First class sleeping-car exterior, Nairobi to Mombasa train

Mombasa here we come...  The sleeper train between Nairobi & Mombasa is ready to leave.  Photo courtesy of Andy Brabin

  Map of train routes in Kenya & southern Africa

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train routes in Southern Africa

Taking the train across Kenya...

If you are willing to brave Kenya's cities (see for advice), the overnight train from Nairobi to Mombasa is the classic and enjoyable way to travel between these cities.  Indeed, spotting big game from the Nairobi-Mombasa night train has always been one of Kenya's great travel experiences, so make sure you include the train in your itinerary.  There's also an overnight train to Kisumu on Lake Victoria.  This page explains all you need to know to take the train around Kenya.

Train times, fares & information...

  Nairobi-Mombasa train service  Timetable, fares, how to buy tickets.

  Nairobi-Kisumu train service  Timetable, fares, how to buy tickets.

  Nairobi-Kampala (Uganda) by bus.

  Nairobi-Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) & Mombasa-Dar es Salaam by bus.

  Useful country information - visas, currency, time zone...

  Hotels in Nairobi or Mombasa  Hotel search.

On other pages...

  Train service Dar es Salaam - Kigoma & Mwanza

  Train service Dar es Salaam - Kapiri Mposhi

  Train service Kapiri Mposhi - Livingstone (-Victoria Falls)

  Train service Victoria Falls - Bulawayo

  Train travel in South Africa

Sponsored links...


Useful country information

Train operator:

Rift Valley Railways (, also see

Time zone:

GMT+3 all year.

Dialling code:




£1 = approx 125 Shillings;   $1 = 100 Shillings    Currency converter

Flights & hotels:


Flights to Kenya   Hotel search

Tourist information:

Kenya has a serious crime problem in the cities.

Check security advice at 


Hotels in Kenya   Guidebooks    Health & vaccinations

Page last updated:

5 January 2017

Nairobi to Mombasa train service

A classic overnight sleeper train called the Jambo Kenya Deluxe links Kenya's capital Nairobi with its second city Mombasa, running twice a week all year round.  The train has 1st class 2-berth sleepers, 2nd class 4-berth sleepers, a restaurant car, and 3rd class seats.   What's the train like?   What's the journey like?   Travellers' reports.

New standard-gauge fast line likely to open in June 2017:  The days of the colonial-era metre-gauge train taking 15 hours are numbered as a new standard-gauge line is under construction between Nairobi & Mombasa.  Construction of the new line was 75% complete in April 2016.  The new line should offer passenger services taking just 5 hours or so from June 2017.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  THE NAIROBI-MOMBASA TRAIN WAS SUSPENDED IN AUGUST 2016, BUT WAS REINSTATED FROM 11 SEPTEMBER 2016 RUNNING TO THE NEW TWICE-WEEKLY TIMETABLE SHOWN BELOW.  This is slower and only twice not 3 times a week, designed to give a more reliable service even if there are delays and smoother ride...

 Nairobi ► Mombasa



 Mombasa ► Nairobi

 Days of running:

Monday, Friday

 Days of running:

Wednesday, Sunday













 Mtito Andei



 Mtito Andei















Daily?  3 times a week?  Twice a week?  You can now check the operational status of this train at the Rift Valley Railways website  The train originally and historically always ran daily, but a few years ago it was reduced to 3 times a week following an accident as they now only have one full set of operational coaches.  It was reduced to running only once or twice a week for various periods in 2011 and 2012, and briefly suspended completely for a period in 2012, but in early 2016 it was running again 3 times a week.  It was suspended from 1 August to 9 September 2016, but should again be running, now twice a week to the timetable shown above. 

You can check the current situation with (select Passenger travel then Inter-City) or contact reliable local booking agency, email

The train can run late, sometimes hours late, so relax, play safe and don't plan tight connections at the other end!

Nairobi to Mombasa is 530km (329 miles).  Kenya Railways have now been concessioned to a company called Rift Valley Railways.


1st class sleeper

4,405 Kenya Shillings (£30 / $45) per person sharing a 2-berth compartment, including dinner and breakfast in the restaurant car. 

This is the ticket office price, if you pre-book through a reliable agency the fare is usually around $60.

Children (aged 3-11) 2,795 Kenya Shillings, children under 3 free.

2nd class sleeper

3,385 Kenya Shillings (£23 / $34) per person sharing a 4-berth compartment, including dinner, bed & breakfast.  Without dinner, it's 2,335 Shillings. 

