With several crossing points along the border and direct bus connections in between, traveling overland from Kenya to Tanzania is easy, fast and cheap.
After finishing my trip to Masai Mara in Kenya, I was excited to get to the other side of the border and visit Serengeti National Park. However, with private charters connecting Masai Mara to Serengeti, several daily flight connections from Nairobi to a few Tanzanian cities and shuttle busses without many reviews, I was simply not sure what would be the best choice for me and if crossing overland from Kenya to Tanzania was a good choice.
After doing some research, asking around and analyzing all options, crossing overland from Kenya to Tanzania end up not only being the most convenient way to cross, but it was also easy and fast.
Here is a complete guide on how to cross overland from Kenya to Tanzania
Fortunately, Tanzania and Kenya have a very clear and simple visa policy for most nationalities entering their countries.
In Tanzania, travelers from almost every nationality outside Africa can apply for a visa on arrival at any of the border crossings (either air or land). The process is very straightforward and since most travelers crossing overland are coming from neighboring countries (which usually are visa exempt), there is not queues that will slow you down and frustrate you.
The visa on arrival in Tanzania has a cost of 50 USD and payment is only cash. Even though it is mentioned that payment can only be in US dollars, Tanzanian shillings are also accepted at a very bad rate. In case you hold Kenyan currency, you can also get either Tanzanian shillings or USD at a very bad rate from the vendors around.
Additionally, Tanzania has an e-visa application process for those who want to skip the line. However, many travelers have complained about the payment process of the platform and in my opinion, it is way easier to simply get your visa on arrival.
On the other hand, travelers going from Tanzania to Kenya should take into consideration that Kenya does NOT have a visa on arrival policy. Travelers from all nationalities are required to apply for a e-visa at the Electronic Visa Kenya website. The process is also quite straightforward, price is 51 USD for a single entry visa and you will get a reply in 2-3 days (in most cases).
Planning to extend your trip around Africa? Another option for travelers interested in exploring Uganda or Rwanda after their visit in Kenya is applying for an East African Tourist Visa. It allows multiple entry in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda for 90 days and it costs 101 USD. Applications can be done online in just a few clicks and a reply should arrive in 3-4 days after submitting payment.
NOTE: If you need to check your visa requirements not only for Tanzania and Kenya, but for any other country around the world, check either the IATA website or the Qatar Airways platform for visa requirements. They both work great and provide excellent information no matter if policies changed last minute.
There are 5 border crossings connecting Kenya to Tanzania. However, from these 5 crossings, 2 of them are mostly used by travelers visiting Kilimanjaro, Serengeti or going straight to Dar es Salaam.
Located in the easternmost part of Kenya, Lunga Lunga is the border cross that connects Mombasa with Tanga and Dar es Salaam.
Bus companies like Mash, Modern Coast, Tahmeed and TSS Express have daily departures from Mombasa to Dar es Salaam and the bus connection takes anything between 10 to 12 hours. You can book with most of these companies tickets in advanced.
This border crossing usually connects Mombasa with Moshi/Arusha. There are several mini buses connecting the cities in between. However, with no direct connections, keep in mind that planning to cross this border might require extra planning and lots of time.
Even though Taveta seems the best connection between Mombasa and Arusha, it might not. If you are in Mombasa and need to get to Arusha, traveling from Mombasa to Nairobi and then from Nairobi to Arusha via Namanga will be the best choice.
This is the quietest border between these 2 countries. Located right at the feet of Mount Kilimanjaro, this is the best border crossing for travelers crossing with their own vehicles. The panoramic views along the road are magnificent and the process at the border itself is quite stress-free. There are queues, barely another vehicle and officers are very friendly and ready to help you.
Keep in mind that there are no public connections between Kenya and Tanzania passing through Loitokitok. The only way you can get here without your own vehicle would be by booking a private transfer for both, Tanzanian and Kenyan, sides
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week, Namanga is the busiest border crossing between Kenya and Tanzania, but also the best way to get from Masai Mara, Amboseli or Nairobi to Arusha. It is by far the most convenient way to travel from Kenya to Tanzania and with tickets starting at 25 USD by the company Nairobi Arusha Shuttle , it offers one of the cheapest way to get to the other side.
Facilities in Namanga are also way more modern than in the other border points. Namanga is also a quiet (but charming) little village, where you can spend one night before heading to Tanzania.
A trip from Nairobi to Arusha usually takes 5 hours after leaving Nairobi. Unfortunately, traffic in Nairobi will consume at least 60-90 minutes and the shuttle will probably depart another hour late.
INSIDE TIP: If you are planning to visit Amboseli National Park and then cross to Tanzania, the most time efficient option would be to ask your driver to leave you in Namanga after your tour. Amboseli is located right at the border with Tanzania and you can save hours of driving by skipping entering Nairobi to catch a shuttle.
Once in Namanga, you can either arrange a transfer to Tanzania and then book one of the several daily shuttles between these two cities. You can also get in contact with Nairobi Arusha Shuttle. Their busses stop for a break in Namanga and you can easily hop on and continue your journey.
Located just a few kilometers from Lake Victoria, The Isebania border connects Masai Mara to the western side of Serengeti. Even though it seems the easiest and most straightforward way to get to Serengeti, it is NOT. There are only a few local buses taking this route and no tour operator in Tanzania will pick you up on that side of the national park.
This route is only recommended if you are planning to stay along the coastline of Lake Victoria and visit Mwanza in Tanzania.
NOTE: Even though there is one road from the heart of Serengeti to Masai Mara, there is no border crossing between these 2 national parks. Some tours in Serengeti will take you just across the border in search of a river crossing during the wildebeest migration. However, this does not mean that you can enter to Kenya right away.
Keep in mind when crossing overland
Planning an overland trip in Kenya and Tanzania was way easier than I first thought. Buses and shuttles can be booked online or just some hours in advanced, border formalities are very straightforward and easy to follow and most people are very happy to help you if you are struggling.
On the other hand, the quality of service is very low. Expect buses to depart 1 hour after the departure time, crowded little vans with no AC and people trying to scam you around the border in one way or another.
If you are planning to cross from Kenya to Tanzania overland, prepare yourself by carrying everything you need: enough food and water for 6-7 hours, all necessary paperwork printed, online versions of all this paperwork and some US dollars in case you are in an emergency.
Thinking to get a SIM card or simply withdraw Tanzanian currency? Wait until you get to your destination. Once there, arrange a taxi driver and he/she will happily help you getting those things in no time. I traveled from Nairobi to Arusha by crossing the Namanga border and once I arrived in Arusha, my driver took me to buy a local sim card, withdraw money from the bank and get to my hotel – all of this for 5 USD.