By Rental Car
Most worldwide rental agencies have offices in Nairobi and Mombasa, and these offer expensive but reliable cars with a full back-up network. One can also rent cheaper cars from local distributors who are mostly reliable.
Getting around in Kenya, especially for roads out of the city, is difficult. Though Kenya does have a lovely countryside,the roads are often in a dilapidated state due to neglect. Rent a heavy duty car/jeep to get you there. A good map is essential, and if you are self driving to game parks and the like a GPS would be very useful - sign posts are rare and you are never quite sure if you are on the correct road, leading to many wrong turnings and backtracking.
Consider renting your car from major brands like or renown local companies. Carefully read the rental contract to check for rules on insurance liabilities in case of accident / theft of the vehicle.
Matatus are privately operated minibuses, typically for 14 or 33 passengers and operating over short and medium distances. Travel by matatu can be somewhat risky as the vehicles are sometimes extremely badly driven, with matatu drivers swerving in and out of traffic and stopping at a moment's notice by the side of the road for passengers. Some are poorly maintained, and many have fascinating and colourful decor, which is a major feature of Kenyan urban culture. Previously, matatus were usually packed to well over capacity – up to 18 people in a 14-seater vehicle – but in recent years there has been increased government regulation and policing of matatus, especially in the larger cities, and now most matatus provide seatbelts and do not exceed the vehicle's stated capacity. An unfortunate side-effect of better regulation has been a loss of individuality and character of some of the vehicles, and drivers and conductors are now obliged to wear set uniforms. Tourists should be careful to ensure that they are wearing the seatbelts provided, unless they wish to find themselves taken on an inconvenient unscheduled trip from a road checkpoint to the police station.
Matatu routes and schedules can now be found under public transport direction on Google Maps, or alternatively you can ask the conductors. Matatus have route numbers but are often hard to see on the vehicle itself. Drivers like to minimise times spent at stops and you should be warned that the bus may start moving before you have completely boarded, sometimes you can expect to make a running jump. For the same reason, when your stop is coming up, be by the door ready to disembark. If you do not get off the moment the door opens you may find new passengers pushing themselves onboard and pushing you back, remaining stuck on the matatu until you can get to the door again.
Although most matatus ply their trade along set routes, it is often possible outside of major towns to charter a matatu on the spot as a taxi to your your desired destination. Make sure you have categorically confirmed your negotiated price and exact destination before the vehicle goes anywhere, or you may find yourself in the shadier areas of Nairobi at night at the mercy of an indignant matatu driver.
Matatus provide a very cheap and quick method of transport in all the major towns and many rural areas. The name matatu hails from the Kiswahili word for the number three – tatu – because some time ago the standard fare was three ten-cent coins.
The Kenya-Uganda railway starts in Mombasa and travels via Nairobi to Kampala, Uganda. This is the famous "Lunatic Express" and was also featured in the Val Kilmer & Michael Douglas film "The Ghost and the Darkness." This train does not currently travel to Uganda. The train is extremely slow and usually delayed. The speed of the train is due to the old narrow gauge track installed by the colonial authorities which hasn't been improved in 50 years of independence. Currently the train only travels the Nairobi-Mombasa route three times a week.
Most international visitors will arrive through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport JKIA in Nairobi IATA: NBO. If you are already in Nairobi and need to get to the airport, please make sure that you plan at least two hours to get there as the main road to the airport has heavy traffic jams, and security checks are tedious.
Kenya Airways KQ offers the most scheduled connections from JKIA and regular daily flights to the following destinations: Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu and Kisumu. A return flight from Nairobi to Mombasa will cost about KES11,000. Online booking is available. Check in is 45 minutes before departure for local flights and two hours for international. Pay attention to the announcements while in Unit 3 of JKIA as passengers on different flights are put in the same waiting area. If you are flying from another destination to Nairobi and using Kenya Airways in the tourist high season July-September, December-February, note that KQ flights are frequently delayed and preference is given to international connecting passengers, platinum frequent-flyer card holders, and first-class passengers.
A low-cost, no-frills airline Fly540 also flies from JKIA and offers scheduled connections to Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu, Kisumu and Masaai Mara. Plans are to extend the service to the East African region. A return flight to Mombasa from Nairobi will cost about USD99 without tax Online booking is possible.
Another airline Airkenya flies from Wilson Airport Nairobi to Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu, Amboseli, Maasai Mara, Meru, Nanyuki and Samburu. The lounge features a Dormans cafe. Check in can be done up to 15 minutes before departure. Wilson Airport was once the busiest airport in Africa outside South Africa and still remains a major hub for local flights to the nature reserves in Kenya and to cities in neighbouring countries.
Anyone using Air Kenya is advised to lock their checked-in bags.
Most charter tourists fly directly to either of the coastal airports of Mombasa or Malindi.
Kenya has a network of long distance bus lines. Speed is limited to 80km/h, and the highways can be very bumpy and dusty, so be sure you pick a comfortable and reputable coach company for the long journeys. Travelling during the day is preferable to travelling at night due to the threat of carjackings and road traffic accidents.
Nairobi has some frequent and fast bus and matatu services. Local buses in Nairobi are surprisingly more comfortable and may well be more fun than their western counterparts. The interior of the buses are well decorated and resemble that of a night club. Buses usually play music and/or show films and comedy shows to make the daily commute more pleasant in comparison to the dreary commute in many western cities.
Local buses in town are run by private companies, such as the green and yellow Citi Hoppa, the purplish Double M, the bluish-grey Metro Bus, the green Mwi Sacco, which provide transportation for an inexpensive fee usually around USD0.66. They have regular services in and out of the Nairobi city suburbs. They usually seat 20-35 passengers no standing passengers are allowed by law and are a cleaner and less hectic mode of transport than matatus, while still plying many of the same routes.