This is the ticket office price, if you pre-book through a reliable agency the fare is usually around $50 inclding meals.

Children (aged 3-11) 2,285 Kenya Shillings, children under 3 free.

3rd class seat

680 Kenya Shillings (£4 / $6)

Children (aged 3-11) 340 Kenya Shillings, children under 3 free.

You can check fares at (select 'Passenger travel' then 'Inter-City).

How to buy tickets...

You can easily buy train tickets at the station reservation office at Nairobi or Mombasa.  In Nairobi, enter the station and look for the 'upper class booking office', then go to the counter marked 'Mombasa'.  Alternatively, to be sure of getting a ticket for a specific departure, you can buy tickets in advance through one of these travel agencies:

At Nairobi station...

Nairobi railway station   Nairobi booking office   Reservations counter

Above:  If you want to buy tickets at the station, look for the Upper Class Booking and Ticketing Office, and go to the Mombasa counter.  Photos courtesy of Andy Brabin.

What's the Nairobi-Mombasa train like?

Both the Nairobi-Mombasa "Jambo Kenya Deluxe" and the Nairobi-Kisumu "Port Florence Express" have 1st class 2-berth sleepers, 2nd class 4-berth sleepers, 3rd class seats & a restaurant car serving meals, snacks, drinks & beer.  Advance reservation is required.  As well as the photos below, these short videos give an idea of what the journey is like:   Watch video 1   Watch video 2.

1st class consists of lockable 2-berth compartments which convert from a sitting room with sofa by day to sleeping berths at night.  All necessary bedding is provided and there is a washbasin in the compartment.  Toilets are located just along the corridor, there are both western & African type, kept reasonably clean although the loo seat may be missing!  The 1st class fare includes dinner and breakfast in the restaurant car.  If there are more than 2 of you, you can book two adjacent 1st class sleepers with a communicating door, to make a suite for 3 or 4 passengers, so ask when booking.  Take your own insect repellent, a bottle of mineral water, and toilet paper.  Most westerners travel in first class, and you'll find quite a few western travellers on each Nairobi-Mombasa departure.  The first class sleeping-cars & restaurant car were built in Britain, their external appearance may remind UK travellers of British Rail!  Personal security isn't a huge problem, but do make sure you securely lock your compartment door and close the window at night (using the louvered shutter if you want ventilation).  Wandering hands have been known to come through an open window when the train stops at night!

2nd class consists of lockable 4-berth compartments which also convert between two sofas by day to bunks at night, with washbasin.  As in first class, take your own insect repellent, a bottle of mineral water, and toilet paper.  In 2nd class you'll find one or two western travellers, plus Kenyan middle class travellers.

3rd class consist of basic seats in open-plan carriages.  The bulk of the Kenyan population travels this way, as it's so cheap.

First class sleeping-car exterior, Nairobi to Mombasa train   2-berth 1st class sleeper   Washbasin in 1st class sleeper

First class sleepers:  The train to Mombasa, about to leave Nairobi.  Photo courtesy of Andy Brabin.


A 2-berth first class sleeper.  Photo courtesy of Andy Brabin.


Each sleeper compartment has a sink.  Courtesy Andy Brabin.

Table set for dinner on the Nairobi to Mombasa train   Restaurant car interior   Restaurant car exterior, Nairobi to Mombasa train

Restaurant car:  The first class fare includes dinner & breakfast in the restaurant car.  White tablecloths on the tables, but note the holes worn in the flooring!  Catering has now been outsourced to a hotel group.  Photos courtesy of Andy Brabin.

Typical dinner menu:  Soup of the day;  Choice of marinated roast chicken or beef cubes in mushroom sauce, served with roast potatoes or rice; tropical fruit salad; tea or coffee.  Naturally, you can also obtain Kenyan 'Tusker' beer.

What's the journey like?

Nairobi is 5,453 feet above sea level, and the train descends to the coast, Mombasa being just 59 feet above sea level. In the Mombasa to Nairobi direction, look out for impala, giraffe, ostrich and other game whilst eating breakfast in the restaurant car.

1st class 2-berth sleeper on the Mombasa-Nairobi train   Train travel in Kenya:  The Nairobi-Mombasa train  

Above left:  Relaxing with a bottle of 'Tusker' in a 1st class 2-berth sleeper on the Nairobi-Mombasa train.  The compartment is shown with berths folded away and sofa folded out.

