Amboseli National Park Kenya Africa Photo by Sergey Pesterev

Kenya Driving Guide

Kenya is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit

2023-12-18 · 9 mins

If you like the great outdoors, an African safari is an adventure you want to add to your bucket list. And where else to experience the best safari adventures than in the home of the “Big Five”, Kenya!

Fun fact: The “Big Five” consists of the lion, the leopard, the rhino, the African buffalo, and the elephant.

But despite this fact, you may be hesitating because of the unfamiliar roads of Kenya, the driving culture, or other factors.

If you genuinely want to experience the heartbeat of Africa, there's no better way than to take the wheel yourself.

Explore Kenya with Ease

This driving guide will help you navigate Kenya with ease. Kenya has an efficient road network that connects all 47 counties; however, this isn’t the only ingredient of a trouble-free driving experience.

Kenya has had its own horrible past reputation. Because of its past, most Kenya safari travelers opted for structured safaris arranged from their home countries but today, the story is different. Kenya is one of the very few safest and most accessible destinations in Africa, the easiest place to explore and experience even as a solo traveler.

Nomad Africa Blog shares in Driving in Kenya as a Tourist.

Our curated guide will walk you through the driving requirements and essential road conditions, rules, and etiquette when driving in Kenya.

Let's take a closer look at Kenya

Officially called the Republic of Kenya, this country is divided into five (5) major basins: Lake Victoria Basin, Athi River Basin, Rift Valley Basin, Ewaso Ngiro Basin, and Tana River Basin. The basins give life to various types of ecosystems, generating local endemicity.

Geographical Location

Kenya is located within the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone. This zone is where the trade winds from the northern and southern hemispheres meet and circle back towards the poles. The air in this part of the globe is heated by direct sunlight and warm ocean waters, creating the country’s hot and rainy climates.

With this, Kenya experiences three (3) seasons, with March and November serving as moderately rainy transition months. The seasons are:

  • Hot-Dry Season - December to February
  • Rainy Season - March to May
  • Cool Dry Season - June to October

Due to topography, the country is also characterized by microclimates. Even if the country lies along the equator, snow exists on top of Mount Kenya! So if you want to know when is the best time to visit the country, it is recommended that you check the microclimates of the region/county you are traveling to.

Land Area

Kenya is located along the eastern coast of Africa. It straddles the equator with a maximum length of 1,131km and a maximum width of 1,025km. It is bounded in the north by Ethiopia, in the east by Somalia, in the southeast by the Indian Ocean, in the south by Tanzania, in the west by Uganda, and in the northwest by South Sudan.

It shares about six (6) inland bodies of water with Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia. For Tanzania, this includes Lake Jipe, Lake Chala, Lake Amboseli, Lake Natron, and Lake Victoria. For Uganda, this includes Lake Victoria. For Ethiopia, this includes Lake Turkana.

You will also find the Lamu Archipelago, where all the sought-after island destinations are located, on its northern coast. This includes Pate Island, Manda Island, Lamu Island, and many other smaller islands.


The Cushitic-speaking people from North Africa ruled Kenya’s pre-colonial era, the Nilotic people and the Bantu. Due to the country’s proximity to the Arabian Peninsula, trade soon began, connecting Kenya to the European market and opening it to Western colonizers.

Kenya was first colonized by the Portuguese in 1498 and later on, given to Oman until the 1600s. Before the dawn of the 17th century, Kenya was again infiltrated by the Europeans and became a British colony in 1920.

It was through the 1942 Mau Mau Movement that Kenya started to fight for their independence. Ten years later, because of the intensifying uprisings of the natives and the extreme brutality towards African freedom fighters, Africans were slowly given a voice at the Kenya Legislative Council. Only in 1963, Kenya gained its sovereign status with Jomo Kenyatta as its first Prime Minister.

Languages Spoken

The official language of Kenya is Kiswahili, which originated from the Bantu and Arabic languages. It is the predominant language in East Africa, and it is the only African language recognized by the African Union.

Almost 70% of Kenyans originate from the Bantu, 30% from the Nilotic, and the minority consists of Europeans, Arabs, and Indians.

The second most predominantly spoken language in Kenya is English. This can be attributed to the fact that Kenya was a British colony between 1920 to 1963. When you travel to Kenya, don’t be too surprised to meet Kenyan natives who speak very fluent British English.


The Republic of Kenya is a parliamentary democratic country with a multi-party political system. Apart from the national government, each 47 counties has a local chief executive who works interdependently with the federal government.


