Budget travel by bus around eastern Africa is a great way to see some bits of how the locals live. Last summer I finally went to a few places in east Africa and used the bus in my budget travels there. The trip started in Dar es Salaam and ended in Kampala. I stopped at Arusha (did a safari to Serengeti and Ngorongoro), Nairobi and Kisumu in between these cities.
Dar es Salaam to Arusha
That was a very long 14 hours bus ride on Dar Express. The seats were comfortable and we were served a bottle of water and some snacks.Also, some movies in English were played throughout the journey. Additionally, there was a toilet on the bus and we had one rest stop for about 20 minutes. The picture above shows my view from the rest stop. The scenery during the day time was beautiful.If you have time, I highly recommend taking the bus and stretching your money. Also the roads are paved all the way through and one reason the journey takes a long time is because of the strict limit of 80 miles per hr. The police men who stop the bus every few miles helps to ensure this – they do more than just stop the bus if you know what I mean. At the end I had to say budget travel by bus in the region wasn’t too bad.
Arusha to Nairobi
This was the quickest leg. Since it was a Sunday and traffic wasn’t bad we got to Nairobi in about 4 hours – this included about 30 minutes to check in and out of immigration. There are many bus options for budget travellers.As the bus goes by you can see zebras grazing in meadows and other animals off in the distance. Much of what I saw reminded of travelling by bus in Jamaica. East Africa felt like home in many respects. Budget travel by bus is the way to go to enjoy a bit of life with the people there. The bus was alive like Jamaican buses.
Lake Victoria in Kisumu, Kenya
Nairobi to Kisumu
Easy Coach was the bus company I used because they had great reviews and were on time for the most part. This leg was around 6 hours and again I was treated to beautiful scenery, animals grazing off into the distance and a nicely paved road.I also liked this company because after I decided I had had enough of Nairobi and wanted to leave earlier they changed my ticket.
Kisumu to Kampala
I also used Easy Coach to budget travel by bus to Kampala and the trip was a whopping 10 hours. We were held up at immigration by some foreigners who seemed to have had some problems. Despite this, the trip was comfortable since the roads are paved throughout.There were two 15 minutes bathroom breaks. It was unfortunate that there was no entertainment on the Easy Coach buses. Take things to help pass the time.
Budget Travel by Bus Around Eastern Africa:General Thoughts
Outside of the places I went to by bus there is a network of buses that go all over eastern Africa.I saw many buses going to Rwanda as well. These long distance buses are all coaches – you can see them in the links. They were clean and seemed well maintained. Twice when we stopped someone from the bus company inspected the wheels and other parts. Most people speak Swahili and announcements on the buses are usually in Swahili. Since many people speak English you can ask them to translate as I did.
I am not a visible foreigner in east Africa so this may have affected my experience. I did see some Caucasians on the buses and they were not overly harassed than anyone else by vendors and the like. I felt safe and took the necessary precautions to arrive at my destination in the day time. When I arrived at night in Arusha, I had arranged for someone from the safari company to meet me at the bus stop. I was texting back and forth with the owner, which made this seamless. I highly recommend getting a sim card as they are cheap.
Go for it I say. If you are on a budget and have time, this is a great way to get from place to place. I did not use the cheapest buses but spent no more than 50 dollars. There are cheaper options but for female solo travellers I recommend going with a company that has a website and reviews.