I wanted tranquillity. Peace. And serenity. And what better place to get that than Diani in Kenya? I settled on that specifically, because its way out of Mombasa, meaning population of people is drastically reduced. And also for the fact that its January. Literally every touristic place experiences low seasons in January. Best time to visit anywhere in Kenya if you don’t like humans that much.
So problem was besides flying, I couldn’t get a direct way of getting to Diani from Nairobi at first. Flying is always the best option if you aren’t into sight seeing on the way. Like you’ve been to Mombasa by road before or SGR, then definitely fly. But for those of us not yet there financially, road or SGR it is.
The only reason I discounted the SGR was because, its final destination isn’t Mombasa. And to get to Diani from Mombasa, you first take a tuk tuk or taxi to the Ferry, cross the ferry, then take another vehicle to Ukunda from Likoni. So now imagine adding another stop from where the SGR terminal stage is at. That makes it almost 4 stops. Alternatively, if you are really interested in the SGR, you can take a taxi directly from there to your hotel in Diani. Most taxis cost around Ksh 4000 for that.
So to avoid all that drama, I thought, surely, there must be a bus that comes from Nairobi to Ukunda. Ukunda is like the big brother to Diani. Technically there isn’t a Diani town. Just a shopping complex and a few stalls. So Ukunda is the nearest town to Diani.
And I did find one. Two actually. Chania and Simba Coach. If you know anything about Mombasa buses, then Chania gets automatically disqualified. Chania buses are among the cheapest, but comfort isn’t their priority. And for a long journey, some decency of comfort is required.
Which left me with Simba Coach. Having not travelled with it before, I was a bit unsure. But calculating the whole hustle of getting a more comfortable bus to Mombasa, then cross via the ferry then another vehicle, I would rather one bus did all that for me.
Simba coach did actually take me to Ukunda. Its not the most comfortable bus. Personally I would only recommend it if one has luggage and the whole taxi thing is too expensive or taking several vehicles is too much work. But besides that, it’s nothing to write home about.
Thankfully my travelling nausea saved me. I always travel with this pills for nausea, and I took one immediately I entered the bus. One of the side effects of it is sleep. If you walked into a chemist and asked for sleeping pills without a prescription, like I did a long time ago, its actually what you will most likely be given. Its that strong of a sleep inducer. Anyway, what that means is that I slept the whole way until the ferry. Like I literally didn’t wake up to go outside in the designated stops.
The only downside to all this was the ferry part. And the upside too. Let’s start with the good part.
You should definitely try and cross the ferry when its dark. The shimmering lights from the city in the background, the lights from the other ferry just nearby making it seem like a floating club or yacht, and the way water looks dangerously black at night. Its a damn sight to behold. It feels so magical. Like it reduces the face of the place to just this water with beautiful lights inside it. I didn’t plan for this, so it was a magical surprise.
The downside to it? I think the county government of Mombasa can do a better job at giving the ferry a facelift. So turns out passengers aren’t allowed to cross the ferry while inside the buses. Though they reconsider for people with disabilities or small kids or whites ( yup, I also gasped at that). Reason being that vehicles have this habit of plunging into the water should the driver make any single mistake while driving the vehicle from the ferry. At least several vehicles have actually plunged into the waters there. I saw a lorry sinking a while ago in a video last year. And this man was telling us about a certain bus that had people inside, but I don’t remember hearing anything of that magnitude on television or news, so I shall refrain from mentioning the company’s name .
So we are woken up from our sleep, and in that confusion find ourselves outside the bus. Supposed to get on it later on the other side. We have no idea where the entrance for those walking to the ferry is. And the bus has left to go to the vehicle’s queue. So around 5 of us, all ladies stumble around in the dark, until this police officer notices we are actually thoroughly lost. He allows us to use the vehicle’s entry point which is nearer, to access the ferry.
Overally, considering over 300,000 people use the ferry daily, which is more than the number of people that use Jomo Kenyatta International Airport daily or the Standard Gauge Railway, then it only makes sense to upgrade it with lights and signs showing directions etc. Hundreds of thousands of pedestrians daily using a place, is too large a number to leave it looking just like that. Plus revenue gotten from advertising space in an upgraded ferry area would be enough to maintain it. All i’m saying is that, Joho can do better. The people of Mombasa deserve better on their most important infrastructure.
So we did finally get to see our bus on the other side after all that hustle.
Over all, we left Nairobi at around 9.20pm. And by 7.30am I was in Ukunda. Which was okay with me, I mean, I got to get here in the morning before the humidity that is typical of coast caught up with me.
For now, technically speaking, the only way to get to Diani from Nairobi by bus, is via Simba Coach. I sincerely hope that in future, comfortable buses such as Modern Coast, Mash, Oxygen, Dreamline etc shall consider this route. Otherwise, brace yourself for a long ride.