Home' Travel News : October-November 2016 Contents 24 travel news october/november 2016
october/november 2016 travel news 25
Let me start this rumble in the jungle with
a word about Mr. Uber.
Uber in Kenya is very inexpensive these
days; a recent trip from the northern
suburbs of Nairobi to Jomo Kenyatta
Int’l Airport cost a mighty Kshs. 1,117/-
(US$11.00), which included a Kshs. 100/-
(US$1.00) airport parking fee. Ditch the
tame taxi driver you have used for yonks,
who usually charges you anywhere on
this route from Kshs. 2,000 to Kshs. 2,500
(US$20 – 25) and download the Uber app,
it’s all very simple and go from there. Oh,
just so you know it took 7-minutes from
pressing the GO button on the app for the
taxi to appear.
I asked the driver Dennis, how they could
possibly make any money at these prices.
He said he would hang at the airport and
get a fare back into town, rather than the
tame dude who presumably heads straight
back into town.
I didn’t see a downside; well at least I
didn’t until I used Uber again. But this
time I was in Edinburgh, Scotland. Did
my thing on the app, a message came
back that the fare would be £7.22 (Kshs.
947/-), then as quick as lightning another
message popped up to tell me that there
would be surge (this is the Uber surcharge
system at busy times or when few taxis
are available). Clicked OK – the taxi was
getting closer, we were getting later and it
Up pops another message from them, the
surge would now cost me 3.6 times the
original cost of the fare. We had no option.
The fare for a 2.74-mile ride cost £25.99
(Kshs. 3,412/-). The surge also works
here in Kenya and from what I can
discern operates worldwide with Mr. Uber.
Interestingly when you use the Uber app
the taxi comes with some immediacy,
however there is a booking app for Uber
called Taxi Later – download the app and
use it book your taxi for tomorrow or at a
time convenient to you.
There are rival brands out there, one
being Safaricom’s Little Cab app. Little
Cab runs on iOS, Android, and Windows
devices and will soon be available for
USSD (non-smartphone) users. The new
app accepts cash, card, and M-Pesa
mobile money for payment. It provides live
GPS enabled maps for pickups and offers
free Safaricom Wi-Fi to passengers. Other
outside transit apps include Dubai owned
MondoRide and recent Estonian entrant,
Taxify. I haven’t used them so cannot
vouch for them.
It’s a crowded marketplace out there, the
winner being we consumers.
I’m very much a fan of the good and the
great of Middle Eastern airlines, I speak of
the likes of Emirates, Qatar Airways and
Etihad among others.
Most of them fly narrow body twin-jets
mostly the Airbus A320 family to their hubs,
from whence the world is your oyster on
large wide-bodied aircraft as portrayed in
their advertisements. It’s all fine and well,
out from this part of the world – but flying
home at the end of a long journey in the
middle of the night can stretch the joys of
flying to the max in a narrow-body aircraft.
Only Emirates flies wide-bodied aircraft
to and from Nairobi. It’s something worth
knowing, fares are generally competitive
on these airlines, so shop and compare if
this sort of thing matters to you.
The migration season just past, seemed
to have been a resounding success in
the numbers of tourists attracted to this
spectacle in the Masai Mara. I’m happy for
the country, the tour operators and camps
and lodges in this their time of plenty. But
this happy snapshot cannot be viewed in
isolation. The beaches and other parks
in the country were at best at minimum
Having just been in the country of my
wife’s tribe – Scotland recently, I can sadly
report that anytime people ask you where
you are from and I reply with great pride
Kenya – the response is always the same
‘Isn’t that a dangerous country?’ I’m told
reliably that this perception is widespread,
and surely something needs to be done
We read of truckloads of money being
allocated to the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB)
to promote the country in its primary source
markets. When I phoned the now previous
Managing Director of KTB to congratulate
him, he laughed, yes it has been allocated
but that doesn’t mean it is in our bank
account. Never made it apparently – the
money that is!
From the outside looking in, we are not
doing ourselves – and it is of Kenya that
I speak any favours by not marketing the
country effectively in the aforementioned
source countries. We are not on the tourist
map or in the majority of tourism company
brochures anywhere. For a country seeking
overseas investment, and a government
that has made tourism one of the pillars of
its economy – this government needs first
and foremost to nurture its relationship
with the tourism industry here, and with
them market to the world.
Together we can do great things together.
In South Africa they have a private/public
partnership, which funds their rather large
tourism promotion budget. I reckon that
could work a dream here.
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