NORTH COAST The North Coast is another distinct tourist destination. It stretches from Nyali to Kilifi Creek and includes areas such as Bamburi, Shanzu, past Mtwapa Creek, Kikambala and Kilifi. Long stretches of idyllic beaches that are fringed with swaying palms, casuarinas, oleanders and frangipan make the North Coast, a unique and fascinating stretch of Kenya’s Coast. The North coast boasts of numerous attractions which include a twelve hole golf course at the Nyali estate, squash and tennis courts in most hotels. A variety of speciality restaurants and superb hotels along the beaches provide high quality and luxurious services to visitors. The Mtwapa creek with its abundant birdlife and the Bamburi nature trail are a must for nature lovers
Kiwayu, on the edge of the Indian Ocean, is a place to disappear into the restore your soul. Miles of deserted beaches with soft white sand and soothing sound of waves will soon awaken the senses and lead you back to nature’s eternal rhythms.
Across the dunes lie the Dodori and Boni Game Reserves and many miles of unspoiled Africa. For centuries this was a calling point for the Arab dhows which traded in ivory, carpets and carved Zanzibar chest s between Arabia and Mombasa and on to Zanzibar. Here sailors have always been assured of a warm welcome and a safe anchorage, a tradition that continues to this day.
Lamu archipelago with its magnificent old houses and narrow alleys that have defied the passage of time, delicate wood craftsmanship of yester year, numerous mosques and a thriving Swahili culture is an ideal resort for those who like going down memory lane. A visit to Lamu takes one back through time to a way of life that has remained unchanged for the last six hundred years. Time tends to standstill when holidaying in Lamu. Little has changed and one can capture the ambiance and mystery of one of the trading posts of the East African coastline that has persisted for the last seven centuries.
Lamu archipelago is the Venice of Kenya as it is linked to the mainland and to the three other smaller islands of Kiwayu, Manda and Kiunga by waterways. The great author, Earnest Hemingways had made his home in Lamu and most of his writings were inspired by this fascinating Island. The Maulidi festival that takes place in Lamu and most of his writings were inspired by this fascinating island. The Maulidi festival that takes place in Lamu soon after the Muslim holiday of Idd il Fitr, draws pilgrims from Africa, Asia and Middle East and is one of the attractions that should not be missed. Other attractionsworth seeing include a visit to the mangrove swamps and the Lamu Museum. Donkeys are used as a mode of transport on the Island since there is no motorized transportation.
Malindi and Watamu Tourist Resorts
The coastal resorts of Malindi and Watamu are renown for accessibility, beauty and diversity of marine life which lives just off-shore on Baracuda, North Coral Reef, Turtle and Whale Islands.
Malindi which lies a few Kilometers north of Watamu is the oldest of Kenya’s beach resorts. The sands are golden but the attractions centre on mini surfing and tranquil township with its mosque minarets and composed people. The town is a labyrinth of alleys, courtyards and gardens dating back to the 12th century. Here, time stands still and centuries of civilization have not altered the courtesy and the charm of the local people. The indomitable spirit of intrepid sailors of centuries gone by, such as Diego Amerigos, Christopher Columbus and Vasco Da Gama, who set out to discover new territories as well as find a passage to India is kept alive by the Vasco Da Gama monument at the Causarina point.
Malindi and Watamu Marine Parks and Reserves were the first ever marine parks and reserves to be established in Kenya. Both were opened in 1979. The coral reefs are home to over one hundred and forty of hard and soft corals. The reef plays a central role as a biodiversity stronghold as it provides ideal breeding grounds for fish and other marine life. It also forms a vital barrier against the marauding sharks common in the deeper waters.
Gede ruins, a few kilometers from Malindi houses the ‘Golden Era’ of the Islamic culture. The ruins which were mysteriously abandoned in the 17th century, Lamu Islands, the Arabuko Sokoke forest, the Portuguese chapel and the Mamburui village offer excellent opportunities for excursion from Malindi and Mombasa.
MOMBASAMombasa is the gateway to Kenya’s Coast and is the country’s second largest city. The town has a recorded history going back to two thousand years. Mombasa is still the major port of East Africa, and has a harmonious mixture of the ancient and the modern. It has a harmonious blending of the great cultures of Africa, Asia and Europe. The Old Town which lies next to the old port is a fascinating place of antiquity worth seeing.
