THE KENYA COAST
Mombasa National Park and Reserve
Mombasa Marine Reserve was formed first, to protect the precious coralheads and their resident marinelife from damage by over-fishing and trophy collecting (relics, shells, coral etc). Coral species include: branching (acropolra), encrusting (turbinaria) and massive (porites). As the original trading and slaving port of Kenya, the national park opened recently with the support of local hoteliers to prevent further stripping of natural treasures from the reef in order to preserve its ecological and tourist attraction. Beaches with marine park access: Nyali, Bamburi and Shanzu.
Mombasa town is a fascinating mix of the traditional and the modern. The 14th Century Fort Jesus and Old Town are major sights. There are numerous hotels and restaurants. Guidance can be given by the associations listed in the references.
- Area 321 sq. km.
- Distance from Mombasa 56 km.
- Opened September 1968
- Easy excursion from coast
- Rich coastal rainforest
- Gameviewing: buffalo,
lion, elephant, giraffe, leopard
- Unique sable antelope
- Sheldrick's Falls
Shimba Hills National Reserve
For a contrasting excursion from the Coast, Shimba Hills National Reserve is an easy drive and offers beautiful, lush scenery. It has a unique and botanically rich coastal rainforest. Two of Kenya's most beautiful orchids can be found here. Another rare species, unique to the Reserve, is the Sable Antelope with its handsome near-black coat. Buffaloes, elephants, giraffes, lions, leopards and several primates are found here. The best places to see wildlife are on the flat grasslands near the spectacular Sheldrick's Falls and on the Lango Plains near Giriama Point with a tremendous view over rolling park land to the escarpment, from where you can look out to the Indian Ocean. There are number of short walking trails at Elephant Lookout and Pengo Fill and the falls. There is one lodge with 31 rooms, one self-help banda site with eight beds and two camp sites.
- Area 28 sq. km.
- Distance Diani-Mombasa 40 km.
- Opened June 1978
- Exotic Coral Gardens
- Shallow water reefs
- Mpunguti, Wasini & Kisite islands
- 250 species of marine life
- Dhow trips, goggling, caving
Kisite Marine National Park
The entire Marine Park is in shallow water. It can be reached easily by motor boat or traditional dhow, from Shimoni. The Kisite coral reefs are estimated to be 3-4 km. long running along the inner and outer edges of the reefs from Mpunguti Islands to the tiny coral island of Kisite itself. The reefs at Kisite and Mpunguti Marine National Park are scientifically important habitats, one of the most complex eco-systems in the world.
Fourty-five varieties of coral have so far been identified. They include staghorn, brain, mushroom and pencil species of live coral which are easy to goggle over but deep enough to avoid damage from human contact. The sheer numbers of fish (more than 250 species recorded) feeding around the coral is an amazing sight. Kisite is a feast of colour and movement with eye-catching coral fish including butterfly, parrot, rockcod, angel fish and rays.
Dolphins are common, as are big shoals of bonito and frigate mackerel. Nearby Shimoni is the home of families of fresh water porpoises which cruise in and out of the Kisite Marine Park and are frequently seen in the channel between the mainland and Shimoni. "Shimo" means hole or cave in Kiswahili. Historically, these caves were used by smugglers and slavers. Some caves have freshwater springs flowing into the sea reputed to come from Kilimanjaro, 100 miles inland.
Further up the coastline, just South of Mombasa, is Diani/Chale Marine Reserve, opened in July 1995. This marine reserve was created to protect its fragile coral reef, with excellent coral stocks and fish species. The reserve also allows a range of marine activities, including traditional dhow fishing trips, snorkeling, sailing and other non-motorised watersports, as well as viewing excursions in glass-bottom boats.
There is plenty of varied accommodation is plentiful and varied. The local associations of tour operators and hotelkeepers can recommended places to stay, see associations listed in the references.
A private initiative supported by KWS is taking place at Bamburi, north of Mombasa, to preserve the turtle. Turtle nests are rescued and eggs protected. Once enough small turtles have hatched, local people, tourists and visiting scientists take part in the ceremony of simultaneously releasing the hatchlings into the open sea.
|A green turtle.|
Traditionally, turtles have been valuable to the local people for nutritional, economic and cultural purposes. However, international demand for "turtle trophies"; eggs, young turtles, shells, etc., has contributed to poaching and disruption of nesting sites. KWS rewards anyone who reports a nest site, encouraging them to take responsibility for its safety.
Private projects and the KWS Protection Scheme are showing results in turtle population stabilisation. Marine censi show that more than 800 turtles are distributed along the Kenyan coastline favouring the seagrass and coral reef areas. Species include: Green, Hawksbill, loggerhead and giant leatherback.
If you would like to know more about Turtle Conservation, please click here
- Area Malindi Park 6 sq. kms.
& Reserve 213 sq. kms.
- Area Watamu Park 10 sq.
kms. & Reserve 32 sq. kms.
- Distance from Mombasa 118 kms.
