long distance bus trips in Kenya

Long Distance Bus Trips In Kenya: What Vehicles Are Used For This Purpose?

What vehicles are used for long distance bus trips in Kenya today?

Kenya, a country in West Africa, is one of the countries globally with the most robust public bus transport system. This country boasts a wide range of bus transportation companies that function either locally, internationally, or better still, both. 

In Kenya, bus transportation is the most prominent mode of transportation. The good road networks, beautiful sceneries, and even state-of-the-art modern vehicles make road travel seamless and very comfortable for travelers. 

Most transportation companies in Kenya operate with the best interest of travelers in mind. As such, at a very affordable and convenient price, one may enjoy luxury while traveling. There are quite a number of luxury bus transportation companies in Kenya. 

In this article, we will identify the vehicles used commonly for long-distance bus trips in Kenya that stand out, providing luxury at an affordable rate for passengers while ensuring that their vehicles meet quality standards and are installed with facilities necessary for long-distance travel.

Long Distance Bus Trips In Kenya: Vehicles Used

The most widely used vehicles for long distance bus trips in Kenya are modern luxury coaches and Matatu.

What is a Matatu?

long distance bus trips in Kenya

Matatu means a public mass transportation system. Matatu makes up the majority of the bus transportation buses in Kenya. In Kenya, public transportation buses that have a slight resemblance with coaches are usually referred to as Matatus. Unlike long coaches, Matatus are quite easy to navigate around. Payments are usually made during the course of your trip inside the Matatu. 

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They are also very affordable alternatives, in comparison with coaches. Matatus travel both locally and internationally. You just need to find the one running along your destination. Not all Matatus follow the same route. 

What is a coach?

Coach Bus
long distance bus trips in Kenya

A coach is a long bus, often as long as a coaster bus, that can accommodate as many as 45 passengers (minimally). This type of vehicle is built and structured for the purpose of long-distance travel. 

To travel with a coach in Kenya, there are certain steps to follow. First, it’s important that you know that, unlike Matatus, you cannot pay to travel with a coach bus during the course of the journey.  You need to buy your ticket well before your proposed date and time of travel. This can be done online via the coach bus’s company, other ticket-selling websites, or physically at the bus terminals of these coaches or at the offices of the different companies that own the coach buses. 

Navigating Kenya With A Matatu

Matatus are very easy to use, board, or navigate around Kenya. You do not need to travel extra miles to book a ticket to travel with a Matatu. In fact, you do not need a ticket to travel with a Matatu. Payments are usually requested at the point of boarding the vehicle or sometimes, even during your trip. 

What types of Matatu are there?

Matatu: long distance bus trips in Kenya
long distance bus trips in Kenya

There are different types of Matatu. Majorly, we’ll identify six (6) different types of Matatus. The first type is the 14-seater Matatu bus. The 14-seater Matatu bus travels mainly within Kenya, with specified routes in mind. They travel shorter routes compared to other types.

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The second type is minibusses that have the capacity to carry between 15 to 25 passengers. They are very popular around Kenya and very affordable too. Check out City to City Bus Transportation Company.

long distance bus trips in Kenya
long distance bus trips in Kenya

The third type is minibusses with the capacity to convey between 25 to 40 passengers depending on the seating arrangements. 

The fourth type is buses that have the capacity to convey 40 passengers (not less). They can accommodate more but are designed mainly for exactly 40 passengers. They are the most prominent ones for long-distance travel.

The fifth one has the capacity to take well more than 40 passengers. They are double-decker buses.

Navigating Kenya With A Coach Bus

Coach Bus: long distance bus trips in Kenya
long distance bus trips in Kenya

Coach buses are generally more comfortable to travel in compared to Matatus. However, they’re more complex to access than Matatus. 

The first thing to note is that you can only travel in a coach bus in Kenya with a ticket. In essence, before you can take a trip with a luxury coach, you need to book in advance. Booking is a very easy procedure, as long as you can navigate your way around it. 

How can online booking be done? 

To book a ticket online to travel with a coach bus, first, you need to find out what transport company the coach bus belongs to. You’ll find details regarding online booking on the transportation company’s website or on any of the ticket-selling platforms we have online (CheckMyBus, JustGo, Tiketi).

However, not all coach buses can have their ticket booked online. There’s room for physical booking should that be the case. All you need to do is visit the bus terminal nearest to your location, speak to those in charge and they’ll let you know what you need to do to travel with a coach bus.

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Are Matatus and Coach Buses Any Different?

long distance bus trips in Kenya
long distance bus trips in Kenya

Yes, there are quite a number of differences between coach buses and  Matatus. The most obvious one is the difference in price. Coach buses are usually more expensive than Matatus. This is owing to the existence of a number of luxury features in them. Some of these features include air conditioning systems, restrooms, USB ports, and free WiFi, to mention a few.

The second difference is while you may need to book in advance to travel with a coach bus, you can pay at the bus station for your trip with a Matatu. Matatus are easy to find. However, coach buses are not everywhere. They’re only at specific locations.


Of course, there are vehicles suited for long distance bus trips in Kenya. You just need to find the one that best suits you and meets your demands taking into consideration, your budget. This is an important determinant of the final decision that you make. Yes, long distance bus trips in Kenya are very much possible.

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