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Self-drive 4x4 in Kenya (1 Viewer)

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
Hi folks!

We have finally clarified when we actually have time to go somewhere ... and it's in two weeks, eh. Life's complicated. I would thus really appreciate your help!

Currently the top idea is Kenya - tickets are cheap, covid entry easy. Do I understand correctly that a lot of parks in Kenya allow self-drive entry and camping? Do I also understand correctly that I really do need a full-fledged 4x4 to get to most places?

If yes, can you recommend a good hire company? I do not want a driver, neither do I want a tent on my roof. Just a good old 4x4, with difflock and low gear; having two spare tires, a compressor and extra fuel tank wouldn't go amiss. Personal experience greatly appreciated!
 

THE_FERN

Well-known member
Hi folks!

We have finally clarified when we actually have time to go somewhere ... and it's in two weeks, eh. Life's complicated. I would thus really appreciate your help!

Currently the top idea is Kenya - tickets are cheap, covid entry easy. Do I understand correctly that a lot of parks in Kenya allow self-drive entry and camping? Do I also understand correctly that I really do need a full-fledged 4x4 to get to most places?

If yes, can you recommend a good hire company? I do not want a driver, neither do I want a tent on my roof. Just a good old 4x4, with difflock and low gear; having two spare tires, a compressor and extra fuel tank wouldn't go amiss. Personal experience greatly appreciated!
My experience is only ~20 years out of date... But yes you will need 4 x 4. Partly because the roads were pretty terrible but also because there are rules about the sorts of vehicles they'll allow in the bigger parks: need to be fully enclosed. If camping, be careful where. We had a night time encounter with spotted hyaenas: you probably don't want this... [It was right next to one of the guard posts of Masai Mara.]
 

THE_FERN

Well-known member
Forgot to say: we did hire car for nairobi area. We had to have a driver as condition of hire. Nairobi national park was surprisingly good...
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
The rules, yeah, that's a good point to check!

I have a friend who has been just to Kenya and we usually use his advice, but he also had a driver, which is something I'd never do (I'd rather sit at home).
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
I would be also grateful in someone, possibly with recent personal experience, could tell me how do the mask rules look like in Kenya now, because that's another thing that's basically impossible to find out. I swear if I read one more of "masks wearing is required in all public spaces", I am going to harm someone. That has zero information value. Are people require to wear masks in nature? In the campsites in parks? There are seemingly countries where they are really into it and you can get even arrested for not wearing a mask in the middle of nowhere, is Kenya like that or not?
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
Cyprus
Anyone doing this in conjunction with N Tanzania, note that National Parks in Tanzania, won't allow Kenyan hire vehilcles in.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
Frankly, I am really torn about it. Kenya seems nice, if a bit silly expensive (it's more expensive than bloody Botswana) but there is zero way of getting any updated info, especially on the mask situation. Internet has become completely useless, most discussion forums are dead and all google results are either adverts or generic websites pulling info from other websites for ad clicks. I was quite amazed to see that Kenya even offers some cool independent hiking, but again, am I going to be forced to be masked outdoors or not? That's a complete game changer, yet there is no way to find out. And it's the same with almost any country now.

I may as well just spend a month in Poland or something.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
"masks wearing is required in all public spaces"
If I was planning on travel I would assume having a mask handy and put it on if anyone approached within a reasonable distance (a few meters) would do the trick. However, I am also aware of the rare xxxx who feels that getting a foreigner to pay a fine is a great sport. As I have never been to Kenya, no specific info.

Niels
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
Cyprus
Frankly, I am really torn about it. Kenya seems nice, if a bit silly expensive (it's more expensive than bloody Botswana) but there is zero way of getting any updated info, especially on the mask situation. Internet has become completely useless, most discussion forums are dead and all google results are either adverts or generic websites pulling info from other websites for ad clicks. I was quite amazed to see that Kenya even offers some cool independent hiking, but again, am I going to be forced to be masked outdoors or not? That's a complete game changer, yet there is no way to find out. And it's the same with almost any country now.

I may as well just spend a month in Poland or something.
This seems clear to me.

'The Government of Kenya has directed that face masks must be worn in public places, except when dining, or when adhering to social distancing in hotels, gardens or on beaches.'

