Where I come from, We have a saying that “vehicles do not go for dowry negotiations”. After all who wants a friend who will let you down during that very special occasion? In any case life is not simple. As you know and I know, a car is not 100 % dependable as it can breakdown even on the most important occasion. However breakdowns can be minimized or avoided all together if you make the right choice from the very beginning.
Advantages of car hire: Car hire is also known as car rental, renting a car is the best option if you want to visit several destinations in Kenya. Unlike organized safaris where the routes and schedules are fixed, car rental allows for high degree of flexibility and hence discovery. Likewise car hire means a higher degree of privacy, security and independence. Unlike group safaris which bring together people from diverse interests and backgrounds, car hire means your interests are not distracted.
Car to hire in Nairobi. The car to hire will depend on the destination and purpose. Is it for leisure, family, business, haulage or do you simply want to replace your broken down? If you are traveling upcountry a RAV4 will handle most of the roads. However if you are thinking of Northern Kenya, beyond archers post, and Rumuruti, get a juggernaut (Land-cruiser not Prado (SUV) type but a real one). Make sure you also get some new tyres. However if you are attending business meeting, you can get an impressive salon. If you are taking your pet out on a sunny day or in the beach, you can get a convertible. For haulage, there are small and big tracks including clearing and forwarding companies.
What are your car hire rental options? Generally four car hire options are available for you. Self drive, Chauffeur driven, unlimited mileage a one way rental. The option to choose will depend on your preferences and prevailing conditions. If you are the uncomfortable when some else is on the wheel then go for self drive. Self drive is also recommended when you need a higher degree of privacy. On the other hand, those that need more time to enjoy the scenery and relax are better off with a driver option. A local driver also comes in hardy when you are not familiar with the local customs, languages etc. In my view, a local driver is not only a source of valuable information but is also your security guard. He is your interpreter of local arts, thus adding to the overall experience. A major plus of using a driver is that you are at most only obligated to fuel the car. Any incidental costs that accrue to the rented vehicle is the responsibility of the company.
A fifth element- Security, Celebrity or Special car hire is entering the market for a select few. Celebrity and valuable transportation is a different category all together. For these two, you not only need special equipments (armored cars) but you may also require security outriders and qualified chauffeur services. This category of car hire is available by special arrangements.
How to rent your car: Purpose, Purpose and again purpose. Why do you need the car? This should always be in your mind. Once you decide on this, the first step is to do a window shopping. Car hire market in Kenya is wide. International companies like Herz, Budget, Europcar are represented in Nairobi and Mombasa. Whether to go local or use multinationals is your own choice. But always bear in mind that at the end of the day, the elements of budget an continuity will come into play. Make research and narrow down your options to two or maximum three agencies and send enquiries to them. Ask what is included in their hire options. Look at the issue of fuel. Who is to fuel the car? There are two options here. A car rental company can leave the responsibility of fueling to the renter or alternatively they can fuel for you. The best option is of course for the car rental company to bring the car full tank and you return it full tank. Alternatively, they can bring the car empty and you likewise return it empty. If you let the car hire company pay the fuel for you, you end up paying lots of premium. Note, If you decide to hire a car empty and return it empty, you cannot claim any fuel in the car at the end of the rental. Fill up the car at the car hire yards may also be expensive for you. A better option is just to buy enough to take you the public petrol station. Besides the issue of fuel, continuity is a major issue. How will the company react in the event of breakdown?
Mileage: – Do you go for unlimited or limited mileage option? Car hire is about adventure and discovery. Remember you are hiring a car to be free from any mobility restrictions. Personally I will go for unlimited mileage anytime. This option does not restrict you to a particular radius. It might look expensive but to the adventurous, it is cheap in the long run. Even if you want to stick within a specific radius, just go for unlimited mileage. Nairobi city centre might look restrictive but an hours drive might bring you to the much needed breathing space, large expanses of open space.
Car hire agreements differ from one company to another. The normal procedure is to look for inclusions and exclusions. Put into consideration compulsory insurance cover and extras or recommended covers. Some covers will include the passengers and leave the driver. In this case you will need a personal insurance cover. Local insurance companies will gladly offer you a monthly travel cover. AAR will offer travelers an evacuation cover just in case you need emergency medical attention.
On the rental day, make sure you inspect the car you are given to avoid paying for repairs of damages accrued before your rental. Some multinational companies have been accused of charging several unsuspecting guests for the same damage. Do not fall for this trick. Check the body for any dents. Any defects must be noted. Check the tyre thread and make sure they are not won out. Remember you are responsible for any tyre bust.
Points of hire: On arrival in Nairobi, you can hire a car at the airport. An option is to contact your travel agent so that a car will be waiting for you.
Those going on a safari are better off with an inclusive car rental option with insurance, driver’s allowance, fuel and park entry fees. That way the guests will sit down an enjoy themselves without a bother. However if you are conversant with the country you can go on a self drive safari. However it is always good to have company.
Insurance- most of the cars will come with the compulsory third party insurance. However some companies will feature comprehensive covers. Ask your operator insurance he is offering.
Driving In Kenya, the rule of the road is keep left. At the round about, people coming from the right have freedom of way. Nairobi can be a nightmare even for the most experienced driver but if you keep your cool, you will arrive at your destination in piece and peace. Simply said, just give way when need be. The public transport (Matatu) driver can be very courteous and rude at the same time. He will intimidate you to give way but when things are not in his favor, he is the first to give in. A little downpour is likely to make Nairobi a Jam city. My best advice at such times is just to relax in your office and wait for the madness to ebb.
Car leasing: If you are staying for a short while or your company does not need to be bothered with routine maintenance and disposal just go for leasing. However be careful the agreement you enter into. Some companies may actually sell to you a car through back door in the name of leasing.