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Kikambala beach village

The forgotten village by the sea.

Can you visit Kenya without going to the coast? Not in my opinion. Whenever I travel to Kenya, I like spending some quality time in rural places. Since Kenya’s coastal region is a popular travel destination among both local and international tourists, I was not sure if it was a possibility this time around.

I luckily stumbled upon a detailed travel article about Kikambala online. It described Kikambala as a small beautiful village in the coastal region of Kenya that has maintained its authenticity. From the blog, Kikambala was supposed to be a challenge to access from the main road. It sparked an interest in me. I knew that this was going to be my next adventure, as I love exploring and finding hidden gems less travelled to. I have learned, the more troublesome, the fewer tourists.

Getting from Nairobi to Kikambala on your own

After landing in the capital, I got myself a taxi to Nairobi’s Syokimau area. Where the Nairobi–Mombasa’s Standard Gauge Railway (Madaraka-Express) terminus, is located. With about 7 stops in between, the train finally landed me in Mombasa city. The journey was a smooth, effortless journey all through from the booking process which I seamlessness made online through Mpesa.

Beautiful day at the beach in kikambala Mombasa Kenya
Beautiful beach at Kikambala, Mombasa Kenya

I remember sitting and relaxing on the train while watching my first wild elephants as we travelled through the Tsavo national park. From my seat, the mighty giants looked like tiny ants scattered in a vast Savannah wilderness, a sight that made my 4,5 hours train ride extra special.

Upon our arrival at the Mombasa Terminus, I boarded a matatu (locals form of public transport) that took me through the city, where I transferred to another one heading to Kilifi.

In Kenya, matatu drivers are known to be notorious for their driving skills. So bear in mind, you might be a bit shocked if you hope for a smooth and relaxing drive while taking in the view.

Eventually, the matatu driver stopped and pointed me in the direction of Kikambala, I got off and was immediately disappointed. Back home, I had imagined fighting my way through a jungle or at least a bush. Then it would make sense to use the words “difficult to access” Instead, I was gazing at a long stretch of a tarmacked 5-kilometre road. On top of that, a bunch of guys were looking for a taxi job with their motorbikes. That made entering Kikambala one of the most simple things to do.

On the bike, I was holding my breath as we entered the village. What else from the blog post would be different from what I expected?

The Charming Kikambala

kikambala, Mombasa Kenya

But I was in luck. The rest of Kikambala was as described. A long-forgotten village with some few hotels by the beach. Camels were strolling through the main street, with the herders trying to rush them. A local tailor sat behind a sewing machine steadily sewing. She glanced up and sent my way a genuine smile that felt welcoming looked like sunshine to me.

I stayed at a local guesthouse in the centre of the village. I have learned that this is the best place to meet all kinds of Kenyan travellers, from business people to young backpackers. It’s also the perfect way to get inside tips about the country.

The guesthouse itself was an excellent place, with wild monkeys running over the tin roof early morning. They made it sound like thunder, after which they would sit peacefully in the trees eating tamarind fruit. Quite a memorable way to wake up and enjoy my morning coffee.

It only took about ten minutes to walk to the beach. With the white sand, the palms waving softly in the morning breeze, and the Ibises sat on top of the palm trees overlooking the sea it looked, absolutely stunning! There were hundreds of tiny crabs scuttling around in the sand coconuts sprinkled decoratively along the shore, all of which left me feeling like walking into a cover of an exotic travel magazine.

camels in mombasa

As I walked around, my smile grew more prominent, and I kept pinching my arm while pleasantly thinking: nature still beats photo editing.

Shared time is a memorable time.

Just as I had hoped for, I met with the locals in the most relaxed way possible.

In the morning, I hooked up with rasta guys we would then clean the beach and afterward burn the garbage as it’s customary in Kenya.

The heat was insane by the coast. At approximately 10 am, my white skin would prefer the shadow. That meant hiding out with the tiny crabs. It seemed we got attracted to the same small caves along the shoreline. As I watched them, they impressed me too. So many represented at the same time, but not even once did they crash into each other.

The following day I got the pleasure of being invited home to a family. I hurried down to the local shop and bought some tea, sugar, and rice. In Kenya, a guest will be provided for really well, but it is polite to bring a gift to ease the financial burden on the host.

Since the family lived outside the village, I was picked up by the daughter. Together we walked along the beach for about 1,5 hours to their home. The walk was pleasant- watching monkeys play around some abandoned hotels before the path turned into the countryside with small farms and forests with palm trees.

making of chapati

As we arrived, the kids surrounded me. I was happy I had bought some chocolate muffins as well. For some reason, most Kenyan children think white people’s pockets are full of candy. Who am I to be a myth-buster?

After the greetings the family, and I cooked together. They were impressed with my skills but not because I knew how to cook Kenyan food (They had to teach me everything step by step) But because the elders in the family, were convinced that white people have no practical skills. They told me; white people always have to hire black people to cook and clean for them as they didn’t know how to do it themselves. The thought of helpless white people in Africa made us all laugh and share more stories.

