Lunatic Line
About
This railway, built in 1898 and dubbed the "Lunatic Line," divides Tsavo National Park into East and West. This is where several lions,the "Maneaters of Tsavo," devoured 140 railway workers before Lt. Col Patterson managed to kill them. The film 'The Ghost and the Darkness', was based on Patterson's story.
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3.0
3.0 of 5 bubbles33 reviews
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Günther D
Straubing, Germany109 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2019
Lunatic Line is now replaced by the "Madaraka Express" from Mombasa to Nairobi. Only some old sections are operated, but not useful for tourists. Madaraka Express ( ~ 5 h NBO - MBA )
has priority for busines travellers.
Written November 22, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Craig H
Harvest, AL266 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2017 • Solo
The bridge in the foreground is where Lt Col Patterson put his bridge. See the book, "The Maneaters of Tsavo" or the movie, "The Ghost and the Darkness" The bridge in the background is the new rail service, which began the day after I was there.
Written June 15, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Joy K
Nairobi, Kenya21 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2017 • Couples
I have been to Mombasa very many times, usually driving. On my last trip i wanted to experience the train which i had heard a lot about. My experience was much better that my expectations, most people had described their experience as being quite negative. The train station is in town so account for some traffic if you are to make it for the 5pm departure. I found the station easily using google maps. It takes no time to get your ticket and can be obtained on the day you travel. The station in Nairobi is very old school which is very cool and there is a restaurant where you can get a snack, meal or drink as you wait for your train. You can get a third class, second class or first class ticket. There is not much of a difference between second and first class except that second has four beds and first has two (bunkbed style). The second class is more spacious and allows for more airflow as it can get very warm, uncomfortably so. I would recommend second class and if you are only two you can each have the bottom bunk which is more comfortable as the second bunk is quite high and the train sways. Some cabins do not have windows that open, i am not sure if the staff are aware of which ones do and which ones don't. Luckily all the windows in my cabin opened which made the trip much more enjoyable. Perhaps when purchasing your tickets you may be able to find out. There is security on the train and some flush toilets. A half board ticket includes, dinner and breakfast, the food is basic but tasty and the portions are more than enough, for dinner we had soup, chicken/beef, rice and cabbage and fruit salad for dessert. Breakfast included; bread, egg, sausage and baked beans as well as a fruit salad and some juice. Our journey was spot on, 5pm departure and 11am (the following day) arrival, no delays which made us beyond excited. I went with my boyfriend, there were some large groups and smaller groups, travelling the train with a large groups would be a lot of fun, but theres always plenty of people to befriend. I carried lots of water, wet wipes (no shower), toilet paper, snacks and some drinks as well as a speaker and book. They have a turn down service where they give you a sheet and blanket before bed, and i did manage to sleep. The floor in the cabin is quite filthy so wear shoes at all times, sandals will do, the corridors are also very narrow and have a system of keeping valuables safe when you leave the cabin. In the dinning cart there are two sockets for charging (if they have power), i would suggest brining a small adaptor so that many phones can charge at the same time. When you arrive at the station you will not find any taxis but on the main road you can get a tuk tuk. The trian does not run everyday so plan accordingly. I flew back from the coast after our trip as i just wanted to experience the famous Lunatic Express. If you have time and do not mind the certain lack of comfort you will experience compared to other means i would highly, highly recommend travelling by train at least once in your life.
Written May 8, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

nourishyourself
Nairobi, Kenya3 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2017 • Couples
School buses, tuktuks, pikipikis (motor cycles), matatus (mini buses), air planes, boats, standing in the back of my dad’s pick up. I have tried it all in Kenya. What else could I use to transport my booty from A to B. Why not take the train from Nairobi to Mombasa? I thought...

