Backpacking Africa

How to Get From Nairobi to Lake Naivasha by Bus

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Are you wondering how to get from Nairobi to Lake Naivasha by bus?

Let me help you.

In the five years that I have spent backpacking Africa, Lake Naivasha is the one place to which I always return. At first, I was put off by the process of making my own way to the lake. However, this is a super straightforward trip and it doesn’t take long either.

Also, please know that the locals are incredibly friendly up around here and they will do anything to help you out. In fact, I always find that the locals seem appreciative in some way that a “Mzungu” is so happy to be sharing a matatu with them!

Quick Answer: Taking a Bus from Nairobi to Lake Naivasha

Take a bus from Nairobi to Naivasha Town. Then take another matatu from Naivasha town to Lake Naivasha.

How to get to from Nairobi to Lake Naivasha

Step 1 – Take a Bus from City Centre Nairobi to Naivasha Town

Firstly, you need to get to the city centre before you can travel from Nairobi to Lake Naivasha. For this reason, find Accra Road which is where the matatu’s (small Nissan buses) depart for various places in rural Kenya.

My suggestion is that you should take a taxi from your hotel or guesthouse directly to this road. However, agree with a driver who agrees to drop you at the exact departure point.

If not, once you reach Accra Road in Nairobi, there will be a mob of ticket touts trying to get you on their particular bus.

Again, don’t worry – embrace the madness and be lighthearted with the locals here as you will usually find they respond kindly if you do.

Cost of Bus from Nairobi to Lake Naivasha

A fare from Nairobi to Naivasha should not cost you more than 300-400ksh. Although if you have large luggage that requires an extra seat, they may charge you more. Either way, I find these guys are most often honest and at worst, will charge you $1 extra for being a little dumb like myself.

Nairobi to Lake Naivasha

About the Bus Route to Lake Naivasha

The bus will take you on the high road, up over the Great Rift Valley and past the viewpoints (They only stop to pick people up). When you reach the main junction and turn off for Naivasha town, it is possible that you may need to transfer to another matatu for a 5 minute trip into the centre as your bus could be going directly onward to Nakuru/Eldoret.

There is always a conductor on board and they usually need no reminder of where to get you off the bus. Also,  they will pay the small fee to the other matatu onto which you transfer to take you into town.

Tip: Just tell the conductor when you get on board that you want to get off in Naivasha Town.

Drive time: 1 hour 45 minutes.

Wait time: 10 – 30 minutes.

Travelling from Karen to Lake Naivasha town

Given the popularity of the area, you might be wondering how to get from Karen to Lake Naivasha. Easy. You simply make your way to Karen Crossroads and next to the roundabout, you will see a muddy area with many matatu’s.

Most of these matatu’s will take you as far as the stage (bus stop) at Kikuyu where you can board the bus for Naivasha. Basically, this is the same bus that leaves the City Centre – it just saves you a trip into town.

It will take you 20 minutes to reach Kikuyu from Karen. Also, you should not be waiting longer than 20 minutes for the onward bus to Naivasha town. The drivers/helpers/conductors will approach you at the stage and ensure you get on the right one. The price from this pointy Naivasha is approx 300ksh.

Note: The stage is nothing more than the side of a motorway. You will see many locals waiting there too.

Naivasha from Nairobi

Step 2 – Take a Bus from Naivasha town to Lake Naivasha

The bus depot in Navaisha town is very local and a little dirty, but safe.

Pick up your bags walk, out onto the main road and turn right.

Approximately 100 metres down the road on the left hand side, you will see another busy bus depot with many more matatus.

Go inside and pick the most friendliest tout (they will come to you). Your stop at Carnelley’s, Fishermans Camp, Fish Eagle, Crayfish Camp or Crater Lake camp site are all on the same route. The fare is just 100ksh but you might be charged a little more.

Drive Time: 25 minutes

Wait time in the station: 10 – 30 minutes

Congratulations, you survived the journey. As you can see, the trip is pretty straight forward with the above direction. Also, Lake Naivasha is one of my favourite places in Kenya and I highly recommend taking a trip to Elsamere during your stay – Enjoy !

PS. Do you need somewhere to stay in Lake Naivasha? I know the place like the back of my hand and wrote a post about it here.

Derek Cullen is an experienced overland tour leader in Africa. He is best known for cycling across Africa and writing about travel in Africa for many online media publications. If you would like advice or information for your trip to Africa, you can speak with him directly through the LiveChat box!


  1. Filip

    September 14, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    Wait time can be much longer than 30 minutes. It may be even 90 min.

    • Derek Cullen

      October 9, 2018 at 4:00 pm

      Welcome to Africa 😀

  2. Pingback: Escape Nairobi on a $16.85 Microadventure in Kenya - No Hanging Around

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