Tag Archives: Mombasa

Why holidaymakers throng the coast for the christmas season

Its that time of the year again…well almost, just a few days remaining till December comes knocking. I’ll bet you anything that by this time most of us already have everything set for that Mombasa trip. You might not personally be traveling, but you most likely know of someone in your circles headed down to the coast for the holidays.

One thing is certain though, the Coastarians just can’t stand it when ‘Watu wa bara’ are around because suddenly the city gets congested, the beaches aren’t as relaxing and generally their comfort zone is altered.

Nevertheless, we attempt to define the phenomenon that has everyone running around trying to get last minute bookings…

Appeal of the Place

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Its been a long year;  work, school, exams…at the end of the day  sun, sand and sea seems like the perfect remedy. Moreover, the exotic appeal of the Island popularly  associated with fun, “Mombasa Raha”  is a major pull factor.

Familiarity

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For many individuals, this is one place they are guaranteed of having a memorable holiday experience, judging from last year’s events and the year before that. Be it visiting family and friends, quality of accommodation, people & culture or events… the reasons behind becoming repeat tourists here are varied and it is this sense of familiarity that makes this holiday destination tick for some.

End of year Events (Beach Parties)

tumblr_static_dance-friends-night-party-rave-favim.com-120797The Kenyan coast is where its happening come end of the year…with a whole range of beach parties and events on offer, why would anyone want to miss out?

Safety in numbers

original Many individuals tend to tag along with their friends simply at the thought of how much they’d be missing out…and as such the peer pressure factor comes in. On this occasion though, it is not such a bad thing…the more the merrier hey?

Imaging travel-quoteEach year, the Kenyan coast is captured as having been the most eventful region come Christmas and end of year. This drives the curious never-beens to head down come the next Christmas holiday season in order to find out for themselves what the fuss is all about. Imaging thus plays a key role here.

Nightlife

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Having worked hard all year, most travelers head down to the coast to let loose and what better way to achieve this than through its nightlife? Mombasa in itself isn’t a raving spot although you may find one or two joints within the city. The life of the party however is in the resort area north of Mombasa with places like Mtwapa promising to rejuvenate your spirits. Many revelers are bound to fall in love with this region and might have some difficulty leaving.

Whatever your reason for going to the coast this season,  hope you have the time of your life!! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Msambweni Beach House

Msambweni House is located just south of Msambweni village on the remote southern coast of Kenya. This family owned and run property is uniquely set and enjoys seclusion away from the busier south coast areas, a stay here thus guarantees utmost exclusivity.

EZFThis small boutique lodge appeals to individuals seeking personalized service and an intimate beach experience. It constitutes three suites in the main building, two detached cottages and a further tented room. Maweni Beach House is well thought out with its elegant Swahili-inspired design oozing pure luxury.

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W   ZGExpect top level comfort and service in this high-end property. Having your own private jacuzzi looking into the Indian ocean, butler service, and other staff at your disposal, Msambweni House is just the place to be. Highlight of the house is certainly its stunning centre-piece infinity pool that merges with the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. A whole range of activities are also offered here.

DA F SThe dining experience here is divine with meals being centred on Swahili, Belgian and French cuisine.Children of all ages are most welcome at Msambweni Beach House. There are no specific child care facilities but babysitting can easily be arranged. It is possible to tailor food requirements to children’s tastes and arrange for earlier meal times if required.

ZIILZJZRMsambweni House is almost certainly the best upper-end market option in the south and is open for rental on an exclusive basis. Keep in mind though, December is peak season so be sure to make reservations earlier in advance. It remains closed in May.