The city sprawls across a low – lying island at the month of a broad inlet, which provides a fantastic natural anchorage for ships. Traders have been coming here since at least the 12th century and goods from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and eastern Congo (Zaire) all pass through here on their way overseas.
Mombasa’s biggest tourist attraction dominates the harbor entrance at the end of Nkrumah St. It’s still an imposing edifice, despite being partially ruined. The fort was built by the Portuguese in 1593 to enforce their rule over the coastal Swahilis, but they rarely managed to hold onto it for long. It changed hands at least nine times in bloody sieges between 1631 and 1875, before finally passing into the hands of the British.
An Italian architect, Joao Batista Cairato, who had done a lot of work for the Portuguese in Goa, designed the fort. There are some indeginous elements in its design which make it impossible to attack one wall without being a sitting duck for soldiers on the opposite battlements.
Today Fort Jesus houses a museum built over the former barracks for the garrison. The exhibits are mostly ceramics, reflecting the variety of cultures that traded along the coast, but include other interesting odds and ends donated from private collections or dug up from sites along the coast.
The Omani house
The eastern wall
Passage of the Arches
Open from 8.30 am – 6 pm
The Old Town
While Mombasa’s Old Town doesn’t quite have the medieval charm of Lamu or Zanzibar, it’s still an interesting area to wander around. The houses here are characteristic of coastal East African architecture, with ornately carved doors and window frames and fretwork balconies, designed to protect the modesty of the female inhabitants.
Early morning or late afternoon is the best time to walk around as there’s more activity.
Mombasa has some interesting mosques but non Muslims are usually not permitted to enter: These include:
Other religious buildings include;
Lord Shiva Temple
Shoes should be removed before entering.
Luxury dhow cruises around the harbor are very popular in the Mombasa and, not withstanding the price , they are an excellent way to see the harbor, Old Town and Fort Jesus and get a slap – up meal at the end of it.
Two of the most famous operators include: Tamarind Restaurant and Jahazi Marine
THE COAST The Kenyan coast is one of the nation’s premier attractions, with a chain of spending beaches stretching most of the way from Tanzania to the Somalia border. Offshore are extensive coral reefs, with
excellent coral reefs, with excellent diving and snorkeling, while dotted along the coast are traditional villages and the ruins of Arab – Muslim city states. It’s a wonderful area, and after a hot and dusty safari, almost everyone heads for the coast to unwind.
Mombasa is the main city on the coast and has been, at various times, a Swahili city – state, the capital of Portuguese East Africa, an Omani provincial capital and the rail head for the British East Africa railway. After the cool highlands, Mombasa’s steamy tropical climate takes some getting used to but the city is the major hub for transport north and south along the coast and the old part of the city is well worth exploring.
North and South of Mombasa
North and south of Mombasa are some of the finest beaches in Africa. A staggering number of beach hotels and resorts are crammed into this small stretch of coast. The big development are at Diani Beach, Bamburi, Shanzu , Watamu, and Malindi, butt there are also some wonderfully peaceful get aways tucked away between the mega resorts, most notably at Tiwi Beach, just south of Mombasa.
Nature reserves include the Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve (excellent for birdlife), and the Shimba Hills National Reserve and Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary (which are both prime locations to spot elephants).
Marine parks and coral reefs
Offshore are the coral reefs of the Mombasa, Malindi, Watamu, Diani – Chale and Kisite – Mpunguti Marine Parks, which provide some excellent diving and snorkeling.
Swahili culture and history
The Swahili culture and history is also of great interest at the coast. Archeologists have unearthed a number of ancient Swahili ruins, most notably at Gede and Kilifi, and these are well worth exploring. For a taste of living Swahili culture, you should take a trip to the gorgeous island of Lamu. It’s possible to take dhow trips to even more remote Swahili islands from Lamu, and many mangrove islands south of Mombasa can also be visited by dhow.
Tsavo West National ParkVAST VISTAS AND VOLCANIC VIEWS
The immense Tsavo West stretches from the northeastern Athi River to the southwestern Tanzanian border. With rocky outcrops in its northern parts, most of the park is a vast tangled bush savannah, laced with volcanic ridges and lava beds.
