In this world of “microwave” experiences, people want to get to their finish line very fast! We are in a rush to arrive. We don’t want delays, stops or any interferences to our goals. And this is okay! I was not up to this kind of speed even if I had the option to book one of the faster trains called Madaraka Express or Kenya Railways. I loved the coastal side of Kenya that I didn’t find it too thrilling to do a big city like Nairobi and stay there for long so a night in Nairobi with the sole purpose of enjoying the train trip was gonna do for moi.
Like earlier mentioned about this world being so “microwave -like”, speed is very important and I give them a plus for having an online booking process because that is definitely not the case in some African countries.
“Madaraka Express – Travel Kenya – Online Booking” https://metickets.krc.co.ke
All you do is book online but the con was how you had to book at least five days in advance or else you would not stand a chance in this world to use the train! Searching four days away before departure was almost all the time showing fully booked but again this was a con maybe just for me because I had no clue it gets filled up so quickly and I also didn’t plan this trip to Nairobi, it was abrupt. As one planning on doing Kenya, I advise that you do your booking five days in advance but then again it was festive period am pretty sure it was peak of the season. After making the payment, you could only get a ticket from the station either through the cashier’s office ( lots of queues here) or go to the section where you could print it out on a machine.Choice is yours. The other con is that you can’t complete the transaction or payment with your bank card online.
I only saw payments using Mpesa which only works if you have a Kenyan sim card and in this trip I really advocated for the saying that goes, “lets wander where the wifi is weak” and so I wandered from home but I didn’t wanna be online every single moment! With that being said…I asked a local to pay for me using their Mpesa and I gave them cash. So my unbiased review score as far as the booking process is concerned was a cool six out of ten. I think they should accommodate those travellers that plan every of their movements ahead considering that Kenya is a touristic country.
Like earlier mentioned, there is an online booking process. Even before I air out my views on this, we all know that saving a few moneys is always at the back of most people’s minds. Check their website for different fares. There was provision for the fastest train that took about four hours to get to Nairobi from Mombasa. I will or may use it later. It was the first class costing about 24 dollars for adults and 12 dollars for the younger folk but the other train I used was an inter county train costing about 8 dollars and 4 dollars for adults and younger folk respectively. The children less than three years of age were allowed to be free loading. So as far as prices are concerned, Kenyan Railways fares are fair and I rated this a nine out of ten. Of course this is according to me, subject to lots of scrutiny of course.
LOCATION OF THE TRAIN STATION
Depending on where you are staying, getting to the train station is as easy as finding a bus called Coast Bus in Mwembe Tayari road and try getting there at 7 o’ clock in the morning and you will pay just a few pennies for the ride to the train station which is approximately 24 minutes away. If you are loaded, you could drive or take other types of transport to the train station but the tuk tuks and boda bodas do not get to the train station. So the means to get to the train station have been made so that everyone is able to be at the station in good time in good time not to miss the departure time. I rated this service at nine out of ten not because of the appearance of the bus but the fact that everyone can easily get to the train station in good time. Thumbs up here!
You know what? As far as tours are concerned, every tourist wants to have as many of them as possible. And countries like Kenya are those that you can’t visit minus thinking of doing a safari trip. Though I have had my fair share of them, this trip had a touch of a safari trip as we spotted lots of animals along the way like zebras, camels, the antelope family, buffalos, monkeys, elephants and the like and I must add that the views were absolutely breath taking which is why I think the day train is a better option for a first timer to Kenya than using the night train because you miss out on all this.
I remember asking a local lady for her window seat and explained to her that I really needed to enjoy the views up close as I was not a local and guess what? She was so willing as she probably noticed my ‘wow’ face as I stared outside the window. As far as views are concerned, this was a nine out of ten and the reason for not awarding a ten was because I think it was going to be nice to see members of the cat family doing their thing in the wild but then again….that’s really a rare commodity even on an actual safari!
FOOD, TOILETS AND GENERAL CLEANLINESS
I couldn’t stay on an empty stomach for long and it was three hours into the journey. My stomach protested like crazy and since I was curious to experience first hand of their services, I stopped the next hostess that had a trolley of food. They just had snacks, juices and sodas but I wanted warm food so I ordered rice, chicken with veggies. The food was well prepared, pretty much the same you would have on a plane or decent cafeteria. I think an eight out of ten for the food specifically. Their menu had some variety of finger foods, chicken, chips, wraps and juices.
I have seen trains with toilets so dirty, it is better for your bladder to pop! I loved that this train has a cleaning service and even as you enjoy the train ride, the cleaning can be done in places they feel have to be cleaned especially if it was a customer that messed up. The toilets were very clean and they do have tissue available and hand wash and the cleanliness of the train was a nine out of ten. They should keep up the good work!