Alfajiri Villas

We begin our feature on must do coastal accommodations for the December holidays at Alfajiri Villas in the southern region. Originally the Beach Villa, this Italian owned property is up there as the best exclusive villa on the East African Coast. So much so it was awarded the Harpers and Queen award for the private villa providing the best service worldwide in 2002.

diani-beach-garden-villa-15003037-01-cliff-villa-with-poolSituated within Diani, an hour’s drive south of Mombasa airport, guests are provided with an option of either Garden Villa, the Cliff Villa, or the Beach Villa (book months in advance for the latter).  These luxurious double-story villas, owned and run by  Fabrizio and Marica Molinaro are well thought out, elegantly styled, and very private. All are rented out on an exclusive basis.

diani-beach-garden-villa-1alfajiri cliff villaThe Garden and Beach Villas feature four double en-suite rooms whereas the Cliff Villa supports two doubles, a twin and a triple. Service here is exceptional and so is the dining experience but the selling point at Alfajiri is definitely its exclusivity. Something that has seen famous names like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie frequent the property.

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32be03eadf2d710851ed0fa90b90a91f alfajiri-villas-interior-2-738x397diani-beach-garden-villa-2 diani-beach-garden-villa-5 diani-beach-garden-villa-9 diani-beach-garden-villa-12 Alfajiri-20Cliff-20House-202nd-20floor-20twin-20bedroom-2-3dAlfajiri villas gives you good value for money be sure though, it does not come cheap! Nonetheless, with the most desirable holiday location on the entire African coast, top quality service and the ultimate luxury experience, its well worth it.

Holiday! Holiday! Holiday!

December is almost here with us and we know what that means…most of us will be headed to the beachside for the holidays. Join us as we feature resorts, hotels and apartments that we think should simply be at the top of your to do list!!! A-Boat-by-Beachside-With-Peaceful-Sea-and-Setting-Sun-Warm-and-Golden-Light-Are-Still-Gained-HD-Natural-Scenery-WallpaperAs you plan for your holiday we make it easier for you to select your accommodation at the coast.

Beachside Treasure, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Mombasa: The “Island of war”

Situated on the Eastern coastline, bordering the Indian Ocean, Mombasa is Kenya’s second largest city and the top coastal destination. The city, originally known by its Arabic name منبعثة Manbasa,  was popular as ‘Kisiwa Cha Mvita’  Swahili for “Island of War”, due to the many changes in its ownership. Sitting on an island it is separated from the mainland by two creeks Tudor and Port Reitz.

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0313 EnglishPoint Marina in the foreground. Mombasa Island between Tudor Creek and Kilindini Channel Mombasa city overflows with an abundance in culture that dates back to its history as a significant trading center. The Swahili culture at the coast today has retained ancient customs and traditions highly influenced by the Portuguese, British, Chinese, and Arab settlers. The city is also affiliated with great explorers like Vasco Da Gama – the first European to land in the then town, with several memorabilia still standing to portray the historic presence of the Portuguese in the coast. The Mijikenda, Swahili, Arabs, Taita, and Akamba are among the Inhabitants of this beautiful land.  Whereas the major religions practiced are Islam, Christianity and the Hindu.

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Aside from being an important regional tourism and cultural center, Mombasa is also a significant economic hub. It boasts of a large seaport, the Kilindini Harbour, that serves not only Kenya but also links other interior countries to the Indian Ocean. The rich marine life is also something to brag about allowing individuals the pleasure of pursuits like scuba diving, snorkeling, deep sea fishing among others. Mombasa is also envied for its nightlife, its lovely weather, phenomenal white sandy beaches as well as its quality beach resorts. Revellers can enjoy a good time out in the many night spots available most of which are beachfront. Some of the top hotels here also offer their own clubs.DSC01171Other entertainment spots in Mombasa include casinos, cinemas and a Little Theatre Club, the latter of which puts on some fun shows. The region is also known for its divine dining experience where travelers get to enjoy aside from fresh sea food, internationally-inspired cuisine, that includes but is not limited to Chinese, Indian, Italian, and Swahili.

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Getting Around
Mombasa is the central access point for the entire coastal region. It can be accessed directly from Nairobi by air, road, or rail. There are scheduled flights to Mombasa as well served by Moi International Airport although travelers can also access the coastal city via various airstrips. The main mode of transport around the town is by matatus, Taxis and tuk tuks. Some of the historical sites in the city can also easily be accessed on foot.

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Must do in Mombasa:

Fort Jesus

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Fort Jesus is Mombasa’s most popular tourist attraction. The fort, located along the coastline near the Old Town, is a monumental piece of architecture that was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese. The fort has a museum that displays various artifacts from the era where Mombasa served as a transit point for the slave trade and commodities, and which enjoyed regular visits by seafarers and the like.

