The Gedi ruins are great, photographers to get there at about 16:00 in summer, its amazing, how things have lasted this long and the history. the guides are great and worth their tip at the end. snorkeling was great, the coral is in slowly returning to its former spectactle but a great and cheap excursion. then we found a ice cream shop near the ascot hotel, wow, lovely owners Andrea and Anna and the best cap and icecream and a crepe with nutela for all you sugar junkies.
The beaches are really beautiful
enjoy an early morning or late
Afternoon ride in an intimate and relaxed
Atmosphere through the local village; set
Amongst plantations of Coconut, Mango,
and Cashew Nut trees.
You will be in the capable hands of David
Gibson, a.k.a. “Gibbo”, ex-champion jockey.
Winner of 234 races.
With his 4 horses, he will guide you around
the local Gede village, where you can wave to
the children and the families, and have a
glimpse into the true African life.
I really enjoy the horse riding, its such a great trip, slowly walking through african villiages watching as people go on with their daily life, no one trying to sell you things !
I shall be riding again next year as well, they never take the same way twice so even though I've done it before its different every time.
When the tide goes out in turtle bay it exposes the most wonderful rock pools, the ammount of things to see changes daily, moray eels are abundant (up to over a metre in length), hundreds of different species of fish as well as all manner of sea slugs etc the list is endless but like I say no two days are the same.
We spent hours this year just checking out the wildlife situated about 1 minutes walk from the hotel !
First tried big game fishing in Malindi in1996 using Kingfisher, even though my first trip was not productive I enjoyed being out on the indian ocean 20 miles off the coast there is so much to see.
For the last 2 years I have been using Ocean sports in Watamu for my fishing, I personally prefer to fish with Peter Darnborough who skippers a 37ft sports fishing boat called "Alleycat" which sports a fantastic crew and who I have great fun with.
All the big five species of billfish can be caught off Watamu. Blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin, broadbill swordfish and finally saifish as well as the yellow fin tuna which in my opinion fight pound for pound harder than anyother fish I have caught. Other species can be targeted as well.
Its not just the fishing though, the ammount of whales we see is amazing, whale sharks are common, as well as humpbacks which are fantastic to see, dolphins, turtles, amazing birdlife , in fact its a safari on the sea.
Conditions can get rough so its not for the faint hearted, last year one of my friends daughters got so sick we had to return to shore after only 20 mins ! he also had to get off, which was a shame as I ended up catching over 20 yellow fin & 2 wahoo in one trip, my arms were not in good shape, also chartering a boat on your own is not good as there is nobody to share the work with, believe me its hard work but enjoyable.
Can't wait to get back out in august, if anyone fancies trying the fishing, I can put you in contact with Pete or you can book direct with Ocean sports which is situated next door to Hemmingways.
We took a boat trip along the Mida Creek to see the sun go down and watch the local birdlife. Mida Creek is lined with mangrove swamps and we say herons, different species of kingfishers and flamingoes - as well as some others whose names I forget. It was lovely and peaceful and the highlight was watching the sun sink below the horizon. It was a really spectacular sunset as well - unfortunately I have no piccies of it but we did capture it on video. It was also interesting to see the local population still fishing from dugout canoes.
We spent a lovely afternoon and evening visiting the local forest nature reserve. This was part of an organised trip by the hotel but it would be possible to arrange it yourself. We walked through the forest with the guide pointing out things of interest, birds, insects (giant millipede - yuk!) lots of monkeys etc. Take care with the sun and wear a hat and sun cream lotion as it is very hot on the trail. Also use insect repellent. We ended up at a tree-house (very rickety climb - would probably be condemned by the Health and Safety Police in this country!) to watch the sun go down while munching on snacks and sipping cold beers and cocktails.
Best bit was listening to the sounds of the forest as the darkness descended - very atmospheric.
It is worth spending a day in the town of Malindi. It has shops and a market area and is good to walk along the jetty. Our guide took us to see Vasco de Gama point where he landed in 1499.
We visited a wood carving co-operative which had very good quality carvings at a reasonable price. You could also walk around the workshop area and watch the carvers in action. This is on the outskirts of the town so try not to worry when the taxi driver takes off down a side road into a not very salubrious area - you will be OK!
We also visited a snake and crocodile farm where we saw a baby crocodile hatch from an egg. We could also try freshly barbecued crocodile meat. Try and get there at feeding time - especially interesting to watch the snakes being fed, if a little gruesome. We could handle a python, even the children, and hold baby tortoises. For more pictures see travelogue.
These ruins are the remains of an Arab town originating in the 12th century with later additions. They are in about 45 acres of forest and are crumbling and overgrown. There is enough structure left to get a good idea of life at the time and some buildings are quite intact.
