Bush to Beach

Bush to Beach

This one-way roadtrip from Nairobi to Mombasa includes the best Kenya has to offer: wildlife spotting and game drives, culture and the beach! Scroll down below to see the detailed day-to-day route itinerary with lots of insider travel tips. 

The price includes 4x4 car rental and one-way drop off fee. The suggested lodges are places we like to stay in ourselves when we are roadtripping and need accommodation in Kenya; small-scale, good price-quality ratio and owner-managed when possible.

If you are travelling on a budget you might also consider hiring a set of camping gear, and camping along the way.

Check the day to day itinerary

Day 1 of 12

Destination: Nairobi
Drive: 25km | 1-2 hours

Welcome to Kenya, or in Swahili: Karibu Kenya! Today you will arrive at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, where you get a transfer to your accommodation for the night. Nairobi is the capital of Kenya, and the most developed city in East Africa.  Depending on your time of arrival you can also head out to see some of Nairobi’s busy city life. At night you can take a taxi and enjoy the gastronomic highlights of East Africa.

Accommodation Suggestions:
Budget: Jungle Junction
Mid-range: Wildebeest eco camp

Day 2 of 12

Start: Nairobi
Amboseli National Park
Drive: 160 km | 4 hours

Safari njema! Today you will climb behind the wheel and start your road trip! Amboseli National Park is on the menu for today. We recommend you start driving after the Nairobi traffic rush hour (9AM). You will have enough time to reach your destination. You’ll be spending some time on the Nairobi–Mombasa highway. Highway travel advice: take it easy, don’t overtake as the Kenyans do, and reserve plenty of time to reach your destination.

Accommodation Suggestions:
Budget:  Public Campsite of Amboseli NP Or We4Kenya Guesthouse
Mid-range: Maasai Simba Camp


Day 3 of 12

Enjoy: Amboseli National Park

Amboseli is a medium-sized park, famous for its herds of elephants, dramatic views over Mount Kilimanjaro, and generally captivating landscapes. Its patchwork of dusty plains and marshlands form the heart of a wide ecosystem covering the surrounding Maasai lands. In the rainy season, the wildlife can roam around this vast ecosystem beyond Amboseli National Park, which is not fenced. In the dry season, wildlife tends to concentrate in the park. Large herbivores such as elephants, wildebeests, zebra and gazelle are easily spotted here. Predators such as lions, cheetahs and hyenas are also regularly spotted, but changes increase when you go with an experienced guide in your car.

Day 4 of 12

Start location: Amboseli National Park
Destination: Tsavo West National Park
Drive: 130 km | 3 – 5 hours

Depending on road conditions, which vary from season to season (ask the rangers/hotel staff) you can either opt for the C103 going westwards towards Tsavo West (3.5 hours) or back to the main A104 highway leading to Tsavo West (4.5 hours). Tsavo West is a huge park, but the centre of attraction is roughly in the triangle of the Chyulu gate, Mtito Andei Gate and Tsavo Gate.

Accommodation Suggestions:
Budget: Severin Kitani Self Catering Bandas
Mid-range: Rhino Valley Lodge


Day 5 of 12

Enjoy: Tsavo West National Park

Tsavo West is the true wilderness. Scrubby, rocky, dusty and bushy, rivers meeting volcano remnants, a landscape filled with hills, craters and caves. You can easily spend a week in Tsavo without getting bored of the place. Gazetted in 1948, and Kenya’s largest, second oldest and (we think) wildest park. The vast expansion of land enables you to truly wander off on the wilderness by yourself, though a guide is highly recommended when you want to search for wildlife. 

Accommodation suggestions:
Budget: Severin Kitani Self Catering Bandas
Mid-range: Rhino Valley Lodge

Day 6 of 12

Start: Tsavo West National Park
Tsavo East National Park
Drive: 120 km | 5 hours

Drive from West to East today and cross into the second wildest and largest park of Kenya – Tsavo East. Like the West, Tsavo East is also a wilderness, full of scrubby bushes, dusty plains, rocky outcrops and lots of wildlife! It gives you an overwhelming sense of space. Luckily, wildlife is concentrated along the river banks of the Galana and Voi rivers, so those are the ways to go.

Accommodation suggestions:
Mid-range/deluxe: Ashnil Aruba Camp

Day 7 of 12

Start: Tsavo East National Park (Voi side)
Tsavo East National Park (Sala gate)
Drive: 60 km | 4 hours

Spend a day in Tsavo East. Sights along the Galana River include Lugard Falls, and you'll find lots of pools of hippos and crocodiles. You can’t miss large herds of elephants heading to the river either. Another destination is the Mudanda Rock, which looks a bit like the famous Australian Uluru. On this one you can climb up to an outlook overlooking a waterhole. Visitors to the park regularly spot leopards here!

