Every time I leave Mombasa, I feel like I have left a little piece of myself behind. There is something about the character of the place and the people that is beautiful and unpretentious, and leaves me with a sense of wonder.

Mombasa is the epitome of captivating scenery, with its soft white sand beaches, swaying palm trees and azure Indian Ocean. I’ve found that one of the most fun ways to explore Mombasa’s beaches is on a camel. Camel rides are offered on the beaches outside of most hotels and beach resorts at negotiable prices. There are also a variety of beach vendors selling curios, jewellery, batiks, paintings and ‘khangas’ (traditional pieces of brightly colored cloth worn as a wrap-around garment by East African women), among other items. If you’re up for a couple of hours sitting on the beach while someone is pulling your hair, you can also braid your hair or apply Wanja (black henna) to your hands or as a temporary ‘tattoo’! If the heat is getting to you, there are many street vendors selling refreshing ‘Madafu’ (coconut water) straight from the small coconuts.

But Mombasa is also much more than sun and sand. If you can tear yourself away from the beaches, there are plenty of places to explore and things to experience in and around Mombasa that will make your trip that much more fulfilling.

Located in the heart of the city, on the always busy Moi Avenue in Mombasa, is its famous monument represented by two pairs of giant tusks that intersect to form the letter ‘M’ for Mombasa. These ‘Fangs’ were built directly on the road from the port to the city in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the city in 1952. Moi Avenue offers an interesting opportunity to explore as it is lined with a double row of souvenir shops and stalls. .

One of Mombasa’s most popular tourist attractions is the famous Fort Jesus, built in the shape of a man by the Portuguese in the late 16th century, about a mile from the old Swahili and Arab city to protect Mombasa’s Old Port. Today the Fort houses a museum and you can see the torture rooms and prison cells where slaves were held captive.

Mombasa’s exotic Old Town is steeped in history, featuring styles and traditions common to Swahili coastal towns and late 19th-century British and Indian colonial architecture. Although most of the houses here are no more than a hundred years old, they feature beautifully intricately carved doors and door frames modeled in Swahili designs. The narrow winding streets and busy markets are alive with the vibrant colors of the traditional coastal ‘khangas’ worn by both men and women. This area of ​​Mombasa is definitely worth exploring and walking guides are available.

If it’s flora and fauna you’re looking for, then the three places you should visit are Haller Park in Bamburi, Shimba Hills Game Reserve, and the famous Mamba Village in Nyali. Haller Park is the largest animal sanctuary in Mombasa and is home to a variety of animals and botanical gardens. It is also home to famous best friends Owen the hippo and Mzee the turtle. Shimba Hills Game Reserve is located south of Mombasa and is a tropical rainforest known for its abundant wildlife, famous for its nocturnal game viewing and is also home to the rare sable antelope. Mamba Village is the largest crocodile farm in East Africa, where you can witness these remarkable beasts fight for food during their evening feedings.

So the next time you’re in Mombasa, venture outside your hotel and soak up the island’s culture and history… and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

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