Hello there, welcome to our first blog ever!! We are just as excited as you are to be here. Every week (or more), we will be giving unrivaled advice in our columns on travel, car hire, adventure and lots of other topics that are relevant. So feel free to pitch in, comment, ask questions, tell us what you think, what you want us to talk about and we’ll be happy to assist in giving you the travel experience you’d always imagined. So welcome to Syfe’s blog. I’m emmanuel, but you can all call me Marsha…😊

So imagine this; you’ve been planning this trip for months for just the two of you. You both had extremely busy schedules so you never did go to your dream honeymoon. Because of the crazy schedules you’ve been having, you can only afford a holiday weekend get-away. It’s couldn’t be a better time; you have the entire weekend at the Mara planned, the perfect hotel booked, the perfect sites to see; and even though you’re probably not going to see the great migration, you won’t find the crowds of tourists flocking there and chances are, you’ll have one of the most personalized experiences ever and it’ll be one to remember. For four days the Mara will be yours. You planned to hire a 4×4 to take you through the adverse terrain, you did your research, you’ve packed your bags and budgeted for all your expenses (with a little surplus) you’re excited, your new wife is excited; what could go wrong?

Just a few things you need to know first before renting your car here in Kenya: everyone loves list so I guess that’s the way to go.

  1. Your documentation.

Obvious, right? You must have your ID and your driver’s license should be up-to date. No car rental firm will ever let you use one of their cars without these documents. Some car rental firms are age biased meaning more often than not, they don’t lease out their vehicles for people below 25, so pay attention to that too.

If you booked your car online, then you would also need the printed voucher (most companies send these through emails) which includes the location of pick-up, all necessary telephone numbers that may be needed in case of emergency, breakdowns or enquiry are also listed. Have that with you when collecting your vehicle.

2. Read the agreement

The better you read and understand the terms and conditions (which by the way is a legally binding contract the rental company can use to pursue legal action against you). It is therefore imperative that you read the T&Cs to the best of your understanding and ask as many questions as possible. Ensure you are confident with yourself to the document you are signing; if not clarify! Clarify! Clarify! Ask for it, and guess what? It’s free. With this, understand that full disclosure is important; about where you’re going and when you’re coming back. Basically what your plan is; this isn’t for the car hire company but for them to be able to serve you better. Therefore its a two-way street.

Read through the sales tax, whether it’s included in the overall prices or not; the insurance package and excess- Excess on CDW (collision damage waiver) – this can vary a great deal and will obviously make a big difference if the car is damaged. Some companies place an absolute limit (say, 30,000 KSh depending on make and model of the car), some say “10% of car’s value” (vague). Whichever one they use just make sure it’s clearly quantified in the agreement. Also check if the insurance includes damage to “tyres and glass”. Sometimes the renters are silent or vague on this until it happens. Remember, when you know something, and you know it well, its impossible for it to surprise you or be an inconvenience. Knowledge in this case, really is power.

3. Payment options

Thanks to m-pesa and other mobile money platforms, payment of goods and services has never been easier. The use of debit cards also makes the entire process even better. Some car hire service providers actually make it mandatory to have your credit card with you when you are hiring; most however, do not accept cash at all. It is therefore important you understand exactly which payment methods the rental companies accept, some might be comfortable with cash, but others will turn you away and give you a preferred payment option- be keen on this to avoid any mishaps.

4. Check the car before taking it

A common, but pricey mistake is assuming that the car you get is pitch perfect with zero flaws. That couldn’t be further from the truth and it may cost you later when returning it. So be sure to check it rigorously and thoroughly before you take it. Start with the basics like headlights, indicators, windscreen wipers, tail lights etc…if you find a defect, make a complaint. Check for any existing damage, outside and inside the car. Look for scratches, dents and glass damage; if you do find any, insist that it is documented, even if they say its already registered, insist upon it, and make yourself a copy when you’re done. Check whether the car is clean too and make sure the amount of petrol in the car has been properly recorded because, again, you pay for that, and therefore yours to critique.

These four easy steps could help you have the getaway you always dreamed of, and they would make it possible for you avoid unnecessary hustle and costs. So we recommend you follow them and everything would be swell 😏

Stay tuned for more tips on car hiring in Kenya, and be sure to visit our website https://syfe.co.ke