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Mombasa Transport: Faster and cheaper ways to move around

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The cheapest, fastest & most convenient modes of transport in Mombasa

Mombasa is a top tourist destination in Kenya.

However, tourists can find it difficult to find an affordable and reliable means of transport in unfamiliar places. While local taxi and international ride-sharing services such as Uber and Taxify are convenient and easily available, you may end up paying high rates for time spent in a traffic jam. In addition, Uber is only available around Mombasa town. If you are touring attractions outside the island, you may have a hard time.

For a budget traveler, here are some of the cheapest ways you can commute around:

Tuk tuk (auto rickshaw)

An auto-rickshaw, widely known as tuk-tuk or bajaji by the Swahili is a common mode of transport in Mombasa. An auto-rickshaw has a capacity of 3 pax and you do not have to wait for it to be fully boarded. Most tuk-tuk drivers are always making rounds hunting for clients, and so you can always stop one anywhere.

Read Also: Holiday travel: How to find cheap flights

Pros of using tuk-tuk in Mombasa

  1. Tuk-tuks are readily available. You can always hop into one outside the hotel room.
  2. They are weather friendly. Mombasa is very hot, and most of the time you may experience a lot of discomfort when commuting. However, tuk-tuks are usually open on the sides allowing air to circulate freely. This helps keep you beat the uncomfortable heat of Mombasa.
  3. They are affordable. Tuk-tuks do not charge expensively. For short distances within the city, you will pay between KES 100 and 150 per trip. You can always negotiate the charges.
  4. They are fast. You don’t have to wait for it to be fully boarded, or share unless you have company.
  5. Safer than boda boda. Tuk-tuks follow the same rules as matatus and so chances of being involved in an accident are minimal. However, when it comes to night travel, you may want to consider a more secure option.

Cons of using a tuk-tuk in Mombasa

  1. Personal security. There have been cases of people being robbed in a tuk-tuk. If you are traveling alone, avoid hopping into any random tuk-tuk. Instead, ask the hotel receptionist to give you the number of a trusted operator, or only board one at a designated stage. Most of the operators in the designated areas belong to a sacco and work together to protect their clients.
  2. Valuables. Because of its open nature, you cannot transport valuables in it.

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Boda boda (motorbike)

Motorbikes are the most popular modes of transport in Mombasa and across Kenya. Everywhere you go, you will find boda boda riders. Boda bodas’ popularity can be linked to their ability to traverse any terrain. Due to their size, they help many people escape the crazy traffic jams that rock Kenyan roads. In addition, they are fast and convenient for bad roads and short distances.

Pros of boda boda transport in Mombasa

  1. They are readily available. You will find boda boda riders on every stage and corner waiting for customers.
  2. They reach places that are inaccessible by vehicles. Whether it is a hilly area, rocky, muddy, potholed or narrow alley, a boda boda will take you there. It can take you to a forest, and it can take you to the beach.
  3. A good way to avoid traffic jams. Boda bodas are known to criss-cross between parked vehicles or use the pavements, making them a faster way to get out of traffic jam.

Cons of using boda boda transport in Mombasa

  1. Security. Boda bodas have been used in various forms of crimes including murder, kidnapping, robbery with violence, rape among others. If you are not careful, you may ride a thug’s boda.
  2. Safety. Boda boda riders are among the greatest casualties of road accidents in Kenya. Due to their dangerous riding habits, your chances of crashing on a boda boda are higher than on any other mode of transport.
  3. Expensive. Boda bodas are not cheap. The minimum you pay is 50/-, even if you are just crossing over to the other side of the street.

Uber and Bolt

Ridesharing apps are the best alternative mode of transport in Mombasa, especially during off-peak hours. You can always download Uber or Bolt and call a driver at any time.

Pros of using ridesharing apps in Mombasa

  1. Generally affordable. They are more affordable that boda boda and sometimes tuk-tuk.
  2. Non-discriminatory. One thing you need to note is that tuk-tuk, boda boda and matatu operators can overcharge foreigners and locals who look moneyed.  However, an app will not discriminate when charging you – the rate is flat for everyone.
  3. You can go wherever you want as long as you can pay for it. Uber drivers prefer long trips that can pay over 2,000/- and so if you are going far from town, you will be friends.
  4. Accountability system in place. While some drivers don’t care about the rating system, the majority are nice because they want a positive feedback and good comments from their clients.

Cons of using ridesharing apps in Mombasa

  1. Limited coverage. They are only found between town and the airport.
  2. Expensive for long distances or during peak hours.  Before calling an Uber or Bolt driver, consult Google maps to see the traffic situation.

Local Taxi 

When the roads are jampacked, the local taxi is a good option. This is because they do not charge for the time taken but the distance covered. Once you agree on a price, it does not change because of time taken to reach your destination.

Pros of using a local taxi in Mombasa

  1. Affordable during peak time. If you agree on a price, it will not change because of changes in traffic.

Cons of using a local taxi in Mombasa

  1. Generally more expensive than apps.
  2. No accountability system.  Drivers can be rude, drop you anywhere, use the wrong or long route, even increase fare midway because you will not report them.
  3. Security is not guaranteed and therefore it is good to ask the hotel to give you the contact of a trusted operator.

Read Also: How to be safe in Nairobi, Kenya

Car hire

You can also consider hiring a car during your visit. Car hire services are good for long distances and multiple stop-overs especially if you have luggage.

Pros of using car hire services in Mombasa

  1. Flexibility. You can go wherever you want, whenever you want even if you are carrying luggage.
  2. Affordable for multiple stop-overs. If you are taking a whole day touring multiple sites in different areas, it is affordable and convenient to drive yourself there.

Cons of using car hire services in Mombasa

  1. You need to know the routes well. Most drivers use Google Maps, but you cannot drive yourself around a city you are not familiar with.
  2. Expensive if you have to hire a driver.
  3. It is an extra responsibility. In case of a puncture, failure or accident, it is your responsibility to go to the garage.

Matatu

A tuk-tuk may not be ideal for long distances. Many times, a taxi may not be economical especially during a traffic jam. You will need to board a matatu to save on cost. You do not need to ask anyone directions to the nearest matatu stage. Google maps will take you there. Even if you have to walk, this amazing app will show you which direction to go, and how long it will take to get there.

Pros of using a matatu transport in Mombasa

  1. Affordable. Matatu fares are usually quite affordable, from 20/- to 300/- depending on the distance.
  2. Safer than boda boda and tuk-tuk because you are many and can track the matatu using the number plates.

Cons of using a matatu transport in Mombasa

  1. Inconvenient if your destination is far from the terminus/stage. Matatus stop at designated areas, meaning you can alight far from your destination.
  2. They are also very crowded inside, increasing the heat.
  3. Slow. Once you board, you must wait for it to be full. It can also make several stop-overs on the way hence slowing you down.
  4. Overspeeding. Mombasa matatus are known for overspeeding, which makes it unsafe.
  5. Noisy. Most matatus play loud music, which when coupled with the heat of Mombasa can drive you nuts.

Whatever mode of transport you choose, remember to stay safe. Do not allow any driver to over speed or drive dangerously. That way, you will be sure to enjoy your holiday in Mombasa.

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