Its interior comprises of torture rooms and prison cells where slaves were kept in captivity before being traded. Weapons such as canons, which were used to defend the fort from invading foreigners as well as rioting locals, can be seen both inside and outside of the fort. The fort opens its gates for viewing in the morning and closes at dusk.

Old Town  

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“Old Town” is the part of Mombasa that is reminiscent of the days when the Arabs exerted a heavy influence on the town and its culture, and especially in the architecture and language (Swahili has a lot of phrases derived from various Arabic dialects). It is well known for its ancient buildings, extravagant art designs and curio shops that sell antique and popular Kenyan souvenirs.

Old Town is best seen when explored by foot with an experienced guide, as the streets are too narrow to accommodate a large number of vehicles. The town’s inhabitants are mostly of Arab origin who’s forefathers once roamed the same streets of the town. Fort Jesus is located just a few steps away from where the town “starts”, thus a complete tour of the fort and the “Old Town” can be done in a single day.

Mombasa Elephant Tusks 48983702Like the great arches of St Louis and the Eiffel tower, the great elephant tusks monument  in downtown Mombasa is probably the cities enduring monument and landmark known world over. Built to commemorate the visit of Queen Elizabeth to the town in 1952, the pair of overarching, giant intersecting elephant tusks sit astride eastbound and westbound lanes of the busy Moi avenue and are a symbolic representation of entrance into the heart of the town.

The “tusks” aside from symbolizing the ivory trade that Mombasa, and Kenya overall, was known for also coincidentally spell the letter “M” for Mombasa. Take a leisurely walk along this road and look at the various shops or buy curios. You can even stop by the many restaurants to eat your favorite Arab, Swahili or European themed foods.

Hindu Temples

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Hindu temples are one of the many symbols of Mombasa’s cultural diversity. Temples are a popular tourist spot and a tour can usually be taken inside the temple, with a historical background of the particular temple given by one of the temple gurus. Extravagant idols and stone carvings of the various religious beliefs are typically displayed within the temple and on its walls.

A popular spot for locals and international travelers alike,  Mombasa is undoubtedly  the perfect coastal holiday destination.

Kenyans unite to assist Westgate Mall Attack victims

Following the Westgate Mall attack yesterday, Kenyans have turned up in large numbers to donate blood for victims. Various designated blood donation centers in the country include Kencom and Moi sports centre Kasarani (where the Safaricom7s is underway) in Nairobi, Koblenz hall, Agha Khan Hospital and Pandya Hospital in Mombasa, Agha Khan Hospital in Kisumu, Moi teaching & referral hospital in Eldoret amongst others. Many other Kenyans have as well donated foodstuffs for the victims, even prepared breakfast meals for the security officers, press and all others who had camped at the site of the attack throughout the night.

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The death toll has sadly risen to 59 people with 175 people wounded, as per Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku’s latest statement. The Cabinet Secretary states that the siege at the mall continues, but the security forces are in a “delicate” rescue mission that has seen over 1,000 people rescued from the mall since the Saturday morning attack.

The unity and goodwill showcased by Kenyans at large has been extremely encouraging and it indeed goes to show that we are one irregardless of color, race, tribe and even religion. Condolences to all who have lost loved ones as we continue to pray for you and those still held hostage and those in hospitals.

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Some of the images captured following the attack yesterday…

article-2427892-1823F70700000578-332_964x696Women carrying children run for safety as armed police hunt gunmen who went on a shooting spree in Westgate shopping centre

Photo Credit: Reuters

article-2427892-18240A6100000578-448_964x644A child runs to safety across the shopping mall  Photo Credit: Reuters

article-2427892-1824B23800000578-239_964x641A mother and her children lie on the floor as they attempt to hide while the gunmen armed with automatic weapons go on the rampage Photo Credit: Reuters

Death toll hits 30 after Nairobi shopping mall attack

65dba52ee0b6071f3e0f6a7067000b41Armed special forces aim their weapons at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, after gunmen threw grenades and opened fire during an attack that left multiple dead and dozens wounded. Photo Credit: Khalil Senosi