Call me lunatic!
Maybe this sounds lunatic because most people prefer taking a car or bus which are more reliable and can take you there in only 5 to 9 hours. The train, on the other hand, takes 18 hours and is not reliable at all. From friends we heard that they had to wait for hours at the Nairobi Railway Station before the train left around 3 a.m. Soon after that they got stuck in the middle of the night and buses were organised to make it Mombasa… They took more than 24 hours and it was definitely not the romantic journey they expected… With this in mind, my boyfriend and I decided to take the risk and prayed we would be lucky!

The Lunatic Express
The construction of the railways from Mombasa to Nairobi started in 1896 during Colonial times. From Nairobi it continues through the Rift Valley to Nakuru, Kisumu (at Lake Victoria) and Kampala, the capital of Uganda, giving it its initial name: the Uganda Railway. Completing the line took many years and more than 2500 workers died because of the harsh conditions they had to work in... The most famous story is about the construction of the bridge over the Tsavo river (East Kenya) where lions surprised the workers at night in their tents and attacked them. Approximately 25 Indian and more than 100 Africans were killed by the lions, 'the Man-eaters of Tsavo', before they got hunted down. This is one of the main reasons the train is called the Lunatic Express! More than a century later there are only passenger trains in use between Nairobi and Mombasa...

"Europeans have the clock, Africans have the time"

Do trains in Kenya leave on time?
Our plan was to take the Friday evening train which leaves at 5 p.m. from the Nairobi Railway Station. On the way there we found out our driver didn’t even know the location… so we had to call to the train station to ask for directions. The attendant was very grumpy because it was already 4:40 p.m. and said that the train was already at the train track and about to leave. (After hearing what happened to our friends we did not expect the train would actually leave on time!) She refused to give us directions and said that we could still try to find the station but probably won’t find the train any more… Oops… Trains in Kenya can leave on time!

Not again!! This is not our first time missing out on a journey because of being late. On my first flight experience we missed our plane because of the Nairobi traffic on Fridays (and, maybe we should just admit it, because of us leaving late). We were happy, Kenya Airways put us on the next flight that evening without additional costs, though waiting for four hours at an airport is not fun. This already seemed like an eternity though missing the train would feel like “for evaaah” because the next train left only in 3 days… While trying to make it on time to the train station the driver took the wrong turn on the highway… and we were never gonna make it!! Luckily, the attendant from the train station called us back suggesting to drive to the next train station the train would pass (in Athi River) to increase our chance to catch the train. The wrong turn on the highway turned out to be the right direction! Yaaaay!

Waiting at a historic train station
Locating the Athi River Train Station was not easy because the area around the station was completely surrounded by iron sheets. Some fundi’s (work men) let us pass through several construction gates and helped us to find the station. Apparently they are constructing a new station and offices. The old station looks… yeah… how shall I put it… very old school. The office has old ticket machines and old phones, probably used decades ago. Thirty minutes later the train arrived and we could board the train.

My first train experience
Climbing the stairs to get into a train for the first time made me feel excited and scared at the same time. When the train started moving it was all shaky and noisy, even more than a matatu, and this continued all the way. Looking out of the window, watching wild animals like zebras and gazelles and the beautiful sunset, made my mind relax and I got used of the different feeling. The train moved polepole (slowly slowly) and stopped besides at stations even in the middle of nowhere to drop people near their houses, how amazing is that!

We stayed in the first class, a 2 bed couchette (small room), and it could be seen this was once luxurious. Because of limited maintenance it looks more like the inside of an average matatu, though it is comfortable and it has charm. The first class is mainly used by adventurous tourist who want a special experience. The tickets are slightly cheaper than flying. Travelling third class, on the other hand, is still the cheapest way to travel from Nairobi to Mombasa. For only 700 KES ($7) you can experience the same we did!!

Dinner in the train
When it became dark outside it was time to have dinner, which is served for all first and second class passengers. The dinner was, let's say, eatable. I took some beef and rice and my boyfriend, who is vegetarian, took cabbage as well plus a very huge potato. LOL.

