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Local Transport

Matatu

Local matatus are the main means of getting around for local people, and any reasonably sized city or town will have plenty of services covering every major road and suburb.

Fares These start at around KSh40 and may reach KSh100 for longer routes in Nairobi.

Vehicles The vehicles themselves can be anything from dilapidated Peugeot 504 pick-ups with a cab on the back to big 20-seater minibuses. The most common are white Nissan minibuses (many local people prefer the name ‘Nissans’ to matatus).

Boat

There are few public ferry services in Kenya. One in regular use is the Likoni ferry between the mainland and Mombasa island, which runs throughout the day and night and is free for foot passengers (vehicles pay a small toll).

On Lake Victoria, there's a ferry from Mbita to Luanda Kotieno (handy for onward travel to Kisumu). Boats also travel between Mbita and Mfangano Island, but it's a fairly unreliable service, safety is a concern and they only leave when very full.

Shared Taxi (Peugeot)

Shared Peugeot taxis are a good alternative to matatus. The vehicles are usually Peugeot 505 station wagons that take seven to nine passengers and leave when full.

Peugeots take less time to reach their destinations than matatus as they fill quicker and go from point to point without stopping, and so are slightly more expensive. Many companies have offices around the Accra, Cross and River Rds area in Nairobi, and serve destinations mostly in the north and west of the country.

Tuk-Tuk

They’re an incongruous sight outside southeast Asia, but several Kenyan towns and cities have these distinctive motorised minitaxis. The highest concentration is in Malindi, but they’re also in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Machakos and Diani Beach; Watamu has a handful of less sophisticated motorised rickshaws. Fares are negotiable, but should be at least KSh100 less than the equivalent taxi rate for a short journey (and you wouldn’t want to take them on a long one!).

Bus

Nairobi is the only city with an effective municipal bus service, although few travellers use it and most locals take private matatus. Routes cover the suburbs and outlying areas during daylight hours. Metro Shuttle and private City Hopper services also run to areas such as Kenyatta Airport and Karen. Safety is rarely a serious concern.

Boda-Boda

Boda-bodas (bicycle or motorcycle taxis) are common in areas where standard taxis are hard to find, and also operate in smaller towns and cities such as Nakuru or Kisumu. There’s a particular proliferation on the coast, where the bicycle boys also double as touts, guides and drug dealers in tourist areas. A short ride should cost around KSh100 or so.

Taxi

Even the smallest Kenyan towns generally have at least one banged-up old taxi for easy access to outlying areas or even more remote villages, and you’ll find cabs on virtually every corner in the larger cities, especially in Nairobi and Mombasa, where taking a taxi at night is virtually mandatory.

Fares These are invariably negotiable and start around KSh350 to KSh600 for short journeys. Since few taxis in Kenya actually have functioning meters (or drivers who adhere to them), it’s advisable that you agree on the fare prior to setting out. This will inevitably save you the time and trouble of arguing with your cabbie over the fare.

Bookings Most people pick up cabs from taxi ranks on the street, but some companies will take phone bookings and most hotels can order you a ride.