The best part is the atmosphere of the ruins - especially as we had them practically to ourselves with just the guide. You can also spot monkeys jumping through the trees and its kind of creepy listening to them crashing through the branches and following you around.
Also of interest are the plants in the forest, there are some beautiful flowers - but highly poisonous according to the guide.
On a practical front you will need insect repellent but as much of it is covered by forest I didn't find the sun too bad. Take plenty of water as you walk a long way (wear sensible shoes) and it is hot and humid.
Walking through the mangroves around Mida Creek is like entering a different world. This is stuff that you usually see on BBC documentaries, and I felt very privileged to be able to actually see them for myself, and to be involved in a re-forestation programme run by Watamu Turtle Watch in co-operation with local conservation groups.
There are seven different mangrove species in Mida Creek, the most fascinating of which I found the Rhizophora with their dazzling network of stilt-like roots that were strong enough to walk on.
There are more mangrove pics in a travelogue.
As you can see on my Ireland pages I am a fan of all sorts of ancient stones. But despite having seen piles of fascinating ruins all over Ireland I have to say that Gedi is in a league of its own. Gedi is a 14th century Arab town that was home to around 2,500 people in its heyday and must have done some brisk trading with Asia as many artefacts from that part of the world have been unearthed there. So it is all the more intriguing that the Portuguese, who occupied the Kenyan coast during that time never seem to have found Gedi as they make no mention of it in any of their records.
The surrounding Arabuko-Sokoke forest has by now reclaimed much of the former town of Gedi, and created a most eerie atmosphere with trees taking over former kitchens and courtyards and growing out of crumbling walls. The town centre comprises many houses which were named after items that were found in them (e.g. House of the Scissors), a palace, pillar tombs, wells and mosques. But make sure you don’t miss the forest walk along the inner and outer city walls, during which you will suddenly get a glimpse of yet another house or beautifully carved doorway in the thick undergrowth.
For more pictures of the Gedi ruins have a look at the my Gedi travelogue.
The site is open from 7am to 6pm and admission is Ksh 200.
The Bio-Ken Snake Farm has an interesting selection of Kenyan snakes of all colours and sizes, and the guides who bring you around the glass cages have a good knowledge about them. The farm produces antidotes to snake bites, and apparently also supplied most of the snakes for the Indiana Jones films.
Apart from snakes there are also some tortoises and terrapins (which have a hilariously grumpy-looking face), and a small crocodile forms the end of the tour.
The farm is open daily from 10am– 12pm and from 2 – 5pm. Admission is Ksh500.
The Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is the largest remaining coastal forest in East Africa and is home to a great variety of endangered wildlife, some of which can only be found in this area. The most interesting of these is a weird creature called the golden-rumped elephant shrew, which is about the size of a rabbit with a long, trunk-like snout and scuttles around on long, thin legs. With a bit of luck you might also see some forest elephants here.
The forest features a nature trail and a tree house overlooking a clearing. You can spend the night in the tree house or camp in the forest to wait for wildlife on moonlit nights and at the first light of day. Be warned though that tree “house” is a bit of an overstatement. It is just a platform high up on a tree with railings around it and no roof, that can be reached after climbing up a scary flight of steps through the branches.
The forest was in danger of disappearing as the trees were cut down for firewood and timber, but due to conservation efforts environmentally sustainable sources of income from the forest have been created, like bee-keeping and butterfly-farming.
Tickets can be purchases at the KWS office at the entrance of the park and cost $10, plus an additional $8 if you intend to stay overnight.
A few kilometres off Turtle Bay beach are the Coral Gardens. The display of fish around the reef is absolutely stunning. Shoals of zebrafish swim right in front of your nose and skilfully dodge your hands if you try to touch them. Other fish in all shapes, sizes and colours can be seen, and even the odd ray or octopus. At the Marine Information Centre in Watamu village (see previous tip) you can buy plastic colour charts of the coral reef fish.
A park fee of around $5 will have to be paid if you want to go snorkelling there, as they are part of the Marine National Park. Some hotels like Ocean Sports or Hemingway’s run boat trips out to the reef.
There are more underwater-pics from the coral gardens in a travelogue on this page.
Watamu Turtle Watch runs a very interesting Marine Information Centre, which has a wealth of information about the marine life in and around Watamu, like coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves, fish and other creatures of the sea, and of course turtles. The staff is very friendly and helpful and will gladly answer any questions you might have. You can also ask them to show you one of their many wildlife videos, and there is a selection of T-Shirts, cards, bookmarks and other articles for sale. You can also get plastic colour charts of the fish in the Marine National Park for around Ksh 200. The centre is open Monday to Saturday from 8.30am to 5pm.
Admission to the centre is free of charge, but feel free to make a contribution for the donation box.
You can also support WTW by adopting a sea turtle or a turtle nest on the website www.adoptaseaturtle.com