The typical tourist in Kenya takes planes, taxis or private cars to and from whatever destinations and attractions they’re inclined to see. These forms of transit, while efficient, don’t really offer any exposure to the local culture — in fact, they insulate travelers from it. Aside from the occasional conversation with a taxi driver or tour guide, the average tourist can spend a whole vacation in Kenya NOT interacting with locals. We get that folks want to have relaxing and hassle-free vacations, but if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and get around Kenya like a local via more home-grown modes of transit, you’ll get a unique view of the country and a more enriching vacation.
What you might call a rickshaw in southeast Asia goes by the name “tuktuk” in Kenya and is truly a local method of travel. In coastal areas such as Mombasa and Malindi, the humble tuktuk serves functions from ambulance to taxi, and everything in between.
The most common mode of transport in Kenya, the matatu can be either a van or bus. Most are beautifully decorated in graffiti art created by local artists, and play loud Kenyan music; what better way to get to know the country?
Used to describe both commercial bicycles and motorcycles, the “bodaboda” is a ubiquitous mode of transport available in both cities and rural areas. With safety regulations such as reflector jackets and compulsory helmets, there’s no reason for you not to try this out at least once during your stay.
While riding horses, camels and donkeys is mostly recreational within cities, in rural and remote areas animal carriage is a major form of transport for both humans and luggage. You’ll enjoy a different perspective on Kenya if you hitch a ride atop one of these furry critters.
Bicycles are an ever-present part of the Kenyan transit landscape, and are used to ferry people, commercial goods and much more. With bicycle rentals available in many places, travelers can see Kenya in a whole different light and get a little workout in the process.
Your own two legs can serve you well in Kenya: with scenic routes throughout the country, and street food, music and people on every city block, why not forego the taxi and take a stroll to your next destination alongside the locals?
If ever you find yourself on the Kenyan coast, you will likely encounter the Likoni ferry. Serving the island of Mombasa from Likoni on the mainland, the ferry is a universal experience that brings together residents looking for a functional way to get across Kilindini Harbor, and grants them the pleasant bonus of a breathtaking view.
Make your way through Nairobi via the recently opened Syokimau railway: the pleasant ride, affable travelling companions and of course view of Nairobi whizzing by makes for a far more compelling journey than a simple chauffeured drive to your destination.
More adventurous travelers looking for a creative way to get around coastal areas such as Diani can take a dhow journey. Used extensively by locals, this upgraded canoe offers a unique, thrilling ride that you will definitely need your camera for.
OK, if you really can’t stomach any of the above modes of transit, you can still enjoy travelling like a local, but with a lot more comfort. Skip the flight from Nairobi to Mombasa and get on a luxury coach. These planes on wheels have “hostesses” to see to all your needs while you are enjoy a road tour of Kenya and having a memorable learning experience.
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