A Guide to Driving in Kenya: Rules, Requirements, Safety
A Detailed Guide to Driving in Kenya: Rules, Requirements, Safety. Are you considering a vacation in Kenya where you drive yourself? Excellent decision!
For tourists planning to rent a car in Kenya without a driver, this guide has critical advice and important information. With information on everything from Kenyan road conditions to safety suggestions, navigation, and backup systems, and much more besides.
Would you rather have a local guide take the wheel? Feel free to peruse this website for additional details regarding our skilled driver-guides.
Driving in Kenya: Tips And Information
- How are the road conditions for driving in Kenya
- Speed limits in Kenya
- Tips to drive safe in Kenya
- What side of the road should I drive
- Do I need an international driving license in Kenya
- How does it work with navigation in Kenya
- What is the mileage/fuel consumption?
- Which Telecom provider to use in Kenya
- Border crossing to Tanzania or Uganda
- Is insurance included with my car rental in Kenya
- What happens in case of a breakdown or accident
- How to deal with traffic police in Kenya
Driving Around Kenya
1. How are the road conditions for driving in Kenya
You may easily reach your safari spot in Kenya on any of the major paved highways that radiate out from Nairobi. There are a lot of people using the A109 Nairobi–Momosa route, and some of those people are driving quite slowly. Particularly in the area between Tsavo, Voi, and Mombasa, the A109 appears to be partially under construction at all times.
Kenya often has unpaved secondary ‘C’ and ‘D’ roads. Eroded surfaces or potholes are likely.
Dirt roads are prone to erosion, which can lead to the formation of unsightly washboards or ribbons. These sections can be challenging to drive on. Even though it’s the best course of action, driving slowly will cause the automobile to tremble severely. When you accelerate quickly, the car seems more stable because the suspension dampens road vibrations, but you lose control of the steering wheel.
Other Roadtrippers have informed us that they have witnessed individuals speeding along certain routes. Attention: these vehicles are piloted by expert driver-guides who have a minimum of ten years of expertise behind the wheel of a Landcruiser on these specific routes. Stay away from making comparisons to them. On the washboard ribbon roads, it is extremely difficult—if not dangerous—to take turns, make adjustments, and respond to unexpected problems at high speeds.
Amboseli National Park
On a road trip across Kenya, you can reach Amboseli National Park in one of two ways, according to Google Maps. One way is to take a left at the Athi River, head west toward the Namanga border, and then take the C103. Stay away from this path. The C103 is severely damaged. Damage to the vehicle and significantly longer travel times are the results of driving on this route. You should instead take a detour at Emali town and keep going on the Nairobi–Mosambika highway. Proceed to Kimana town and the Kimana gate by taking the C102. The whole road is tarmacked and in excellent shape, making this the fastest route.
Amboseli National Park | Kenya
Masai Mara National Park
To reach the Masai Mara, the majority of visitors use the Sekanani gate. The C12, which is completely paved, is the one to follow. After you visit Maji Moto, which is on the way to Sekani gate, you can follow Google Maps to the C11. Stay away from that path. The road is quite difficult. Damage to the vehicle and significantly longer travel times are the results of driving on this route. To reach Maji Moto Eco Camp, simply take the C12 to the Sekenani gate and then turn left at the sign.
The Mara Triangle’s Oloololo Gate, as well as the Maasai Mara National Reserve’s Musiara and Talek Gates, are all accessible via the C13. Do not travel on this road; it is in a terrible condition.
Southbound on the C107 between Mariakani and Kinango. If you’re trying to avoid Mombasa, this isn’t the way to go. It’s a terrible condition.
Taking unofficial routes is never a smart choice when driving through Kenya. On a self-drive road journey through Kenya, don’t get lost if you can’t decide which route to follow. We can provide advice; just contact the Car Rental Drives Africa staff in Nairobi via phone or SMS. You can reach us at any time through WhatsApp.
2. Speed limits in Kenya
- The speed limit on highways is 80 km/hr. It may not appear like much, but a Landcruiser loaded down with camping supplies and bags is a big vehicle. Because of the greater stopping distance, law enforcement agencies consider safari vehicles to be trucks.
- speed limit in urban areas is 40 km/hr. Be warned that major roads also go through residential areas; as a result, you should slow down considerably.
- The National Parks speed limit 35 per hour.
For your peace of mind, all of our Kenyan rental cars come fitted with GPS systems that alert us immediately if you exceed the speed limit.
3. Tips to drive safe in Kenya
- Always drive defensively, slowly, and without interruption: There are a number of spots along the A109 Nairobi–Momosa route where lorries are going at a snail’s pace. It is more prudent to ease into the flow of traffic rather than attempting to pass. Try to picture yourself attempting to pass the truck in front of you while simultaneously attempting to avoid a pothole; this will help you anticipate and prepare for any unexpected maneuvers that may be necessary…
- Avoid potholes at all costs; they are dangerous and can harm your vehicle or even puncture a tire.
Please purchase a local SIM card, load it with airtime, and then insert it into your smartphone. We highly recommend an internet bundle. Sim cards are available for purchase at the airport and other retail locations upon arrival. Coverage in Kenya is best provided by Safaricom.
- When you’re in a larger town or city like Nairobi or Mombasa, turn on your car’s central lock. Keep valuable possessions out of your automobile at all times.
- Beware of unmarked speed bumps
- Do not ever park in an unattended place. If you’re planning to spend the night at a town’s hostel, check to see if they offer a safe parking lot.
- Do not drive at night. Not only are the potholes hard to notice, but oncoming traffic employs their blazing high lights as well. Get a head start (7 AM) on a long day of travel so you don’t have to endure driving in the light of day.
- No matter what happens, you should always be prepared with some money, water, and a fully charged cell phone.
