To better understand the history of the Swahili coast visit the Gede ruins near Watamu. Only rediscovered in the 1920s Gede is a quiant place tucked away in a quiet corner of Kenya. Gede is one of the largest and most important of the Swahili towns along the coast founded in the 12th century. It has a large complex of houses, palaces, and mosques that have been retaken by the baobab and strangler fig trees of the forest. It was an active trading town that has ceramics and other items from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, India and China. There are no historical references of Gede in other ancient towns which is amazing due to the size and obvious importance of the site. It was mysteriously abandoned in the late 17th century. Portuguese pressure in Malindi or more likely a falling water table was the cause of its demise. Huge cisterns that go at least 50 feet deep are all over the ruins proving that water must have been in short supply.
Entrance fee of 200 Ksh. Go early in the morning as it is cooler and with fewer visitors.
It is possible to stay in Watamu and visit Gede during the day. It is possible to stay in Malindi as well but Watamu is much closer and a bit quieter.
There is a facinating butterfly exhibit and sanctuary near the Gede ruins. It has many butterflys as well as a stick bug and a wicked praying mantis. The guide was very informative. The video we could do without. It is a community based organization that is giving the villages a way to earn a living from the nearby national park by collecting butterflys instead of cutting wood.