In the afternoon, we bought a hen, slaughtered it, picked the feathers, and fried it. We enjoyed the wonderful meal together while the sun gave it up for the moon and the stars. And what a night sky it was. The Milky Way was standing sharp like a bright belt on black velvet. It was time to say our goodbyes, not only for the night but for this time. Cause the next day would bring me to Narok.

The men of the family escorted me back to the village. That was a great idea as we passed some palm wine bars and happy but heavily intoxicated people on our way. I have never tasted palm wine, but it’s said that it hits just as hard as if an elephant runs into you. That might be the reason I have never dared to. Solo traveling and being drunk is not the perfect match.

At night lying in my bed thinking of my stay at the coast, I felt delighted. My stay in Kikambala was everything I looked forward to. Rural, not touristic, and with a lot of positive interaction with the locals. That is when I feel I get the most out of my travel experiences.

One of the things I was also glad to experience was the Blue Lagoon, a reef area, which I highly recommend. It was stunning to watch the corals and the life surrounding them. I got one of the local fishermen to show me around for a small fee, but keep in mind that the locals there are not trained professionally to do the tours. Therefore, it is a shared responsibility to act appropriately to preserve the beautiful reef.

Travel blog and pictures by Cathrine.

Write to us here We would love to hear about your memorable trip to the Kenyan Coast A.K.A Mombasa.

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sailing at mida creek

“Did you hear that?”

“What? I don’t hear a thing”

“Exactly”

This is one of the things that I love about sailing. The quiet while drifting along while under sail alone. Mida Creek, in Watamu,
along Kenya’s Indian Ocean Coast, is a very special place. There is nothing that I enjoy more than a sunset sail after a frustrating day.

In fact, nothing excites me more than the moment I turn off the outboard engine on my yacht and let the wind catch the sails, and
start propelling the yacht forward. Pure Magic! Only the sound of the yacht gliding through the water and the sounds of nature,
especially if I am close enough to the mangroves (sometimes just 2 m away!) when we are doing our normal sunset sails in Mida
Creek.

The other night, as we drifted off into yet another magnificent Mida Creek sunset, hearing the call of the hadada and that of the many sacred ibis (and the surprising lowing in the distance of a cow), I was very thankful that I bought my yacht CassandravillE, a modified Woods Elf 26 catamaran sailing yacht. I was warned that this catamaran was really suitable only for lake sailing. Yet, she was sailed on her own bottom all the way from Western Cape, South Africa (we bought her in Veldriff and had some improvements done before she was sailed south to Gordon’s Bay where she underwent a major refit before starting the long, long journey to Watamu in May 2017 before finally reaching our shores in November of that year).

Despite having several offshore sailing adventures racing around Zanzibar (we came 2nd in the Cruising Class in the annual Dar Tanga Yacht Race in 2019 –the oldest and largest yacht race in East Africa) I have just come to realise how much I love sailing in Mida Creek.

Yes, sailing in Mida has its challenges—we can only sail in spring tides, and the challenges of trying to tie up along the trotline in the ebb current, but the sheer joy of exploring the mangroves during spring tides at sunset (something normally only accessible to indigenous fisherfolk and yoga school Stand Up Paddlers) makes me glad that I bought the yacht that I did. At 28 feet in length and drawing less than 2 foot of water, CassandravillE can get into spots and anchorages that my friends in bigger boats can only dream of.

With tides approaching 4 m the other night we were able to really push the envelope and do a circumnavigation of the Creek sailing really close to the mangroves which those in yachts can only dream of.

And then the joy of anchoring in the Creek! Especially just metres away from Crab Shack Dabaso and ringing them up to row hot and fresh crab samosas right up to the yacht.

sailing  alone mida creek

Yet, my yacht is my dream machine, large enough to be able to transport me to distant places up and down the East Coast of Africa including ancient Stone Town on a number of occasions with plans this year to visit Ras Ngomeni, Kipini, and the Lamu Archipelago once again. Not to mention of course Mafia Island (cruising in company with fellow sailors from the Dar Yacht Club and hopefully down southern Tanzania and then across to Comoros (bucket list item!) then to Mayotte and who knows, if time and weather permit, up the Africa Banks to the Seychelles.

Planning voyages, poring over charts and cruising guides, and preparing for the voyage including provisioning is often the best part. Remember, it’s the journey, not the destination.

Well, it’s not far down to paradise, at least it’s not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see.
Believe me.
It’s not far to never-never land, no reason to pretend
And if the wind is right you can find the joy of innocence again
Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see.
Believe me.
Sailing takes me away to where I’ve always heard it could be
Just a dream and the wind to carry me
And soon I will be free.

— Christopher Cross, Sailing —

Wind in the Willows

It is certainly one of the biggest
cliches in the literature of boating.
What the Water Rat said to the
Mole: “Believe me, my young friend,
there is nothing–absolutely nothing–
half so much worth doing as simply
messing about in boats.”
One of the morals of The Wind in
the Willows is the joy that comes
from journeys.


