Mombassa:


By the 15th century this important port was a thriving, sophisticated city with established trade routes to China, Persia, and India. Today Mombasa continues to be the largest port on the East African coast serving the countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and eastern Zaire, and of course, Kenya. The population is fast approaching half a million with 70% of African descent and a small minority of Asians and Europeans.

Over the centuries Mombasa has struggled with numerous foreign invaders and hostility. The Portuguese, the ferocious Zimba tribe, and the Omanis have all laid claim to Mombasa since the 12th century. By the late 1800s it became the base of exploration for British expeditions to Kenya’s interior. In 1988, the Imperial British East Africa Company set up headquarters in Mombasa. British rule of Mombasa became official in 1895 when they leased a stretch of the coast including the port city from the Sultan of Zanzibar. Officially this coastal strip still belonged to Zanzibar until ceded to a newly independent Kenya in 1963.

The British affirmed Mombasa’s importance as East Africa’s most vital port when they completed a railway in 1901 stretching from Mombasa to Uganda. Today, the city remains one of Africa’s major links to the rest of the world. Built on a 15 sq km island, Mombasa is surrounded by a natural harbor. The mainland coasts north and south of the city boast a proliferation of tourist resorts. Within the city itself, a traveler has numerous opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Fort Jesus is perhaps Mombasa’s biggest attraction as it dominates the harbor entrance. This Portuguese stronghold was built in 1593 to fend off local enemies and Turkish warships. The remains of the fort provide an interesting tour back through history and a small museum features a variety of relics. The Omani House, located in the north-western corner of the fort has fascinating displays on Swahili life and breathtaking views over the old town. Mombasa Old Town features a smattering of styles and traditions common to coastal Swahili villages and late 19th century Indian and British colonial architecture. Although its history goes back centuries, most of the houses in Old Town are generally no more than 100 years old. Nevertheless, many of these buildings were modeled on ancient Swahili designs and feature intricately carved doors and door frames. The Muslim influence can also be seen in the construction of balconies, their support brackets, and detailed lattice work. This area of Mombasa is well worth exploring walking guides are readily available.

The modern center of Mombasa is the intersection of four major thoroughfares: Moi Avenue, Nyerere Road, Nkrumah Road, and Digo Road. Moi Avenue provides the most interesting opportunity for exploration as it is lined with a double row of souvenir shops and stalls. The city’s most famous land mark is also located here: two pairs of crossed tusks created as a ceremonial arch to commemorate the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953. Treasury Square remains the administrative center of Mombasa and features old colonial buildings, the historic town hall, and a charming garden square.

North of Mombasa


The north coast has been well developed from Mombasa almost to Kilifi by resort complexes. Most cater to package tourists on extended holiday from Europe. Like the beaches south of Mombasa, the northern beaches are often plagued with floating seaweed which makes swimming a challenge at best. Kilifi, once a small, undeveloped town, has evolved into a watersports center and upscale retirement community for white Kenyans. The 15 km-long Kilifi Creek is a beautiful natural harbor that today houses ocean-going yachts and local fishing boats. Kilifi offers a great contrast to Mombasa and Malindi, and contains some well-preserved ruins at Mnarani. Watumu, just north of Kilifi, is another beach resort development that features its own marine national park. The coral reef here remains in much better health than the more heavily visited reefs at Malindi.


South of Mombasa


Now in the mainstream of Kenya’s tourist industry, the south coast was once remote and inaccessible. The area was covered by the lush Jadini Forest; sadly, only a few isolated fragments remain today. The region was also infamous for its slave trade and later for its huge coconut and sugar plantations. Today, the real attraction of this section of coast are the beaches: spectacular white coral sand protected by an off-shore reef so there is no danger from sharks while swimming. Diani Beach has developed as a tourist mecca although it receives much less traffic than other resorts further north. A picturesque tropical paradise, Diani Beach has numerous facilities to meet the traveler’s every need. Tiwi and Shelly Beaches are somewhat less developed although they suffer from large amounts of seaweed, depending on the season.

Msambweni is an isolated fishing village that provides that visitor with a link to the past. As another of the many old slaving towns, Msambweni features the remains of a 17th century slave pen. In true 20th century fashion, it has recently developed a luxury lodge for deep-sea fishermen. Shimoni ("place of the hole") takes its name from a 15 km-long cave that once served as a pen for slaves. Travelers can explore the cave today and see shackles still bolted to the walls. Shimoni was also briefly the headquarters of the Imperial British East Africa Company in the late 19th century. Today, it is gaining popularity as a jumping-off point for some of the coast’s best deep-sea fishing and coral reefs. The Shimoni coast is home to three protected coral gardens: the Wasini Marine National Park, which encloses Wasini Island and three smaller coral islands; the Kisite Marine National Park (28 sq km); and the Mpunguti National Reserve (11 sq km). The parks feature spectacular coral reefs that remain healthy and intact.

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The success of your vacation depends on the symphony of the booking agents, the sales team and the driver guides with you in the field. Coordination and teamwork is therefore very essential for the success of your safari vacation in Tanzanian. Untamed personnel are continuously trained in team building and outdoor schools.

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