Matatu In Kenya

Domestic flights: Kenya has a good network of domestic flights, with carriers including Kenya Airways, Air Kenya, Mombasa Air Safari, Fly 540, Safari-link, & East African Safari Air. These airlines service the coast, major game parks and Western Kenya. Domestic air taxes included in ticket or charter costs. Many domestic airlines charter operates in Kenya. These companies offer individual or group charter in a range of aircraft. Air charter is an ideal way of visiting remote areas, or avoiding long drives.

Most charter companies will charge a set rate for a journey, regardless of the number of passengers. Private and public airstrips throughout the country are accessible to charter companies.

Taxi Services in Nairobi: Kenya: In Nairobi, Mombasa and other large Kenyan towns, taxis are widely available, and convenient. Taxis are often parked in the street around hotels and tourist areas. Hotels and restaurants can order taxis if necessary. Nairobi Taxis are usually marked with a yellow line along each side.

Taxis are not metered, and a price should be agreed with the driver before departure. Ask for local advice or at your hotel for correct rates.

In Nairobi and Mombasa there are several companies operating Dial Taxi services with phone bookings, modern vehicles, competent drivers and reasonable rates. Several Taxi companies have airport booking offices. In Kisumu, Cycle Rickshaws and Bicycle Taxis are popular. They are locally known as ‘Border-Borders’ as they were a popular means of accessing the nearby Ugandan border.

Bus Services: Buses can be boarded at any stop and tickets purchased on board. Buses also regularly run between most cities and towns. There are several bus companies with extensive inter-country networks. Buses also run across borders into Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Buses are an inexpensive way to travel the country. Some private bus companies now offer private bus shuttle services between Nairobi and Mombasa and Nairobi and Arusha (Tanzania) as well as city airports.

Matatu: The most popular form of public transport in Kenya is the Matatu, which has become a national icon and a large part of Kenyan modern culture. A matatu is a minibus, usually a Nissan (the name originates from the original 30 cent fare, “Matongolo Matatu”).

Matatus operate on set routes, and collect as many passengers as possible both from the outset and along the way. Matatus normally have a crew of two, a driver and a ‘tout’ who tries to encourage as many passengers as possible to board, and collects their fares, using an impressive cash handling and management system in which notes of different denominations are wedged between the fingers.

The vehicles are also often spectacularly painted with designs based on Western album covers and sports logos.

Driving:Visitors to Kenya can drive using an international driver’s license. Driving is on the left hand side and drivers should give way to traffic on their right. Distances are measured and sign posted in kilometers and petrol / diesel sold by the liter. Road conditions are variable and can be very poor in remote areas. Ensure that your vehicle is suitable for handling rough roads before embarking on a journey.

Driving at night in most areas is not advisable. Hire Cars are widely available in Nairobi, Mombasa, and other large towns. Before hiring a car, all legalities should be thoroughly checked and appropriate contracts and waivers signed. Most car hire companies charge a set per kilometer or unlimited rate.

Sea: Kenyan coast is open to both commercial and private shipping. There are several popular anchorage points for Yachts including, Mtwapa, Kilifi, Mnarani, and Lamu.

Those landing should process immigration locally. It is possible to join dhows for short cruises or longer trips along the coast. Some tour companies or hotels can arrange this, or you can make private arrangements with a dhow captain.

Cycling: Long distance cycling is possible in Kenya, but cyclists should be prepared to be very alert and wary of traffic on the major roads. There is plenty of scope for off road and mountain biking in Kenya. Anyone seriously considering cycle travel in Kenya should come fully prepared and equipped with a repair kit and some spare parts. This will make repairs on the road much easier. Competent bicycle “fundis” (mechanics) are usually found in most towns.

In many tourist areas, bicycles are available for hire for a day or half day. This is a good way to explore some areas. Hell’s Gate National Park is a very popular destination with cyclists. Bikes can be hired locally and there are roads and tracks through the park, giving the visitor the opportunity to cycle through herds of wild game.

Rail: Kenya has a railway connection between Nairobi- Mombasa and Nairobi-Kisumu. It is also possible to take the train through to Kampala. The overnight Nairobi- Mombasa rail trip is the most popular rail route for visitors. Tickets can be bought from Nairobi’s Railway stations, or in advance through local travel agencies. Kenya’s railways are currently awaiting a planned upgrade of facilities and rolling stock.

The railway line between the coast and Nairobi has a long and colorful history. Anyone interested in the history of Kenya’s railways should visit the Nairobi Railway Museum.