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A rescue worker helps a child outside the Westgate Mall,  Photo credit: Riccardo Gangale

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Photo Credit: Jonathan Kalan

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An armed police officer takes cover during a bout of gunfire outside the Westgate Mall. Photo Credit: Ben Curtis

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A Red Cross assistant helps a child outside the Westgate Mall. Photo Credit: Khalil Senosi

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Weekend City Tour

Over the weekend, we spontaneously decided to explore one of Mombasa’s oldest town and historical sites. On Sunday we went to tour Mombasa’s most popular tourist attraction, Fort Jesus where we spent a better part of the afternoon learning about its history and significance from our tour guide, Ali Mohammed whom we met by the entrance.

Read more about Fort Jesus… https://zurukenya.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/fort-jesus-fortaleza-de-jesus-de-mombaca/

DSC01024DSC01001 DSC01000 DSC01005 DSC01004 DSC01003 DSC01002 DSC01006  DSC01008 DSC01009  DSC01011 DSC01014 DSC01015Our guide Ali explaining to us about the materials used to build the fort.

DSC01016 DSC01017 DSC01019    DSC01026 DSC01024The view from the fort…beautiful!DSC01002 DSC01003 DSC01004 DSC01005  DSC01008   DSC01010  DSC01019 DSC01009 DSC01016 DSC01017   DSC01027 DSC01026 DSC01025   DSC01029 DSC01030

One of the curio shops within the fort. This was formally the kitchen area used by the portuguese and the setting remains the same to date aside from some minor renovations.

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Carol stands beside the tree believed to be 2 million years old, how outstanding!! This tree owes its existence to the Jurassic period and what stands here is believed to have been the roots of the tree that are now visible due to subsistence. The fort was built around it.

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Ancient Portuguese art on display at the fort. The art was excavated from the fort’s grounds and due to aging the museum had to trace the drawings using graphite.

DSC01053 DSC01056 DSC01057 DSC01058 DSC01061 DSC01062 DSC01063 DSC01065 DSC01066 DSC01067DSC01108 DSC01107 DSC01105 DSC01104Remains of one of the Portuguese soldiers buried at the fort

DSC01103 DSC01102 DSC01100Remains of the Portuguese chapel brought down by the Omani Arabs

DSC01097 DSC01095 DSC01094 DSC01093An Omani chest

DSC01092  DSC01090 DSC01089 DSC01068DSC01070Gede ruins replica

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After a few educative hours at the fort we headed on to the streets of Old town where we were awed by the architectural influence of the Portuguese and the Arabs on the buildings. The streets of Old town are always so alive with bright colours of the traditional coastal khanga and kikoy, the all purpose wrap around cloth worn by both men and women. The exotic town has retained its culture and one will find here busy markets, women along the narrow streets in traditional buibui, fishermen selling their fresh fish at the dhow docks and the sweet aroma of varied spices in the air.

DSC01140 DSC01141 DSC01142 DSC01143 DSC01144 DSC01145 DSC01146Shark teethDSC01147 DSC01148Ancient homes with Indian ArchitectureDSC01149 DSC01150 DSC01151 DSC01152 DSC01153DSC01154 DSC01155One of the oldest mosques in the area. It is still in use today.DSC01156Looks like residents here are Liverpool fans 🙂DSC01157 DSC01160The little Askari (soldier) guarding the place

DSC01163A very old warehouse used to store goods during the Arab trade daysDSC01164DSC01165Our guide Ali seems to really love his job and is good at it too.DSC01166 DSC01168 DSC01169DSC01171 DSC01172DSC01167

DSC01173 DSC01174DSC01175DSC01177 DSC01178 DSC01179 DSC01181Almond tree

This was an afternoon well spent. Many thanks to our guide Ali Mohammed for the tour and the things we learnt. Hope to go on another similar venture soon!

Keep travelling and exploring!!!

