13 Tips for Hiring a Car in Kenya

When planning for an adventurous safari in Kenya, one of the most important things you need to consider is transportation. The best way to explore the vast and diverse landscapes of this beautiful country is by renting a car with a driver or without one. Not only does it give you the freedom to go wherever you want at your own pace, but it also allows you to experience the local culture and interact with the people.

However, hiring a car in Kenya for a safari requires some careful planning and consideration. In this guide, we will provide you with 13 helpful tips to ensure that your car rental experience is smooth and hassle-free.

13 Tips When Hiring a Car in Kenya:

Choose the Right Car Rental Company

The first step to hiring a car in Kenya is to choose a reputable and reliable car rental company. Do your research and read reviews from other travelers to get an idea of their service quality. Look for a company that has a good selection of well-maintained cars, offers competitive rates, and provides excellent customer service.

Although Kayak, Enterprise, Hertz, and other international car rental companies may appear in search results, they do not have a local presence in Kenya. Instead, you can consider reputable local car rental companies such as Kambu Campers, Vismart, and Road Trip Africa, which have a presence in Nairobi and offer the convenience of picking up vehicles upon arrival.

Book in Advance

It is always advisable to book your car rental in advance, especially if you are traveling during peak seasons. This not only ensures that you get the car of your choice but also helps you save money as prices tend to go up closer to your travel dates. Additionally, booking in advance gives you enough time to compare prices and make a well-informed decision.

“During peak season, it’s best to book at least a month in advance,” Mr. Rotich recommended. “And if possible, try to book directly with the car rental company rather than using a third-party booking site as they may have limited availability and higher prices.”

Know Your Route

Before choosing a car rental, it is essential to have a rough idea of your safari route. Some roads in Kenya are notoriously rough and may require a 4×4 vehicle, while others can be easily managed with a standard sedan. Knowing your route also helps you determine the type of car you need, as well as the number of days you will need to rent it.

For example, if you plan to visit Masai Mara in January 2024, you’ll need a 4WD vehicle as the rains have been reported to make the roads muddy and treacherous during this period.

Consider Your Group Size

If you are traveling with a large group, it may be more cost-effective to rent a van or minibus instead of individual cars. Not only will you save on rental costs, but it also allows your group to stay together during the safari, making for a more enjoyable experience. However, if you prefer privacy and flexibility, individual car rentals may be the better option.

Check for Hidden Costs

When comparing prices, make sure to check for any hidden costs such as additional insurance fees, fuel charges, or mileage restrictions. It is crucial to read the terms and conditions carefully before booking to avoid any unexpected expenses later on.

Some rental companies have surcharges on one-way rentals, so it is essential to confirm this before making your reservation.

If you plan to drop off the car at a different location than where you picked it up, there may be an additional fee.

Consider Insurance Options

Car rental companies in Kenya typically offer a basic insurance package that covers collision and theft. However, it is wise to consider additional insurance options such as personal liability, comprehensive coverage, or roadside assistance for added peace of mind. Before opting out of any insurance coverage, make sure your personal car insurance or credit card company covers rental cars in Kenya.

Trust the Reviews:

Go for the car rental company that has positive reviews from previous clients. You can do this by checking online or asking for recommendations from friends and family who have visited Kenya before.

Consider 24/7 Support:

As Nathan Rotich the co-founder of Kambu Campers noted, “You may need help at any given time, so consider the company’s 24/7 customer support service.” You don’t want to be stranded in a foreign country without any assistance. Make sure the car rental company you choose has a reliable and easily accessible customer support service.

Kambu Campers is by far the best online car rental company when considering the level of support you get once you rent the vehicle. As Mr. Rotich noted, “We have a team available 24/7 to help our clients with anything they might need, from emergencies on the road to general inquiries.” In addition, Kambu Campers has partnered with AA Kenya to offer round-the-clock support in most towns across Kenya.

Mr. Rotich noted how this partnership has helped their clients feel at ease knowing they have support wherever they go. “We understand the importance of safety and peace of mind when renting a car for a safari, which is why we have made it our top priority to provide exceptional customer support,” he said.

“While our campervan encountered issues en route from Mt. Longonot to Naivasha, AA Kenya mechanics swiftly arrived from Naivasha and resolved the vehicle’s problem within 40 minutes. Our client was back on track within an hour,” Mr. Rotich reported.

Consider low-cost car hire companies:

While it may be appealing to stick with Priceline or Viator, it’s worth noting that smaller, local car rental companies often have better deals. Kambu Campers offers the best rates in Kenya for adventure and safari vehicles, while still providing excellent customer service and quality vehicles.

“We understand that budget is a major consideration when planning a safari trip,” Mr. Rotich said. “That’s why we make sure to offer competitive pricing without compromising on the quality of our vehicles and services.”

In addition, going with a local car rental company also means supporting the local economy and communities. So not only are you getting a good deal, but you’re also contributing to sustainable tourism in Kenya.

Explore different vehicle options:

When it comes to safari trips, 4×4 vehicles are usually the preferred choice due to their off-road capabilities. However, this may not always be the most cost-effective option. Depending on your itinerary and activities planned, you may be able to get away with a regular sedan or SUV.

“Before finalizing your car rental, it’s important to consider the type of terrain you’ll be driving through and the distance you’ll be covering,” Mr. Rotich advised. “In some cases, a 4×4 may be necessary, but in others, a sedan or SUV can still get the job done at a lower cost during dry season when the roads are passable.”

Do your research:

It’s always important to do your own research when it comes to booking a car rental. This includes comparing prices from different companies, reading reviews and checking for any hidden fees.

“Make sure to read the fine print before making your reservation,” Mr. Rotich cautioned. “Some car rental companies may have additional fees for things like one-way rentals, GPS devices or extra insurance coverage.”

Stick to one driver:

To avoid any additional fees or complications, it’s best to have one designated driver for the duration of your safari trip. Some car rental companies may charge extra for multiple drivers, so it’s important to clarify this beforehand.

“Having one designated driver also ensures safety and helps prevent any confusion while navigating through unfamiliar terrain,” Mr. Rotich added.

Use your car hire insurance:

It may be cheaper to use your own car hire insurance instead of purchasing additional coverage from the rental company. Check with your insurance provider beforehand to see if they cover rentals in Kenya.

“Using your own insurance can save you money and provide peace of mind,” Mr. Rotich explained. “However, make sure to double-check what is covered and if there are any restrictions.”

Your credit card might provide basic insurance coverage when used to pay for your rental. This means you could save up to $30 to $50 per day on your rental by skipping additional insurance. Certain cards even offer more extensive coverage.