The Nairobi-Mombasa highway is the gateway to east Africa from the coastal town of Mombasa in Kenya to the hinterland past the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, onto neighboring Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi which are all land locked countries.
Today, the highway between Mombasa and Nairobi is probably the most interesting and exciting stretch of the expansive road where a traveler will witness many things including wildlife and unscrupulous traders out to make a quick buck
From the port of Mombasa right through the town to the outskirts of the city, the road is wide and smooth with plenty of palm and coconut trees on the roadside one will also realize that the sweltering heat is almost unbearable.
After the weigh bridge at Mariakani, you are now entering wild country filled with wild animals like Zebras and giraffes which are often seen grazing on the road side oblivious of the passing vehicles and heavy duty trucks that transport transit goods from the port to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi and further beyond.
The road is generally good having been recently rehabilitated and motorists usually speed due to the plains which enhance visibility and allow drivers to see several kilometers ahead
On approaching Voi, and having covered about 150 kilometers, more wildlife is evident and the variety increases as you are now near one of the many game reserves that are off the expansive highway.
Unfortunately its at this stretch where highway gangsters are active at night and are notorious for planting nails on the road to puncture tires of unsuspecting motorists who when stop are robbed off personal effects by the machete wielding thugs.
Those who attempt resisting are slashed and sometimes killed by the gangsters who are known to attack in large groups of more than ten. Security has however been beefed up by police establishing regular highway patrols but the menace is yet to be wiped out completely.
Having gone past Voi, the next big town you come to next is Mtito Andei which is very popular among travelers since the town never goes to sleep and has eateries operating 24 hours a day making it convenient for those traveling at night to stop over vriefly for a bite
Mtito, as its popularly known, also has a racy night life which attracts trackers who prefer to sleep over and continue with their journey the following day. It also borders several luxury lodges within the famed Amboseli national park nearby.
The elephant population here is quite big and those traveling at night might notice the beasts moving slowly along the road side while others could be seen grazing on the undulating plains of the game reserve.
Next stop is Kibwezi, about fifty kilometers from Mtito and the vegetation and wildlife is similar but again this is another dangerous stretch where trackers are randomly attacked by highway thugs as their big vehicles slow down along various climbing lanes that dot the stretch
From then on, you notice you are now climbing and several meters above sea level and you quickly realize that humidity levels have dropped dramatically as you approach Emali, a small town engulfed by red fertile soils and plush corn fields
The road appears to get better as you move on and another 20 kilometers ahead is Sultan Hamud where travelers are greeted by a large mosque which is on the road side along with a Sikh temple nearby that offers free meals for those who are in need for it
One will also realize that the weather gets cooler as you move on ahead and by the time you reach Salama, about 150 kilometers before the capital, Nairobi, a cool breeze is evident and probably a chill which will prompt you to go for a jacket if it is at night
By the time you get to Makutano, you have the feeling that you are nearing “civilization” as you notice plenty of lights beside the roads and modern houses dotting the plains ahead of you
Mlolongo is the last stop before the capital and also has a “fast” night life which is also convenient for long distance track drivers as they have to spend a lot of time here to have their tracks inspected and weighed at the weigh bridge prior to proceeding with their journey
From hear it takes about twenty minutes by car to reach Nairobi and one will find it hard to believe that you have covered about 500 kilometers in one of the best roads in the country.
For many, especially long distance drivers, the journey does not end hear as they have to move on to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi or even the democratic republic of Congo, formerly known as Zaire which is over a thousand kilometers away.