Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mombasa and Kenya's coast


The road between Nairobi and Mombasa is long and scary! Only 500km away, we expected a good steady drive, nothing like what we encountered.

The number and the condition of the trucks on this road make any travel for cars extremely long and frustrating. Add that to Kenyan driver mentality and you have quite a dangerous drive ahead of you. As we discovered on a number of occasions, just because the road law says you should drive on the left hand side of the road, it doesn’t mean that’s what people are going to do! We lost track of the number of times a driver coming in the opposite direction on OUR side of the road would flash their lights at us telling us to move out of the way. And it’s actually dangerous not to, or least slow down allowing them time to merge back in to the right hand side of the road. CRAZY!!

Beautiful cloud covered mountains on the way to Mombasa

We arrived in Mombasa in the late afternoon and headed to the Nyali Beach area to a backpackers called “Backpacker’s Nirvana”; we’d been tossing up between that one and Mombasa Backpackers. In hindsight I’d have gone to the other one as “Backpacker’s Nirvana” felt a little weird and facilities a bit run down, although the staff were all quite friendly.

What we were drinking in Kenya :-)

We only had a few days in Mombasa but still managed to squeeze a bit in. We started with the usual touristy stuff like a visit to Fort Jesus and the “Old Town”, both a tad disappointing although I suspect that’s more a result of having been to places like Stone Town in Zanzibar. The fort was ok and we wondered around the grounds and museum for about an hour. The Old Town in the neighbouring area was probably not worth the effort; in fact I’d say give it the miss if you’ve been to Stone Town or places like Ilha de Mocambique. It has the same sort of architecture and narrow laneways, but completely unpreserved and quite (very) filthy in many parts. It really isn’t nice. 
View of boys playing football @Fort Jesus
Me @Fort Jesus
Canon @Fort Jesus

Inside Fort Jesus
Heavy wooden doors.....
......and stone stairs
Looking at the bottom of the fort
Old Mombasa Town
Alley way in the Old Town
One of the nicer building fronts

Cutting our time short in the Old Town meant we had time to head to Mombasa Beach where we spent a lovely afternoon having lunch at Yuls Restaurant (including the biggest pizza ever), a walk along the beach and afternoon cocktails. Very enjoyable.

No...I did not eat the whole pizza...plenty was left over for lunch the next day :-)
Mombasa Beach
Cocktail hour!!

Mike taking it all in
On another day we headed a little bit up the coast to check out the beaches there. We made a big mistake of saving Jumba Ruins Monsoons for dinner instead of lunch. We were lucky as it was to get a dinner as they are normally only open for lunch, however we didn’t see the ruins in the dark, which you walk through to get to the restaurant. Nonetheless the food in this place was great and I’d highly recommend this one for a seaside lunch.

Nyali Beach, Mombasa
Cargo ship @Nyali Beach, Mombasa

More great coffee (try Cafesserie Mombasa) and relaxed days near the beach and we were ready for a quieter beach destination.

The streets of Northern Mombasa...not as I had pictured them AT ALL!

Enjoying a cold pineapple and mango juice at a nearby hotel
Our next stop was a tough choice; Lamu Island or head south? Let me back up a minute……

Our original plans as described on this blog had been to head north to Ethiopia from Kenya, but due to the following factors we had made a decision to return to Zambia and fly back to Australia from our starting point:
  • The requirement to sell Ruth before we went home…easier in Zambia (as she is Zambian registered)
  • The wear and tear on Ruth from driving the northern road to the Moyale border which we decided to avoid
  • The visa requirements and logistics for Ethiopia; definitely doable but still difficult
And so, knowing that we had to return south pretty soon, we made the decision to head to one of Kenya’s Southern beaches, Diani Beach, not that far from Mombasa.

The Likoni Ferry, taking us South of Mombasa
On the ferry
As disappointed as I felt originally about missing out on Lamu, this disappeared pretty quickly when we arrived in Diani. What a lovely beach! A little piece of paradise.

Diani Beach: A little piece of paradise

Mike and I decided to stay in the Simba-OryxBeach Cottages given this was the last real part of our holiday. These cottages were a great deal, paying $55pn for a fully self-contained cottage, fully equipped kitchen, hot shower, ceiling fans and a beautiful porch to enjoy breakfast and sunset drinks. Our three night stay doubled to six in the end as we just never wanted to leave!
Heading down to the beach
Simba & Oryx Cottages @Diani Beach
The front porch of our little cottage:
A great place for breakfast.........


Our days consisted of breakfast on the porch, a morning swim, lunch, reading and relaxing, afternoon run on the beach, shower, sundowner drinks and dinner. And I loved every second of it!

......and a great place for a beer in the evening
White sand and turquoise water
And even camels!

The beach was beautiful; the seaweed in parts was a bit annoying, as were the beach boys, but we found ways around both and were able to enjoy the white sand and warm water. Some days we had guys bring fresh fish to our door (yay!!) which we brought and cooked up, the fresh prawns being an absolute winner.

Prawns delivered to our door
Mike cooking up a storm
And the finished product! Boy, were they good too!!
Unfortunately all good things come to an end and after nearly a week in paradise the time had come to leave Diani Beach and Kenya, at least for a while L




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