Fort Jesus (Fortaleza de Jesus de Mombaça)

Fort Jesus, undoubtedly Mombasa’s most popular tourist attraction, is a monumental piece of architecture built in the 16th century from 1593-1596 by the Portuguese. Sitting on the edge of a coral ridge overlooking the entrance to the old port of Mombasa, the Fortress which was built to protect the Portuguese trade route to India as well as their vested interests in East Africa is now turned Museum, declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2011 and one of the finest examples of 16th century Portuguese military architecture.

Fort-Jesus

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Designed by Italian architect, Giovanni Battista Cairatiand and later dedicated and named  “Fortaleza de Jesus de Mombaça” by the then-captain of the coast, Mateus de Mendes de Vasconcelos, the quadrilateral fort is comprised of four bastions; S. Felipe, S. Alberto, S. Mathias and S. Mateus and owes its existence to the Turkish raids of 1585 and 1588 which is what led to its construction.

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Since its erection, Fort Jesus’ control has exchanged hands numerous times in counting; In 1631, Sultan Muhammad Yusif baptized as Dom Jeronimo Chingulia entered the fort taking the Portuguese by surprise and killing the Portuguese captain, Pedro Leitão de Gamboa. He also then massacred the whole Portuguese population of Mombasa (45 men, 35 women and 70 children) and after two months of siege, abandoned the enterprise becoming a pirate. Right After sultan Dom’s departure, a small Portuguese force under Captain Pedro Rodrigues Botelho, that had remained in Zanzibar, reoccupied the fort.

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In 1696, Fort Jesus fell under siege from Omani Arabs but was easily relieved by a Portuguese expedition in the same year. Unfortunately though, in the following months a plague killed all the Portuguese of the garrison (50-70 portuguese soldiers) and by 1697 the defense of the fort was in the hand of Sheikh Daud of Faza with 17 of his family, 8 African men and 50 African women. After several other sieges from then, the Omani Arabs successfully took over the fort and with this conquest taking the whole coast of Kenya and Tanzania with Zanzibar and Pemba under their control. The fort had clearly become a vital possession for anyone with the intention of controlling Mombasa Island or the surrounding areas of trade. The struggle didn’t just end there though, the Portuguese were not one to accept defeat so easily as they retook Fort Jesus in 1728, when the African soldiers mutinied against the Omanis; a take over that didn’t last so long unfortunately. Tables turned the following year when the Mombasa locals revolted against them and put under siege the garrison. Years later during colonization, the British used the fortress as a prison, until 1958, when they converted it into a historical monument.

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Today, visitors get to explore the gun turrets, battlements and houses within the walls of Fort Jesus. The national monument combines Portuguese, Arab and British elements, representing the major powers that held it at different times in history. The presence of the Portuguese and British is felt through their respective cannons; The Portuguese cannons had a range of 200 meters and are longer than the British cannons which had a range of 300 meters. The Omani Arabs on the other hand, left their mark throughout the fort with numerous Koran inscriptions showcased on the wooden door posts and ceiling beams whereas a former meeting hall supported by 5 stone pillars to the ceiling portrays their Muslim tradition of 5 pillars.

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Those interested in learning more about the struggles that the fortress has housed over the years will be delighted by the spectacular sound and light shows hosted by the fort 3 nights in a week. On the night of the show, visitors are welcomed into the Fort by guards in flowing robes brandishing flaming torches. They are then led to a specially designed and choreographed show that uses lights, sound effects and costumed actors to bring to life the long and turbulent history of the Fort. After the show, the visitors are treated to a candlelit dinner in the open courtyard of the Fort, under the stars. The sound and light show can also be combined with a sunset dhow cruise on the Mombasa harbor.

 

Ivory belongs to Elephants

In February this year,  Wildlife conservation activist and CEO of Elephant Neighbors Center (ENC) (a Non-Governmental Organization whose mission is to protect the African elephant and secure landscape for elephants outside protected areas) Mr. Jim Nyamu set out on an important mission, Create public awareness on poaching and the plight of elephants in our country by walking from Mombasa to Nairobi. He has since covered about 1500km on foot having traversed other areas that include;  Maasai Mara in Narok County, Mai Mahiu, Naivasha, Nakuru, Nyahururu, Nanyuki, Laikipia, Wamba, Archer’s Post in Samburu, Isiolo and Meru. Mr. Nyamu has achieved quite a feat that also saw the First Lady Excellency Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta accompanied by Prof Wakhungu (Environment cabinet secretary), KWS Director, Mr William Kiprono and other officials partake in even just so for a few kilometers.

