Ideal picnic spots at the Kenyan Coast
By Boniface Mwalii
“Hakuna Matata”. There is arguably no phrase that conveys the mood of Kenya’s coastlands better than this line from Them Mushrooms’ world renowned hit song, Jambo Bwana. With endless acres of sandy beaches, sunny weather nearly all year round and the warmest people on the south side of the Sahara, there is indeed little to worry about down at the coast.
The famous slogan comes to life in the scenic outdoor locations that dot Mombasa, Kenya’s oldest city. From prehistoric sites on the island to the diverse attractions along the Northern and Southern mainland, the country’s largest port city certainly has a lot to offer. Here are some pocket-friendly picnicking destinations in the blue and white town.
The iconic elephant tusks monument along the busy Moi Avenue in Mombasa’s Central Business District is a must see for any first time visitor in Mombasa. The tusks are a regarded as a towering emblem of Mombasa’s rich history and heritage. Adjacent to the landmark is the Uhuru Gardens public recreational park which frequently hosts groups of local and international tourists. The busy park is a free and convenient picnic spot owing to its central location as well as diverse range of natural flora and fauna.
Nguuni Nature Sanctuary
Located about 30 minutes’ drive from the city centre, the Nguuni Nature Sanctuary in Kiembeni is home to a variety of wildlife species and birds. Picnickers can share meals underneath sweeping doum palms in the company of friendly giraffes, ostriches and oryx and even get to feed them during meal time. The sanctuary is a bird watchers’ paradise which makes it a popular site for serene sun-downers. Campers can also light up bonfires at night.
Resident: Adult - Ksh. 350 Child - Ksh. 100
Non-Resident: Adult - Ksh. 800 Child - Ksh. 300
*All payments are done in cash at the gate upon arrival.
Within close proximity to Mombasa’s northern beach front lies the Butterfly Pavilion which is a tropical paradise that hosts more than 16 species of butterfly as well as various antelope. The facility is ideal for day trips and offers a range of outdoor activities for the whole family. Its reclaimed forest, ponds and hills make it a unique picnic location. Look out for the crafty troops of monkeys that like to swoop down from the trees to join the get-together.
Resident: Adult - Ksh. 250 Child - Ksh. 150
Non-Resident: Adult - Ksh. 600 Child - Ksh. 300
*All payments should be done via MPESA.
Jumba La Mtwana
15 kilometers north of Mombasa near the mouth of the Mtwapa creek are the Jumba ruins which house the remains of an ancient Swahili stone town. The picturesque museum is an ode to Coastal Kenya’s multicultural history complete with archaeological relics from the 14th century trade between the Swahili, Arab and Chinese trade. Visitors can enjoy cool picnics in the lush rain-forest or pick a tranquil spot by the beach.
Resident: Adult - Ksh. 200 Child - Ksh. 100
Non-Resident: Adult - Ksh. 500
Shimba Hills National Reserve
The Shimba Hills National Reserve on the south coast offers a peaceful getaway from the hubbub of the busy beach resorts. Woodlands,lily-topped ponds and savanna combine to create a resplendent home for a rich diversity of plants and animals. Among the rare plants are endangered species of cycads and orchids. The park also hosts the endangered sable antelope, one of the highest concentrations of elephants in Kenya and abundant bird life. Guided forest walks are available and visitors can cool off in the swimming hole before settling down for a picnic by the scenic Sheldrick Falls.
Resident: Adult - Ksh. 250 Child - Ksh. 100
Non-Resident: Adult - $20 Child - $10
We would recommend scheduling visits to two separate locations at a time to make the most of the outing. In case you need help finding your way around the town, the Nyali Taxi Operators Association offer excellent guide and transport services. You can reach them through Mr. William on +254 722 253 740.