While having dinner it was quite entertaining to watch the waiters and waitresses struggle to serve drinks to the passengers because of the shaky movements of the train. Sometimes the drinks ended up spilling on the passengers. An advice to any one who would want to have a lunatic experience. Keep your sexy fancy white shirt, trouser or dress in your suitcase because you never know… you might end up being the drink spillage victim. I know none of you would want a stained outfit because it will be noticed on the white beaches of Mombasa.

Lullaby
For some people the movements of a train feels like they are being lulled to sleep, while for others the sound of the train sounds like a lullaby. Really? NOT FOR ME! For me the the rumbling and shaking felt more like a roller coaster and the sound was noise. I could hardly sleep, also because of some mosquitos. After a long struggle I finally fell asleep and I won’t lie to you: I had nightmares all night long… According to me, there is no way any person can have sweet dreams on a shaky bed in a rumbling noisy train. Maybe I will change my mind in future because it was my first time.

The breakfast bell
At 7 a.m. in the morning we were woken up by the breakfast bell. The bell sounded exactly like the bells they use in public primary and secondary schools in Kenya. My lucky boyfriend was given an extra egg to compensate for his dinner.

A few hours before reaching the Mombasa Railway Station the view from the small windows was great seeing the coastal landscape with palm trees and huge Baobab trees. The railway line passes through villages and it was amazing to see how different people live there compared to where I come from. Most houses are build using mud and leaves from coconut trees. Kids from the villages were standing alongside the railway line waving at the passengers… it was a cute view.


The Standard Gauge Railway
At the moment the railway for a new high speed train is under construction between Mombasa and Nairobi (and in future Kampala in Uganda). From the window of the old train everywhere constructions of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and stations are visible. The new passenger trains will have a capacity of more than1000 people and with a top speed of 120 km/h it will be able to reach Mombasa in only 4 hours. This is a very good development of course, though it takes the romance away of a slow and long journey...

Mombasa!
At some point I fell asleep and dreamed about finally arriving at the Mombasa Railway Station… When I was woken up it was 10:55 a.m. we were there: 5 minutes early than scheduled! WAUW I'm proud of my Kenyan train driver! Arriving made me feel so happy after such a long trip. It was an amazing journey and I fully recommend you trying it as well! Take some friends, bring some snacks and booze, and don't forget the mosquito repellent and some earplugs...

Believe me, you will start loving trains!
Written April 14, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

