Traveling by bus in East Africa




Bus travel from Nairobi to Mombasa, Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Kigali and Bujumbura.

The East Africa region is amazing and each Country that forms the East African Community is unique in its own way. These countries have numerous attractions and travel destinations that are easily accessible from the major towns and cities. However, the region faces major challenges in regards to transports as it does not have well-established train transport system and the regional flights are quite expensive.

Traveling by bus in East Africa - Modern Coast

Modern Coast Bus From Dar Es Salaam to Nairobi

The most viable mode of transportation in the region is using the road transport. The good news is that the bus network is great and the beautiful scenery along the routes makes it even better. Various companies have introduced buses that are fairly priced, comfortable, and reliable to a significant number of budget travelers visiting the region. In this post, I would like to share the leading bus companies that serve the East African countries. The opinions provided in this review are based on my own personal experience and do not stem from any affiliation to a specific bus service company.


Major East African cities and estimated travel time by bus from Nairobi

Traveling by bus in East Africa -

BusCar – Courtesy of Mombasa Bound Bus – MBB

Traveling within the Kenyan borders takes a few hours, as buses from Nairobi to Mombasa, Kenya takes approximately 8 Hours to reach their destination. Though, traveling to other countries in the East African region may take a significant amount of time. Buses from Nairobi to Arusha take 5 hours and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania takes up to 15 Hours while the ones from Nairobi to Kampala, Uganda takes 12 Hours. There are certain destinations that require one to travel for a whole day or even longer, for instance, buses traveling from Nairobi to Kigali, Rwanda take about 24 Hours.


Buses in East Africa – Nairobi to Bujumbura

Traveling by bus in East Africa- Dream

Traveling by bus in East Africa- Dream

On the other hand, traveling to Bujumbura in Burundi from Nairobi may take up to 30 hours. It is important to note that there are direct bus services from Nairobi to Mombasa, Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Kampala, and Kigali, but there is no direct bus service from Nairobi to Bujumbura. If you are traveling to Bujumbura, you can take a 24-hour bus from Nairobi to Kigali, and then take a 6-hour bus from Kigali to Bujumbura.


What to consider before deciding on a particular bus service.

Traveling by bus in East Africa - Simba Coach

Simba Coach

Travelling by bus is a memorable experience and it is absolutely amazing as you do not have to worry about the checking in hours before travel and you get to enjoy the journey and have a local experience. With the many bus companies operating in the region, it is a difficult task settling on a particular service provider. These factors can assist you in identifying the most appropriate service provider.

Price and Time

In regards to price and time, it is important to take into consideration the fare charges, departure time, routes, as well as the number of stops throughout the trip.

Safety

When assessing the safety of the service provider, it is important to consider the previous history and track record of the provider. One can make inquiries concerning the availability of the safety equipment as well as the competency of the driver.

Classes

Bus service providers often avail their services in three categories including Normal, Economy, and Business class. You should choose the category best suited for your needs.

Seats

Bus travel to major cities within the East African region takes a significant amount of time, therefore, when choosing a service provider it is advisable to ensure that the seats are comfortable, spacious and have ample leg space.

Coaches

Coaches which are in good condition make the journey comfortable, thus, it is important to take into consideration the condition of the bus (cleanliness, air conditioning, TV, window length, and toilets). The coach should be relatively new with the appropriate air conditioning and avail toilets, the length of the window should be sizable, TV is a crucial form of entertainment for the long journey.

Service Quality

Always search for a provider with good reviews on quality services (water, snacks) and friendly attendants.

Other facilities

Some travelers love listening to music or using their electronics throughout the journey. It is therefore good to check in advance whether they provide additional services. These services include electrical sockets, TV, and WiFi.


Best Bus Companies by Route from Nairobi, Kenya

The following is a list of the best bus companies for each route based on a personal experience. These buses have the best score when it comes to service quality, WiFi, Air-conditioning, Comfortable seats, Electrical sockets, Cleanliness, Entertainment, Safety, and Price.

List of Buses from Nairobi to Mombasa, Kenya

Traveling by bus in East Africa - Tahmeed Coach

Tahmeed Coach

  • Modern Coast this constitute of the Modern Coast Normal Bus and the Oxygen bus
  • Mash East Africa including Mash Poa and Mash Cool
  • Bus Car
  • Dream
  • Tahmeed
  • Spanish
  • Panther
  • Randa Coach

List of Buses from Nairobi to Kampala, Uganda

Traveling by bus in East Africa - Modern Coast

Modern Coast

  • Modern Coast (Modern Coast Normal Bus and the Oxygen bus)
  • Mash East Africa (Mash Poa and Mash Cool)
  • Kampala Coach

List of Buses from Nairobi to Kigali, Rwanda

Traveling by bus in East Africa - Mash East Africa

Mash East Africa

  • Modern Coast (Modern Coast Normal Bus and the Oxygen bus)
  • Mash East Africa (Mash Poa and Mash Cool)
  • Simba Coach

Bujumbura, Burundi

Connect via Kigali, Rwanda ( Anyone with information on this route kindly share in the comment section).

List of Buses from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Traveling by bus in East Africa - Dar Express

Dar Express

  • Modern Coast (Modern Coast Normal Bus and the Oxygen bus)
  • Dar-Express Bus Company
  • Tahmeed



Bus transport from Lusaka, Zambia

Traveling by bus in East Africa - Shalom

Shalom Bus Service from Zambia to South African Countries

Southern Africa happens to have one of the best road and railway transport network in Africa. There are train services between Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and New Kapiri Mposhi, Zambia (TAZARA). The bus system is also excellent. The intercity bus station in Lusaka, Zambia and Ubungo Station In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania are the biggest hub for buses. These classic and modern buses serve passengers traveling to Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique from Zambia.

Traveling by bus in East Africa - Juldan

Juldan Bus Lusaka – Courtesy of Zambia Long Distance Buses

List of the best bus companies in Lusaka and Southern Africa:

  • Machado Family bus
  • Shalom Bus Company
  • Euro-Africa Bus
  • Juldan Motors
  • Roadlink
  • Power tools
  • Transment Africa
Traveling by bus in East Africa - Mazhandu family bus

Mazhandu family bus

Bus and Train travel in Africa useful resources

To Learn More about Trains and Bus travel in East and Southern Africa, Check out the following Facebook Groups and page links.

Credits: Some of the images are courtesy of the groups above.
Share any useful information and tips in the comment section below.



kenyanbackpacker

4 Comments

Winnie

Awesome. Thank you for the details,I can hit the road and enjoy road trips with no fear.

Reply
@CharlieBeau Diary of a Muzungu

This is a mega blog! Thanks for the tips and ideas. One bus co. I’d highly recommend is Jaguar Executive Coaches. They run a very reliable service and the staff are always polite. I always travel with them between Kampala and Kigali. One such trip turned out to provide unexpected drama!
A new bus operator based in Nyabugogo bus park, Kigali is Nile Safaris. They travel to Musanze and onto Gisenyi (Lake Kivu). They have brand new coasters – with seatbelts – and are decorated with funky graphics. They run a good service and cost the same as other operators on the same route

Reply
kenyanbackpacker

Wow. This is great information. I love Mash East Africa for all other routes but their bus from Kampala to Kigali is not the best. Next time I will try Jaguar and get the feel of it. Thank you for the recommendation of Nile Safaris. I haven’t been to Lake Kivu but now that I have that information it will be easy.

Reply
kenyanbackpacker

Transport in East Africa is growing fast. That is an incredible milestone. I wish we could have a direct bus to Burundi and South Africa.

Reply

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