East Africa by Public Bus

scndnvxprMost people who travel to East Africa to see the Great Plains, the massed migrations and some of the world’s best wildlife parks book onto organised safari tours. This is an excellent way to see East Africa, but if you are looking for a more independent way and less structured way to enjoy the region, public bus could be the way to go.

One of the better private bus companies is Scandinavia Express which, despite its name, is based in Tanzania’s largest city Dar-es-Salaam.

This bus company specialises in long distance coaches and services 14 different destinations within Tanzania, as well as cities and towns in Zambia, Kenya and Uganda.

The company operates several standards of bus, which cater to all budgets. Their Super Deluxe and Deluxe buses are comparable to European coach design with reclining seats. The Super Deluxe has air-conditioning and toilet. The Deluxe buses simply have air-conditioning. The Luxury and Semi-luxury buses compare very well with local buses but have no air-conditioning or toilets. All the buses have passenger seat belts, TV video facility and music system.

Generally speaking, they operate point-to-point services, so they are not local buses as such, which pick up or set down passengers at places between the destination points. On long journeys they do schedule in meal stops.

Interestingly, Tanzania restricts night travel so Scandinavia Express operates primarily during daylight hours within Tanzania. Cross-border services between Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia operate during evening hours and overnight.

If you plan you travel in advance you can make reservations, but if you prefer to travel on an ad hoc basis, then ticket counters open one hour prior to departure. Of course, those with reservations have the first right to travel so on highly popular routes it is often best to make a reservation beforehand, even if it is as late as the day before departure.

Road conditions in East Africa can vary greatly, and also depends on the time of year that you travel as heavy rains can lead to road deterioration and flooding on the better roads, and deep mud on lesser roads. Driving in East Africa can also be erratic at times, particularly when you get lots of trucks and buses on narrow roads.

You may remain oblivious to this as you enjoy the on-board video which can be quite loud so that the folks up the back can still hear.

Generally speaking, travelling by bus through Africa is a true adventure, but if you use the Super Deluxe services your travel still remains an adventure without venturing into the traumatic.

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