4. What side of the road should I drive
To the left. In Kenya, drivers must keep to the left side of the road at all times.
5. Do I need an international driving license in Kenya
In Kenya, an international driver’s license is not required. All that is required is a valid driver’s license from your nation of origin. Your driver’s license should never be out of your sight.
6. How does it work with navigation in Kenya
Before you go to Kenya, make sure you download Maps.me on your phone in addition to Google Maps. You can download the app for free. Enjoy GPS navigation without an internet connection by downloading the Kenya maps.
It is also strongly advised that you download the iOverlander app. Plotted campsites are practically everywhere in Kenya.
The recommended trip time should be increased by around 30% when utilizing navigation applications such as Google Maps. You can’t just glance at the roads on Google Maps and plot your own course to Kenya.
7. What is the mileage/fuel consumption
Depending on the road conditions and how you steer the Landcruiser, you may expect an approximate fuel economy of 7-8 km/L. Gasoline prices change. Find the most recent price by searching online.
8. Which Telecom provider to use in Kenya
A number of mobile network carriers in Kenya offer 5G/4G service. In terms of coverage, Safaricom is first. In addition to retail outlets like malls and airports, you can also find SIM cards at roadside kiosks.
Obtain a SIM card and top it off with enough data to make and receive calls and internet before you hit the road. Just bring your passport to a telecom service center and they will gladly provide you with a SIM card. Alternately, our experts can meet you at the airport or resort and provide you with instructions on where to get a SIM card.
9. Border crossing to Tanzania or Uganda
For a single African road trip, you can extend your insurance coverage to include Tanzania, Uganda, or Rwanda. Buying a Comesa card will provide you this extension. In our booking form, you have the option to pick this.
All of the required documentation will be prepared by the Car Rental Drives Africa team in Kenya. Visa and road tax payments must be made independently at the border. For Tanzania, it’s about $50-$60, and for Uganda, it’s over $90.
Except for the countries mentioned above, crossing the border into any other African country is not possible.
If you’re planning a trip to Uganda, keep in mind that national parks charge $150 per vehicle, per day for vehicles whose registration is not in Uganda, compared to UGX 50,000 for foreign-registered vehicles.
If you’re planning a trip to Tanzania, keep in mind that national parks in Tanzania are open to cars with Kenyan license plates and charge the same admission as vehicles with Tanzanian plates. Park permits are not required in advance.
As part of their road trip, some tourists want to stop at the Serengeti. Despite sharing a habitat, the Serengeti and the Masai Mara are physically separated. Adding at least 1.5 days to your travel time, you’ll need to drive around the parks utilizing the Namanga, Isabania, or Loitokitok border.
10. Is insurance included with my car rental in Kenya
Every one of our Kenyan rental cars comes with full insurance coverage in case of fire, accident, or third-party liability. Your medical and travel insurance will cover injuries and property damage.
The insurance will not pay more than $400-$600 in own risk. Insurance does not pay for repairs to tires, undercarriage, or windows. Any harm that comes to the rental vehicle or someone else’s property is the responsibility of the renter if:
traveling at excessive speeds; accidents involving one or more vehicles (which are seen as the consequence of careless driving); harm done to the vehicle due to inadequate care and maintenance; driving while intoxicated; and operating a motor vehicle on designated routes or in certain regions.
You may find our whole set of terms and conditions in the rental car agreement. Another option is to look them up here.
11. What happens in case of a breakdown or accident
Before sending any vehicle on a journey, we give it a full inspection and service. However, problems might still arise, so it’s important to keep that in mind whenever you hire a car in a country with poor roads, like Kenya. Make sure to factor in enough wiggle room in your schedule to accommodate any unforeseen events. You may trust that we have extensive experience in coordinating sufficient backup support.
In most cases, breakdowns occur because of…
- the vehicle’s state.
- how one drives in difficult road conditions (including washboard ribbons, potholes, speed bumps, dust, and mud).
- some unfortunate circumstances.
Regardless of the cause of your breakdown, we will assist you to the best of our abilities, even if we can only influence the first of these events. While we are experts at resolving issues as they arise, it is important to remember that provide road support also necessitates your cooperation, flexibility, and patience.
Our ten years in the industry have shown us that driver behavior, particularly overbooked itineraries that result in lengthy days behind the wheel, excessive speeding, or exhaustion, is a common cause of breakdowns. Therefore, do not set your sights too high with your trip plans; this is our number one piece of advice. Troubleshooting is less effective than prevention.
The majority of roadside mechanical problems are rather small, and getting assistance quickly is essential to getting back on the road. If you run into any problems, we can either send a mechanic to the closest workshop or connect you with a network of mechanics in the bush to help you out. You can get a new vehicle if your old one breaks down and can’t be fixed in that time.
Before you answer this question, be honest with yourself and think about how you react when something out of the ordinary occurs. Do not proceed with a self-drive trip to Kenya if you answered yes. Your travel plans for the day could be derailed if you get a flat tire, get trapped in the mud, or encounter a technical issue due to the rough and dusty roads.
To get more information, check see our Terms & Conditions that are published on this page.
How to deal with traffic police in Kenya
Keep your cool, be courteous, and be patient whenever you interact with a Kenyan government official. You can make new friends by greeting them in Swahili (Jambo) and making jokes.
In order to verify that you have the necessary equipment, such as a first aid box, fire extinguisher, and reflective triangles, as well as to inspect the car’s insurance and tires, traffic police will often stop you. That is, of course, included when you rent a 4×4 from Car Rental Drives Africa. A fine for an offense (dangerous overtaking, speeding, etc.) is payable by direct bank deposit. To get a better understanding of the crime and how to resolve it, get in touch with our team at the Nairobi office. We will speak with the police.