In 2019, Kenya welcomed over 2,035,000 international visitors. This was an almost 40% increase from five (5) years before. Kenya has recorded a steady increase in visitors over the years, and this has been attributed to the safari tourism that has been becoming more and more popular.

Kenya has about 54 national parks. With this amount of wildlife havens and landscape ecozones, Kenya is nowhere stepping back from being one of the leaders in the global tourism industry. It is even the only city in the world that hosts a thriving game reserve and a national park within the same area and near the city center!


There are different classes of driving licenses in Kenya. However, for a foreigner drive, an International Driving License is vital as it allows you to drive legally in foreign countries. This does not replace your domestic driving license; however, it helps you explain your identity to concerned authorities who do not understand the language used in your native driving license. It is also used in some other countries to apply for a visitor’s driving license or a permanent local driving license (in the case of expatriates).

Do I Need an International Driving License in Kenya?

An International Driving License is one (1) of the valid documents for driving in Kenya. You can drive in Kenya as a foreign passport holder, but only if you have a valid domestic driving license from your home country and an International Driving Permit. For example, if you are a U.S. resident, you can drive in Kenya with your U.S. license.

An International Driving Permit is most necessary in Kenya if your domestic driving license is not written/printed in Swahili, English, or Roman Alphabets. For improved convenience, you can use an International Digital Driving License in Kenya if you don’t want to keep additional physical documents.

An International Driving Permit is also beneficial when you want to convert your native driving license to a Kenyan driving license. This applies to individuals who want or need to stay in Kenya longer than the allowed duration of the tourist visa.

All you need to do is register to the National Transport and Safety Authority’s (NTSA) eCitizen portal, navigate to the “Application” tab, then “Driving License Application”, and finally, “Conversion of Foreign License Application”.

How To Renew My Driving License in Kenya?

For expatriates who have obtained a local driving license in Kenya, renewal of the driving license is to be done every three(3) years.

This applies regardless of whether you obtained your local driving license through a new application or conversion of your foreign driver’s license. Both applications for a new license and renewal of an old license can be made online at eCitizen's website.

On the other hand, for the renewal of the International Driving Permit in Kenya, you’ll need to follow the same process as when you applied for a new International Driving Permit. There is no renewal process, so once you’re IDP expires, you’ll have to submit a new application.

Can I Use My Native Driving License in Kenya Without an IDP?

As mentioned, Kenya allows foreign nationals to drive in the country with their domestic driving license for a maximum of 90 days or as permitted by their visa. For example, you can go driving in Kenya with a U.S. license and not need anymore to secure a visitor’s driving license.

However, if you’re driving license is not in English or Swahili, you’ll need to secure an International Driving Permit.

The International Driving Permit will not only help you explain your identity and driving qualifications to local authorities but will also allow you to rent a car in Kenya.

Car rental companies require lessors to have third-party car insurance. An International Driving Permit will be a valid document to secure a car insurance policy.

Do I Need to Take Driving Lessons in Kenya To Get an IDP?

If you’re only going to stay in Kenya for a short duration, and are qualified to use your domestic driving license and IDP, then you don’t need to take a driving test, let alone take driving lessons in Kenya to get an IDP.

However, If it’s your first time driving in a foreign country and your first time driving on the left-hand side of the road, it would be beneficial for you to take driving classes in Kenya.

There are a lot of reputable driving schools in Kenya. Here are some instructors/schools that you can check out:

  • Heltz Driving Academy
  • Seniors Driving School
  • AA Driving School
  • Kericho Driving School
  • Petanns Driving School
  • Wings Driving School
  • Rocky Driving School
  • Iqra Driving School-Hurlingham Plaza
  • Karengata Driving School
  • Glory Driving School

How to Get a New Driving Licence in Kenya for Foreigners?

Getting an International Driving License for Kenya is a straightforward process. Many wonder about the time it takes, but worry not! We value your time, especially for frequent travelers who need things to be easy. With us, securing an IDP will only take about 10-20 minutes.

For those in a hurry, an international digital driving license in Kenya or express shipping options are available. If you need to replace a lost IDP, reach out to IDA customer support; our clients enjoy a free replacement service.

