Taking the bus between Kampala and Nairobi? Strive MASH!

The sensible East Africa Vacationer Visa and Interstate Go imply that journey between Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda is less complicated than ever for nationals and has develop into simpler and cheaper for vacationers and expats too. Cue: much more journey across the three nations for this Muzungu! I’ve taken the MASH bus between Kampala and Nairobi a couple of occasions now, and might advocate it. [NOTE this blog post was updated in February 2023. We tried calling various advertised numbers, but failed to get through].

East Africa Interstate Pass Uganda Kenya Rwanda
The Interstate Go permits visa-free journey between Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda for nationals and expats with work permits

Touring from Kampala to Kigali? Then learn what occurred once I traveled by bus with Jaguar Government Coaches.

Total, the Kampala / Nairobi MASH bus service has been wonderful. I hardly felt the dreaded bump, bump, bump of the ‘rumble strips’ and managed to sleep a lot of the journey.  Or shall I say, I fell asleep / awakened / fell asleep / awakened…  time and again.

We favored the thought of getting a rest room on the bus. If it had been working, that will have been even higher! Based on the driving force, “it’s girls’s fault that the bathrooms don’t work.” Hmmm… absolutely they may have mounted it although?

The MASH system is nicely organised and departs – on time – from the relative calm of the Nationwide Theatre, making it a far much less hectic expertise than going to downtown Kampala bus parks with all their congestion and pickpockets. In Nairobi, nonetheless, the bus departs from the equally loopy River Street. Have your wits about you right here, as a lot of guys will come operating at you making an attempt to promote you a cab truthful / offer you undesirable instructions, and so on. It may be a bit overwhelming for those who’ve simply woken up! Don’t rush to get off the bus; tempo your self and test you have got all of your belongings first.

The MASH bus cease in Nairobi is downtown in River Street

Again outdoors the Nationwide Theatre in Kampala, an hour earlier than the agreed departure time, a girl known as us over to a desk in entrance of our bus the place she checked our tickets and passports. Subsequent to her, a really pleasant man checked the contents of all our baggage. One other three males in vibrant orange overalls loaded baggage and bins into the bus. I used to be requested to take away the padlock from my bag, which clearly I didn’t need to do. I used to be informed that it was mandatory for the safety test on the border. I eliminated a few valuables that I’d put in my massive bag, and simply hoped that all the pieces else could be protected. It was.

The MASH bus was clear. The seatbelt labored, as did the only energy socket on the wall subsequent to me. I selected to sit down within the second class ‘govt’ part, just some seats from the entrance. It had a good quantity of legroom and a reclining seat.  My associates within the VIP seats, instantly behind the driving force, had much more legroom, plus they had been allowed to have their massive baggage with them.

Each bus passenger was handed a small packet of biscuits and a packet of sugary ‘juice.’ My expertise of cross-border bus journeys in East Africa is to keep away from ingesting in any respect prices, as you may by no means make sure the driving force will cease once you want him to! Nevertheless, on the MASH bus, we had three ‘consolation breaks’ earlier than we arrived in Nairobi. It’s a “brief break for a brief name” and these guys don’t grasp round, imagine me.

The motive force placed on some loud music for our uneventful drive to the border.

Getting into Kenya later that night time, one of many immigration officers growled a requirement to see my Yellow Fever certificates. Fortunately I had {a photograph} of it on my telephone.

When you journey between the 2 East African capitals through the day, you get to see the attractive countryside of Lake Elementaita and the world’s volcanic calderas

My good friend Julia complained that she hardly slept for the entire journey between Kampala and Nairobi. She solely fell asleep for probably the most fascinating half: passing by way of a personal wildlife reserve, the place I noticed zebra and antelope from my window seat! “You snooze, you lose” as she likes to inform me… Lol.

Early morning view of Lake Elementaita – photograph from my bus window 🙂

Based on Wikipedia, “Elmenteita is derived from the Masaai phrase muteita, that means “mud place”, a reference to the dryness and dustiness of the world, particularly between January and March. Within the south-to-north sequence of Rift Valley lakes, Elmenteita is between Lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru. The key Nairobi – Nakuru freeway (A104 highway) runs alongside the close by escarpment affording motorists a spectacular vista in the direction of the lake. Right now the lake is a protected space as a consequence of its birdlife. Elementeita – along with Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria – has been named a heritage web site by UNESCO.” (In 2019 I lastly went on safari in Lake Elmenteita – I’m nonetheless thrilled on the massive numbers of flamingos I noticed that weekend! The horse trip alongside the lakeshore was spectacular).

