An alternative route to the South Coast - safe, scenic . . . and without traffic jams.

The fastest way to get from Nairobi to the South Coast, of course, is by flying to Ukunda/Diani Beach (see previous page). Driving down by car is a whole day's trip, but at least you need not necessarily pass through Mombasa. You can avoid the notorious traffic jams and the Likoni ferry bottleneck by branching off Mombasa Highway in Samburu, and then driving through the Shimba Hills.


The 50 km stretch up to Kinango has been completely tarred by mid-2020: the driving time now is  just 45 minutes. Nevertheless, the whole trip from Samburu to Ukunda might still take you  2 h 1/2 hours.


If you want to do the trip in one day: make sure that you leave Nairobi in the very early morning, so that you are out of the city before rush hour.


It will take you about 5 to 6 hours on the A109 to reach Samburu, 424 km from Nairobi. Here you branch off to the right. The picture below shows the freshly done road at Vigurungani in September 2019.


In Kinango please turn left at the T-junction and shortly after to the right, then passing by the market place and a petrol station.

The remaining bumpy 23 km to Kwale will lead you towards the Shimba Hills, up the slopes and towards the main gate of the National Park. The road is still as red as it can be , and sometimes challenging in rainy season.  The  Mwache Dam project at the western foot of the Shimba Hills brings with it occasional diversions - the massive construction works are ongoing since early 2020.

In Kwale and downhill towards the ocean you are on tarmac again, for the remaining 50 km. When you reach the coast road A14, turn right, pass through Ukunda, and from there it is just 25 minutes more to Msambweni.

Nairobi-Msambweni: km + hrs

via Mombasa: 536 km, 8 - 10 hours*

via Shimba Hills: 544 km, 8 - 9 hours


*depending on the waiting time at the ferry


In case you miss the Samburu turnoff: there is another road from Mariakani to Kinango - a bit shorter, but not tarred at all.


google calculations differ slightly from personal readings


2 suggestions for an affordable safari stopover - inside and outside the park

If you  want to combine your ride down to the coast with a short safari,  think about a stopover in the Tsavo West National Park. Our suggestion are KITANI BANDAS, a remote place facing Mount Kilimanjaro. You branch off at Mtito Andei, and it is an hours drive from the gate to these well kept self catering bandas. The use of the pool, gym and WIFI in neighboring Severin Safari Camp is included, you can also eat in the restaurant there. Bookings:

If you do not bring along that much time, or if you want to avoid the park fees, drive a bit further than Voi. You branch off in Maungu and after 10 km you reach the private ROCK SIDE CAMP with its scenic views of the Sagala Plains and the Taita Hills. You get good value including full board and a breathtaking panorama from the top of the rock itself (provided you climb up). You can stay for just a night - but you might opt for a second one. . .