If you're at least 18 years old and hold a valid driving license from your home country, gather your scanned license, recent passport-size photos, and a credit card. Once you have these ready, follow the steps below:

  1. At our homepage, navigate to “Start My Application”.

2. Choose the IDP Plan that will suit your travel needs.

3. Complete your personal information.

4. Specify your delivery details.

5. Pay for your IDP using a credit card or Paypal account.

6. Verify your identity.

7. Wait for confirmation.

What Is the Requirement to Get Car Insurance in Kenya?

To use or rent a vehicle registered in Kenya, you need to obtain an insurance policy that specifically covers the rented car under your name. The rental company will arrange this policy when you pay for insurance. It's crucial to note that driving without insurance in Kenya is not allowed.

Typically, the minimum required motor vehicle insurance is liability coverage, covering bodily injury and property damage. However, most rental companies usually demand comprehensive and collision coverage.

You may ask yourself: Why do I need an IDP? Here's where your International Driving Permit proves to be valuable. Car insurance companies often ask foreign drivers to present a valid IDP to be eligible for insurance.

Is Renting a Car Better Than Taking Public Transportation in Kenya?

Kenya has no organized mass transport system. You will, however, find buses, vans, motorcycles, bicycles, and tricycles that have served the commuting public since the 1950s.

Unfortunately, these mostly run within the capital of Nairobi. With the implementation of clear, official routes only during the 21st century, the public transport sector in Kenya continues to face the following challenges:

  • Overloaded vehicles
  • Long queues in terminals
  • Inefficient road utilization
  • Low-capacity public transit
  • Lack of public transit
  • Poor vehicle conditions
  • Inadequate traffic management system and road design

If your trip involves inter-county travel, your second best commute option is to hire fixed-rate taxis that can charge you a significant amount. With this, it is recommended that you go self-driving instead; and when you rent a domestic one-way car hire, make sure that the company is operating under legal standards.

Renting a Car in Kenya

The best way to experience Kenya is to explore it with your own car. Car rental companies offer different types of vehicles that can cater to every location.

Remember that the right car for you will depend on your itinerary and your budget. It would be useful to plan your itinerary since car rentals are often cheaper when booked in advance.

Car Rental Companies

Most car rental companies are located in Nairobi. When choosing where to rent your car, make sure to research two(2) or more companies and compare the following:

  • Pricing (rental, administrative fees, insurance, maintenance, fuel, add-ons, extra-day charges, age-dependent charges, etc.)
  • Pick-up and drop-off locations
  • Vehicle conditions
  • Customer reviews
  • Company response rate
  • Other company policies and promotions

You can start your research on the car rental companies listed here:

  • Kenya Car Hire Services
  • Hire N’ Drive Kenya Ltd.
  • Kenya Cheap Car Hire
  • Porto Car Hire Kenya
  • Nairobi Car Hire Services
  • Kenya Online Car Hire
  • Elite Car Rental
  • Metro Car Hire Services
  • Market Car Hire
  • Central Rent-a-Car
  • Magnum Auto Rentals
  • Jerry Cabs & Car Hire
  • Car Hire Mombasa
  • Homeland Car Hire
  • Budget Rent A Car
  • Apix Car Hire

Documents Required

It’s not that difficult to rent a car in Kenya. The process and policies are more or less similar to other countries. To rent a car in Kenya, you need to satisfy the following requirements:

  • Valid driving license from home country
  • Valid International Driving Permit
  • Valid passport

A common question also asked by a lot of travelers is if there is a need to take driving classes in Kenya to rent be able to rent a car. The answer is no, it is not required. However, you are welcome to take lessons prior to renting if you want to ensure that you don’t put the vehicle at risk.

For faster processing, you can see our International Driving License Package here.

Best Driving Schools in Kenya

It is difficult to identify the best driving school in Kenya because driving schools offer different kinds of services that enhance their students’ learning experience. You can refer to the list of schools in the IDP FAQs section above. When choosing the right driving school, you have to look into the following elements:

  • Customer satisfaction and reviews
  • Waiting time
  • Training duration
  • Types of vehicles they train you in
  • instructors

Vehicle Types

Your domestic license and your IDP will dictate which cars you can legally use to go driving. Vehicle classes in Kenya are categorized as follows:

  • A1: Moped
  • A2: Light Motorcycle
  • A3: Motorcycle Taxi (100 c.c.), Couriers (up to 100kg), and Three-Wheelers (can carry a passenger)
  • B1: Motorcycle Taxi, Couriers, and Three-Wheelers (with higher capacity than A3 vehicles)
  • B2: Automatic Light Vehicle (up to seven passengers)
  • B3: Professional Light Vehicle
  • C1: Truck
  • C: Medium Truck
  • CE: Heavy Truck with Trailer
  • D1: Van
  • D2: minibus

If you’re IDP says that your license is for light vehicles (Category B), you can rent sedans, SUVS, and other types of cars. If your IDP indicates Class A vehicles only, then you can only rent motorcycles.

