Mombasa

As Kenya’s second largest city and the biggest, most cosmopolitan port in East Africa, Mombasa draws visitors in with its unique blend of African, Indian and Arabic cultures, mixed with Swahili and Portuguese influences. A melting pot of cultures and languages from across all sides of the Indian Ocean, the city is a multi-faced collection of rich heritage, scenic attractions and beautiful beaches.

A place of historical importance to Kenya, Mombasa was amongst the cities colonised by the Portuguese in the late 1500s – in fact, explorer Vasco da Gama was the first known European to visit the city in 1498. Following the 200 year reign of the Portuguese, Mombasa fell into the hands of the Omani Arabs, who later leased the town to the British. It wasn’t until more than halfway through the 20th century (1963) that Kenya, and therefore the city, gained its independence.

History lovers shouldn’t miss out on the most famous historical monument of the Portuguese invasion: Fort Jesus. Built in 1593 as the headquarters of the Portuguese on this part of the Indian Ocean and the first line of protection against the Arabs, the fort is exemplary of Portuguese fortified military architecture and a must-visit UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mombasa’s tropical ambience makes it one of the country’s top spots for relaxation. The city’s iridescent white sandy beaches, paired with clear blue waters, are a perfect spot for both beach lovers and those looking for scenic attractions.  It is a popular opinion that Mombasa is the ideal place to destress and enjoy nature in its purest form, thanks to the laid-back way locals do things and the overall atmosphere of peace and tranquillity created by the beautiful surroundings.

  1. Take a walk in the wildlife. One of the unique selling points for Mombasa is the wildlife. Tourists can go on safari and marvel at the large variety of animals which can be found in the region, from the big five to various smaller animals. If you prefer admiring marine life, you are in luck, the Mombasa Marine Park offers a choice between diving amongst spectacular coral reefs filled with sea life, or taking a boat ride so that you can witness the marine diversity from above.
  2. Feast on exotic food. If you enjoy sampling diverse cuisines, the seamless mix of African, Arab and European flavours which make up Mombasa foods are sure to provide a unique experience for your taste buds. Foodies shouldn’t miss the opportunity to taste the flavourful, fresh choice of seafood Mombasa has to offer. Sourced directly from the waters surrounding the city, the mouth-watering fish and crabs are available in a number of local restaurants and markets.
  3. Marvel at the elephant tusks. The two enormous tusks arching over both sides of Moi Avenue in the Mombasa were built in 1953 as part of the welcome preparations for Princess Elizabeth. Interestingly enough, it was during that same visit to Kenya that she became Queen Elizabeth II.
  4. Dive into the nightlife. Witness Mombasa come alive during the night and choose from a myriad of venues catering to every taste, whether it’s a night of dining and dancing in the city, a beach party or perhaps even a dinner cruise, complete with a live band. Wherever you choose to go, you are likely to hear the bongo, as it’s a locally loved musical instrument.
  5. Stroll through the Old Town. A charming collection of narrow streets, historic buildings, and huge carved Lamu doors, the Old Town of Mombasa embodies the city’s cultural mix of Asian, Portuguese, Arab and British influences. You can also experience the culture of Mombasa through the many antiques, Swahili dress, textiles, arts and crafts sold in the many shops peppered through the tapered streets of the Old Town.

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