How about we begin our first post by talking about that one place that just screams Kenyan vacation; the beautiful coast.
As children I think we were all addicted to stories about treasure. Well, it doesn’t really matter what age you are, everyone would love to find hidden treasure! Pirates hid their treasure all the time and sunken ships hold endless amount of wealth below the deep blue sea. But what we don’t realize is treasures exist all around us, we just have to travel a bit more often to find it.
A trip to Kenya’s spectacular coastline is one good option. Along this strip, the coastal towns of Malindi and Watamu have quickly grown to be premier beach holiday destinations for holiday lovers. And if X marks the spot, here is where you will find some of Kenya’s treasures so precious, the Kenya Wildlife Service conserves, manages and protects some special hidden gems.
Anyone who travels to the area can explore three key reserves that continue to provide thrilling and unforgettable experiences to thousands of tourists every year. Treasure number one, Malindi Marine National Park. Impressive to note it was actually the first ever Marine National Park in Africa.
This is one spot you’re certain to see dolphins, well, provided you set off to sea early morning as I learned. No holiday snoozing in bed or nursing hangovers, dolphin sighting does tend to be better at this time as the sea is calm because there is less wind. Plus if you’re feeling adventurous enough, why not try swimming along with the friendly sea mammals? An experience to brag about to all your friends back home!
If you love the water as much as I do, then snorkeling will be a treat and you don’t have to worry if you don’t have any gear, you can hire some from the center before you head out. It’ll be well worth it as the park is rich in stunning marine life such as fringing reefs, coral gardens in the lagoons, sea grass beds, mangroves, mudflats, high fish diversity, dolphins and turtles. Talk about paradise!
The best way to end the boat ride is a stop over at the tidal island, Mayungu where you can indulge in a sumptuous sea food grill with the warm turquoise water lapping at your toes below. It’s as picturesque as it is a one of a kind experience. Definitely a great addition to your travel bucket list!
A short and pleasant 20 minute drive from Malindi lies the delightful tropical retreat of Watamu. Like Malindi, this small town has international recognition for its pristine white sandy beaches and pretty lagoons. A magical and serene haven for lovers of not only sun, sea and sand but elephants and bird watching. Yes you heard me right. Elephants at the coast! The second hidden treasure along Kenya’s coastline is the Arabuko Sokoke forest.
A cool leafy retreat and the last remains of Africa’s once huge coastal forests; it provides refuge to six globally threatened bird species, one being the Clarke’s weaver found no where else in the world; and the Sokoke Scops owl found only in the forest and in a small area of the Usambara mountains of Tanzania.
If you thought that was impressive, the forest also shelters three globally threatened mammals; the golden-rumped elephant shrew (90% of its population resides here), the Sokoke bushy tailed mongoose and the Ader’s duiker. Arabuko Sokoke is also interspersed with seasonal pools which fill up and flourish after the rains. This all makes for a remarkably scenic and fascinating nature hike.
The third and final treasure I’d like to share with you is the Watamu Marine National park. With over 150 species of hard and soft corals, such as brain corals, fan corals and sponges, it provides for rich nutrients for fish. The main park has over 500 species of fish and the reserve over 1000. There are also whale sharks, manta rays, octopus and barracuda as some of the larger species in the park. I was squealing in utter delight under water as I got to hand feed the pretty little fish. All you need is a few slices of bread to make friends and within seconds you’re surrounded by friendly playful and pretty coloured fish, nibbling right out of your hand!
Watamu also has an impressive turtle watch program and the parks beach is a viable nesting ground for endangered sea turtles. Nesting and hatching occurs almost year round but the busiest time is usually between April and October. Its beautiful to watch and cheer on these tiny baby turtles make their long brave journey from the sand to the sea. With many tough days and adventures lying ahead.
So as I’m sure I’ve demonstrated clearly, in this century, you don’t need to be a fearless pirate to find treasure, you just need to readjust your holiday antennae and point it in the right direction and you may discover natures many riches for yourself!