Mombasa is the biggest town on the Kenyan coast and the most important commercial port on the east African coast. Its old town is found on a sort of coral hill and possesses several vestiges inherited from the Portuguese and Omani occupations of the 16th century. Between the old white houses with their wonderfully sculpted doors, the intricately woven streets lead you to Fort Jesus (a stronghold constructed by the Portuguese to protect the town) or the Mandhry mosque. A must see even for a day or two while passing through to the beach resort towns.
Water sports enthusiasts will not be disappointed, with the opportunity to go glass-bottomed boat excursions, diving, fishing, sailing, etc.
There is a village not far from the airport where all the objects you find on the market are made. It is interesting to see how and under what conditions these artisans work.
For those who haven't had the opportunity to visit a nature reserve before arriving in Mombasa, keep in mind that you will be able to encounter certain species in Haller Park.
Walking around Mombasa's old town does not take long since it consists of only two streets! Nevertheless you can still admire the beautiful balconies dating from the colonial era. It is regrettable, however, that there is no upkeep here; time is really starting to show. You will also find one of the oldest mosques in Mombasa in this district, Basheikh Mosque. It is a large white monument decorated with a Swahili-style minaret. The main point of interest, though, remains Fort Jesus, built by the Portuguese in the 17th century to protect the harbour entrance of the city. Many stories of famine, treason and even murder have marked the city's life.
Surface area : 224080.0 km2
Population : 39002772 inhabitants
Even if you are accustomed to the sun, it is still important to bring sun protection. Like many hot-spot destinations, you don't feel the heat from the sun too strongly during the day but you bitterly regret it once the evening comes in ! Think about taking an anti-malaria treatment, as malaria is still raging in this region and equip yourself with a repellent to avoid being bitten.
It is strongly inadvisable for foreigners to walk alone after dark. Similarly, avoid following someone who offers you a ride beyond the beach. The arrival of tourists has, unfortunately, also led to a rise in crime. Even if it is still reasonable, it is better to avoid walking with valuable items on you. Use the safe installed in most hotel rooms. Objects, even worthless, have the tendency to disappear. Also, because Kenya's beaches are public, remember that the monokini is strictly forbidden! During your stay you will notice in most hotels, signs warning you not to feed the monkeys. At first sight endearing and harmless, they are however very disturbed and may bite you very easily. Injections against rabies are not very fun ! Finally, as in many countries, Kenya is suffering a lot from sex tourism. Prostitution, especially among the youth, is very active on the coastline. Do not indulge in it. It is penalized by the authorities.
The legacy of numerous colonisations is keenly felt in the local food. Kenyans use a lot of different spices and you will find, of course, a great variety of seafood and various different kinds of stew such as kuku wakupaka (chicken cooked in coconut milk). Kenyans often serve their dishes with ugali, a sort of porridge made with crushed corn. Unfortunately, this dish does not really have any particular flavour. Very tasty Indian cuisine can also be sampled here: gourmands among you will be delighted to taste mandaazis (doughnuts) or even samosas. The price of food is generally very low, it is therefore quite a rare thing to leave the table still feeling hungry!
The artisanry in Kenya is very diverse. There is an incredible number of carved wooden figurines, which all represent the animals of the savannah. Some very beautiful Maasai masks can also be found and painting enthusiasts will love the very colourful Kenyan paintings. Most of them portray Maasai villages, but also hunting scenes. It is pointless to rush to the first market that you come across, all the shops sell the same thing, with a few rare exceptions. You can find crafts in the 22 shops at the airport in Mombasa, but at slightly higher rates. Do not hesitate to haggle over the prices, the Kenyans love that!
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