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Getting There

By Air -- The flight from Nairobi to Mombasa takes around 45 minutes. These flights, as well as other domestic services and a handful of international flights, arrive at Moi International Airport, situated on the mainland around 10km (6 1/4 miles) west of central Mombasa, which, in case you'd forgotten, is an island. Kenya Airways connects Mombasa with Nairobi and has flights to and from Zanzibar on certain days of the week. The low-cost airline Fly540 connects Mombasa with Nairobi, Malindi (north of Mombasa), Zanzibar, Kisumu (in Western Kenya), and the Masai Mara. AirKenya also flies here from the capital and connects Mombasa to a number of safari and coastal destinations. Offering a more limited number of connections is locally based Mombasa Air Safari, which flies to Diani Beach, Lamu, Malindi, Amboseli and Tsavo West, and the Masai Mara. Local taxis at the airport have fixed prices for most imaginable destinations in and around Mombasa, as well as for destinations all along the coast. If you'd prefer not to face a fairly insistent mob at the terminal entrance, prebook your transfer with Southern Cross Safaris (tel. 041/243-4600 through -4603; www.southerncrosssafaris.com), which covers the gamut of destinations at a reasonable rate, but also offers a pricier VIP service, which goes a long way toward taking the edge off. By way of example, they charge $25 ($40 VIP) per person to hotels on Mombasa's north coast, and $40 ($60 VIP) per person to Diani Beach. Transfers from the airport to the center take around 30 minutes, although traffic can choke things up considerably.

By Road -- I do not recommend driving between Nairobi and Mombasa; although the trip takes as little as 5 1/2 hours, it feels genuinely hazardous. It's not that the road itself is particularly nasty, but the traffic can be a little overwhelming, and my impression of many drivers (including those at the helm of large-capacity buses) is that they have cowboy tendencies that are somehow exaggerated by what is perceived to be Kenya's best stretch of uninterrupted asphalt. If you're arriving in Mombasa from the south-coast beaches (also known as Diani Beach) or even from Tanzania, you'll need to take the Likoni Ferry to get onto the island; drivers are well versed in the procedure, but you're advised to take extra security precautions (to prevent pickpocketing and muggings) if you get out of the vehicle (the windows of which should be fully closed whether you're in it or not). The ferry inevitably involves a short wait, but crossing time is a mere 5 minutes. If you do arrive in the city by bus, you'll get off right in the center of the island; most of the bus companies have their offices on Jomo Kenyatta Avenue, where it shouldn't take more than a few seconds for a mob of taxi drivers to try for your business.

By Train -- Increasingly unreliable and virtually always delayed, the overnight train service (which theoretically runs three times a week) between Nairobi and Mombasa can no longer be recommended.

Visitor Information

The Mombasa & Coast Tourist Information Bureau (tel. 041/222-5428) on Moi Avenue doesn't so much provide assistance as try to sell you some of the region's most touristy products (including ugly resorts and crowded tours).

Getting Around

There's plenty of transport available in Mombasa, and you'll be able to flag down a taxi or tuk-tuk just about anywhere. Tuk-tuks are theoretically cheaper than taxis, but that doesn't mean you're not going to get ripped off.

Kenatco Taxis (tel. 041/222-7503; www.kenatco.co.ke) offers 'round-the-clock service at fixed rates; they will dispatch a vehicle to take you just about anywhere up or down the coast or within the city. You can also hire a car and driver for the day (Ksh10,000) or half a day (Ksh6,000), with unlimited travel within a 100km (62 mile) radius of the city.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.