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Reserving train tickets to Mombassa

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Winnipeg, Canada
5 posts
1 review
Reserving train tickets to Mombassa

My family and I (4 adults and 1 -11 year old) are arriving in Nairobi end of April at 1:00pm and are planning on taking the train to Mombassa that night.

- Should we be reserving tickets.

- We would like to get adjoining first class berths.

- and are the recommended agents on the seat 61 site still the best choice, i'm just wondering if the site is still up to date.



Destination Expert
for Malindi, Ukunda, Kenya
Level Contributor
4,637 posts
9 reviews
1. Re: Reserving train tickets to Mombassa

Well first it depends which day of the week you're arriving. The train goes Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7pm. The Man at Seat 61 is pretty reliable and everything there concurs with my latest information. But his (or mine) is only as good as our latest personal experience or direct correspondence with train travellers. So you can never be 100% sure. You can buy train tickets from any good Nairobi-based travel agent. All they do is physically go to the station and buy the tickets. Some may be better at getting them in advance than others. I have previously had tickets bought for me by Uniglobe Let's Go Travel - who I'd highly recommend.

Richard Trillo

Author: The Rough Guide to Kenya

Kenya Programme Manager: Expert Africa

Winnipeg, Canada
5 posts
1 review
2. Re: Reserving train tickets to Mombassa

thanks Richard, we will be arriving on a friday and we were also thinking of going to the giraff sanctuary and grabbing food before the train. since we are 5 should we be hireing a driver or just grabbing a taxi. any suggestions and what would it cost.


3. Re: Reserving train tickets to Mombassa

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Nairobi, Kenya
Destination Expert
for Kenya
Level Contributor
2,660 posts
175 reviews
4. Re: Reserving train tickets to Mombassa

Train to Mombasa - we had friends 3 weeks ago who did it. Train left eventually at 4.30 am, and they did not get to Mombasa till past 11.00 pm. Lights were not working. They absolutely detested the journey.

Ukunda, Coast, Kenya
Level Contributor
998 posts
7 reviews
5. Re: Reserving train tickets to Mombassa

Hi Gerry,

In the past you could probably have shown up at the station and found tickets but the train has actually gotten busier since night bus travel was banned. So yes, advance purchase is advisable.

Be aware that it was never a luxury train and as #4 noted, standards have slipped further. Big delays, in the order of 10 hours or more, have become quite common. You are supposed to arrive in Mombasa at 9:30 am but there is a chance you won't arrive until the late afternoon or evening. So don't have anything essential (such as a prepaid tour) slated for that day. Also take plenty of water and some food on board with you. I've been stranded in the middle of nowhere several times and was glad I had provisions.

Level Contributor
42 posts
4 reviews
6. Re: Reserving train tickets to Mombassa

Agree with all the above answers. The train booking can sometimes inconvinence you and as mentioned above the train can just stall in the middle of nowhere and you have t wait till they get a back up most likely from Nairobi.

1. Advise you book your tickets while on ground here in Kenya, As Richard mentioned, one has t go to the train booking office and get the tickets. They don't allow reservations without payment.

2. You can organize with the taxi you hire from the airport to take you to the giraffe centre and the train station later. The driver will give you a good rate, say in the range of USD 120- 150 for the vehicle from the airport to the giraffe centre and train station.

Destination Expert
for Mombasa, Diani Beach, Kenya
Level Contributor
6,927 posts
22 reviews
7. Re: Reserving train tickets to Mombassa

You may be expected to buy 6 tickets as first class berths sleep two people.

Level Contributor
126 posts
1 review
8. Re: Reserving train tickets to Mombassa

its the worst journey in the world, i was sure that was closed down years ago,. one trip was far too much for me,.,

Nairobi, Kenya
2 posts
9. Re: Reserving train tickets to Mombassa

be ready for anything.u might get stuck in the middle of no where for up to 12 hrs.its a fun journey if u are into the scenery and maybe are in a group with no rush.

Manchester, United...
Level Contributor
7 posts
4 reviews
10. Re: Reserving train tickets to Mombassa

Did this journey in Jan 2014. I agree with all the other comments. Do not rely on timetables particularly if you have a tight schedule for the rest of your journey. We eventually set off at 4 am, lost more time during the journey and eventually abandoned the train when told that the line ahead was blocked due to a derailment which could take a further 6 hours to clear. Luckily we were tavelling light and completed our journey to Mombassa on foot/by matatu, albeit half a day late and arriving in darkness.

Tips for the journey: First class is 'basic' even by backpackers standards. Take a torch as the lights may not be working. Take provisions in case of delays. The corridors in the train are very narrow, you will struggle with large bags. Be prepared for the unexpected and go with the flow. TIA- enjoy your trip.