Transportation in Kenya
Kenya, and specifically Nairobi, is a major transport hub for Eastern Africa. Most foreign visitors arrive in Kenya by air, however other transportation options include arriving or departing via water, rail or road. Kenya is a relatively large country, so air transport can be a viable option for getting around if you plan on covering large distances in short periods of time. Otherwise, options to get around include water, rail and road.
With so many things to see and do in Kenya, make sure you choose the best transportation options to let you see as much as possible in the time available to you.
This Kenya Transportation Guide gives a background on both getting to and from Kenya, and also on getting around the country. We have listed some of the most common and popular forms of transport in Kenya, but, as always, make sure to check local options once you arrive, as things can change quickly. More detailed information about local transport options can be found in our Nairobi Transportation Guide and Mombasa Transportation Guide. General information about Kenya can be found in our Kenya Country Guide.
Kenya - Getting there and away
The national airline of Kenya is Kenya Airways (KQ). Their website is at www.kenya-airways.com. Most of the major European and North American carriers also have flights to Kenya. Kenya has two main international airports, one at Nairobi and one at Mombasa. Nairobi's (NBO) Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is located about 16 km southeast of the city. Buses and taxis make the journey to the city centre. Meanwhile, Mombasa's (MBA) Moi International Airport is located 13 km west of the city. Again, there are regular buses and taxis to take visitors to the city centre.
For transport from the airport to the city (or from the city to the airport), we recommend Green Path Transfers, who offer eco-friendly airport transfers in hundreds of destinations around the world, including Nairobi and Mombasa.
Visit our partner Air Valid for Airline Reviews and Information about Kenya.
The main port of Kenya is at Mombasa. From here it is possible to catch ships to Mauritius, the Seychelles and Zanzibar. Ferries also sail from Mombasa to Pemba and Zanzibar in Tanzania, and also to Chiamboni in Somalia. Enquire locally for details, and conditions in the country you are planning on visiting.
A single railway line services Kenya, running from Mombasa to Uganda via Nairobi. There are also branches to Nanyuki, Kitale and Kisumu. Meanwhile, another branch continues on to Tanzania. These are often subject to disruption, so travellers should contact Kenya Railways in Nairobi on tel: (20) 221 211 if they wish to travel by rail.
Road crossings are possible from Tanzania and Uganda. From Tanzania, the main crossing points are at Lunga Lunga and Namanga. It is also possible to cross at the smaller posts at Isebania and Taveta. Meanwhile, the Ugandan crossing points are located at Buisa and Malaba. For all international road crossings, it is advisable to contact the Kenya AA, PO Box 40087, Embakasi, Nairobi (tel: (20) 825 060-6) prior to departure from the country of origin for current and detailed information about insurance requirements and conditions.
Kenya - Getting Around
As Kenya is a reasonably large country, you may wish to take internal flights to save on travelling time. Two carriers, which between them operate an extensive network of routes around the country, are Kenya Airways (website: www.kenya-airways.com) and Air Kenya (website: www.airkenya.com). You may also find some of the private airlines operating light aircraft to be useful for transport into game parks.
Local authorities and tour operators are able to give details about local ferries, which run between Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu. The option is also there to hire a dhow, which is a traditional Kenyan sailing boat, whilst in Lamu, Malindi and Mombasa.
Passenger trains run between Mombasa and Nairobi. Most of the trains run overnight, with the journey lasting between 13 and 14 hours. Branches also connect out to Taveta and Kisumu. First-class is excellent, although sleeping cabins should be booked in advance. It should be noted that sexes are separated in first and second classes.
Traffic in Kenya drives on the left. All of the major roads are paved, and a number of the others have been significantly improved in recent times, particularly in the southwest. However, it is still recommended to stick to main roads wherever possible, especially in the north, as there are still a vast number of roads in very poor condition. A full British licence will enable you to drive in Kenya - otherwise an International Driving Permit is required.
Buses are quite a common way to get around Kenya. All bus companies are privately run in Kenya, and it is best to check at destination for information about which companies have better safety records and reputations.