Mida Creek

Mida Creelk watamu
mida creek

Mida Creek is a tidal inlet that
expands across an area of 32 km2. It
comprises different types of habitats
that are influenced by the tide, for
example mud and sand flats, open
shallow waters and mangrove
forests.

sailing  alone mida creek

Mida Creek is one of the most
productive mangrove ecosystems in
the world. For good reason, Mida
Creek is a recognized International
Bird Area and together with
Arabuko-Sokoke Forest forms a
UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It is not
only a paradise for national
waterfowl, but also migrating birds
from Europe and Eurasia find a place
to rest during their journey or they
choose to stay at Mida Creek to
over-winter.

It consists of marine
and coastal ecosystems including
coral reefs and associated
ecosystems such as seagrass beds
and mangrove forests that are
crucial for the livelihoods of coastal
people as well as for the national
economy. Coral reefs provide food
and income to coastal communities,
as well as other goods and services
of strategic importance to the
national economy including,
tourism, fisheries, and coastal
protection.

sailing  alone mida creek

Article by William @SailingCassandraville


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overlooking the bridge from THE MOORINGS FLOATING RESTAURANT

Tucked away on the outskirts of Nyali, off the Malindi Mombasa highway, is the Moorings floating restaurant: a place that has become a landmark of Mtwapa, and which has been around a bit longer than some of us. The restaurant first opened its doors in 1994 and has been floating and providing wonderful hospitality ever since. It is one of the oldest if not the oldest restaurant in the Mombasa region. This wonderful bar and restaurant is just a kilometre down towards the creek.

Initially, the restaurant could hold up to 100 guests but due to the Covid-19 restriction, the seating capacity has been reduced to just 60. Which led to the birth of the Gym club that is located just at the end of the stairs leading in from the car park. The gym bar overlooks the floating restaurant and the moorings, the walls are adorned in colourful graffiti, with seats made of “khanga” giving it a very cozy African feel. There’s a big 65 Inch on the wall screening various sports for the sports heads, a full bar, and plenty of space in the middle with plans for having disco nights when the Covid-19 restrictions ease up. There’s also a fully stocked bar and you can still order from the same restaurant

the gym club at THE MOORINGS FLOATING RESTAURANT

menu. The Gym club is more suited for the younger at heart  who want to socialize and enjoy a bit of loud music.

For the more seasoned souls, or those looking for something different, head over to the Moorings bar and restaurant which is just is just a few meters down towards the creek.The bar has got both indoor and outdoor seating areas with two decks outside. One overlooking the Mtwapa bridge and the other one is at the rear from where you can catch uninterrupted sunset views. The menu has plenty of options including; seafood, pasta dishes, chicken, beef, choma, and pizza. Entertainment in the form of Karaoke nights occur every Saturday from 3:45pm to 8:45pm  and are hosted by Stanley the vocalist.

For those chasing the sunset views, you can hop on the mermaid cruise for a slow sunset cruise on the Mtwapa creek that’ll set you back 500 shillings each but must be in a group of four, as the solo pleasure will cost you the whole price of 2000 shillings for a 30 minutes ride . If you don’t have anyone to bring along, just wait at the restaurant for other solo travelers seeking the sunset thrill.
Opening hours of the entire establishment is from 10 AM to 9 PM Monday to Saturday and from 10 AM to 9 PM on Sundays

What we loved most about The Moorings Floating Restaurant

a) The colourful twin deck chairs that are made at the back make the whole experience so much more romantic for the lucky ones.
b) The African theme at the Gym bar.
c) The magnificent food, and stunning views.

Overall verdict:-

Francis the manager was very professional and welcoming and happy to answer all of my questions about the restaurant’s history, though keeping an eye on everything happening around.

The waiters were all super polite and very fast!

I decided on a pizza having earlier walked past a brick Pizza oven that was all fired up. Upon ordering, the most awaited Seafood pizza did not disappoint; the crust was perfectly browned, light and crisp, the toppings were generously distributed, the whole thing just righteously cracked when sliced and had a nice crunch on the teeth without being hard. The toppings were fresh and well cooked. I also ordered a glass of fresh juice that was badly needed to wash down the pizza.

outdoor sitting area at THE MOORINGS FLOATING RESTAURANT

The whole evening cost me about 1000 shilling, 850 on the pizza and 150 on the fresh juice.

I Would definitely go back again to enjoy the views and sample other dishes and of course the aforementioned wonderful hospitality.

How to get to Moorings Floating Restaurant 

Public means- Take a matatu heading to Mtwapa ask to alight at bahnhof (opposite Casurina Nomads).

Private means-  Take the Mombasa – Malindi highway towads Malindi  drive past Shimo La Tewa prison, Mtwapa bridge, Mtwapa Police Station .Turn left at bahnhof  matatu stop (opposite Casurina Nomads) and proceed down for a kilometer. The moorings will be on your left.

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