I took my third trip to Kenya in May and as always like my two previous trips, I know it won’t be my last. For my previous trips, I made plans of visiting places outside of Nairobi but for some unknown reason, it never came to pass. This time around, I was determined to get out of Nairobi and Mombasa seemed like a good plan.
The second largest city in Kenya, Mombasa was the perfect get away from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi. It’s laid back lifestyle will not fail to charm you as you drown into its obvious Swahili culture. Stepping into the city, the first thing I was grateful for was the warmer weather, unlike Nairobi where it was cold. A walk through old city on cobbled stones had me joyful as I came across old Swahili buildings that had been existing for centuries. Sigh! My love for old buildings.
To my surprise, I also found Mombasa to be considerably cheaper than Nairobi. I always had the notion that it would be expensive because it appears more “touristy” but I was wrong. By the time it was time for me to leave, I was wishing I had spent more time there but I also knew instantly that there was negotiating my return to Mombasa in the future.
Getting To Mombasa
My initial plan was to leave for Mombasa on the morning of the 25th of May but I didn’t decide on booking my Airbnb on time and someone else made reservations for the 25th disrupting my plan. Since I was on a tight budget, I ended on leaving with the night bus and cut my length of stay from three to two nights. I went with a bus company called Modern Coast but there are other options. I tried booking on their website but to no avail so I had to purchase my ticket at their booking office at Cross Lane for KES 1,400.
The bus was okay and had very little legroom but there was air conditioning a charging port for phones so I guess it was a win. As for the journey, it was a bit bumpy and I slept for the most part. We took off in Nairobi at about 11pm and by 8am, I was at my Airbnb.
If you’re on a budget, you’d be better off going to Mombasa on the new train line from Nairobi that was launched on the 1st of June (Makadara Day). It costs KES 700 and the commute is about 4 hours 15 minutes. Flying is an option if you are willing to splurge.
Where I stayed
My Airbnb was on Mombasa Island where you have the old town and the famous Elephant tusks on Moi Avenue. I was hosted by a nice Muslim family and they made sure I had a comfortable stay. The room itself was pretty basic (of course I was expecting glamour) but they provided Kettle, some tea and sweets. One thing they emphasized was for me to be with an ID at all times because the police in Mombasa liked to harass people randomly and foreigners were not exempted unfortunately. The contact person also offered a private taxi service at an affordable rate which I made use of whenever the car was available. I paid $10 a night (talk about being a cheap skate!).
If you’d like to immerse yourself in Swahili culture, you should stay on Mombasa Island otherwise, you’ll be better off staying at Nyali (North Coast) where there are several resorts.
What I Did There
Giraffe feeding is something I had been meaning to do on my previous trips to Kenya but I never got the chance till I was there again last month. I not only fed them in Nairobi, I also got the opportunity to do so in Mombasa. If you are also interested in Giraffe feeding, I'll recommend you do it at Haller park in Mombasa because it had far less crowd and more Giraffes. #wildlife #giraffefeeding #mombasakenya #travelblogger #seetheworld
The first place I visited was Haller park, a mining site that was transformed into a park. They have a couple of animals like Giraffes, Hippos, Crocodiles, Buffalo, Giant Tortoise, Antelopes and Snakes. The entry fee for the Park is KES 1,400 for foreigners outside the East Africa Community. Afterwards, I headed to Sarova White Sands Beach Resort where I went Jet Skiing. My first experience jet skiing was in Suncity, South Africa and it was on a lake. This time around, it was on the Indian ocean and I was scared to death but I managed to pull through. I paid KES 1,000 for it.
The next day I visited Fort Jesus, an old Portuguese fort and a World Heritage Site. I wasn’t very impressed with the guide that was assigned to me because she was highly inexperienced and knew very little about the Fort. I had to go back to good ol’ wikipedia to get read more about its history. I paid KES 1,000 to visit the site.
Where I ate
Forodhani restaurant was recommended to me by my hosts and I ended up having most of my meals there except for my second night because they were closed due to the commencement of Ramadan. Bummer! I was hoping to try the Lobster he also recommended but that would be some other time. I had Biryani there for the first time and it further sealed my slowly brewing love for Indian food. I also tried Sharwama from the supposed best place in town owned by a Turkish man. His kiosk was situated in old town.
Places I Missed
I was unable to go to the Mamba village, Butterfly park and the Marine park due too time constraints. My host had also offered to drive me to Vipingo Ridge on my second day but his family had to use the car and uber was going to cost much more than I bargained for so I bailed. I also missed south coast where you have the famous Diani beach and Shimba Hills. Tsavo national park would have also been good for a safari experience. Lets just say 2 days is not enough to explore Mombasa and I learnt that the hard way.
Mombasa consists of Mombasa Island, Mombasa mainland, North Coast and South Coast.
There are no beaches on Mombasa Island. You either go to North coast or South Coast.
The best way to move around is by Tuk tuk but uber is also available.
Have you ever been to Mombasa? Would did you like about the city?