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Getting from Kenya to Tanzania: The Isebania Border Crossing

This post is specific for Western Kenya to Tanzania via the Isebania Border. Please read my Backpacking Africa post for more useful info to plan your trip around the continent!

Getting from Kenya to Tanzania

During the last leg of my overland travel around Lake Victoria, I needed to get from Kisumu to Mwanza, but learned there is no direct bus.

There is a direct bus by Modern Coast from Nairobi to Mwanza (2000 Ksh) but that would have required me to take a night bus to Nairobi and then a 6:00am bus from Nairobi to Mwanza.

The second option was a little more daunting: a series of matatus (minivan buses), shared taxis and buses from Kisumu to Mwanza. I decided to go for it and am sharing this info here simply because I wished it was available on Google when I needed it!

Getting from Kisumu to the Isebania Border

Take a matatu from Kisumu to Migori for 600 Ksh. I went at 6:00AM to the bus stand and was the first to arrive so I got to choose the best seat up front beside the driver. The bus took about an hour to fill so we left at approximately 7:00AM and arrived around 11:00AM. This is more of a long haul shuttle service than an urban matatu, so there were less stops along the way. Since I went first thing in the morning, it was still relatively cool in temperature so the journey was honestly not as bad as I had expected.

Pro tip: The roads are paved the entire way from Kisumu to Mwanza.

What to expect at Migori

In Migori, you will get dropped off at a bus station where you can use a toilet and get food. From there, take a shared taxi to the Kenyan border town of Isebania for 150 Ksh. Be prepared to get well acquainted with your fellow passengers, as they load in a lot of bodies, but thankfully it is a short ride. The taxi will drop you off in a parking lot adjacent to the border.

What to expect at the Isebania Border

First get your exit stamp from the Kenyan side. There are no signs, so just go to the building on your left before the pedestrian gate (you will see security guards out front of the building).

Then you can cross the border by foot to Tanzanian immigration. It is maybe less than a 5 minute walk but again there are no signs to direct you so continue past a building on your left and you will see another building in the distance in a large parking lot. When you enter the Tanzanian immigration building, you first need to scan your bag and then apply for your tourist visa (you will need to pay 50 USD cash).

Pro Tip: Both sides require your yellow fever immunization card so come prepared!

Getting from the Isebania Border to Mwanza

From the border, you can walk the 500m to the bus stand, or take a motor bike taxi for 1000 Tsh. I took a bike and was glad because it was really hot by this point and the boda driver helped me find the shared taxi. At the bus stand, take a shared taxi to Tarime for 1000 Tsh. Again you will be quite stuffed in the car with other people (and possibly handed a baby to hold), but it is another short ride.

In Tarime, you can get a direct coach bus into Mwanza for 10,000 tsh. I was lucky and caught one literally as it was pulling out of the bus terminal so I think they depart a few times per day. The direct journey from Tarime to Mwanza took about 3.5 hours. The bus stops at the Buzuruga bus station which is a quick boda boda or dala dala into the centre of town (3000 tsh for a boda, 400tsh for a dala dala). To catch the dala dala into town you will need to cross the street at the lights and then walk towards the CRBD bank where you will see them departing (you can say “ninaenda njini” – I am going into town).

Overall the entire journey took me 12 hours, from 6:00AM to 6:00pm. It sounds really complicated, but I was pleasantly surprised that it went smoothly for me (though I can speak Swahili which certainly helped).

Pro tip: If you are concerned about the language barrier, I would recommend this pocket Swahili-English dictionary which has useful travel phrases.

Tips for Bus Travel in East Africa

Bus travel in East Africa can be super long and uncomfortable depending on road conditions so I always pack my backpack accordingly with supplies (I use the Osprey Questa 27 as my daypack/ carry on).

You will want to pack food and water (though during this journey there are many opportunities to buy drinks and snacks), hand sanitizer, and I always recommend traveling with an external charger so you know you will have a charged phone while in transit (I use and love this one by Anker).

lake victoria africa

Kisumu, Kenya

If this article was helpful, let me know in the comments below!

Be sure to check out my backpacking Africa post for more useful info to plan your trip around Africa, or if you are continuing to travel through Tanzania, refer to my Tanzania content for helpful tips.

Happy travels!

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Getting from Kenya to Tanzania

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What are your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * said:
Hi Neerti, I have crossed from Uganda to Tanzania by land most recently in April 2021. With a Canadian passport, I did not need any documentation for the visa on arrival other than 50$ USD for the tourist visa. From Kenya, I also did not need any supplementary documents, it was very straight forward! So other than your PCR test documentation, you should not require supplementary documentation for a tourist visa. Best of luck :)
March 13, 2022 at 1:30 pm
Neerti said:
Hi, thank you for writing the border guides 😊 We are travelling overland in Africa and was wondering if you have crossed the border from Uganda to Tanzania? If so what was this like and what documents did you need for visa on arrival? Also regarding the Isebania border crossing from Kenya, did you need to provide any supplementary documents, like a Tanzanian itinerary, return ticket etc or was it very straightforward visa on arrival?
February 13, 2022 at 3:59 am
Timothy Njoroge said:
Quite helpful. Thanks.
May 29, 2021 at 7:39 am said:
Hi, thanks so much for your lovely compliment. It is definitely possible to get a visa on arrival at the Isebania border for Tanzania. Just make sure you have 50 USD cash with you as I don't recall seeing an ATM.
September 14, 2019 at 10:29 am
Anxo said:
Hi how are you? Great blog by the way. I have a question about the border crossings in isibania. I would like to do the same, so it’s possible to get a visa to cross Tanzania? Thanks!!!
September 11, 2019 at 8:22 am