If you want to go on a safari adventure, 4x4 all-terrain vehicles are recommended. You’ll need to book this with a tour operator because 4x4s usually come with an authorized driver.

Car Rental Cost

Car rentals in Kenya can go between USD30 and USD200 per day. Mini cars that can accommodate only two(2) are the cheapest ones, while passenger vans and luxury SUVs are the most expensive.

You may be able to find more economical rentals below USD30 but make sure that the company you are renting with is legal (with complete papers). In addition, you can also reduce your rental expenses by not upgrading, cleaning your own car, and booking in advance.

Age Requirements

You must be at least 25 years old to rent a car in Kenya. However, some car rental companies allow people as young as 21 years old to rent, provided that they pay extra fees.

If you are below 25 years old, having at least two (2) years of full driving experience might help you in some car rental companies.

Car Insurance Cost

The cost of car insurance depends on several factors. Insurance companies send you quotations and not fixed-rate menus because they need to calculate your premium first based on your age, as well as your preferred policy term and coverage.

Some car insurance companies also offer daily rates for some of the riders. If you rent a car in Kenya, you can expect that the car rental company might offer you additional insurance riders on top of their standard coverage.

Car Insurance Policy

Car insurance will protect you from any untoward incident and legal liabilities while using a motor vehicle. One of the most common questions that we get is whether foreigners can go driving without insurance in Kenya.

Car insurance in Kenya is required by law. All registered cars, or drivers, should have car insurance before they go out on the road.

There are different types of car insurance products you can get in Kenya. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Third-party accident cover: Compensation for other people’s property or loss of life from an accident that you caused
  • Theft policy: Compensation when your car or its components are stolen
  • Fire policy: Compensation when your car catches fire as a result of accidents or malfunctions
  • Terrorism cover: Compensation for damages and losses as a result of third-party terrorism acts
  • Excess Protector: removes “Excess” requirements when you make a claim
  • Windshield cover: compensation for accidentally broken windshield
  • Road rescue, towing & recovery benefit: rescue services in case of car damage, collision, car breakdown, and related incidents

When renting a car in Kenya, you won't need to arrange your own car insurance as the rental companies will provide it. However, you'll still be responsible for the cost. Additional coverage might also be required based on the rental company's policy.

The Road Rules in Kenya

To have a smooth travel experience in Kenya, it is important that everyone on the road stick to the traffic rules — be it in the centers of Nairobi and Mombasa, on the outskirts along the Serengeti, or on the shores of Lake Turkana.

Important Regulations

If you do not follow the road rules, you may face serious consequences, including accidents, paying fines, imprisonment, and impounding your driving license. Nevertheless, as long as you keep in mind safety and responsible driving, you should be fine.


Drinking alcohol will diminish your ability to concentrate, evaluate situations, and respond quickly. This is most risky when you are driving alongside other vehicles, turning, stopping, reversing, parking, and doing other maneuvering activities.

Kenyan authorities do breathalyzer driving tests on suspected drivers, and it is against the law to refuse or not comply. If you get caught drinking and driving, the driving-while-drunk penalty in Kenya is a payment of not less than 100,000Ksh. Likewise, depending on the degree of violation, you can face imprisonment of up to two (2) years.

If you want to drink alcohol and still need to drive, make sure that you only drink a small amount. This is to ensure that you don’t go beyond 0.35g/liter of breath or 0.8g/liter of blood. Better yet, find a non-drinking driver to take you to your destination.

Parking Laws

Kenya has strict local laws for parking. You should only park in designated parking spots/bays only, or risk paying a fine of up to 50,000Ksh, and imprisonment of up to three (3) months. To compensate for the growing demand for parking areas in beautiful cities in Kenya, the government even allows private entities to establish parking areas for the general public at a minimal price.

Vehicles exempted from this law are those in a state of emergency or vehicles responding to emergencies. If your car breaks down and you need to wait for rescue or towing services, make sure to place a triangle or any sign before and after your car.

