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10 Best Road Trips From Nairobi - Updated 2020

{{trip101_paragraph_count}} Best Road Trips From Nairobi
Barry
Barry
Updated

The next time you’re in Nairobi, once you’ve visited the capital’s tourist sites (which are awesome by the way) consider something a little bit different, go on a road trip. Step out from behind the cloak that hides tourists from the real side of a country, a side that’s authentic and unassuming. When on the road, Kenya will open up to you, revealing people who are genuinely hospitable and scenery that’s truly heavenly. You can opt to visit popular cities like Mombasa or Kisumu, or decide to travel to far-flung areas like Samburu. On our list below, we have put together the best road trips from Nairobi that will give you an unforgettable Kenyan experience. Keep reading to learn more.

1. Nairobi to Kisumu

Kisumu shore
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Victor O' used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Drive from Kenya’s capital to the lake-side city of Kisumu, a distance of about 400 km (258 miles). This is a road trip that lots of Kenyans take, not for pleasure, but because Kisumu is the home to tens of thousands of locals who work in the capital. However, as a pleasure trip, you’ll get a chance to stop and appreciate lots of views that they hardly get to. From the view of the Great Rift Valley on the Nairobi - Naivasha highway, all the way to the view of stunning lakes like Elementaita. This journey is the perfect way to see the country, taking you past major towns like Nakuru and Kericho, as well as smaller hamlets in between.

Nairobi to Kisumu

Distance: 400 km (258 miles)

Travel time: 6 hours

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Nairobi, Kenya and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Nairobi, Kenya

2. Nairobi to Oloitokitok

 Amboseli National Park
Source: Pixabay

Oloitokitok sits in its little corner near the Kenya - Tanzania border and, as you would expect from a southern-border town, the majestic Kilimanjaro is within the neighborhood. This little-known road trip will take you south of Nairobi, on the Mombasa highway towards a town known as Emali. From here, the journey branches right onto the road towards Oloitokitok. Overall, it’ll take you about four hours to reach the border town from the capital. While there, make a point to visit Kilimanjaro and Amboseli National Park, two major attractions found in this neck of the woods.

Nairobi to Oloitokitok

Distance: 230 km (142 miles)

Travel time: 4 hours

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Nairobi, Kenya and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Nairobi, Kenya

3. Nairobi to Arusha

Arusha clocktower circle
Source: Photo by Flickr user R Boed used under CC BY 2.0

Arusha is a city in Kenya’s neighbor, Tanzania, but it’s only about 270 km (167 miles) away from Nairobi. A four-hour journey, you’ll get to travel past towns like Kitengela, Isinya and Kajiado, all the way to the border town of Namanga. From here, Kilimanjaro’s peaks will start to reveal themselves, a view you’re likely to treasure even more after crossing the border. Arusha is like the heart of the region’s attractions. On one side, there’s Africa’s highest mountain, within about an hour from the city, on the other side is the world-famous Serengeti National Park and just a stone’s throw away is the lesser-known Mt. Meru.

Nairobi to Arusha

Distance: 270 km (167 miles)

Travel time: 4 hours

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Nairobi, Kenya and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Nairobi, Kenya

4. Nairobi to Meru

Meru National Park, Kenya
Source: Photo by Flickr user Nina R used under CC BY 2.0

If you drive north of Nairobi, you’ll head into the central parts of Kenya, a region that’s renowned for Mt. Kenya, and several national parks that include Ol Pejeta and Lewa Conservancies. This road trip is one that cuts through a region that boasts, arguably, some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. Meru, your destination, is about 270 km (167 miles) from Nairobi and the drive should take about 4 hours. Take your time to fully appreciate the country’s diversity as you transit via towns like Embu and Chuka, en-route to Meru. On arrival, it would be a waste not to drop by Mt. Kenya, even just for a day hike. Also, make a point to visit Meru National Park.

Nairobi to Meru

Distance: 270 km (167 miles)

Travel time: 4 hours

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Nairobi, Kenya and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Nairobi, Kenya

5. Nairobi to Aberdares

Aberdare National Park, Kenya
Source: Photo by Flickr user Nina R used under CC BY 2.0

The Aberdare Range is a vast highland which is made up of, not just grassland, but also mountains, rivers and waterfalls. Its landscape is so diverse, it is probably an apt representation of what to find in the whole country. This alone warrants a road trip from the capital, a journey that should take about three and a half hours, depending on the route you take. The Aberdare Range can be accessed via the Rift Valley, a route that passes the towns of Naivasha, onward to Nyahururu (more on Nyahururu below). However, the best route is via the Mt. Kenya region, towards the town of Nyeri. A popular destination is the Aberdare National Park, where you’ll have a chance to see Africa’s big five as well as the stunning view that is the Aberdare Range.

