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Navigating Nairobi: Exploring Transportation Options

In this guide, we will look into the different means of transportation within the city of Nairobi, while giving insights on the pros and cons of each. We will also discuss tips and essential information that may come into clutch, especially for travelers and visitors

Nairobi is not the most walkable city, as sidewalks or any pedestrian infrastructure are not established through and consistently. Additionally, the absence of a metro train system leaves vehicles as the primary transportation means.


Matatu Bus

Matatus are a form of public transport involving minibusses, from small 7-seaters to larger 44-seaters. What sets matatus apart from say city buses is they stop everywhere along the route to drop and pick off passengers; unlike buses that will only stop at the station. This is one of the reasons why matatus are attractive to passengers over buses, the flexibility offers travelers convenience

The other aspect of their spike in popularity is, that they are relatively small and thus fill passengers quickly, reducing wait time.

Perhaps the most defining thing about matatus is their culture; from the crazy themes and graffiti of each minibus to blaring loud music and flashing lights. Matatus are privately owned, and due to increased competition, the owners go a step extra to make their matatus more appealing and outstanding to the customers by spending money on modifications.

This works especially for the younger travelers, some even will skip other matatus to just wait for their favorite one for some reason!

Matatus, especially the smaller ones (14-seaters), are cramped and won’t offer the best comfortable experience, especially adding to the blasting of loud music. On the plus side, the commute distances made my matatus are short so it shouldn’t be a big problem

City Buses

Nairobi City Buses: Citi Hoppa, City Shuttle & KBS

City buses unlike matatus, are more elegant. No graffiti, and loud music. Just plain old boring buses. The plus side is they are significantly spacious and more organized, even in stops and tickets are issued upon paying the bus fare. In Matatu, the fare is just collected randomly, and so is alighting and getting on.

Buses are not that convenient as they take time to get passengers to occupy all the seats and are relatively slow, so if you are in a hurry a matatu will be your best bet, or a boda boda, up next.

Boda Boda

Boda Boda Motorbikes

A boda boda is simply a motorbike taxi. These are everywhere even in the most remote parts of the country. Just about every corner in Nairobi is a boda boda station, where a group of riders are stationed awaiting any customer who needs transportation. Unlike buses and matatus that travel a specific route at the time, boda bodas are so flexible they will take you anywhere you want nearby.

Unlike matatu and buses with pre-established fare, for boda boda you will have to negotiate since at first they will quote you higher. If you are a foreigner then they will even quote you almost double if not triple, so make sure you negotiate!

Alternatively, you can get boda bodas from ride-sharing apps that have pre-established fares for distance and you won’t have to negotiate. But waiting for a ride-sharing boda boda is not the most convenient if you are in a hurry.

Boda bodas are mostly used by locals who are running late and can’t take a matatu as they stop all the time, for a boda boda, it’s just you and straight to your destination.

The other attractive thing about boda bodas is; that they can navigate and maneuver through traffic so, even in heavy traffic be sure you will get to your destination on time.

However, in the end, boda boda will cost way more than if you took a matatu or a bus, but the convenience and flexibility they offer are totally worth the price, also to mention the most adventurous means where you get the most authentic local experience!

Ensure your rider offers you a helmet, however, just for safety concerns.



Taxis are probably my least recommended means here. They are exorbitant for no reason while offering the same services and less convenience as ride-sharing apps.

Just skip on taxis, they are not worth it. For the same distance you pay $5 for Uber, Nairobi taxis will charge you almost $20!

The only use case of a taxi is when you need transport for the entire day, visiting different locations. Taxis can offer that convenience and flexibility by charging you one rate for say some hours or even the entire day.

Ride Sharing Apps


Probably the best option for travelers and tourists, they offer the best value between comfort, flexibility, and convenience. There are different companies that operate from the famous Uber to Bolt, Little and so much more.

They all operate in the same mechanics, the difference being the rates charged. Uber is by far the most expensive of all

Recommended Links

Moving to Nairobi? Here is What to Expect

Guide to Nairobi Airport: (NBO) Jomo Kenyatta-JKIA

Why is Nairobi Abbreviated as NBO and not NRB?


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