runs from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm. Tickets cost 50 KES each way and are purchased directly from the driver. 


You can also get to the city center by train. Although the train station is not at the airport itself, you can take a shuttle bus from Terminal 1 or 2 to Embakasi Village station and take the express train and in 25 minutes you will be at Nairobi Central Station. Tickets cost 500 KES each way. 


If you want to rent a car, you get one at the airport with any of the international car rental companies. To travel in rural areas it is best to rent a 4x4, as the roads can be in poor condition and are often not signposted or well-lit. It is best to drive during the day, as muggings and accidents can occur at night. 

Car rental companies usually require the main driver to be over 25 years of age, and also usually ask for a passport, although they don’t ask for an international license. 

You can also rent a chauffeur-driven car, which can be more relaxing and safer, and if you want to go on a safari in Kenya you will have more chances to view animals in the wild.

The cost of renting a car with a driver can range from about $150-200 per day  (about 24,000 Kenyan shillings). There can be advantages to renting a car with a driver as the company's insurance covers any problems and the driver can also help with the logistics of the trip as he will speak Swahili and will certainly know the area. 

How to travel easy in Kenya: moving in the city

If you’re looking to know how to travel to Kenya to get around in Kenya cities, read these tips. 

Old Mutual Tower in Nairobi


Matatus are private minibuses that run in the main cities. They are cheap and easy to find as the vans are brightly painted. When you get on the matatu, you will have to agree on where you want to stop with the driver and depending on your journey they will tell you the cost of the journey. 


These are private cabs that can carry up to nine passengers and are commonly known as Peugeot. They leave when they are full, and follow a set route and don’t make stops. They can also be taken to travel between cities. Be sure to agree on the price before leaving, otherwise you may be ripped off. 


Motorbikes tend to be the answer to how to travel to Kenya. In Kenya's major cities there are motorbike cabs called boda-boda. It can be an adventure to get on a motorbike cab, and although you can save time meandering through traffic, it can also be somewhat dangerous. Make sure you always wear a helmet and ensure the driver is responsible. 


To travel between Nairobi and Mombasa, you can travel in a sleeper train overnight and sleep on the train. You will need to book a first class ticket to have a bed and toilet, but this also includes breakfast and dinner.  It is a good way to see the scenery in a relaxed way, although it can be slower than other ways of getting around. 


If you want to travel between cities, there is also the option of hiring a long-distance cab. They can also be convenient because you can choose the time of departure and you can ask the driver to stop at any point along the way, as long as the cab is not shared. If you decide to share with other travelers, the cost will be considerably lower. 


Another option to travel in Kenya is to fly with one of the companies that operate domestic flights. They are usually affordable and it is a faster way to travel around Kenya. 

If you are going to remote places for a safari, you may need to book a chartered flight. It is convenient, but it can be a very expensive option. 

Tips on how to travel to Kenya

  • If you want a relaxing travel experience, you can book a traditional boat called a dhow, to sail between Mombasa and Lamu Island. 
  • Discover what's the best time in Kenya for traveling. If you are in Kenya during the rainy season, make sure you are safe.
  • If you have booked a safari, ask your operator if it includes transport from city to city, as it may be easier if they organize it for you.