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Destination of the Week; Mombasa

by Lillian Gaitho

Mombasa, pic source; Hello Georgia

A Melting Point of East Africa’s History and Culture, MombasaKenya’s second largest city and the main coastal capital of Kenya is a melting point of culture and seafaring history. Folklore associates the city’s founding to two legends, Shehe Mvita and Mwana Mkisi. Written literature about Mombasa was chronicled by the Portuguese in the 1300s. Today, the town retains its legacy as the largest port in East Africa, serving the rest of the region. The island, connected to the mainland by bridges and ferries is famous for water sports, vibrant nightlife, palm-studded shores and acres of pristine beach sand, coral and reef.

Jovago’s Top 3

Apart from the myriad water sports including whale and dolphin spotting, deep sea fishing and dhow racing; Mombasa has globally acclaimed attractions for visitors include award winning beaches and oceanfront resorts. Jovago.com lists some of the places and activities that should be on every visitor’s itinerary.

Kisite Mpunguti Marine National Park

This park is a divine destination for nature enthusiasts wishing to explore sea life and the marine ecosystem. The sightings along the cruise to the park too are charming; made up of inhabited islands surrounded by stretches of azure waters and coral reef. The marine park-only of its kind in Kenya-is a popular spot for snorkeling, diving and dolphin spotting, this experience is furthered by the traditional dhows rode by the locals who take pleasure indulging visitors in their culture.There’s is a bounteous marine life including green sea turtles, humpback whales, angelfish and eels. The area is covered by dense equatorial forest while marine plant life include sea grass and marine algae.

Dolphins at Kisite Mpunguti pic source;  ChickAboutTown

Dolphins at Kisite Mpunguti pic source; ChickAboutTown

Fort Jesus and Gede Ruins

Both the ruins and the fort are a major architectural representation of the 16th Century. While Fort Jesus carried with it a religious inclination, Gede -now nestled in the middle of lush green forests-was a trade center for Arab traders. Fort Jesus is on Nkurumah Road, only a short distance from the main town, while Gede lies closer to Watamu along the Mombasa – Malindi Highway. Sightings in the Fort Jesus museum include the Omani house, built in the 18th Century. This old house displays trinkets of the Swahili culture as well Omani jewelry. On top of century-old fort faces, Gede still has the Great Mosque standing, tombs believed to be the resting place of various Omani rulers, the main palace and coral stone houses once occupied by the locals. Both Fort Jesus (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Gede ruins are a great throwback to the centuries for both historians and leisure-tourists.

Fort Jesus, pic source; Kenya Travel Tips

Fort Jesus, pic source; Kenya Travel Tips

Haller Park

Founded as a solution to a deserted quarry and cement extraction site, Haller Park is a great testimony of a rehabilitated and restored ecosystem. The nature park is home to a variety of rare species plant life as well as a sanctuary to various wildlife including reptiles, crocodiles, a rich species of snakes, hippopotamus, giraffe, tortoise and fish. Haller is also an exciting bird watching location for a great variety of bird life. The park also hosted the unprecedented and surprising friendship between and old tortoise – Mzee and Owen the hippo.
The park was honored with United Nations Environmental Program Global Roll of Honor for the unique and successful ecosystem.

Owen and Mzee, pic source; Animal Liberation Front

Owen and Mzee, pic source; Animal Liberation Front

TIPS

How to Get There

Assuming that you are in Nairobi, you can opt to board any of the day/night coaches not too difficult to locate in the city’s downtown- Accra Road. You can also take a train ride and enjoy the views across Tsavo National Park and the vast grasslands, or simply hop into a plane from either Wilson Airport or Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Remember to make arrangements for pick-up, or just make do with the taxis at the airport/railway station or bus terminus.

Restaurants

Mombasa is a melting pot of culture; from the Western, Arab, African and Asian, it’s a cosmopolitan city with treasures for everyone. There are nightclubs as well as bars and ocean front hotels with open terraces for relaxation. Beware of con men and anyone who may look suspicious. The beach boys, though helpful can also get too nosy.

Shopping

The city has shopping malls such as City Mall, and Mtwapa Mall among others, there are also big-all under same roof supermarkets such as Nakumatt Nyali. If you want to pick some wood carving for souvenir, visit Akamba Handicrafts on your way to the airport. You can also buy kikoys, khangas and vitenge (all fabrics of African origin) in the various Mombasa markets all around the city.

Hotels

Whether on a tight budget or in a mood to splurge; Mombasa has it all lined up for you. Get the hotel of your preference on Jovago-Mombasa-Hotels

Fun Fact

Mombasa is home to some of the oldest mosques in the country. Archaeologists confirmed evidence of a century old (dated AD 950) mosque in Pate Island. Mombasa old town has a good number of historical mosques such as Basdheihk and Mandhry Mosque, believed to have been built between 13th-15th Century.

Safety: It’s critical to be on high alert for any suspicious situations. Also keep off areas that may be under advisory or curfews. All in all, lay down your worries and enjoy the beach life!

Money: Kenya Shilling, All International Credit Card (Visa, MasterCard) are accepted in the ATM.

Exchange Rate: http://www.xe.com/currency/ugx-ugandan-shilling

Country Code : +254

Visa Requirement:
http://www.immigration.go.ke/downloads/Form-22-Application%20for%20Kenya%20Visa.pdf

About Jovago

Jovago.com is an online hotel booking service with offices in Lagos (Nigeria), Nairobi (Kenya), Dakar (Senegal) founded by Africa Internet Group and has MTN as one of the investors. Jovago.com, Africa’s No.1 booking portal, facilitates the booking process for its users to provide them with the best hotel booking experience with fast, transparent and easy-to-use services. Jovago.com has over 15,000 local hotel listings across Africa and over 200,000 hotels around the world. Follow on Twitter | Like on Facebook

About Mwaniki Mutugi (370 Articles)
Noel Mutugi is a graduate of tourism management from Moi University, a tourism, travel & conservation enthusiast and a tour consultant at Kiboko Kenya Safaris (kibokokenyasafaris.com).