Ensure Your Vehicle is in Good Condition

Before going out on the road, regularly check your vehicle’s condition. It has to be mechanically sound, and the exteriors (like mirrors, windshields, tires, lights, etc.) are not broken.

If you’re driving a rental car, make sure to request safety and emergency gear from your car rental company. This may include a small fire extinguisher, a warning triangle, a first aid kit, a spare tire, a jack, and a jumpstart cable, to name a few.

General Standards of Driving

If you skim through the Kenya Traffic Act, you’ll find that the policies are well-designed to cater to the different road and vehicle conditions in the country.

Although these standards are universal, what sets each country apart are the corresponding penalties. The provisions below are what you’ll need to remember in Kenya.

Speed Limits

When driving anywhere in the world, you should not drive too fast nor drive too slow. Driving fast may cause accidents, while driving too slow may cause inconvenience to other vehicles that are in a hurry. In Kenya, you should not drive above the following speed limit:

  • Superhighway (motor cars): 130km/hr
  • Superhighway (public service vehicles): 100km/hr
  • Urban primary roads (trading centers, townships, cities, etc.): 50km/hr
  • Special zones (i.e., schools): 50km/hr
  • Rural Kenyan roads: 110km/hr

If you get caught violating the speed limits in general, you will be liable to a fine of up to 100Ksh. In addition, if you violate the rules within school zones, you will be liable to a fine of up to 20,000Ksh

Driving Directions

Kenya features numerous roundabouts, so it's essential to understand the correct lane to use when approaching them. Once you enter a roundabout, and your exit is approximately halfway around from your entry point, transition to the right-hand lane designated for driving on that side of the road.

If your exit is closer, such as the 1st exit, remain in the left-hand lane. Always be vigilant for directional signs as you approach roundabouts to guide your navigation.

Driving Signs in Kenya

Driving signs in Kenya are divided into three (3) main categories: the regulatory signs, the guiding signs, and the warning signs. This shouldn’t confuse you because the standards are still similar to those of other countries.

Triangle signs are for warnings, circle signs are the regulatory signs, and rectangle signs are to give road users information.

Warning Signs:

  • Speed bumps
  • Uneven road surface
  • Falling rocks ahead
  • Blind curve
  • Merging traffic
  • Road construction ahead
  • Narrow Kenyan roads ahead
  • Other signs that warn users of potential danger

Regulatory Signs:

  • No U-turn
  • No parking
  • One-way
  • No turning on the red light
  • Loading and unloading only
  • Do not enter
  • Wrong-way
  • Stop
  • Keep right
  • Other signs that instruct road users on what to do and what not to do

Informational Signs:

  • This way to
  • Street names
  • H (Hospital)
  • Pedestrian Zone
  • Bike Lane
  • 350 meters to
  • Other signs informing road users of directions

Right of Way

The vehicles exempted from all local laws for traffic are emergency vehicles and those belonging to the presidential motorcade. Emergency vehicles include fire trucks, ambulances, and police vehicles.

However, it should be noted that such vehicles are only exempted when they are on official business. This means they are being used to respond to an emergency or a road incident.

In Kenya, you can operate a light passenger vehicle if you're at least 18 years old. There are over ten classes of driving licenses in Kenya, each authorizing the operation of different vehicle categories. Legal driving depends on both the vehicle class and the license type. For instance, 16-year-olds are permitted to drive mopeds, but only solo and without any passengers or loads.

To drive specific vehicles like a motorcycle taxi, a heavy truck with a trailer, or a large bus, you need to be at least 21, 28, and 30 years old, respectively.

For leisure travelers, light vehicles are the most common rentals. Even if you're above 28 years old, you can only drive other vehicle types if it's indicated on your native driving license and your International Driver’s Permit.

Laws on Overtaking

Overtaking is a challenging driving skill, requiring careful estimation of vehicle speeds, precise control of acceleration-deceleration, and timing.

It can be particularly challenging for those unaccustomed to driving on the left side of the road. If considering driving classes in Kenya, focus on improving your overtaking skills.

Nevertheless, here are some points to remember when overtaking:

  • Overtake from the right.
  • The road is clear enough ahead.
  • No vehicles are trying to overtake you.
  • Move quickly past the vehicle you want to overtake.
  • Signal when you maneuver out of your lane and before overtaking.
  • Overtake only in sections marked with a broken line.
  • Do not overtake at a junction.

