What are Matatus?

A matatu, or mini bus at Narok, on the Nairobi to Mombasa route.

It’s impossible to visit Kenya without seeing the ubiquitous minibuses, known locally as matatus.

Matatu
Plenty of room left in this matatu. Photo (used under the creative commons licence) by NeilsPhotography.

Matatu drivers like to pimp their rides with some having fluorescent lighting and fat wheels, often with an ear drum bashing sound system or television screens in the cabin.

Exteriors are often painted with the likes of Michael Jackson, kung-fu heroes as well as football teams and players.

Inside, seating is cramped and as many people as possible will be squeezed into the available space.

Matatu
The inside of a matatu.

They are certainly not for the faint hearted though as the matatus will race through city traffic and won’t always keep to the roads.

However, they are a cheap form of travel with journeys costing just a few shillings.