Nairobi to Kigali via Kampala by bus is no doubt the best and convenient means of transport for any budget traveler or backpacker. I have always wanted to take a bus trip to East African cities. The wish came to pass when a friend asked me if I can accompany them to Kigali by Bus.
A few days before the trip, I searched for the best bus companies in East Africa and ended up settling for Mash Cool operated by Mash East Africa.
On travel day (Thursday, 08/12/2016), We met at the pick-up point which is located along Accra Rd ready for the trip.
The bus left Nairobi at 1900 hrs. Bus seats were great and good enough for Economy class. Enough leg space, a place to keep your electronics and snacks and also a socket outlet with USB port were also available. Each of us was given a half-liter bottle of water as the conductor went through the passenger list.
Nairobi to Busia border point
From Nairobi, we traveled for hours with only one stopover in Nakuru until we arrived at the Busia border – between Kenya and Uganda. The immigration process was quick since there were no other buses ahead of us. As long as you have your travel documents, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Busia border to Kampala, Uganda.
We continued the journey after clearing immigration. I ended up sleeping for the rest of the journey until we arrived in Kampala. The distance from Busia to Kampala is about 3.5 Hrs. On Arrival, we bought MTN SIM cards to enable us to access the internet while in the city. You need to visit the MTN service center to get a SIM-card unlike in Kenya where you can buy it from a vendor.
From there we headed to Café Java’s for breakfast which is next to the MTN service center. After enjoying a well-prepared Spanish omelet, brown bread, and a Mocha, we boarded a taxi to the Namayiba Park Hotel. It happens to be one of the best Budget Hotel in Kampala.
The rooms were well kept and the time spent at the reception was very minimal. Our Schedule was tight so after freshening up and resting just a bit we headed to the old Kampala Taxi stand and boarded a MATATU to Entebbe town.
The taxi dropped us at the Entebbe bus stop where we boarded bodabodas to Speena beach. The place is nice and full of life, though most of its patrons are teens.
Nightlife In Kampala is probably the second-best in East Africa after Nairobi’s. We arrived at Club Play in the industrial area at around 2250 hrs and the place had no patrons. One of the attendants told us that most people in Kampala, head to Bars and Nightclubs late at night.
By Saturday evening we were somehow done with Kampala and it was time to head to the City of Kigali. (City of a million mountains). The bus we booked (Mash Poa) was not exactly what we expected. It was far less comfortable compared to the one we took from Nairobi (Mash Cool). The seats were a bit squeezed, no WiFi, no charging sockets and nowhere to place your items.
Nevertheless, we embarked on our 10-hour journey to Kigali at around 1930 hrs. We had one stop along the way before arriving at the border. The place is cold compared to any other part of the region. The border points between the two countries are like half a kilometer apart. The exit from Uganda was quick but entry to Rwanda is a bit more strict. The government does not allow any plastic bags so every luggage has to be checked by the border police officers. The country is also stricter on the yellow fever card and you have to provide an address of where you will be staying in Kigali.
The journey to the city from the border was about 2 hrs. The road is smooth and well-kept despite having a number of sharp corners up and hills. We arrived at the bus station at around 0400 hrs in the morning.
We changed some money to the local currency (1$ = 850.5 RWF). Then boarded a taxi to a Cafe at the Nakumatt mall where we had breakfast before checking in at Heartland Hotel, formally known as Mount Kigali hotel. The Hotel is located in the Nyamirabo area on one of the many hills in Kigali. The hotel is Classy and affordable at the same time. It’s one of the best Budget Hotels in Kigali.
After some rest, we visited gift shops in town, the National history museum and the Genocide Memorial Center. All through we used bodabodas which I would say are the safest in East Africa. The riders carry only one passenger at a time, Carry two helmets, and rides at a very safe speed. Nightlife in Kigali is a bit dull, so we decided to just stay in the hotel after visits to the city.
On the morning of 12/12/2016, we checked out of the hotel and headed to the “Car Wash” place for lunch. Most of the people in this restaurant are Kenyans living in Kigali. After a delicious buffet, we did a walk along the streets before going to the bus stop.
We boarded the bus back to Nairobi Direct at 1716 hrs. The bus happened to be the best compared to the others. It was the Modern Coast Normal Bus. It had nice, cozy, adjustable and spacious seats, sockets to charge our phones, a place to keep your items, WiFi and we were provided with water and snacks.
The journey started at 1715 hrs with stops at the border points, Kampala, Kisumu, and Nakuru. We arrived safely in Nairobi the following day at 1830hrs.
- Travel Passport or Travel pass for East Africans
- Yellow Fever card
- Bus Tickets
- Visa (for Non- East Africans) – Costs $100
Buses and Bus Fares
For current buses operating on these routes and Bus fares Visit:
- Visit Modern Coast Booking Office or Book Online
What is the bus fare from Nairobi to Kampala?
- From Kshs 2500 ($25) Economy Class
- From Kshs 3500 ($35) VIP Class
Bus fare prices from Kampala to Kigali
- From Kshs 2000 ($20) Economy Class
- From Kshs 3000 ($30) VIP Class
The bus ticket price from Kigali to Nairobi
- From Kshs 3500 ($35) Economy Class
- From Kshs 4800 ($48) VIP Class
List of Best Things to do in Kampala, Uganda on a budget
- Kabaka’s Palace and Idi Amin’s Torture Chambers
- Uganda Martyrs Shrine
- Tour the Gaddafi Mosque
- Ba’hai Temple
- Brave Owino Market
- Visit the Baha’i Temple
- Lake Victoria
- Kasubi Tombs
- Entebbe Botanical Gardens
Budget Hotels in Kampala, Uganda.
- Namayiba Park ($24)
- Joka’s Hotel – Has a swimming pool ($30)
- New Madagascar Hotel ($38)
- Also, Check on Airbnb
Nightlife in Kampala, Uganda.
- Club Play
List of Best Things to do in Kigali, Rwanda on a budget
- Take a walk along the Nyamiribo street
- Visit the Kigali history museum
- Check out the Genocide Memorial
- Visit the Belgian Monument
- Wander through the Streets of Kigali
- Go Moto: Take a motorcycle trip
- Peruse the Inema Art Center:
- Escape to Akagera National Park
- Admire the Nyamata Church
Budget Hotels and Nightlife in Kigali, Rwanda.
- Heartland Hotel
- DV Apartment Hotel
- St Augustine Apartment & Hotel
- Kigali View Hotel & Apartments
- Okapi Hotel & Resort.
- Also, Check on Airbnb