Travelling from Nairobi to Mombasa has become much easier and quicker in the past few months, ever since the opening of the smart and stylish Madaraka Express.
The 275 mile (440 kilometre) journey between Kenya’s port city and the nation’s capital has been cut by half, so the trip which previously took approximately ten hours by passenger train service, bus or car, now takes five.
The Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, which has been up and running since May 2017, was built with help of loans from the Chinese government and Chinese companies, who also built the line and supplied locomotives.
So when Grandma and Grandad came to visit us in Kenya from England, what better way to travel from Nairobi to our holiday destination in Mombasa than the new train.
Admittedly you have to get through the Nairobi or Mombasa traffic jams, which will add at least a hour to your journey times, as both stations are on the outskirts of the cities.
But from the moment you step off the chaotic streets of either city, you enter an oasis of calm. The terminals are similar to airports in both appearance and ambience, and you even have to go through rigorous security checks.
Once aboard the train is clean and the seats are roomy. We were in first class, so admittedly had a little more space and luxury. The buffet car was well stocked with sandwiches, samosas, mandazis and a good selection of drinks; a trolley passed through the train too. Conductors, dressed similar to air-hostesses, also passed through the carriages, with one being assigned to each coach. They also swept the aisles trains while we were travelling and regularly collected.
The panoramic view of Kenya’s famous landscape and wildlife is simply beautiful, as the train snakes its way through the rocky hills of Machakos county, and then into the reddish landscape of Tsavo, punctuated by the huge baobab trees. And if you’re lucky you may even see elephants, giraffes and zebras.
Practicalities of the Madaraka Express
There are two trains in both direction everyday, the Intercounty train (the stopper), and the Express train (the non-stopper).
From Nairobi to Mombasa the Intercounty train leaves at 8am and arrives at 1.55pm and the Express train leaves at 2.30pm and arrives at 7.20pm.
From Mombasa to Nairobi the Intercounty train leaves at 7.15am and arrives at 1.05pm and the Express leaves at 3.15pm and arrives at 8.14pm.
First Class – Adults 3000Ksh, Children (between 3-11years) 1500Ksh, Children below 3 years are free.
Second Class – Adults 1000Ksh, Children (between aged between 3-11years) 500Ksh, Children below 3 years are free.
For more information and to book tickets online visit https://metickets.krc.co.ke/