Nairobi to Aberdares

Distance: 200 km (124 miles)

Travel time: 4 hours

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Nairobi, Kenya and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Nairobi, Kenya

6. Nairobi to Isiolo

Isiolo - Main Street
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Macabe5387 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Isiolo is a fast-growing town in Kenya, mainly because it sits in a tourist hot spot. This part of the country is a treasure trove of attractions: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Borana Wildlife Conservancy, Buffalo Springs National Reserve and even Mt. Kenya, are all a short drive away. If this doesn’t whet your appetite for a road trip then nothing will. The journey from Nairobi should be about four and a half hours, cutting through Central Kenya via Nyeri, Naro Moru and Nanyuki, among other smaller towns.

Nairobi to Isiolo

Distance: 280 km (174 miles)

Travel time: 5 hours

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Nairobi, Kenya and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Nairobi, Kenya

7. Nairobi to Samburu

Samburu National Reserve, Kenya-26December2012
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user ninara used under CC BY 2.0

This road trip isn’t for the faint of heart: it’s a long journey that’ll take between eight and ten hours. The route is similar to the one taken in number three above, except this one goes on for another three hours from Isiolo. There are certain points between Isiolo and Samburu that aren’t the most secure so you might need to get advice from security forces before departure. If you do brave the long journey and possibly decrepit roads, you’ll reach a part of Kenya that’s so far removed from the modernity of Nairobi and other major towns. Samburu isn’t lacking in tourist spots either: you can visit Samburu Game Reserve or Buffalo Springs National Reserve, both of which are within the county.

Nairobi to Samburu

Distance: 310 km (193 miles)

Travel time: 8 - 10 hours

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Nairobi, Kenya and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Nairobi, Kenya

8. Nairobi to Tsavo West National Park

Y1A9662 Tsavo Kenya
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ninara used under CC BY 2.0

Tsavo West has a rich population of wildlife with the big five making this one of the country’s most popular parks. If by this time you haven’t experienced an African safari then probably go on this road trip and make this safari the climax. The route from Nairobi follows the Mombasa highway. Actually, from Tsavo to Mombasa, it’s about 210 km (130 miles) but more on Mombasa later. The scenery is generally uneventful, that is until you get to a town called Mtito Andei where the terrain, and climate changes. From here, it’s lush, hilly, and noticeably cooler. Chyulu Hills and Tsavo East are the first views that will greet you then ultimately, you’ll see the sign for Tsavo West’s Manyani gate.

Nairobi to Tsavo West National Park

Distance: 210 km (130 miles)

Travel time: 4 hours

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Nairobi, Kenya and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Nairobi, Kenya

9. Nairobi to Nyahururu

Thompson Falls Aerial
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Raidarmax used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The town of Nyahururu straddles the Aberdare Range (mentioned in 5 above), and it’s only about 200 km (124 miles) from Nairobi. There are two routes: via the Nairobi-Nakuru highway and via the Nairobi-Nyeri highway. The latter is longer, about 250 km (155 miles) and it takes you via the Mt. Kenya region past the town of Nyeri. Incidentally, this is the same route you’ll use on your way to Isiolo (remember number six above?). Both routes are equally as scenic, with the Great Rift Valley as the crown of the Nakuru route and Mt. Kenya and the Aberdares adorning the Nyeri route. At Nyahururu, be sure to visit Thomson’s Falls, a majestic 74-meter (242-foot) waterfall.

Nairobi to Nyahururu

Distance: 200 km (124 miles)

Travel time: 4 hours

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Nairobi, Kenya and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Nairobi, Kenya

10. Nairobi to Mombasa

Mombasa
Source: Pixabay

Finally, if you’re in Kenya, you’re probably thinking of heading to Mombasa. Rather than flying, make it a road trip and see more of the country while you’re at it. Nairobi to Mombasa is a distance of about 480 km (almost 300 miles) and it takes about six hours to get there. The journey will take you past towns like Emali, Mtito Andei and Voi with Tsavo East and West along the way as well. Perhaps you might want to join your Tsavo road trip to this one and kill two birds with a single stone. Your choice!

Nairobi to Mombasa

Distance: 480 km (almost 300 miles)

Travel time: 6 hours

See our full list of recommended Hotels in Nairobi, Kenya and also compare the prices with airbnbs in Nairobi, Kenya

An unforgettable experience

African Safari
Source: Pixabay

It’s common knowledge that the best way to see a country is on a road trip. If you truly want to dive into the country’s culture and get to meet Kenya’s welcoming people, then consider one or more of these road trips. This would certainly make for an unforgettable experience.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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