Last updated: 10th August 2023
Taking the shuttle bus is the most budget-friendly way to travel from Arusha, Tanzania to Nairobi, Kenya. Due to the immigration stop at the Namanga border, the trip takes approximately 4 hours by private car, while the shuttle bus journey extends to around 6 hours. Surprisingly, the journey felt shorter than anticipated, likely because I managed to sleep through a significant portion of it. During the time I was awake, I had the pleasure of enjoying some stunning scenic views and wildlife along the route.
How to purchase your bus ticket?
You can purchase your bus ticket at the Riverside bus station in Kijenge near the Impala Hotel. Upon arrival, you’ll notice several bus companies, with Riverside Shuttle and Marangu being the prominent choices. In my case, I opted for a ticket from the Marangu shuttle bus based on the recommendation of locals who praised their reliability and comfortable seating. Both of these companies offer both private hire and shared shuttle services. Both shuttle providers offer the convenience of hotel drop-off services, making the travel experience even more convenient.
Cost of bus ticket: 50000 Tsh (£15)
Travel Smart Tip: It’s a good idea to buy your ticket at least a day before you travel.
The bus leaves at 8:00 am from Riverside bus station which is the meeting point. It’s important to note that the reporting time to arrive at the meeting point is 7:30 am. The estimated arrival time in Nairobi is 2:00 pm at the Parkside Hotel in Jevanjee. The shuttle bus companies can provide hotel drop-off as well.
What do you need to do before travelling to Kenya?
It’s important to check your country’s travel advisory for Kenya as entry requirements into Kenya will differ from country to country.
- Starting from May 9, 2023, the Government of Kenya has made changes to its entry requirements regarding COVID-19. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test is no longer mandatory for entry into Kenya.
Travellers displaying flu-like symptoms will now need to undergo a rapid antigen test at their own expense, costing $30 USD. If the antigen test returns a positive result, the traveller must then take a PCR test, which will also be at their own cost, amounting to $50 USD. Following the Ministry of Health’s guidelines on isolation, those who test positive will need to self-isolate. If symptoms worsen and become severe, the isolation requirements for mild, moderate, and severe cases will apply.
- If you travel to Kenya with flu-like symptoms, you will be required to fill out the passenger locator form on the ‘jitenge’ platform: https://ears.health.go.ke/airline_registration/ and to undergo a rapid antigen test at their own cost regardless of age or vaccination status. If the antigen test is positive, they will be required to undergo a COVID-19 PCR test at their own cost.
- British, USA and Nigerian passport holders all require a visa to enter Kenya. You can get a single entry visa on arrival or apply for an e-visa online before your departure.
- You may need a yellow fever certificate when entering Kenya from certain destinations.
What happens at the Namanga border?
I travelled during the pandemic times which impacted the way the officials at the Namanga border operate. Face masks had to be worn at all times and my temperature was checked. If you are passing through the border soon, this is what to expect.
- Security Checks: There will be security checks, including bag inspections and sniffer dogs.
- Forms: You’ll need to complete departure and health forms accurately.
- COVID Test: Present printed negative COVID test results to health officials for stamping and signing. A copy will be retained.
- Printing: If you have applied for a visa beforehand and it’s been approved, make sure you print a copy to take to immigration. If necessary, a printer is available for you to print documents at an additional cost.
- Yellow Fever Vaccination: Have your yellow fever vaccination certificate ready as they may request to see it. Check with your country’s foreign travel advice and embassy if you need a yellow fever certificate.
- Tanzanian Immigration: The Tanzanian immigration officer will stamp your passport.
- Kenyan Immigration: You’ll then need to provide printed copies of your visa and COVID test certificate to the Kenyan immigration authorities. If you don’t have an e-visa, you can obtain a visa upon arrival based on your passport holder country.
- Inquiries by Kenyan Immigration: Expect a few questions from Kenyan immigration officers regarding the purpose of your visit.
- Return Ticket: Kenyan immigration will also require proof of a return ticket.
- Luggage Security: Once you’ve successfully cleared Kenyan immigration, your luggage will undergo security checks again. After this, you’ll be free to enter Kenya.
These are the updated protocols for a smooth and safe crossing at the Namanga border.
Looking for some more interesting things to do in Nairobi? Check out my blog post on 8 Fun Things To Do In Nairobi On A Budget
Would you do a road trip to cross the border to another country?
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