With sweeping hills reaching 1,800 metres high, the Ngulia range offers dramatic vistas, while the Chyulu hills, adjacent to Tsavo West, feed the remarkable Mzima Springs where thousands of gallons of crystal-clear freshwater gashes into palm-fringed pools, filled with hippos and crocodiles.
Ancient and recent volcanic activity is evident within and around the park. Visit Shetani or Devi’s Lava Flow formed a few hundred years ago when a fiery molten fury spewed from the earth! Or climb to Chaimu Crater -in a mere 10 minutes.
And stop by the eerie ‘Roaring Rocks’, named after the buzz of the cicadas that inhabit them and the howl of the wind as it rushes past the sheer face of the scarp.
From the park’s many panoramic vantage points, absorb the vast vistas as you monitor the movement of the wildlife herds below. The finest is Poacher’s Lookout, a roofed hut high on a hill with views to eternity.
The world’s most magnificent game viewing awaits you! Vast herds of dust-red elephant, fat pods of hippo, giant crocodile, teaming herds of savannah dwellers plus a fantasia of birds and magical flora flourish here. The Ngulio Rhino Sanctuary protects Tsavo’s growing population of endangered black rhino, successfully inching their way back from the brink of extinction caused by rampant poaching in the 1960’s. Beautiful Lake Jipe, straddling the Kenya/Tanzania border, offers memorable experiences of abundant aquatic and bird life viewing –from a hired boat!
MZIMA SPRINGS MAGIC
The lush, hippo-inhabited pools of Mzima Springs are a verdant cooling oasis. An underwater hippo-viewing chamber, two nature trails and some scenic picnic spots provide a refreshing and rewarding adventure. And a romantic spot too!
Kenya’s largest national park supports ALL of the ‘Big Five’! Home to the country’s largest elephant population, your exciting safari is sure to include buffalo, lion, leopard and rhino too. Plus, at Mzima Springs, abundant Nile crocodile and hippo. Herds of giraffe, gerenuk, oryx, zebra and impala range through bush and plains, as do hartebeests, lesser kudu, eland, waterbuck, Steinbuck, Kirk’s dik dik and klipspringer. Don’t miss yellow baboons and vervet monkey as they cavort noisily around acacia trees.
Prolific bird life-featuring over 600 recorded species –are a true highlight. Birds of the semi-arid zone, such as Somali ostrich and golden pipit, slip by the more conspicuous white-headed buffalo weaver with its vivid coral rump displayed in flight, or the brilliantly plumaged golden-breasted starling. Raucous hornbill, with their lilting flight, are also prevalent in the park as are hole-nesting birds, such as orange-bellied parrot , and D’Arnand’s barbet that favour the thick-trunked baobab trees.
Roaring Rocks is an excellent spot for raptors: eagles cruise by at eye level and Bateleur comb the rocky scarp for unsuspecting prey. The Ngulia area, due in part to its geography, forms a focus for innumerable Eurasian and Palaearctic migrating birds. A palaearctic migratory bird-banding (bird-ringing) project is at Ngulia Lodge
Ranging from woodland to semi-desert, Tsavo West covers a diverse array of habitats. For the most part, the area is hot and dry, with acacia-commiphora scrub broken by short grassy plains flecked with thorn trees.
Wild flowers appear with the rains and the ground can be quickly carpeted with delicate thunbergia, ipomoea and barleria. Watch for the blazing fire-ball lily and the delonix, a sparsely branched tree with exquisite white blooms, pollinated by nocturnal bats. Rivers are fringed with acacia as magnificent baobabs rise leafless above the shimmering heat.
AROUND AND ABOUT TSAVO WEST
Nearby excursions can include visits to the massive expanses of sister park Tsavo East, the verdant Taita Hills or volcanic remnants of the Chyulu Hills. Within easy reach is world-renowned Amboseli National Park, remembered daily by the glorious background views of majestic Mt Kilimanjaro.
HOW TO GET THERE
By road: Mtito Andei gate is 240 km south of Nairobi and 249 km north of Mombasa on the main Nairobi-Mombasa highway.
Roads The roads are well graded and efficiently maintained.
Gates Chyulu, Mtito Andei (Kamboyo HQ), Tsavo, Jipe, Ziwani and Maktau.
By air Airstrips are at Kilaguni, Finch Hatton’s and Lake Jipe. Please contact the Warden for information