With so much to see in the world, I rarely visit anywhere more than once. Exceptions have been Amsterdam (I think I could live there), New York (I’ve just happened to have visited twice) and Kenya.
Kenya is a country close to my heart. I have spent more time there than anywhere else outside of the UK, and I now have many dear friends who live there. Almost synonymous with the word ‘safari’, it is a country visited by people from all over the world who come to tick the Big Five off their list in the Masai Mara National Park and witness the wildebeest migration (think The Lion King).
But there is so much more to Kenya than its wildlife.
The country’s coastline and its surrounding natural beauty are less travelled and less talked about. Which is why I’m here to talk about them.
I have visited the coastline of Kenya several times before – Lamu Island, Malindi, Diani and Tiwi are just some of the places worth seeing. But on my recent trip back to East Africa this January, I decided to venture somewhere new: Kilifi. So what is there to do here?
Canoeing through the mangroves in Mida Creek
Mida Creek is a broadwater tidal creek filled with mangroves, lined with palms and frequented by flamingos. I joined a sunset canoe ride to spot the local and migratory birdlife, weave peacefully in and out of the sloping trees, and soak up what was definitely one of the most magical sunsets of my life. It was hypnotic.
Spending the night on a traditional dhow
Traditionally an Arab trading vessel, dhows today can be found in the Persian Gulf and the East African coastline. I spent the night on board one of these large, authentic wooden boats, sleeping on deck underneath the stars. The dhow was anchored and floating on the calm sea, and with delicious Swahili food cooked on board, it was a unique experience that I’d recommend to anyone.
Making chapatis with the locals
I initially shied away from this activity – experiences staying with local families can often seem unauthentic when the families are just making a living. But I had a great time learning how to make chapatis and trying to climb a palm tree to reach for the coconuts before falling asleep in a treehouse in a local village.
Going swimming in the creek
Kenya is hot. I’m not complaining because I love the heat, but thankfully when in Kilifi, you won’t be short of places to go for a dip to cool down. Kilifi Creek and the white sandy beaches opening out into the vast Indian Ocean are all great options, and if you want to relax and soak up some truly chill vibes, this is the place to do it.
This part of Kenya is filled with diverse people and cultures. It feels alive with young, happy and hippy people, and I had such a memorable time in this tiny part of the country that I can’t wait to go back soon and do it all over again.
Photos: either I’m in it, or I took it