Friday, June 21, 2024

Taking the bus between Kampala and Nairobi? Strive MASH!


The good East Africa Vacationer Visa and Interstate Cross imply that journey between Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda is less complicated than ever for nationals and has change into simpler and cheaper for vacationers and expats too. Cue: much more journey across the three international locations for this Muzungu! I’ve taken the MASH bus between Kampala and Nairobi a couple of instances now, and might suggest 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 Cross 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 glorious. I hardly felt the dreaded bump, bump, bump of the ‘rumble strips’ and managed to sleep many of the journey.  Or shall I say, I fell asleep / wakened / fell asleep / wakened…  over and over.

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

The MASH system is properly 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 Highway. Have your wits about you right here, as numerous guys will come working at you attempting to promote you a cab honest / offer you undesirable instructions, and so forth. It may be a bit overwhelming in the event you’ve simply woken up! Don’t rush to get off the bus; tempo your self and verify you will have all of your belongings first.

mash-bus-kampala-to-nairobi-river-road
The MASH bus cease in Nairobi is downtown in River Highway

Again exterior the Nationwide Theatre in Kampala, an hour earlier than the agreed departure time, a woman 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 luggage. One other three males in brilliant orange overalls loaded luggage and bins into the bus. I used to be requested to take away the padlock from my bag, which clearly I didn’t wish to do. I used to be instructed that it was obligatory for the safety verify on the border. I eliminated a few valuables that I’d put in my massive bag, and simply hoped that every part else could be secure. It was.

The MASH bus was clear. The seatbelt labored, as did the one energy socket on the wall subsequent to me. I selected to take a seat within the second class ‘govt’ part, only a few seats from the entrance. It had an honest quantity of legroom and a reclining seat.  My associates within the VIP seats, straight behind the motive force, had much more legroom, plus they had been allowed to have their massive luggage 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 consuming in any respect prices, as you may by no means make sure the motive force will cease if you want him to! Nonetheless, on the MASH bus, we had three ‘consolation breaks’ earlier than we arrived in Nairobi. It’s a “quick break for a brief name” and these guys don’t hold round, imagine me.

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

Coming 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.

mash-bus-kampala-to-nairobi-lake-elementaita-caldera
In case you journey between the 2 East African capitals throughout the day, you get to see the attractive countryside of Lake Elementaita and the realm’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 essentially the most attention-grabbing half: passing by a non-public wildlife reserve, the place I noticed zebra and antelope from my window seat! “You snooze, you lose” as she likes to inform me… Lol.

mash-bus-kampala-to-nairobi-lake-elementaita-view
Early morning view of Lake Elementaita – picture 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 realm, particularly between January and March. Within the south-to-north sequence of Rift Valley lakes, Elmenteita is between Lake Naivasha and Lake Nakuru. The foremost Nairobi – Nakuru freeway (A104 highway) runs alongside the close by escarpment affording motorists a spectacular vista in direction of the lake. In the present day 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 website by UNESCO.” (In 2019 I lastly went on safari in Lake Elmenteita – I’m nonetheless thrilled on the giant numbers of flamingos I noticed that weekend! The horse journey 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 must verify costs, departure instances your self. This can be a private account primarily based by myself expertise.

  • MASH buses go away on time.
  • The MASH reserving workplace in Kampala is in Dewinton Highway reverse the Nationwide Theatre. 
  • In Uganda, you should use MTN cell cash to buy your ticket. Tel +256 (0)774 082853 is the MTN Cell Cash quantity registered to Mash Bus Companies. I used this myself. I first known as the reserving workplace to order my seat numbers; confirmed my cost utilizing cell cash; then made a second telephone name to verify they’d seen my cost.
  • The MASH reserving workplace in Nairobi is in River Highway. Their official quantity is +254 733 623260. In Kenya, you can too ebook your bus tickets and reserve your seat on-line and pay by Safaricom’s M-Pesa. (Paybill quantity 857988). This labored properly too.
  • To double verify ticket costs and instances, try the MASH East Africa web site or go to one in every of 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 Highway

Bus departure instances from Kampala and Nairobi

(Please get there early: we’ve known as a number of instances to verify timings and costs and the information given is inconsistent). Ticket lessons are: VIP, enterprise class and unusual (availability depends upon 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 Highway.

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 will want a blanket (or shuka) in the event you 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 detrimental PCR take a look at).
  • Preserve images 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 Cross. Ugandans who do not need passports are suggested to get a short lived journey doc. Value 10k UGX. In case you’re in Kampala, you may get one issued at Port Bell (or you should purchase it on the border).
  • Expats with work permits can get an Interstate Cross on the border as properly. There is no such thing as a type to fill in (simply the usual arrivals type) and there’s no price. Yay!
  • In case you want a visa, you might be supposed to use on-line upfront, whether or not it’s for a single nation visa or an East Africa Vacationer Visa. Nonetheless, all visas look like obtainable in particular person 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 proclaims all vacationers can get #VisaOnArrival
  • The set-up on the Kenya / Uganda border has modified and also you now go away one nation / enter one other inside the identical 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 subsequent 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, regardless that I had been processed by three completely different individuals at immigration.
mash bus kampala to nairobi muzungu selfie
Early morning selfie of the muzungu. The very best 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 will probably 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 specific route or with any specific bus firm).
  • Along with the Uganda / Kenya route, MASH additionally function to main cities throughout Kenya.
  • Dreamline have additionally been advisable to me.

… In case you adore it … share it! 😉



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