Nairobi to Dar by bus

The bus to Dar from Nairobi

For a long while, I had wondered what it would be like to embark on a road trip to Dar-es-salaam then cross over by Ferry to Zanzibar. Doing my research on this, did not however yield the most enticing results. For instance, I learnt that to get to Dar,I would have to endure a 14hr(or longer) road trip by bus. Having done several road trips over the years,a lengthy bus ride is no longer my cup of tea

Fast forward to this rainy day in April,and I found myself at the Dar Express booking office in Nairobi’s city center getting a ticket to Dar-es-salaam. The bus has daily departures at 6:15am from Nairobi with check in being 5.30am

Most Kenyan buses are habitually almost always late so I didn’t expect this one to be any different, but come departure day, I was proved wrong! The bus was strictly on time & this little detail impressed me and I knew this was going to be one long but smooth ride

By 8.15am whilst the sleepy town of Namanga was coming alive,we were at the immigration office,checking out of Kenya and into Tanzania and it took us 45min to get cleared by immigration.The drive through Tanzania is one of the most scenic drives with most parts hardly inhabited hence everything looks laid back and gives the impression of a peaceful African countryside. By noon,we had covered a good distance and were having lunch at a roadside restaurant about 30min past Moshi town. If it’s your first time to travel to Dar and you Love sceneries and landscapes,ensure you sit on the left side of the bus. The magnificent Pare Mountains & Usambara ranges will keep you mesmerized most of the long drive. They’re truly picturesque! These mountains form part of the Eastern Arc Mountains which stretch from as far as Udzungwa on the South East of Dodoma, to the Usambara ranges, Pare Mountains on the Kenya-Tanzania border and finally the Taita hills in Kenya. The Eastern Arc Mountains play a major role in the conservation of biological diversity in East Africa

We finally got to Dar at 8pm, 14hrs later and let’s just say,the welcome at the Ubungo bus park isn’t the best. It reminded me of the Machakos country bus park where people used to be grabbed, pushed around and yelled at, amidst all manner of confusion. Luckily,I have a contact in Dar who runs a cab company hence he had sent someone to pick me up. Getting off the bus you’re surrounded by several people all shouting different destinations that could be your next pit stop, but all I heard was ‘Harare’ and to myself I couldn’t help but think Dar-Harare would be a plan, for next time!

Friends who’ve been to Dar before had warned me that there’s nothing to write home about Dar. They said it’s dirty, crowded, unsafe etc so I was pretty well prepared for whatever lay ahead. Honestly though,I was surprised! I didn’t see any of the bad stuff I had heard about. I only noticed the warm weather which was such a relief from the wet & cold Nairobi weather and certainly not a city worse than Nairobi like I had anticipated. Traffic in Dar is however as legendary(if not worse)than its sister Nairobi. To get to anywhere in time,you have to leave an hour or so in advance. The taxi guy was however quick to point out the insecurity when I started to use my phone in the vehicle. He said ‘’Madam,in Dar-es-salaam, you no play with phone in car and road. People not very good’’ And with those few remarks,I put my phone away and waited until we got to the hotel. When the driver was leaving me at the hotel, he smiled and said ‘’Madam,here at hotel is safe,now you can play with phone’’

As I took dinner that evening, I realized that albeit the long drive, I was not really tired, I was anxious and full of anticipation about the next leg of the journey which was a 2hr ferry ride into Zanzibar the next day. I couldn’t wait to finally land in Zanzibar, the magical island of romance and spices, at least from the stories I had heard!

I would Love to win the @Travelstart blogger experience and go experience Zanzibar courtesy of Travelstart & Serena Hotels. Of course i would come back with a ‘hot’ story! 🙂

Categories: Life on the Road | Tags: , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “Nairobi to Dar by bus

  1. Nyambura

    Good one Zoe. I will definitely be looking forward to your next travel story 🙂

  2. greggngahu

    Hey lovely story. I knew you wouldn’t disappoint! keep them flowing Zoe!

  3. george kariu


  4. Mbaba

    Nice one. Keep the fire burning.

  5. TimK

    I love that it’s not just captivating but also very informative. Felt as if I was riding along.

  6. Hi Zoe,

    just came across your blog and found the articles very entertaining. I really hope that you continue writing, it’s not always easy finding the inspiration but we need more writers like you to spread the word about this beautiful country.

    • Thanks KenyanCamper. Writing is not easy,but will keep trying. Keep the articles flowing too, you’re my inspiration!

  7. nice article!
    Dar Express are a Good cross border service! I believe their restaurant that you stopped at for lunch is at ‘Rombo’
    Had put up some pics of route(nbi-dar) on, can have a look if you get time.
    Enjoy ur travel s 🙂

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