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 stretch up to Kinango is currently being paved: in early 2019 half the way had been done (the rest may be partly challenging) - after completion, the driving time will be significantly shorter.


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.

From Samburu it will take an additional 3 hours for the remaining 120 km to Msambweni. Some of the first 70 km of the C106 towards Kinango and Kwale are still a dirt track, mostly worse than on the photo below - a 4x4 is advisable.


After 28 km you reach the fork of Vigurungani - please keep left. 19 km further you drive into Kinango: turn left at the T-junction and shortly after to the right, then passing by the market place and a petrol station.

The remaining 23 km to Kwale will lead you towards the Shimba Hills, up the slopes and along the main gate of the National Park. The road is red as it can be . . .

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, 9 - 10 hours


*depending on the waiting time at the ferry


In case you miss the Samburu turnoff: there is another dust road from Mariakani to Kinango - a bit shorter, but less scenic.


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. . .