- Both opened March 1968
- Kenya's first ever Marine
Park & Reserve
- Designated World Biosphere
Reserve since 1979
- Series of Coral Reefs, Lagoons
& Coral Gardens
- Seagrass beds home to sea
turtles & dugongs
- Mida creek mangrove forest
Malindi and Watamu Marine Parks and Reserves
Watamu Marine National Park and Reserve engulfs the Mida Creek mangrove forest where young coral begins its existence before the tides take it out to the reefs beyond. The forests are rich in fish, crabs, prawns and oysters and are also excellent for birdwatching. Tewa Caves, near the mouth of the creek, are partly underwater - here Giant Groupers (up to 800lbs) live with many other exotic fish species. On land Giant Monitor Lizards, dik dik, mongoose and monkeys.
The coral reefs are home to more than 140 species of hard and soft corals. Their symbiotic relationship with the chlorophyll generating animals give the corals their spectacular night-time phosphorescent colours. The reef plays a diverse role. As well as bio-diversity strongholds, they are breeding grounds for fish and other marine life, a vital barrier against the force of the sea, protecting marine organisms and tourist recreation, they keep out dangerous sharks common to the deeper waters, and their colour and the exotic coral fish they support provides a major attraction for tourists. Historic Gede Ruins and Lamu Islands offer exciting day trips.
There is an excellent range of accommodation along this stretch of the coastline. The associations listed references can give up-to-date advice on availability and pricing.
Kiunga Marine National Park is located at the northernmost stretch of the coastline. It has reefs interspersed with 50 limestone islands which provide vital nesting areas for migratory sea birds and are home to bushbuck and other terrestrial game. The park opened in October 1979 and provides a refuge for the rare sea turtles and dugongs. The 150-year old giant clams lie off the reef.
A recent KWS marine wildlife census counted a record population of dugongs, living in these waters. The dugong, half mammal, half fish has a semi-human physiognomy and is said to be the origin of the mermaid legend.
Adjacent to Kiunga are the Dodori and Boni National Reserves opened in 1976 to preserve a breeding ground for the East Lamu Topi, pelicans and other local birdlife. Covering 877 sq. km., with views of Dodori River and creek outlet with the densest, most varied species of mangrove forest in Kenya. Lion, lesser kudu, giraffe and hippo are also common to this Reserve.
Boni National Reserve is a 1,339 sq. km. forest reserve created as a sanctuary for elephants from Garissa and Lamu. Buffalo, giraffe, topi, gerenuk, Harvey's and Ader's duikers are also found here.
These Reserves do not have accommodation but could make interesting excursions for small groups of keen naturalists, if prior arrangements are through the KWS.
- Area 417 sq. km.
- Distance from Mombasa 120 km.
- Altitude 100 - 300 ft.
- Opened January 1976
- Rare butterflies & insects
- Coastal tropical rainforest
- Golden-rumped elephant shrew
- Excellent birdwatching with rare varieties
- Abundant game including rare hunter's hartebeest
- Guided walks
Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve
The Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve near the Malindi and Watamu reserves and parks is the largest surviving coastal tropical forest in East Africa. The forest provides an important habitat for its unique and endangered birds, insects and animals. Game to view include elephant Shrew as well as 15 types of owl, including the Sokoke scops owl, Clarke's weaver and more than 80 species of butterflies.Arrangements can be made for interested small groups. The reserve has no accommodation, but there are many at nearby resorts in Watamu and Malindi.
The Tana River Primate Reserve was opened in 1976 to protect the Lower Tana River forest and two endangered species of monkey: the Mangabey and the Tana River Red Colobus. Acess is via the Malindi-Garissa road. As well as the lush river forest, there is dry woodland and open savannah bisected by the river. Many of the bird and animal species are unusual in East Africa, and typical of Central Africa's lowland rainforests. One bird in particular, the White-winged Apalis, is extremely rare.
The forest also supports a rich array of mamals, a large number of reptiles and amphibians, as well as rare plants, some of which are unique to this area. Small groups of visitors with a keen interest in primates and birdlife can be taken here. Limited accommodation is available at Muchelelo Research tented camp, by prior arrangement through KWS.
The Arewale National Reserve, covering an area of 533 sq. km. opened in 1974 and is dedicated to preserving the Hunter's hartebeest (also known as the Hirola antelope). Access is from Garissa to Lamu road. There are no visitor facilities.
|Site Search Tool||Sign Our Guest Book|
|Table of Contents||Director's Message||Safari Circuits|
|Central Kenya||Western Kenya||Northern Kenya|
|Southern Kenya||Kenya Coast||References|
| Tourism Department | Wildlife Department | Security Department |
| Technical Services Department |
| Management Support Services | Director's Office | Financial Report |
| Table of Contents |
| Travel Advisory | Safari Profile | Accommodation |
| National Parks & Reserves | Tour Operators & Travel Agents |
| Main Touristic Centres & Regions | References | Kenya Wildlife Service |
| Sign Our Guestbook
Copyright © 1996 Text: Uganda Tourist Board;
All rights reserved.
For comments, suggestions or further enquiries, please contact:
- Uganda Safaris & Tours
- Gorilla Safari Company
- Uganda Gorilla Tours
- Africa Safaris Uganda
- Uganda tour Operators
- Uganda Safari
An independent magazine on African Cultures, Travel and the Environment. click here>>>
Join our Mailing List to receive regular updates on new products, travel-related news and much more.
Please E-mail us your comments