How to Get from Nairobi to Arusha – Your full Guide
Are you planning an itinerary in Kenya and then in Tanzania? Or maybe you are already in Kenya and want to arrive in Tanzania, most probably for a Kilimanjaro hike, so you might be wondering what are the best ways of crossing the border, right? That’s a totally legit question and we are here to give you all the answers you need!
It’s true that there are different routes you can take, as Tanzania is surrounded by so many African countries, but the main one and the one I’ll be talking about in this article is from Nairobi to Arusha via Namanga Border.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE CROSSING THE BORDER TO TANZANIA
- Probably our most important tip: make sure to apply for your eVisa for Tanzania beforehand (at least 10 days in advance)! This way, you’ll save precious waiting time at the border and you won’t have to apply for it there on the spot. The eVisa is US$50 for single entry per person and US$100 for multiple entries. Make sure to print it, so you can easily present it at the border!
- I’m recommending the Nairobi-Arusha route because it’s a very popular one and you’ll have many buses to choose from including the best I know Impala Shuttles. Plus, one of the best advantages of doing this is that you will be able to go all the way to Arusha with the same bus; otherwise, you’ll have to find yourself another bus once you step into Tanzania which is a hassle;
- For less traveled routes, you’ll have to take two separate buses (one from your starting point to the border, then cross the border on foot, then take another bus to your destination);
- The route I’m recommending (Nairobi-Namanga-Arusha) is also shorter than others (more or less 5 hours with the bus);
- If you choose to do it with the bus, please know that you’ll have to depart the vehicle in order for the officers to do the required procedures. You’ll have to do this two times – once for departure (in Kenya), and once for entry (in Tanzania);
- Make sure you remember how your bus and driver look like, you’ll have to find it after you are finished with crossing the border! The Impala Shuttle driver also helps their clients with border crossing formalities.
- Be prepared to have your bags checked if you do it by bus;
- You can also cross the border with a rented car and the procedure is pretty easy, so you have no reason to be stressed about (I’ll give you more info below);
- ATTENTION! It is very common to be approached by scammers who will want to help you with your visa at the borders or with exchanging currency. Try to avoid them and just say “no, thank you” and leave. In case you didn’t apply for your online visa beforehand, you’ll do it at the immigration counter at the border.
If you’re not choosing my recommended route from Nairobi, Kenya, no worries! I recommend checking out this website to learn more information about Tanzania Border Crossing from other cities or countries (Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia etc.).
Now that you know the most important things before your journey, let’s see what are your options for actually getting from point A to point B:
HOW TO GET FROM NAIROBI TO ARUSHA
As I mentioned before, there are different options that you can choose from. You can get from Kenya to Tanzania by plane, bus, Private car or even by taxi. I’ll explain about each of these down below:
1) By shuttle bus
Taking the bus is probably the most well-known option and also the most budget-friendly one. Plus, the route is pretty scenic and enjoyable as well, which is a great bonus!
There are many buses that you can take to cross the border from Kenya to Tanzania and it will cost you from US$25 to US$35 per person. The buses are usually comfy and they have a special place where you can put your luggage.
There are around 275 km from Nairobi to Arusha, so the ride will take you from 4 to 5 hours.
You can check the timetable and rates and book your tickets beforehand using this website.
2) By plane
If you’re short on time and budget is not a problem, you can also take a plane from Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta Airport (NBO) to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). Depending on your travel period, it can cost you around US$150. The flight time is around 1 hour.
The best advantage of this option is, of course, the fact that you won’t have to stress about crossing the land border! But, as I mentioned before, make sure you have your e-Visa settled beforehand so you can save some time at arrival.
Wondering why you can’t land at Arusha Airport? It’s simple – because that airport is not international, so it cannot accommodate flights from Kenya. So if you want to arrive from JRO airport to Arusha, the distance is around 52 km and you’ll have to take a bus, which will cost you around US$10 or a taxi that will be more or less US$60. This route will take you around an hour.
TIP: Precision Air is usually the cheapest airline for this route.
3) By car
If you want to do it with a rented car, the procedure is pretty easy, but you’ll need to have the following papers with you:
- Driving license
- The vehicle’s registration papers
- Road tax (it costs US$25)
- Fuel levy (it’s a fixed fee that covers fuel fluctuations and in this case it costs US$4)
- Insurance, which you can also purchase at the border crossing
- Temporary import permit – this will allow you to cross the border to Tanzania with a rented car (waived if you return the car to its country of registration); it’s US$17 for one month and you can also purchase it at the border
- Impala Shuttle also offers private shuttle transfers and car hire services. You can contact them here