Above right:  The Nairobi-Mombasa express...  Photographs courtesy of David Pinney


Above:  Ready to go!  Photo courtesy of

Nairobi to Mombasa train   Scenery from the train in Kenya

Above:  Scenery seen from the Nairobi to Mombasa train.  A new green Rift Valley Railways colour scheme has now replaced the traditional Kenya Railways dark red & cream. Photo courtesy of

On the Nairobi - Mombassa train   In the restaurant car, on the Nairobi - Mombasa train   1st class sleeper on the Nairobi - Mombassa train, Kenya

All aboard for Mombasa!


Dinner in the restaurant is included in the fare...


...then retire to your sleeper.

These three photos courtesy of Audrey & Jeroen

Traveller's reports...

Mike from Wiltshire reports from a Nairobi-Mombassa train journey:  "My girlfriend and I travelled on the Nairobi to Mombasa overnight service, first class, in September 2008.  We're pleased to report some improvements, and confirm that everything written below by previous correspondents remains roughly accurate!

The rolling stock remains late 50's - with very narrow corridors.  Think ex BR from 1970.  Not everything works, so expect some lights not working etc, but at least the electricity now works all the time and the mosquito nets are intact (very important!) so one can sleep with the window open (recommended, as very hot otherwise) which is noisy but not that bad, if one is tired!  The fans are never going to work!  A nice touch was the vanity closet in the corner with running water, so at least one can wash one's face and clean one's teeth in the morning.  The company is now, I believe, being run by a South African concern and a number of improvements are being made - not least to punctuality.

The Train Manager "Amos" introduced himself as we set off and stated that there were armed police on board - possibly true, though we didn't see any.  Security didn't seem to be an issue though, as the train was mostly full of European tourists, and I suggest that you book first class, or you may end up sharing a cabin with two drunken backpackers!  Food and drink on board was average quality, but tasty, plentiful, and cooked to order.  It's nice to have a proper table cloth!  No instances of gippy tummy reported!  The staff tried really hard to be of good service and their friendly manner helped make the journey very enjoyable. Tip:  Ask for the second sitting when the station staff give you the restaurant sitting card - the first sitting is only good if you are already starving as it starts about one hour after departure, but you are rushed to complete your dining so they can start the second.  The second sitting allows you time to reflect, chill out, watch the sights and talk to your fellow travellers - which I highly recommend.  I enjoyed a stilted but fascinating conversation with a large German businessman whose Kenyan wife and himself were sitting at our table - sharing is often the case, so don't expect a quiet tÍte-ŗ-tÍte!  The same applies at breakfast next day (first or second sitting) to which one is summonsed by a loud ringing of bells.  Booze is available at cheap prices. A 500ml Tusker beer was just 120 shillings, approx £1. Decent wines were also stocked. In fact, I suggest you club together and get one white one red for the table for about a fiver...

The beds are made up whilst you are at dinner (take your valuables with you for safety) and are surprisingly comfortable. We slept like logs!  The cabin attendant will expect a tip, 30 shillings is reasonable (about 25p).  The doors lock from the inside but you cannot lock the cabin when you go to dinner.  Having said that, security isn't an issue as long as you're moving.

The toilets are, let's say, basic - try squatting when rattling along!  The look on my girlfriend's face was priceless!  But some European variety are available, you just have to check a few booths before you find one.

Punctuality is much improved. The train left only 15 mins late, at 7.45pm as opposed to its regular scheduled time of 7.30pm daily from Nairobi. It arrived only one hour late at 10am, despite a few stops during the night for animals on the line etc.

All in all, as the above correspondent states, it's a very good adventure to enjoy, and one pulls into Mombasa refreshed and ready to transfer to the lovely hotels along the beaches there.  Incidentally, if one is looking for a quality hotel nearby that is excellent value, I recommend the Sapphire, which is only 5 mins walk across the main roundabout outside the station in Mombasa. It can be seen from the station."

Traveller Dave Siviour used both the Nairobi-Mombassa & Nairobi-Kisumu trains and has the following advice:

Traveller Victoria Green used the train both ways:  "The journey time given when you "check in" is now 17 hours - i.e. arrival time is midday at either end.  And if you're lucky you'll usually arrive half an hour or so earlier than that, rather than, from what I've heard, several hours later than the old  9.00 estimate.  The train is certainly slow!  We took it both ways, and I would say the Mombassa to Nairobi run is the better for spotting wildlife en route - after breakfast I managed to get pretty decent photos of ostrich, impala and gazelle out of the windows of the moving train.  Your description of the basicness of the facilities is true, as there are few working lights in the carriages, no working fans (but the windows do have mesh screens so you can open them) and it's all looking a bit run down.  I've heard the train company has recently changed ownership and they have plans to improve the service and introduce higher speed trains on the line, so things may change."

