Once upon a time there was a small island …today there is only Mombasa. The second largest city of Kenya, and capital of its own County, Mombasa was founded by Arab merchants in the 11th century, on a land surrounded by rivers. River Tudor and river Kilindini literally “cut off” Mombasa from the coast and the continent making an island of it, inside a natural bay. The island and the city are connected with the continent by two bridges.
Conquered by Arabs, Portugueses, Arabs again and then British, this city has grown as a multicultural place. The population is mainly Muslim but you still find Christian churches, European architectures and modern buildings in a wonderful mix surrounded by the sea and the wild. Not far from the city there is the Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, worth the visit.
Mombasa, old and new
Fort Jesus is the defensive castle built by the Portugueses in the 16th century. Made of stone, its square towers overlook the city reminding of old times. But its walls keep Mombasa Military Museum, the history of local army from past times to nowadays. You certainly cannot miss the greatest monument and symbol of the city: Pembe Za Ndovu, a big sculpture representing four elephant tusks forming two gates over the main street. Elephants are important for Mombasa, which is not far from a natural sanctuary dedicated to these animals.
Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary was founded in 1995 with the aim of protecting the migration of the big animals. It creates a safe “corridor” of wild nature, where men cannot touch them, but they can come and admire their natural life. A safari in Mwaluganje will let you admire over 150 elephants, at safe distance both for you and them. More to see in Mombasa city: the beautiful waterfront, where you can also enjoy restaurants, hotels and shops; Mamba Village, a place where to admire reptiles and insect into old kenyan huts; McKinnon Market, the typical african food market in the middle of a modern city. Do not miss a walk in the Old Town and a visit at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church.
Beaches of Mombasa
Mombasa is one of the most touristic places, in Kenya. It is worth the visit, because its beaches are wonderful, beyond any imagination. Chale beach and Funzi beach are on two small islets each, in a wild and stunning natural scenario facing the Indian Ocean. Nyali Beach, north of the city, is well known for its luxury tourist services – golf clubs, yacht harbour, elegant hotels. Bamburi and Kikambala are also two “pearls” of this coast.
Southwards, you can enjoy the white sandy shores of Diani Beach, worldwide famous today. Next to it, also try Galu and Msambweni beaches.
For scuba addict, dive at Kisiti in order to admire the wonders of its submerged Marine Park, a protected paradise where the Ocean is the only god! It also includes colourful reefs.
To get to Mombasa and its beaches, you can easily land at the local brand new Mombasa Airport, connected with the city by bus lines. Mombasa is also a very important railway station. It is in fact the starting point of a Mombasa-Nairobi railway which allows many people to move from one region to the other every day. In order to move around the city and its surroundings, use the local buses or the tuk-tuk taxis.
The best time of the year to visit Mombasa is January-March or June-October. Better avoid April and May and their heavy rains.