Driving Side in Kenya

In Kenya, driving is on the left-hand side, following the practice of 13 African countries. Foreigners unfamiliar with this driving orientation are advised to enroll in registered driving schools for lessons. For those with limited time, consider coordinating with your school to arrange practical lessons tailored to driving in foreign destinations.

Driving Etiquette in Kenya

Apart from complying with the road rules, proper road behavior is paramount to maintaining peace and order on the road.

There may be unruly drivers, so if you practice proper road etiquette, you may be able to steer away from accidents caused by them.

Car Breakdown

Car breakdowns may include deflation of tires, empty fuel tanks, overheating, battery problems, and many more. If no other potential hazard has developed, like fire, maneuver your vehicle away from the middle of the road. If you can’t do it by yourself, try to find people nearby who can help you. In addition, you have to observe the following:

  • Turn on your hazard lights even if the car is already on the side of the road.
  • Place a warning triangle at least 40m before and after your car.
  • Call your car rental company immediately for assistance.

Police Stops

When traffic police randomly wave you over outside a checkpoint, slow down and come to a complete stop. Ensure that practice courtesy and behavior when talking to the police.

Prepare your driving documents such as your license and car registration papers. As a precaution, make sure to lock all your car doors before you come to a full stop. You also do not need to go out of your vehicle unless you are told to do so.

To avoid corrupt officers who charge you unfairly, make sure that you have the M-Pesa application. It is a mobile payment software where you can pay for your traffic violations instead of giving cash to the officers.

Asking Directions

If you find yourself lost while driving in Kenya, you can approach the nearest locals and ask them courteously. Make sure you know the correct name of the place you are headed to, and show them pictures or the map to help you.

A lot of Kenyans understand English very well. But if you want to practice your Swahili skills, you can use the following phrases:

  • “Hello” - "Halo"
  • "Can you help me?" - "Unaweza kunisaidia?"
  • "Can you tell me where this is" - "Unaweza kuniambia hii iko wapi?"
  • "Where should I pass?" - "Nipite wapi?"
  • "Thank you very much" - "Asante sana"
  • "Have a good day" - "Kuwa na siku njema"


Kenya has plenty of police checkpoints, including sobriety checkpoints. These are usually marked with low spike strips across the road. Checkpoints are to ensure that you are sober and are legally driving. Even if the police do not wave you over, reduce your speed if you come across checkpoints.

Animals on Kenyan Roads

When you’re driving out of the city and into the rural zones, you may encounter animals, both domesticated and wild. National parks and safari adventure areas in Kenya are rarely fenced, so the animals roam around freely.

With this, when you encounter animals on the road, reduce your speed and leave room for them to pass. If the animals are crossing the road, wait for them to get off the road, and do not sound your car horn or rev your engine.

If other vehicles are behind you, you can also signal them that you are waiting for the animals to cross. This is for them to avoid scaring the animals.

What to Do in A Road Accident

If you encounter an accident, immediately stop and do not speed away. You can be charged with a hit-and-run violation if you do so. You should also call the police right away.

If there are passengers or other road users who are injured as a result of the accident, try to administer first aid and call immediately for an ambulance. Help keep the victim/s calm and let them know that help is coming.

For the vehicles involved in the accident, do not move them away from the scene and take pictures immediately if you have the means to. This does not provide evidence to your insurance company and has untampered evidence for the police.

Once the police arrive, you should provide all your necessary information. Failure to provide the police with the correct information will hold you liable for additional violations.

Driving Conditions in Kenya

If it’s your first time driving in Africa, know that it is one of the best places to go driving in the world because of its expansive natural parks.

In Kenya, much like in other African nations, safari drives are the most popular. But does the 177,800km road network provide suitable conditions for safe driving in Kenya?

Accident Statistics

A study analyzing road traffic accident data from 2015 to 2020 in Kenya revealed an annual toll of 3,000 to 4,500 fatalities. Specifically, the NSTA documented a 46.5% increase in road injuries and a 26.31% rise in fatalities. This translates to a maximum of 8.7 deaths per 100,000 people, likely an underestimate compared to World Health Organization statistics.

The majority of road accidents in Kenya are caused by drunk drivers, speeders, and other reckless drivers. Nairobi sees the highest incidence of both knockdown and hit-and-run incidents. When driving in city areas, including Mombasa, adopt a defensive driving approach—anticipate potential hazards to prevent disasters.

Common Vehicles

You can find common city vehicles like sedans in Kenya. Another prevalent type of vehicle in Kenya is the Safari Vehicle. It is still a general term that is used for vehicles used in safari tours; however, these types of vehicles are built and designed to protect and give comfort to their users under intense safari conditions.