You'll drive through the park and end your day along the Galana River with plenty of crocodiles to see. Note that the roads are rough on these stretches, so reserve plenty of time to reach the Sala Gate.

Accommodation suggestions:
Mid-range: Galana Crocodile Camp

Day 8 of 12

Start: Tsavo East (Sala gate)
Drive: 180 km | 5 hours

Today you’ll leave the bushy, wild nature of the national parks behind you and drive to the coast. Malindi, here we come! Malindi is very relaxed with its delicious seafood restaurants and Italian cuisine, the white sandy beaches of Watamu and the splendid variety of marine life at the coast.

Note that the first part of this road is rough and rocky.

Accommodation suggestions:
Mid-range: Kola Beach Resort

Day 9 of 12

Enjoy: Malindi

You deserve some relaxation from your time in the bush. Spend a day in Malindi and the surrounding beaches. We recommend taking a stroll along the beach to the city centre where you find some relics from Vasco da Gama's explorations of the coastline. In the afternoon you can relax with a cocktail at the swimming pool of your resort, or take a dip in the sea.

Accommodation suggestions:
Mid-range: Kola Beach Resort


Day 10 of 12

Start: Malindi
Drive: 42 km | 1 hour

It's a short and relaxed one hour drive south to Watamu, although you can spice it up with some activities and sights, such as a walk through the Arabuko Sokoke forest. The forest is the only home in the world to the fascinating golden-rumped elephant shrew, which you can track here. Though, honestly, they also roam around on the parking lot of the next door Gede ruins; a cultural highlight at the coast, and it's well worth spending a few hours in this magical place. Another option is to see some creeping friends at the Bio-ken Snake farm and laboratory, where an enthusiastic guide will show you the most thrilling, venomous but beautiful snakes.

Accommodation suggestions:
Mid-range: Mawe Resort or Airbnb self catering houses (good value for money)
Upgrade deluxe: Treehouse Watamu

Day 11 of 12

Enjoy: Watamu

Watamu is a roadtripper's paradise, with relaxed, budget-friendly accommodation, superb beach life, and lots of sights and activities. Go diving at Ocean Sports, watch turtles being rescued at the Watamu turtle watch, or just unwind with delicious pizza at Hosteria Romana.

Accommodation suggestions:
Mid-range: Mawe Resort
Upgrade deluxe: Treehouse Watamu






Day 12 of 12

Start: Watamu
Mombasa or Malindi Airport
Drive: 120 km | 3 hours or 40 km | 1 hour

It's another 3 hours south to Mombasa. We recommend stopping for lunch, or a day in Kilifi. Try Nautilus or Boatyard for delicious seafood. Mombasa is a busy, smelly and slightly dirty city. If you like chaos, go through old town.

Hand in the vehicle to our driver, who will be waiting at the airport, before departing back to Nairobi, or flying to Lamu, Zanzibar or the Maasai Mara.

What to expect on your Bush to Beach drive in Kenya

Travel time and road conditions

A stay of 12 days with 11 days car rental is recommended to follow this route. On average, you'll spend two nights at each location. On a travel day, you'll be driving for about five hours, without factoring in time for lunch, pictures, etc.

Road conditions in Kenya are OK year round. The main roads are asphalt, with occasional potholes and speed bumps. Usually, the last stretch to your lodge or inside the park entrance requires some driving on gravel or dirt roads. Inside the parks it's all off-road driving on dirt roads. The conditions of these roads are the most challenging during rainy season, but in general off-road driving is not technical in the parks on this route. Offline navigation is easy if you download Maps.me on your smartphone before you go. More Kenya travel tips can be found in our on the road section.

Go to Travel time and road conditions

When is the best time to visit Kenya

The hottest and most humid part of the country is at the coast. If you're someone who can't stand heat, avoid the coast around Jan-Feb. The coolest months are from May to July. 

The rainy season in Kenya generally lasts from April through to May, with some short rains from September to November. April and May are not a good time to visit the coast, for this reason.

The migration of wildebeest in the Mara starts around July and lasts until end of September. More information about the Masai Mara can be found in our 'Self drive in the Masai Mara' blog post.

You can find more information about the weather in Kenya and how to time your safari in our 'before you travel' section.

Go to When is the best time to visit Kenya


Create & book

Follow the Bush to Beach as suggested, or use it as a starting point for travel inspiration, and adjust it to your liking.

Make this road trip yours

Included in your accommodated roadtrip


  • Car delivery to your hotel or airport
  • One way rental fee
  • Comprehensive car insurance
  • Roadmap and Lonely Planet


  • Electrical fridge
  • Driver-Guide
  • Camping gear