Explore the Best of Mombasa

Explore the Best of Mombasa – Fort Jesus,  Kaya Kinondo and wildlife attractions : Fort Jesus . The most popular kenya safari attraction in Mombasa is this 16th-century fort, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Not only are the metre-thick walls, inside frescoes, remnants of European graffiti, Arabic inscriptions, and Swahili embellishments evocative, but they also serve as a stone representation of Mombasa’s past and the shoreline. You can wander the grounds shrouded by trees and climb up on the battlements.

The Portuguese constructed the fort in 1593 as a headquarters and a sign of their ongoing presence in this area of the Indian Ocean. Ironically, then, the fort’s construction signalled the beginning of the end for Portuguese hegemony in the area. Between 1631 and the early 1870s, the fort changed hands at least nine times due to Portuguese sailors, Omani soldiers, and Swahili uprisings. Eventually, it came under British rule and was utilised as a jail. In 1960, it became a museum.

Giovanni Battista Cairati, whose structures may be found all over Portugal’s eastern colonies, from Old Goa to Old Mombasa, finished the fort as his last project. The structure is a masterwork of historical military architecture; if it had been adequately staffed, it would have been impossible to approach the walls without getting caught in the cone of interlocking fire zones.

The Mazrui Hall, located within the fort compound, is notable for its flowery spirals that fade across a wall topped with wooden lintels left by the Omani Arabs. In another room, Portuguese sailors scribbled graffiti that depicts the multicultural naval identity of the Indian Ocean, leaving walls covered with four-pointed European frigates, three-pointed Arabic dhows, and the elegant Swahili mtepe, or traditional sailing vessel, sewn by coir. The Omani house, located in the San Felipe bastion in the northwest corner of the fort, was built in the late 18th century and has a small exhibition of Omani jewellery, weaponry, and other artefacts outside. Inside, there’s a small exhibition of Omani jewellery, weapons, and other artefacts. The eastern wall contains an Omani audience hall and the Passage of the Arches, which leads under the pink.

At the heart of the fort is a museum housing artefacts from 42 Portuguese warships sunk during the 1697 Omani Siege, ranging from barnacled earthenware jars to Persian amulets and Chinese porcelain; like much of the complex, the exhibits are terribly displayed and poorly labelled, but the fort is still worth seeing.

Mwaluganje Elephant sanctuary

This refuge serves as an excellent illustration of community-based conservation, where the locals participate as partners in the endeavour. It spans 24 square kilometres of difficult, breathtaking terrain along the valley of the Cha Shimba River and was created in October 1995 to construct a corridor along an elephant migration route between Shimba Hills and Mwaluganje Forest Reserve. There are about 150 elephants here, and you’re likely to have the spot to yourself. Sightings of the elephants are guaranteed.

Haller Park

This adorable wildlife refuge is part of the Baobab Adventure complex and features a fish farm and reptile park. There are 1.5-hour guided  safari tours of the park that you may take, or you can go alone through the pathways that snake through casuarina woods. You can participate in the feeding sessions for crocodiles and hippos, observe some enormous tortoises lazing around the property, feed some of the friendly giraffes, and view the resident hippos and impalas.

Baobab Adventure is the offspring of Bamburi Cement and a group of conservationists, two seemingly unusual parents, but a wonderful example of environmentalism and entrepreneurship coming together. The restoration of Bamburi Cement’s own former cement plant is sponsored. The Baobab Adventure’s different sections, which include woodland trails, have clearly indicated bus stations and are accessible from the Mombasa highway via well-marked signage.

Shimba Hills National Reserve

Explore the Best of Mombasa
Shimba Hills wildlife

With multiple driving roads and a few hiking trails, this park is easily accessible from Diani Beach, making it one of the most accessible in Kenya. A small population of Masai giraffes can be found in the park, along with elephants, leopards, warthogs, buffaloes, baboons, and various antelope species. However, the park is most famous for its population of magnificent sable antelope, which are unique to Kenyan parks. The park’s gentle grassy hills are interspersed with patches of forest.

Kaya Kinondo

Visiting this small grove is a nature walk, historical journey and Kenya cultural safari experience; the guide points out various plants used in traditional medicine, and you have the opportunity to transmit your fears and worries to an ancient tree by hugging it. Expect to tip your guide. This forest is sacred to the Digo people. It’s the only one of the area’s sacred forests that’s open to visitors.

You must take off your headwear, swear not to kiss anyone inside the grove, tie a black kaniki (sarong) around your waist, then enter the Kaya Kinondo accompanied by a guide who will explain the meaning of some of the 187 plant species found there. Among these are the ‘pimple tree,’ which is reputed to be a remedy for acne; a palm thought to be 1050 years old; chunks of coral; and the aptly named ‘Viagra tree’. Huge strangling fig trees and enormous liana swings (try it!).

This region has numerous known kaya, or sacred forests, all of which were formerly inhabited by Mijikenda villages. The nine subtribes that make up the Mijikenda (Nine Homesteads) are Chonyi, Digo, Duruma, Giriama, Jibana, Kambe, Kauma, Rabai, and Ribe. These groups are somewhat connected via language, culture, and history. Nevertheless, every tribe maintains its unique identity and uses a different dialect of the Mijikenda language. Nonetheless, the reverence for the kaya that unites the Nine Homesteads and the contemporary Mijikenda with their forefathers remains.

When you approach the woods and notice that they just seem old—there isn’t another term that fits—this historical connection becomes tangible.

A lot of the trees are roughly 600 years old, which is when the first Mijikenda arrived from their semi-legendary homeland in southern Somalia, Singwaya. It is completely forbidden to cut any vegetation within the kaya; guests are not even allowed to remove stray leaves or twigs from the forest.

Not only do the conserved forests allow communication with the past, but they also serve as a direct link to ecosystems that have been eradicated elsewhere due to clear-cutting. Within Kaya Kinondo’s 30 hectares, or the area of a suburban residential block, are 140 tree species categorised as “rare” and five potentially endemic species.

The communities of the Mijikenda were situated in a sizable central clearing, and housing them was the primary function of the kaya. A kaya’s centre requires ritual knowledge to pass through the village’s node’s encircling concentric circles of holiness. Enemies attacking the woodland were meant to get disoriented by hallucinations brought on by sacred talismans and spells.

The kaya were mainly abandoned in the 1940s, and traditional Christian and Islamic beliefs have diminished their significance to the Mijikenda. However, because they are recognised as UNESCO World Heritage sites, there is optimism that they will be conserved for future generations of tourists. Hopefully, the wind will continue to communicate through the branches of the kaya for much longer than their 600-year lifespan.

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