Traveller Sue Waterman travelled from Nairobi to Mombassa on the Jambo Kenya Deluxe:  "Your recommendation of East Africa Shuttles was spot on - they were excellent !  We love night trains and have taken them all over the world, so we couldn't resist a Nairobi to Mombassa one with character. And we weren't disappointed - this one was was an adventure !  We were in 1st (apparently 2nd class has separate menís' & ladies carriages and we wanted to be together), and the first surprise was getting stuck with our backpacks on in the very narrow corridors.  Backpacks off we walked sideways to our door.  There is no longer any electrical power in any of the carriages except the restaurant car & engine - we discovered this at 6.30 when it got really dark, and at 7.00 an employee came around with big fluorescent lanterns - very necessary to go to the pitch dark washroom on a moving train...  They ran out fairly quickly, but fortunately we also carry a key ring size compact fluorescent Coleman Lantern which more than proved its worth that night.  Walking to dinner with our lanterns was a little like camping trips in childhood - great fun.  And the dining car was incredible: 1950s original china and cutlery, bent, chipped and faded but still being laid out formally for dinner as it had been under the Brits.  Seats let down to surprisingly large & comfortable beds, certainly among the biggest & most comfortable we've ever met - but with no power I'm glad we were there in winter because that top bunk would have been hot in summer.  We arrived only two hours late - lots of stops and starts and one truly hair-raising downhill stretch coming off the escarpment in the night when we reached some pretty high speeds and we woke up wondering if the brakes actually worked - and in the morning along the way into Mombassa it seemed as though every child (and lots of adults) along the way was coming out of their villages to wave to us.  A great adventure!"

Train from Nairobi arrived at Mombasa   Mombasa station sign   Mombasa train station

Above:  Arrival at Mombasa.  Photos courtesy of Andy Brabin.

Nairobi to Kisumu train service

 Nairobi Kisumu


 Kisumu Nairobi

 Days of running:

Monday & Friday *  

 Days of running:

Tuesday & Sunday *

























This train is the PORT FLORENCE EXPRESS, Nairobi-Kisumu.  Currently CANCELLED.

* Train currently cancelled due to track repairs, no indication when service will resume.  You can check the current operational status of this train at the Rift Valley Railways website (select 'Passenger travel' then 'Inter-City').  This train was cancelled from 4 May 2012 until such time as it is reinstated, and it's still not running in 2015.  Over the last few years this train has been running, then not running, then running again.  It originally ran 3 times a week, was reduced to once a week in summer 2010, restored to running 3 times a week in each direction in 2011.  It was temporarily cancelled from February until April 2012, but it resumed running on 2 April 2012, and is now running twice a week as shown above.  Or rather, now it isn't again, as it's reported cancelled (yet again) as from 4 May 2012 due to goodness-knows-what.  Check at, double-check locally, and if you have any more feedback, please email me

** Expect an arrival 10:00-11:00.  Don't plan any tight connections!

It has 1st class 2-berth sleepers, 2nd class 4-berth sleepers, restaurant car, 3rd class seats, similar to the Nairobi-Mombasa train, see the photos & information above.


1st class sleeper

3,010 Kenya Shillings (£17 / $32) per person sharing a 2-berth compartment including dinner & breakfast.

Children (aged 3-11) 1,925 Kenya Shillings, children under 3 free.

2nd class sleeper

2,210 Kenya Shillings (£12 / $24) per person sharing a 4-berth compartment including dinner & breakfast, or 1,685 shillings without dinner.

Children (aged 3-11) 1,525 Kenya Shillings, children under 3 free.

3rd class seat

500 Kenya Shillings (£3 / $5).

Children (aged 3-11) 250 Kenya Shillings, children under 3 free.

There is no passenger train service into Uganda at the present time, so see the alternative bus service.

How to buy tickets...

You can book the train when you get to Kenya at the station reservation office at Nairobi.  Or you can book it in advance before you get to Kenya, through one of several travel agencies:

A train ride from Kisumu to Nairobi...

