When you are planning a safari in Kenya, it's a good idea to find out how long it takes to get from A to B. Knowing how long it takes to drive from Nairobi to the Mara, for example, helps you figure out whether to fly, or go by car.
Kenya is a big country, the roads are not always optimal, and traffic can get quite congested. Nairobi traffic is pretty awful, and the roads leading in and out of town can get tied up with accidents, slow trucks, and matatus making frequent stops. Here is listed the major Kenyan tourist destinations below, their distances and the time it commonly takes to drive between them. Distance and time ratios are quite different in Africa than in Europe or the US. Twenty miles can easily take an hour, especially as you get to the more rural roads and dirt roads inside and between parks and conservancies.
There is a good network of domestic flights. Safarlink, in particular, is very reliable and reasonable. It takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour to fly from Nairobi (Wilson) to Mara, Tsavo, Amboseli, Samburu, and Lewa/Laikipia. And about 1.5 hrs to fly from Nairobi (Wilson) to Malindi, Mombasa, or Lamu.
But of course, flying is more expensive than driving, especially if there is more than one in your party. On the other hand, you're doing a lot of driving during a safari within the parks, reserves, and conservancies just viewing the wildlife. Giving yourself a break from the bumpy roads is recommended. The worst thing about a safari (if there can be such a thing) is the huge amount of hours spent sitting on your bottom in a vehicle. Given the delicious food that is served at camps and lodges, this is one vacation you will no doubt be gaining weight on, despite its adventurous nature.
Distance from Nairobi to Kenya's Popular Destinations
- Nairobi to Amboseli—265 km, takes about 4 hours
- Nairobi to Lake Naivasha— 95 km, takes about 1.5 hours
- Nairobi to Lake Nakuru—170 km, takes about 2.5 hours
- Nairobi to Samburu—390 km, takes about 6 hours
- Nairobi to Masai Mara—250 to 300 km, (depending where in the Mara you are going to) takes about 5 hours
- Nairobi to Mount Kenya/Nanyuki—200 km, takes about 3 hours
- Nairobi to Laikipia—290 km, takes about 4.5 hours
- Nairobi to Tsavo West—270 km, takes about 4 hours
- Nairobi to Chyulu Hills—230 km, takes about 4 hours
- Nairobi to Mombasa—425 km, takes about 7 hours
- Nairobi to Malindi—575 km, takes about 9 hours
Other Popular Routes in Kenya
- Nanyuki/Mount Kenya to Masai Mara—475 km, takes about 7 hours
- Nanyuki to Lake Nakuru—170 km, takes about 3 hours
- Samburu to Lake Nakuru—325 km, takes about 6 hours
- Lake Naivasha to Lake Nakuru—75 km, takes about 1 to 1.5 hr
- Lake Nakuru to Masai Mara—340 km, takes about 4 to 5 hours
- Lake Nakuru to Amboseli—415 km, takes about 6 to 7 hours
- Masai Mara to Amboseli—500 km, will take at least 10 hours (via Nairobi)
- Amboseli to Mombasa—390 km, takes about 6 hours
- Amboseli to Tsavo West (Kilaguni)—200 km, takes about 3 hours
- Mombasa to Diani (South Coast)—15km, takes about 45 mins (need to catch a ferry)
- Mombasa to Malindi—120 km, takes about 2 hours
- Mombasa to Shimba Hills—40km, takes about 1.5 hours (including ferry)
- Mombasa to Lamu—320 km, takes about 6 to 7 hours (to get to Mokowe—then you need to catch a ferry or take a private boat)
- Malindi to Lamu—140km, takes about 3 hours (to Mokowe, then catch a ferry to Lamu)