Thursday, November 22, 2018

Mombasa, Kenya

We have just come back from Mombasa, Kenya's 2nd largest city that lies on the coastal region of the country bordering the Indian Ocean. We stayed at the Voyager Beach Resort which we had booked through We arrived in the early evening and decided to take it easy on the first day by soaking in the beautiful scenery and do absolutely nothing else.

On our second day I talked to the reception at the resort about the possibility of exploring the main tourist sites in Mombasa and they arranged to have a taxi come get us. The taxi driver gave us various suggestions then said he would take us to the sites we wanted to see and wait for us as we explored at our own pace, then drop us back at the resort. The first stop was at the famous Mombasa landmark of elephant tusks located at the city center, for some photos. These tusks, which are made of aluminum (you didn't think they were real did you?) were built in 1952 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's visit to the city and if you look at how the tusks are shaped you can see they spell out the letter M for Mombasa.

Our second stop was at Fort Jesus, a military base in Mombasa built in 1593 by the Portuguese and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage cultural site. Entrance here was Kshs. 200 ($2) for Kenyan residents and Kshs. 1200 ($12) for non residents, we had the option of getting a guide to explain the history of the fort or walk around by ourselves. I opted for a guide so we could appreciate the fort more as he explained the history, it's a long history which I will not get into but here is a detailed link for anyone that's interested in learning more. The guide we got had been recommended by our driver and he was an older gentleman who was hilarious and made the tour more fun, he was also very enthusiastic about taking photos which was good as we didn't end up feeling like we were bothering him with photo requests.

Layout of Fort Jesus

After having our fill of Fort Jesus the guide took us on a tour of Mombasa Old Town right next to the fort. Mombasa Old Town is a historical tourist attraction and walking through the narrow streets we got to see and learn about the various cultural mixes and influences (Portuguese, Arab, Indian and British) which was very interesting. The streets were like a maze and the guide was telling us that it's very easy to get lost if you are not from the area or familiar with the area, I know I would definitely get lost if I was left to navigate those narrow streets by myself.

After our tour of Old Town we decided to head back to the resort, it was super hot and silly us we didn't carry sunscreen so you can only imagine how burnt we got. We paid the guide $15 for the tours and $30 for the taxi driver, the whole experience lasted about 4 - 5 hours and even though the sun did a number on us, it was all worth it. At least we got to cool off by the pool and indulge in some much needed cold drinks before calling it a day

That's it folks, on our 3rd day which was our last full day I met up with a couple of friends from high school that I hadn't seen in almost 20 years! we did a lot of catching up and they showed us around more sites in Mombasa. All in all, the trip was a success and everything went according to plan.

Random Thoughts of The Day:

Mombasa is HOOOOOOT!!! and humid so carry lots of sunscreen and be prepared to be dripping sweat 24/7. Thank goodness for the air conditioning in our room which provided a very much needed cool off, not all places have air conditioning so have that in mind.

There are certain things you will see at the coast that will unsettle you initially and maybe with time you might get used to it or not. You will see a lot of mismatched couples, I am talking about very old foreign men or women with very young African ladies or men. In some cases the young partners appear under age and its just so unsettling and plain disgusting, let me not sugar coat things. These young partners are looking for money and a better life trying to escape poverty while these older partners know the existing desperation so they take advantage of it. They are both using each other but c'mon who really has the upper hand here? 

You can get to Mombasa by flying which takes about 40 - 50 minutes from Nairobi or by taking the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) which takes almost 6 hours, the express train is only an hour shorter. We ended up flying because I waited until last minute to look up train tickets and they had all been sold out, to be honest I wasn't looking forward to the long train ride so flying worked out perfectly.

By the 4th day which is when we were leaving Mombasa, we were both so tired of the heat and constant sweating that we couldn't wait to get to Nairobi which is way cooler and fresher, weather wise. Our flight was at 10:30 am and we got to the airport at around 9:15 am, we were informed of an earlier flight leaving at 9:40 and the attendants offered to get us on it if we wanted. You should have seen how excited we were, we just wanted out!

When booking a resort read the fine print especially if the deal is too good! turns out the deal I booked was for half board meaning lunch and drinks were not covered (we had to pay out of pocket for this), we could only partake in breakfast and dinner. Good things is their breakfast and dinner buffets were pretty extensive so we were able to indulge and I personally could do with no lunch but my husband who gets grouchy when hungry was not at all pleased by this half board business. 

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