Kisumu railway station, Kenya   The Kisumu to Nairobi train

Kisumu railway station...  Photo courtesy of Tim Siegenbeekvan Heukelom


The Kisumu to Nairobi train...  Photo courtesy of Tim Siegenbeekvan Heukelom

Sleeper corridor, Nairobi to Kisumu train   2-berth sleeper on the Nairobi to Kisumu train   Sleeping-car exterior, Nairobi to Kisumu train

First class 2-bed sleeper on the Kisumu to Nairobi train...  From left to right, the sleeper corridor, a 2-berth sleeper compartment, and the exterior of the British-built 1st class sleeping-car.  Photos courtesy of Tim Siegenbeekvan Heukelom.

Bus service between Kenya & Uganda

The railway from Nairobi to Kampala is non-operational, at least as far as passenger trains are concerned.  But there are bus services as follows:

Nairobi - Kampala (Uganda) bus service...

Several reputable bus companies ply this route, each with several buses daily, journey time around 13 hours:, Easy Coach and Kampala Coach.  Kalita bus is reportedly of lower quality.  With Modern Coast Express there are three bus type options, regular/economy costs 70,000 Ugandan shillings ($28, at the current 2500 UGX/USD), first class 85,000 ($34) and VIP at 105,000 ($42).

Feedback on any of these bus services would be welcome.

Traveller Alex Wyse reports on a Kampala to Nairobi bus ride with Modern Coast Express:  I sprung for the First Class seat, and though it was probably worth the extra $6 (noticeably bigger and reclined to a very comfortable position, slightly more leg room), next time I'll save and do economy since the seats appear very nice. In my opinion, the jump from First to VIP is not worth it, just observing those seats. All seats have outlets that work, and passengers are given a bottle of water and a small pack of nuts at the beginning. During the ride, the driver plays music, but most of the time it's calm enough.  The bus left right on time and the ride was smooth. Crossing the border at Busia is easy and you can obtain a Kenyan visa on arrival.  We probably stopped 4 or 5 times in total. At the border stop (it's only about 3 hours from Kampala) there is more than enough time to make a "short call" and get a snack. We stopped for lunch in Eldoret around 13:30 at a little Somali diner.  We pulled into Nairobi a hair before 19:30, making the trip a little over 13 hours in total.  You arrive in Nairobi a little out of town on Mombasa Road, and there are plenty of special hire taxis waiting to take you (about the only reasonable thing to do unless you have someone waiting for you). 

As far as I know, buses leave from the same place in Nairobi for Kampala at both 07:00 and 09:00 on all days.  Though I heard there were no more night buses in Kenya after the Al-Shabab attacks last year, Modern runs a bus from Kampala departing at 12:30 in the morning, which would put you in Nairobi a little after midday. Not sure about westbound night buses.  All in all a good experience, and a good cheap to mid-level option for
getting between these cities.

Bus service between Kenya & Tanzania

Mombasa - Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) bus service...

A daily bus leaves Mombasa at 08:00, arriving Dar at 18:00.  Northbound, it leaves Dar at 08:00, arriving Mombasa 17:30.  Fare 1,600 Kenyan shillings or 19,000 Tanzanian shillings (£13/$21).  See  Note:  It was reported that this service was to cease from June 2009, there are other operators but as yet I have no information on alternatives.

Nairobi - Arusha - Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) bus service...

Akambabus used to run a daily bus departing Nairobi at 06:30 and arriving Dar es Salaam at 21:00. Fare in region of 3,200 Kenyan shillings or 38,000 Tanzanian shillings (£22/$38).  They have folded, it's not clear if anyone else has taken over. and both operate small buses between Nairobi and Arusha twice a day with departures from both Nairobi and Arusha around 08:00 & 14:00, journey time 6h, fare US$20-$35.

Feedback on any of these bus services would be welcome.

For onward train travel to Zambia, Zimbabwe & South Africa see the Zambia & Tanzania page, Zimbabwe page & South Africa page.


Lonely Planet KenyaRough Guide KenyaI strongly recommend investing in a good guidebook - which for serious independent travellers means either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both provide an excellent level of practical information and historical background. 

Click here to buy the Lonely Planet guide to Kenya or here to buy the Rough Guide to Kenya at Amazon.




Hotels in Nairobi, Mombasa & Kenya


◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison. checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less! is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...

Flights to Kenya...

Overland travel by train & bus around Africa is an essential part of the experience, so once there, don't cheat and fly, stay on the ground!  But a long-haul flight might be unavoidable to reach Kenya in the first place.  For flights to Nairobi, start with Skyscanner. 

skyscanner generic 728x90

Travel insurance



Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see - 10% discount with code seat61.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!


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