By extension, this surely has to apply to e.g National Parks and other open spaces, it's from this, official site.

 

jurek

Well-known member
Hi Jan,
Try calling the consul or the embassy in Kenya. I got this way a quick and competent answer when I had a problem whether a drivers license from Poland will be valid in Morocco (I forgot to take an international one and found out only at the airport).
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
Cyprus
Hi Jan,
Try calling the consul or the embassy in Kenya. I got this way a quick and competent answer when I had a problem whether a drivers license from Poland will be valid in Morocco (I forgot to take an international one and found out only at the airport).
I think it's clear, as long as you're social distancing, you don't need a mask in open spaces but that's not to say that a corrupt cop, won't try and extract money from you for not wearing one.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
As always, I like to add my own experience after the trip. This time it's gonna be faster than expected - I basically found two relevant car hire companies with somewhat nice reviews - carhirekenya and roadtrip kenya. The former is cheaper upfront, but you pay per extra kms and when I planned an itinerary, the seemingly large prices of roadtrip kenya came out better in total, because of unlimited kms.

I paid upfront, as they demand, to a Dutch account. Then I had to cancel the whole trip last minute for health reasons and they gave me back 75%. That's not a small amount of money lost, but considering that I had absolutely zero leverage on them (I paid by transfer, not card), it speaks positively about the company that they were willing to refund anything. They also did it within just a few hours from my request. Shame the health reasons weren't covid (and that I am too honest to fake a positive test for them) as they promise to refund everything for covid cancellations.

As Qatar also promised to refund most of the airfare, we are only down some 900 Euro (aforementioned things plus visa) for this non-trip. Isn't that great?
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
In case someone ever finds this thread, I will just provide brief closure, with more info later in my "live report" thread from the trip.

Yes, Kenya is perfectly self-driveable, yes you do need a 4x4 for most concievable destinations - even in parks that are ostensibly "accessible with 2wd", the roads are amazingly bad and chances of killing a normal car are astronomical. Yes, you can camp in all KWS parks and some more reserves and yes, wildlife will be there alongside you in the night but it seems to work fine.

Renting a 4x4 in Kenya is weird though. We went with a Hilux from Roadtrip Kenya, which had good reviews and unlimited kilometers - at the end of the day we have driven only 5300 kms in 25 days which wasn't THAT much and some other company with limited kms would have worked out some 15 percent cheaper, but I do not regret having the freedom of mind not having to plan for kms.

Roadtrip Kenya is a really friendly company (well, it seems that it's just two or three guys), they provide you immediate support even with non-car related things - they are basically your friend in Kenya you can trust. When we had a breakdown in Mara, they arranged all help we needed swiftly and we were back on the road by evening at the cost of $230 from my pocket for the repair (as they claimed that it was caused by me forgetting to disengage 4x4 on a road). After returning the car, they found two broken pieces of leaf spring on the rear axle, considered charging us for that (at 50 USD, so quite reasonable) but decided not to considering how much money we paid already for the long rental.

The only downside really was that the car was old, had 250k kms on it already, had no A/C and some "non-essential devices" were not in the best order, lot of sources of noise when on a corrugated road etc... Personally, this is the kind of car that I am used to drive and if a company offered this to me at a discount, I would take it, but at 139 Euro per day it just feels expensive for what you get.

On the other hand, apart from this one breakdown (which may have had been my fault or not, hard to judge for me) and the broken springs (that were not felt during driving and caused no issue), the car survived incredible things with ease and went through any track I could find. The tires in particular were amazing, surviving direct hits with acacia thorns, but also the 3 liter engine was well kept and really smooth.

The guys from Roadtrip explained to me that this is simply the economy of rental in Kenya. I do not have enough information to verify that and thus on a next trip (should I ever do one) I would probably try another vendor just to get some perspective. However for a one-time visitor, I would in fact recommend Roadtrip Kenya, they have simply proven to me to be reasonable and it's quite possible that the others aren't better because it's not financially feasible. It's just important for any traveller to have the right expectations to avoid disappointment.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
Hehe, apparently, the car DID have A/C, I just never found it ... grrrrh, that could have been far more pleasant! I think this should be noted here, because my inability to find it made me write that the car had no A/C, which was false and giving needlessly bad impression of the car.
 

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