RodGR
Madrid, Spain5 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2017 • Friends
Our experience has been absolutely great. We paid for three people in first class 14000 Ksh (45 USD aprox), and we got two chambers with a door in between, so it was basically a 4 bed cabin. It has got the basic, confortable bed (with sheets and everything), old but good seats, windows with mosquito net, water, etc. The train left at 5:15 (15 mins later, pretty much on time), and we got to see the outskirts of Nairobi which was amazing. At 7/7:30 they prepare dinner while the staff sets up the beds, the captain was very friendly and came by to tell us to bring our valuable items with us. Food is actually good: soup, chicken, rice and coleslaw. You can get a beer for 250 Ksh. It is very easy for sleeping during the night, even though it is true that it was sometimes hot (but with the open window it was good enough). Breakfast is pretty good too. We arrived to Mombasa an hour late, but it did not matter at all (we spent the whole trip looking through the window, lots of people, towns, even animals!). Toilets are good too, and the staff was very helpful. As an experience, if you have time, I would say it is a must (mostly now, before the Chinese train starts to work).
Written January 30, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Hermes_NL 🇳🇱
Amsterdam, The Netherlands20,139 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2016 • Family
The old British Uganda Railway, also known as the Lunatic Line, is currently being replaced somewhat controversially by a high-speed rail connection between Nairobi and Mombasa, built by the Chinese (the CRBC - China Road and Bridge Corporation). The concrete new railway in many places is next to the old track and higher, so it obscures the view. When we visited, it was not ready yet, but work was ongoing in a number of places.
Written December 23, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Brett B
Los Angeles, USA20 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2016 • Solo
Road the train on the new timetable, left Nairobi 5PM arrived Mombasa 11AM. I had a great time, train left Nairobi at 5PM sharp and arrived dead on 11AM. Train moved slowly, passed through many different places, the Nairobi National Park, Slums, Country side, Tsavo National Park and some towns along the way. There was plenty of time to sit and relax and just watch the scenery unfold. Included in the fare was a full 3 course dinner and a full English breakfast. The train itself is very old which makes it charming, one could say that it is a museum on wheels.
If you love old world train travel and have time I would recommend this journey.
Written October 26, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Chris M
Newcastle upon Tyne, UK10 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2016 • Solo
Having read previous reviews of the Nairobi Mombasa train, I decided it could not be that bad. I booked well in advance with a personal visit to Nairobi Station KES 4400 seemed a good price for dinner bed and breakfast. The very helpful attendant informed me to be at the station at 7pm for an 8pm departure on Good Friday. I received both a text message and a telephone call earlier that day to inform me the train was delayed but to arrive at the station at 10pm for an 11 pm departure. After a couple of power cuts at the station the train arrived approximately 1145pm and duly disappeared almost immediately to go somewhere else to be cleaned. It appeared the station manager apparently unhappy with the skills of his cleaning staff opted to join them. 1am, 2am and 3am passed without incident, the train returning at 330am for people to board and leave probably about 430. I enquired of the guard his estimate of the journey time and was informed it would take 19 hours, arriving in Mombasa approximately 1130pm, 12 hours later than scheduled as a speed restriction had been placed on the train, the 22.5 becoming about 18.5. As I only planned to be in Mombasa for one night and had already booked my flight back to Nairobi, I found the station manager and managed to obtain an immediate refund. I returned to my apartment by 0430, booked a flight with Kenyan Airways at 1230 and was in Mombasa at my hotel by 2pm, about 9 hours before the train arrived. The only announcement of any description during my 6 hours at the station was that the train was arriving, it was impossible to find out anything further. A number of other potential passengers left throughout the night. Might be one to avoid.
Written March 28, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Rachel M
1 contribution
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2016 • Solo
Be forewarned! Don't plan on the Nairobi-Mombasa train to operate on time if at all. I attempted twice in February to try it. First from Nairobi, however, it was cancelled. I then attempted to try it from Mombasa to Kenya and again it was late (5 hours before leaving we were told), then it was cancelled. I was resigned to it and made alternative plans to Nairobi. However, there was a Belgian gentleman who went ballistic on the railway workers. If, you do attempt the ride, be forewarned, it is often late and cancelled. So be prepared.
Written March 8, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Eva T
Thessaloniki, Greece88 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2016 • Couples
Let's get some things straight. How can you call a train that is dangerous, filthy and almost broken, charming? It's not. Not by a long shot. And I love trains. Adore them. But this? Meh.
Hakuna matata guys, I get it, but 26 hours for 620 km distance is not just long, it shows an attitute of "oh, mzungus ready to die of boredom, heat and mosquitoes, take the money and let them complain, who cares?".
It is an adventure you say? Yeah, if you believe that an extremely overpriced package of sweat, discomfort, filth and bugs, adventurous. And the views, ah the expected views over Tsavo, currently disrupted by chinese people working 24\7 on the new railway. So basicaly what you get is dust. Yummy.
It's a total rip off, clearly they don't care to improve their service, they have no sympathy for the travellers and think that there will always be suckers to pay for the nothing they offer, like many things across Kenya.
And if you, like me before living it first hand, think that you'll miss on a chance to tell great surreal stories afterwards if you skip the train, I assure you that these lines you are reading is the only story I have from that train. It's nothing. Taking matatus along the way produced so much more drama and exhitement than this meh experience.
If you love old trains, go to the balcans and move from town to town. Go somewhere else.
Written January 8, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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