Mombasa Kenya: Things you should not miss while in Mombasa

If you are probably thinking of visiting Kenya, then Mombasa is probably one of your destinations. Thumbs up for that! Mombasa is one of the most popular destinations in Kenya and it definitely has a lot to offer. This is a simple but fun article that should act as a guide for what you should do when in Mombasa. I will share with you some of the activities that you can engage in while in Mombasa to make your trip fun and worthwhile.

Things to do on your visit to Mombasa

These are some of the activities that you can engage in while in Mombasa. Be sure to spoil yourself with fun because as you may already know, there is no Key to happiness, the door is always open. Let’s hop into the activities that you should make a point of engaging in while in Mombasa.

1. Visit the Fort Jesus

Fort Jesus is a Portuguese fortress in Mombasa Kenya, and an architectural marvel that was designed by an Italian architect, Batista Cairato, and was built by the Portuguese in 1593-1596.

The fort was built on a coral ridge next to Mombasa old port, with the main purpose of protecting the Portuguese trade route to India and their East African interest. A Portuguese explorer named Vasco Da Gama came to East Africa coast in 1498 and docked in Mombasa on his route to India. This led to a Portuguese settlement in Malindi, and for a hundred years, the settlement served as their northern headquarters and an unfortified ‘factory’.

2. A little history of Fort Jesus

In 1585 there was a Turkish invasion which propelled the Portuguese to move the settlement and Fort Jesus was built to secure the safety of Portuguese living on the East Coast of Africa. The Fort had a long history of hostilities of the interested parties that used to live in Mombasa. The fort served the Portuguese well in defending their settlement against the Omani Arabs attacks from 1696 to 1698.

Between 1837 and 1895, the British used the Fort as barracks for the soldiers. When the British protectorate was proclaimed on the 1st of July 1895, the Fort dark history continued, it was converted into a prison.

On 24th October 1958, The Kenyan government declared the Fort a National Park in the custody of the Trustees of the Kenya National Parks. The excavation was carried out and the Fort became a Museum in 1962. The Fort is now an important historical landmark in the East African region.

The Fortress Architecture is still intact, the layout of the Main Court is very much what it was in the past. On the left, in the museum is a line of barrack rooms, with another line on the right; the remains of a Church, with the Cistern beside it; beyond, are two landward bastions with the Cavaliers and from the outside, the gun turrets, and battle elements are still standing.

3. Visit the Gedi Ruins

The Gedi ruins are the remains of a mysterious lost city in Mombasa, located deep within the Arabuko Sokoke forest, on Mombasa Malindi road, 10 miles south of Malindi and only 2 miles north of Watamu. The mystery of Gedi ruins is that it does not a pear in any Swahili, Portuguese, or Arab history journals; and present-day research and exploration have not been able to fully account on who the inhabitants of Gedi were or what actually happened to the city.

Simply there is no written historical account of the rise and fall of Gedi. The inhabitants were of Muslim descent, had established quite a trading system according to excavations, but sadly, due to lack of written records, no one can factually give an insight into life at Gede Ruins. All there is to depend on, the information available and your imagination! as you get lost in this mystery of the past.

The Gedi Puzzle

The archaeological puzzle that remains a mystery to historians up to this date is that, excavations of the Gedi city that were carried out between 1948 and 1958 have uncovered porcelain from China, an Indian lamp, Venetian beads, Spanish scissors, and other interesting vestiges from all over the world, which proves that whoever occupied Gedi city were engaged in international trade, just as current day Mombasa city.

Questions still remain as to what caused the downfall of Gedi Kenya, but by the 16th century, the city was abandoned. Warring factions are believed to have been a possible cause for Gedi’s ultimate abandonment.

The ruins consist of a palace, mosque, and several houses tombstones that visitors can explore on a trip to the Ruins. The good thing about Gedi is that its a unique location that is easily accessible from Mombasa city and this is especially true if you are staying in one of Kenya’s beach resorts, the trip to Gedi will cost you very little or nothing at all.

What more can you do on your trip to Mombasa

Being one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Mombasa attracts people from various social standards. Owing to the huge investments and five-star hotels in the region, many people believe that Mombasa is an expensive city to live in or at least visit. However, life in Mombasa is very affordable and actually, it’s more affordable than living in the capital of Nairobi.

One of the things that you should always try doing as a tourist is to seamlessly fit into the culture of the people. One of the ways you could do that in Mombasa is by engaging in the following activities while on your trip to the coastal town of Mombasa.

4. Explore Mombasa’s Old Town

Do you remember this article? travel Tips for the best traveler

One of the best ways to have fun in a new destination is to go off the beaten path and explore what is hidden in the shadows. As such, on your visit to Mombasa, make sure you stroll the Old town. In my article on travel tips, I told you to always do a prior research of your destination just to brief yourself on what you will soon be experiencing.

If you have done your homework, you probably know that Mombasa is a very old town which dates back to when the Arabic influence was taking shape along the coast of East Africa.

Must Read: List of Best Beaches in Mombasa

In Mombasa old town, you will find ancient buildings, amazing architecture with extravagant art designs that teleport you back in time, curio shops, amazing antiques at affordable prices, unique ornaments, fabrics, fruits, and vegetables at such an affordable price. A walk down old town is therapeutic in itself, with the sound of children laughing and playing along with the narrow streets.

5. Experience Nature at Its Peak at Haller Park

This park was formerly known as Bamburi Nature Trails. The park is ideal for cycling, jogging, and nature trails while inhaling nature in all its beauty. Still, in the park, there are a lot of options to choose from. The park is a one-stop fun haven where you could engage in various activities to your fulfillment.

Still in the park, visitors can visit the Reptile Park, game sanctuary, butterfly pavilion, and even watch birds. To prove that Mombasa is not an expensive destination, tourists only have to pay Ksh 200 to take a nature walk in the park and experience the lush forest and sceneries.

6. Visit the Nguuni Nature Sanctuary

The Nguuni Nature sanctuary is one of the best places to set a campfire. Enjoy the warm nights at Mombasa in an unmatched way. Mombasa is relatively a warm place so a campfire and some drinks at the Nguuni nature sanctuary is one of the best experiences you could ever have.

7. Go to Mamba Village

Mamba village is probably the closest you will ever get to a crocodile. Even more, you can learn about them and even have a meal made from crocodile meat.  The Mamba village also has a playground where both adults and Kids. You can engage in team building and other fun activities.

8. Visit the local markets

Get to know what the locals eat by visiting some of the produce markets in the coast. Kongowea and Marikiti are some of the farmers’ markets. You can buy fresh and organically grown produce from Kenyan farms. You can also visit Bombolulu Workshop and see how craftsmen make different artifacts from scratch. Trust me seeing the finished artifact is one thing but seeing it being made from scratch is another thing.

Things to do in Mombasa

These are some of the things you could do on your trip to Mombasa to make your vacation awesome. However, while at the coast, do not get carried away by the activities inland and forget to visit the pristine beaches in Mombasa. Mombasa is home to some of the world’s best beaches. Read more about the beaches from my previous article here.

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Brian is a founding writer at Urban Kenyans. His work is focused on how to improve the digital literacy of Kenyans online. He has been able to do so with his mastery of Kenya and the English Language.

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