Safari vehicles are either closed or open. Depending on your itinerary and area, you should consult first with your car rental company about which type of safari vehicle would be best to use.

Watch out for Matatus

Matatus are Kenyan public service vehicles. They are either a 14-seater van or her 32 seater minibus. An easy way of identifying them is that all of them are required to have a yellow line around the body of the vehicle.

Matatus are notorious for driving recklessly on the road and stopping dangerously as they drop-off and pick-up passengers.

As a new driver, you need to be careful with these vehicles and give them a wide berth. I personally try to keep the two-second rule to avoid running into the back of these vehicles.

Antony Njoroge, in his article "Can A Foreigner Drive In Kenya? What I Found Surprised Me" for eastafricatraveltips travel blog.

Antony is from Kenya and shares his personal experiences through his blog.

Toll Roads

Toll roads exist in Kenya. You will have to pay between USD0.01 - USD0.03 per km if you traverse the following Kenyan roads:

  • Nairobi - Nakuru - Mau Sumit Highway
  • Nairobi - Mombasa Highway
  • Nairobi - Thika Superhighway
  • Nairobi’s Southern Bypass
  • Mtwapa Bridge
  • New Nyali Bridge

Toll roads in the Kenya maps are governed by the Public Kenyan Roads Toll Act. If you refuse to pay the toll fee, you can be liable to a fine of up to 5,000Ksh or imprisonment of up to six (6) months.

Road Situations

Out of over 63,500km classified main roads in Kenya, almost 48% are earth roads, 36% are gravel roads, and the rest are paved roads. According to the Road Inventory Data of the Kenya Roads Board, around 40.7% of paved Kenyan roads in the country are in poor condition, while 35.6% of them are in fair condition. For unpaved Kenyan roads, the majority of them are also in poor condition.

The paved General Kenya roads are within the Nairobi Business District, and these mostly come in two (2) carriageways with two (2) to four (4) lanes each. There are rarely any potholes within paved Kenyan roads; however, if you travel outside urban centers, you may need to watch out for potholes, especially during the rainy season.

Driving Culture

Kenya still has a lot to improve when it comes to road safety. One of the greatest challenges in achieving this is devising ways to discipline Matatu drivers.

Sociological studies highlight that the disregard for traffic rules, particularly among public transit drivers, stems from economic pressures, where there's a need to maximize trips quickly. This phenomenon is widespread in Kenya. Therefore, it's advisable to practice patience consistently and refrain from escalating stressful situations.

Learn patience

I consider Kenyan roads really peculiar with the impatience of Kenyan drivers in full display. This can be incredibly annoying and it’s easy to do something stupid in your moment of anger.

If you’re the kind of person that easily gets angry and irritated then you need to prepare with how you’re going to deal with that when you start driving in Kenya.

Antony Njoroge of eastafricatraveltips, a Kenyan travel blogger.

The Top Destinations in Kenya

The drive through Kenya's landscape is an adventure in itself, taking you to some of the top destinations in the country. Notable routes that showcase Kenya's beauty include the drive from Nairobi to Mara Intrepids, a top destination in Kenya, from Nairobi to Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, and from Nairobi to Samburu National Reserve.

Lake Turkana

Various sections of Lake Turkana are sites of archaeological importance. Kobi Fora, an area on the northeastern side of the lake (near Sibiloi National Park), was where the first hominids were found — Paranthropus boisei, Homo habilis, Australophithecus anamensis, Homo erectus, and Homo sapiens.

Town of Malindi

Prominent explorers have sailed to and visited the coastal town of Malindi as far back as the 15th century. With this, what was once a minute settlement quickly turned into one (1) of the busiest ports in East Africa.


The term “Nairobi” is of Maasai descent. Specifically, it was taken from “Enkare Nyrobi”, which means cool water. Nairobi has ample water resources because it used to be a marshland, along with all other expansive wetlands surrounding it.

Get an IDP to Explore Kenya

Traveling across Kenya by car is not merely a mode of transport; it's a ticket to a journey through the soul of this country. You'll witness wildlife in its natural habitat, engage with diverse cultures, and bask in the panoramas only Kenya can offer. So, why limit yourself to the confines of a tour group when you can steer your course?

Secure an International Driver's Permit now, rent a car, and enjoy your Safari adventure. Happy travels!


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