Journey ideas for taking the bus between Kampala and Nairobi

NOTE: I don’t assure all data is appropriate. You need to test costs, departure occasions your self. This can be a private account based mostly by myself expertise.

  • MASH buses depart on time.
  • The MASH reserving workplace in Kampala is in Dewinton Street reverse the Nationwide Theatre. 
  • In Uganda, you need to use MTN cellular cash to buy your ticket. Tel +256 (0)774 082853 is the MTN Cell Cash quantity registered to Mash Bus Providers. I used this myself. I first known as the reserving workplace to order my seat numbers; confirmed my fee utilizing cellular cash; then made a second telephone name to test they’d seen my fee.
  • The MASH reserving workplace in Nairobi is in River Street. Their official quantity is +254 733 623260. In Kenya, you too can e book your bus tickets and reserve your seat on-line and pay by Safaricom’s M-Pesa. (Paybill quantity 857988). This labored nicely too.
  • To double test ticket costs and occasions, try the MASH East Africa web site or go to one in all their workplaces.
  • Please don’t message me – I don’t work for Mash, I’m only a buyer such as you 😎
MASH bus Nairobi booking office, River Road
MASH bus Nairobi reserving workplace, River Street

Bus departure occasions from Kampala and Nairobi

(Please get there early: we’ve known as a number of occasions to test timings and costs and the information given is inconsistent). Ticket lessons are: VIP, enterprise class and extraordinary (availability relies on whether or not you get MASH POA or MASH COOL).

Kampala to Nairobi

At 4 pm and 6 pm MASH bus departs from the Nationwide Theatre.

Nairobi to Kampala

At 4 pm and 6 pm MASH bus departs from the MASH workplace in River Street.

MASH bus ticket Kampala to Nairobi. Diary of a Muzungu
MASH bus ticket Kampala to Nairobi

MASH Cool is the air-conditioned bus. (MASH POA can get a bit sweaty!) I favored MASH Cool however you’ll need a blanket (or shuka) for those who take the in a single day bus. The MASH Cool bus has curtains too.

  • Ensure you have your Yellow Fever and COVID-19 vaccination certificates (or a damaging PCR take a look at).
  • Hold pictures of your passport and different vital journey paperwork (bus ticket and Yellow Fever Certificates) in your telephone.
  • Though the bus does have energy sockets, in my expertise, they don’t all the time work. Take a spare battery pack for lengthy journeys so you may entry digital paperwork any time.
  • Nationals of Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya simply have to indicate a passport or nationwide ID and are given a short lived Interstate Go. Ugandans who shouldn’t have passports are suggested to get a short lived journey doc. Price 10k UGX. When you’re in Kampala, you will get one issued at Port Bell (or you should buy it on the border).
  • Expats with work permits can get an Interstate Go on the border as nicely. There is no such thing as a type to fill in (simply the usual arrivals type) and there’s no price. Yay!
  • When you want a visa, you’re supposed to use on-line prematurely, whether or not it’s for a single nation visa or an East Africa Vacationer Visa. Nevertheless, all visas look like accessible in individual at a border (besides EATV, you’ll must learn my weblog about that one).

    Try the blogs I’ve written about vacationer visas

  • Uganda – NOW LIVE: apply for Ugandan vacationer visas on-line
  • East Africa – What’s the East Africa Vacationer Visa? A definitive information
  • Rwanda – Rwanda broadcasts all vacationers can get #VisaOnArrival
  • The set-up on the Kenya / Uganda border has modified and also you now depart one nation / enter one other throughout the similar constructing. Beforehand, you needed to get your exit visa from one nation after which stroll throughout the border earlier than getting your entry visa into the following nation. I discovered the brand new system complicated and had apparently entered Kenya illegally! Apparently I didn’t have one of many required passport stamps, despite the fact that I had been processed by three totally different folks at immigration.
mash bus kampala to nairobi muzungu selfie
Early morning selfie of the muzungu. The most effective neck relaxation cushion ever from Definition Africa in Kampala
  • The MASH ticket says “Smoking, alcohol, chewing miraa is prohibited. Most baggage restrict is 15 KG, any additional weight can be charged. Passengers are warned to not take any foodstuff provided by stranger.” Prior to now there have been incidences of bus passengers being drugged and robbed (not on any explicit route or with any explicit bus firm).
  • Along with the Uganda / Kenya route, MASH additionally function to main cities throughout Kenya.
  • Dreamline have additionally been really useful to me.

… When you find it irresistible … share it! 😉

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