Daws.ca
Wednesday, March 20th, 2002

Trips around the Kenyan Coast

We met Mzee before she became famous. Mzee is the 130year old Tortoise that adopted the baby hippo Owen when it's mother died in the tsunami. Their story has been made into a children's book. If you haven't heard this story and want to hear more either read the kids book or let me know and i'll send you a link on it :) It's amazing!

While staying on the coast we had many opportunities to explore the coastal area.

 

Kilifi, the town our resort is in, is really nice, not touristy at all and the people are so nice. There are little wooden stores set up everywhere with tons of sarongs and flipflops and other useful stuff for sale, will be nice to explore it further.

 

Visited an old town called Gede which is all in ruins now. It was abandoned in the 17th century when the Portuguese came because of the lack of water and there was a plague going around. It was neat to see the ruins of ancient mosques, houses, wells ... etc ... it kinda reminded me of Macchu Pichu in a way, just not nearly as big. but the same idea with stone ruins.

 

Went on a field trip for my wildlife conservation class to visit Bamburi which used to be extensively depleted of its coral limestone and nutrients. In the last ~20years it has been restored completely. We walked through a protected park containing different trees (such as the Baobab), many birds (grey-crowned crane, marabou stork, ibis ... ), crocodiles, fish, hippos, snakes ... It's amazing how fast it has all grown and how many different species there are now! Unbelievable. It’s amazing what a little hope and luck can do.

 

We also visited the "sacred forest". We got special permission to visit the forest from the elders which took about a week. It was a long day. We left at 8am and were supposed to be back by lunch so people could dive at 1:30 but instead we didn't get back until 6:30pm! It was still fun though, quite an adventure! We didn't end up going into the forest like it because they ended up being in the middle of a burial ceremony, something they obviously couldn't control, so we didn't think it was right to proceed. We still got to talk to some of the elders so it was still really interesting and informative in terms of conserving the forest, which people want to cut down for fuel purposes... We also saw part of their land which was mined extensively for lead and zinc. It was completely destroyed! There were no trees, just a big area of mud. As we tried to leave it was raining so the roads turned into mud and we had to once again turn into gazelles and push the elephant (truck) out of the mud. The locals found that quite amusing .. hehehe On the way back to our hotel our truck broke down and we spent a good 2-3 hours trying to fix the truck while making little progress down the road. It was another bonding experience though, gotta love our trucks. :)

 

Visited Mombassa (the biggest Kenyan coastal city) one day and took a tour around Fort Jesus which was built by the Portuguese. It was pretty cool walking around it and looking at all the canons and the holes in the wall where they shot through. From the top of the fort there was also a really pretty view of Mombassa’s mainland and highlands as well as the Indian Ocean. It was kinda neat having a chance to walk through a bit of the city as well as driving through. Because of the big Muslim influence on the coast we saw quite a few women in burka's, they must've been boiling! But it was interesting to see that not all the women wore these... a block apart from each other I saw one women in a burka and another in shorts and a t-shirt. Very opposite, which i thought was interesting.

 

Took a trip to beautiful Watamu Beach… white sandy beach and crystal turquoise blue water. The water was so warm, it seriously felt like walking into a hot bath tub! Hung out on the beach with some margarita’s and went snorkeling in the water to look for black tipped sharks, as other people had seen them…. but we didn’t find any… saw lots of fish though! There were lots of little holes in the ocean floor that they were swimming in and out of… really pretty.

 

One night we went to the "moorings" which is a floating restaurant. That was fun as it was great to have a night out. Because there were so many of us going and we don't have all the trucks here a few of us got to ride in the program's land-rover, which goes like 3-4 times as fast as our army trucks! On the way home we ended up hitting a poor bird, it was the worst sounding thing... We also ran into a police check and speed check which I thought was interesting but nerve-wracking. It wasn't hard getting past either one. I thought the speed check was great as they had put 2 big logs across the road with spikes sticking up in order to stop cars. The only thing that the "police" said to us was slow down as we screeched to a halt and then took off really fast again.

 

Also visited Malindi, north of where we're staying right now. It was a pretty nice town and we were able to just walk around for a couple hours.

 

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