I'm surprised at how few people know about the pillar tombs in the compound of the Juma mosque near the sea front in Malindi. There asre actually 2 pillars on the site simillar to those found in various places up and down the coast that belonged to an earlier muslim tradition.
Gedi is quite an extraordinary spot - now and historically. The extraordinary thing about this Swahili town, built and occupied between 14th-17th century, in spite of housing up to 2500 people, was unknown by the Portuguese garrison only 15kms away! Sited as it a few kms inland from the coast and surrounded by the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, it is likely that the inhabitants could come and go as they pleased. Even now, there's an eerie mystery to the place (although stunningly beautiful). It is regarded as the highlight of the ruins of the northern Kenyan coast - and remarkably low key in its tourism, even with Watamou within walking distance.
There's not a great deal to Watamou - a series of hotels, mostly inaccessible for casual visitors, a couple of bars/cafes but a very long strip of a spectacular beach, divided by rocky outcrrops into three mini bays. Between the Gedi ruins and the beach is a small village with Post Office and a couple of shops selling supplies.
Watamu beach is a paradise about 20 kilometres and minutes from Malindi - by taxi of course. The beach is wide and white, the sea has all the hues and shades of blue and green, and at low tide you can walk to a little atoll/island nearby: the island of love. You can also see some large coral "mushrooms" which are very suggestive, and little coral pool filled with star fishes, shells and small colourful fishes. The good thing about Watamu is that you can lay in the water at low-tide, too. Between the beach and the island of love there's a little channel deep enough for you to sit in the water and relax. Watamu is really a place that makes you dream on, and on.
the ruins of gedi
The ruins of old Gedi are very mysterious. The only sure fact is that it used to be an Arab-african town built in the 12th century. it flourished until the 17th century and then it was abandoned. No one knows how or why. There are no records of the town in Portuguese, Arabic or Swahili scripts, yet it was only a couple of kilometres from the main trade route. The outlay is like a typical medieval Swahili town, with a magnificant palace, several houses (complete with eleborate toilet systems) and a couple of mosques - now intermingling with the jungle. Houses take their name from objects found in them - thus you have, for example, the house of the Venetian bead or the house of the Chinese vase.
The ruins of Gedi are located about 20 kilometres from Malindi, near the village of Gedi and Watamu
the village of gedi
I would have missed the village of gedi if our car hadn't been stuck in a deep pool of water - causing the engine to stop and water to come in from the rusty car bottom. While we were waiting for the engine to dry, we had some time to walk around this charming little village - and what a delight it has been. We visited the colourful market and bought delicious Kenyan sugar - and bumped into a large group of children coming out from school. Everyone was eager to say jambo to us and to enquire about where we were from. Definitely Gedi is the most authentic and friendliest village weve been to. it's located about 20 kilometres from Malindi, on your way to the ruins of the ancient city of Gedi.
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