My trip to Mombasa has definitely qualified as one of my most memorable experiences. In this post, I will share my experiences beginning with the places I enjoyed the most. This is in the view of assisting those that would want to visit Mombasa one day.
This park is the true reflection of a life well lived (Haller’s life). Started by Dr. Rene Haller, it’s hard to imagine that there was once barren land on what is now a well vegetated forest. When I followed the nature trails, I was overwhelmed by the tranquility, beauty and splendor of the park. One of my wishes in Kenya was to walk in a forest (I love forests, one of my favourite being the Tokai Forest). This was really a dream come true and it surpassed my expectations. The park was once a coral mine before rehabilitation started taking place. Dr. Rene Haller started working on the quarry from 1971 into what it is today. There are 400 recorded plant species as well as animals including eland, buffalo, tortoise, reptiles (there is a reptile park showcasing snakes such as the puff adder and green mamba among others), zebra, giraffe, antelope, oryx, water buck, bush buck crocodiles and monkeys. Haller park is now a place where there is life and a testimony of the good that comes out of investing in a better life for future generations. Out of 400ha that have been mined, apparently 200ha have been rehabilitated. The park is 75ha with 22 wetlands. There is a beautiful ecosystem here and the water in the park is pumped and travels around the park in order to have fresh water.
Of great interest was the feeding of the giraffes. I must say giraffes are now my favourite animal. The patience shown by these creatures is unbelievable. They are such gentle creatures. They ate the pellets we fed them gently. If they were not offered the pellets, they just patiently waited. I sure can do with that kind of patience! The feeding times are 11am and 3pm. There is also feeding of the hippos at a designated time. However, for the hippos, tourists just watch.
This was the place we were initially supposed to stay. With tree houses and a breathtaking view of the ocean, this place is unique and special. Having taken a tutu/tuk-tuk (tricycle). The trip to this place satiated our thirst for adventure. Meandering past muddy pools on the rugged road, we could feel every bump and going downhill was a memorable experience. The beach is were there is the Mtwapa Creek, the inlet of the Indian ocean. Beautiful! The white sand and the trees growing in the water felt surreal. It is however far from many places so in that sense, it is not conducive.
The first city to be built in Mombasa has a narrow road and architecture which felt like I was in Italy. We met a man who showed us a building he approximated to be around 300 years old. We had the privilege of seeing inside the building which is being renovated into a 3 storey restaurant. The restaurant is overlooking the ocean and on the other side, the second marina in Africa is being built. Close-by was the port where Vasco da Gama first docked. It felt amazing just being there and getting in touch with history. It was also interesting to note that the pigeons he was feeding don’t take food from people they don’t know. These creatures work on the basis of trust 🙂
Although we arrived when the villages was closed, it was great to visit the place. The villages are designed in such a way that there are dwellings for different tribes and the tribes come to this village, wear their traditional wear and showcase dances, lifestyle and explain more about their culture. We didn’t get to see the people but we managed to see the dwellings of the Mjikendas, Kikuyu,Masai and Kilinyini tribes. Just four of the 10 tribes present.
This structure built using coral was constructed by the Portuguese in the 1500s. It was amazing to see that this structure still exists. At some point slaves were captured and would spend a night at fort Jesus before being shipped the next day. Looking out to sea from Fort Jesus, I wondered what the slaves felt like, being taken away from their land into this vast ocean, never to see their family again. The pottery displayed in the museum there was impressive considering when it was made (18th and 19th Centuries).
DRIVE AROUND MOMBASA
Having hired a mini bus to take us around, we got to see the port that services most of East Africa. It was interesting to see hundreds of people coming out of the ferry that transports people and vehicles to the other part of the town because there is no bridge (Port Creek). Since it was the weekend that Muslims were celebrating the end of Ramadan, there were many Muslims moving about. It seems that there is a higher Muslim concentration in Mombasa than in Nairobi.
Mombasa has a lot of old buildings. It takes a lover of antiques to appreciate the town. Our trip wouldn’t be complete if we hadn’t seen the famous tusks. They are in deed a spectacle.
MOMBASA BACK PACKERS
This is the best place to have the backpacker’s experience. Its location also makes it easy to move around. Expect lots and lots of people and therefore no bathroom comforts from home. There were many tourists from abroad as is typical of Kenya. We played slug and got to celebrate our friend’s birthday with lots of people. There is a swimming pool and a neat garden.
This was five minutes away from Mombasa Backpackers. Watching the sunrise on this beach was beautiful. I walked with bare feet as I listened to the sound of the ocean. There are also camel rides on the beach and further down there are hotels 🙂
Close to Mombasa Back packers are two beautiful malls. They are one of the recent establishments. Furnished with many shops, typical of a modern day mall in Nairobi.
MODERN COAST BUS SERVICE
It was amazing to note that there were latrine toilets at the modern coast office in Accra road, Nairobi. The bus service is not really professional. However, for KSh1300 for a trip (one way), I was not asking for a lot therefore I was not complaining. Sitting at the back seat on our way to Mombasa, I could feel the humps and the speed was a bit too much for me. Thankfully, unlike my friends, I am a heavy sleeper so I slept so that I wouldn’t worry about the speed.
Mombasa is definitely the land of the tutus. It was fun moving around in these. They do have motorbikes (boda boda) but not as much as the ones in Nairobi. Surprisingly, Nairobi doesn’t have these tutus.
To those that may want to travel to Mombasa, some of these costs may help you make an estimate of how much you need if you were to travel there and use similar mode of transportation and accommodation.
Busfare (Round trip) 2600
Accomodation (1 night) 1000
Gate Pass (Haller Park) 400 (Residents and EAC) 1200 non-residents
Gate Pass (Fort Jesus) 200
Payment to guide at Fort Jesus 50
Ngomongo Village 500
The Mombasa experience left me feeling refreshed and definitely looking forward to the semester ahead. I enjoyed every moment and is definitely a great place to visit. I was glad that I travelled with my friends and we had fun. I am sure many years from now when I look at the Mombasa photos, I will be filled with warmth as I reminisce the “good old days”. However, as a honeymoon destination, I would pick Cape Town over Mombasa because I think Cape Town is much more romantic 🙂
I am thankful for the gift of friendship. Without the 8 people I went with,I doubt the trip would have been a success. I have many happy memories of the trip and I will remember Glo running around organising EVERYTHING about our trip, AB saying “Mtwapa” in his Tswana accent, Dennis beating me at slug, our photographer Adrian, picking sea shells at the Mtwapa Creek with Dimpo, feeding the giraffes with Alistair and Henry and having photos taken at the tusks with Maipelo. Such great memories 🙂