Kenya - Coast

The coast feels very different from the rest of Kenya. Here predominantly Islamic culture has mixed over the centuries with early settlers, Portuguese explorers, Arab rulers, and traders from Europe and Asia. With warm water and swimming beaches, kids will find coastal Kenya very welcoming.

Mombasa -
Mombasa - Nairobi train - Take the train from Mombasa to Nairobi or vice versa. It's an overnight train ride, with sleeping compartments, and meals on board. Get up early in the morning to watch animals out the window (Mombasa to Nairobi direction). Not a fast train, but it's a real adventure - the train can be late, so don't plan close connections.
Fort Jesus - In the 16th century, the Portuguese arrived in Mombasa, set up a trade and built Fort Jesus (a fortified town) on the cliffs above the harbor. In the centuries that followed, the fort was repeatedly besieged and eventually the Portuguese departed, leaving the fort in the hands of Omani rulers. When the British arrived in the 19th century, Fort Jesus became a prison, until 1958.
Today, the Fort is wonderful spot to explore - huge thick walls quarried from coral, massive cannons galore, thick studded doors, ramparts walkways, views of the harbor below, and stuff from the wreck of a Portuguese ship. There's a sound and light show in the evening.
Bombolulu Workshop - Just outside Mombasa, take a tour of this workshop and cultural center to see handmade jewelry, carving and textile production. There's also dance and music performances, and a buffet lunch available. Free van service from Mombasa to the workshop. Call 041.471704.
Haller Park (Bamburi Quarry Nature Park) - Haller Park nature sanctuary is the home of Owen and Mzee. Owen, a baby hippo, was stranded on the coast after the 2005 tsunami, and brought to Haller Park. The hippo made friends with Mzee, a 130 year old giant tortoise. Every afternoon you can see Own and Mzee being fed, as well as other hippos, crocodiles and giraffes. Also, take a walk or ride through the forest trails (bikes can be rented, kids' bikes are available). Haller Park is on the road going north from Mombasa toward Malindi.
Lamu Island -
The Lamu archipelago is well worth a visit. These islands in the Indian Ocean have been inhabited for over a thousand years, the towns were major centers of Swahili culture and sea trade. Today Lamu Island is slow and relaxed, there are few cars, small donkeys are used to carry stuff, and there are lots of cats around town. The beaches are fine for swimming and one family says, "there are the best fruit juices."
Wandering through the streets of the old town Lamu is an adventure, narrow streets and distinctive white stone houses. Don't miss Lamu Museum, housed in a 19th century fort, with exhibits about the coastal peoples and marine life.
Take the boat to Lamu Island, as well as the water taxis that go between the towns on Lamu. For a great day trip, take a boat ride to Manda Island, and go snorkeling (it is a bit of a walk from the boat landing to snorkeling in a nice shallow reef pool with fish.)

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