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Getting Around in Mombasa

Posted by on January 19, 2012

When visiting any country, it is very useful to know of the various modes of transport in order to make your travels less stressful. Most if not all countries offer multiple forms of transport ranging from bicycles to complete underground train networks depending on your location and the general populations requirements. I will be looking at the various forms of local transport (nothing long distance) available in Mombasa starting with the cheapest and ended with the most pricy. All prices are compared by ‘segment’ which I have highlighted in the map above. (Note: /- is the symbol commonly used to depict KSh or Kenyan Shillings. Prices are subject to change and I cannot be help responsible for changes in the economy.)

Matatus (minibuses)

Matatu

The cheapest of all transport methods, minibus taxis or matatus as they called here, is the most popular form of transport for the locals. For the negative aspects of matatus, you may refer to my previous post however, every cloud has a silver lining right?

There are only about a quadrillion of them scooting around at high speed along their various routes. They are always packed with people but they will always find space for you. There is a ‘screamer’ who hangs out the door and searches for customers to pick up. He’s responsible for handling the money too. As a passenger, all you need to do is bang on the roof and no matter where the matatus is, it will stop (in the middle of the road is there isn’t place on the side). Just hang onto your belongings and say a prayer when you get on one.

Cost

About 20 /- per segment.

Bicycles

Enjoy having someone work for a few coins? Jump on a bicycle and have the rider peddle you all the way across town. I have not hitched a lift with one of these guys as I’m not really the masochistic type. It is uplifting to see people creating work opportunities for themselves and endeavour to earn a loving rather than resort to begging so in that light, it would be good for me to give them a chance. Only issue is time really. You see, they cost approximately the same as a bodoboda which will get you there in a tenth of the time (and are less dangerous in my opinion). Anyway, you will find these guys situated and most any corner which sees a large movement of traffic. Probably within throwing distance of the bodabodas.

Cost

Will cost you 30 /- per segment.

Bodabodas (motorbikes)

A bodaboda is a Swahili term specific to a motorbike taxi. A motorbike itself is ‘pikipiki’. A motorbike ride will cost you about the same as a bicycle. Although not far, I have enjoyed a few lifts with a bodaboda and did not feel that my life was threatened. The drivers are careful and drive slowly (though, this may be due to lack of riding experience. Acquiring a license here is basically a matter of money) on the extreme left of the road to allow maximum overtaking space for other vehicles. The drivers are friendly and very willing to pass along their cell number should you wish to make him your dedicated driver.

Cost

Prices are negotiable to an extent but expect to pay around 40 /- per segment.

Tuk Tuks

Tuk Tuk

If you’ve ever been to Asia, specifically Thailand, you will already have a very good idea of what these are. A tuk tuk is basically a motorbike which has been converted into a ‘bike-and-carraige’. There is place for up to 3 people to safely sit however I have seen up to 9 people squeeze themselves into one. Beacause these guys are smaller than cars, they have this belief that they can access parts of the road other vehicles cannot. Sidewalks, the gap between your and Yuri neighbours wng mirrors, no space is too small. They crises around with a blatant disregard for life and I have seen many accidents (of the small fender-bender variety) all around town.

Cost

A tuk tuk will on average cos you 50 /- per segment.

Taxis

The most ‘luxurious’ mode of transport (and most expensive) , taxis will take you where ever you need to go. Not much to say as basically every country in the world has taxis and they all operate in a similar fashion. What does make the taxis different here is that they dont use a meter and so have ‘set’ rates for the various segments. Obviously, this rate is exaggerated on first communication so a little negotiating must be done. If possible, refrain from taking a taxi late at night or in the early hours of the morning from a club. If you can’t get a ride home, it’s best to meet a taxi driver and make him your go-to guy as he will not over-charge you. Just make sure he works nights (or find one that does). The taxis at the various party spots knock up their price four fold and you have to fight with them to bring them down as they know that some desperate (or drunk-out-of-their-mind) person will take their offer.

Cost

You’d be looking at an average of about 400 /- per segment.

The End

Anyway, that is just a break down of the various modes of local transport available to people. As I states above, the prices will change (and I will not be keeping this up-to-date with the latest prices) but this should give you a good idea of what to expect. If you have any funny, scary or just plain weird experiences on some of our transport, why not leave your experience below in the comments. And with that, until next time.

3 Responses to Getting Around in Mombasa

  1. connie

    love the fact they have tuk tuks there! :)

  2. Braden

    I don’t. They are a menace! :P

  3. ZainabK

    I agree. They are noisy and frustrating and they all look like they’re about to break apart any minute as they rattle by.

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