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The noble endeavor came to a close on the 29th of June with a ceremonial walk to the Ivory Burning Site in Nairobi National Park to pay tribute to poached elephants.  The site was set up in remembrance of the iconic incineration of tonnes of ivory stockpile in 1989 by retired President Daniel Arap Moi. The walk, dubbed ‘Ivory for Elephants‘ was under the banner of Elephants for Kenya, a coalition comprising individuals and organisations, cutting across all sectors of society united against elephant poaching and sensitising the public on the importance of elephants to Kenya’s economy and people’s livelihoods. The organisations involved included Elephant Voices, University of Nairobi, Elephant Neighbors Center, Maniago Safaris, African Eden, Youth for Conservation, Save the Elephants, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Friends of Nairobi National Park (FoNNaP) and Stand Up Shout Out.

From Jim’s diary we get a few excerpts to help us delve into his world and get a feel of how his experience was…

9th February Flag off of Ivory belongs to Elephants walk.

I started the day with my team at Nakumatt Likoni at around 9 am. I met with the branch manager Mr. Aswani and briefed him about the walk. He then flagged us off at 10 am. We were then joined by the Nakumatt staff and together with my team the procession started from Nakumatt Likoni escorted by a traffic police officer. I led the walk through Kenyatta Avenue via Tononoka traversing Kibarani into Makupa. It is at this point that I was interviewed by several media houses. Mombasa Island, being a very busy town with a large population, many vehicles and narrow roads, is characterized by heavy traffic congestion especially Kenyatta avenue where the walk began, this is due to the heavy traffic flow coming from the Likoni ferry. So for us to hold traffic on such a major road, it was obviously expected that motorists would be highly inconvenienced to the point that some hurled insults. One truck driver for instance told us to hold our demonstration in remote places like Isiolo (a town in Northern Kenya) where there is no traffic, only camels. (This was however humorous especially because of his native Swahili accent, they are so eloquent and convincing in how they speak, I think one day I just might walk in Isiolo: lots of elephants there too). Many of the locals however were very supportive and had lots of encouraging words. Many are aware of the elephant situation in the country which I had anticipated given that there was a demonstration of a similar theme held in Mombasa town some few days back. Being the first day, I was surprised that the weather condition was in my favor. It was cloudy all morning hence unusually low temperatures for an area of such low altitude. (Maybe God was setting a fast pace for me) It is because of this weather that I was able to walk all the way to Mikindani a distance of about 17km despite the late flag off in the morning which was delayed 2 hours due to logistical issues. On reaching Mikindani, I was joined by Ivan of African Free Press and after a short interview and taking a few photos I extended the walk together with him for another kilometer. Satisfied by the days turn out of events, we went back to Wildlife Clubs of Kenya and called it a day.

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13th February, Five days after flag off

I left the camp much earlier today as compared to yesterday. At around 7:30am, having covered almost five kilometers, My good friend Captain George flew past me at a low altitude and saluted from his KWS aircraft, he is a great man and I feel honored. The Captain was my college mate and this noble gesture reminded me that I was not alone in this fight. As I walked on, I encountered 5 carcasses, 1 jackal, 1 hyena, 1 African, hare a mongoose and a vervet monkey all at different points. My guess was they had been run over by fast moving vehicles. I felt so sad and distracted it even slowed down my pace. I stopped at around 10.00am to take my usual rest which happened to be in a wildlife watering point. I also had to take a few gulps of water. The nurse checked my blisters, a little massage and I had my light meal before I got ready for the midday and afternoon walk. In the afternoon I covered another 15km the sun was a little scorching but I managed to meet my target. I made my stop for the day 15km past our campsite for today (Wildlife Works) in Maungu town and then came back to Wildlife Works where we had a very warm welcome from Rob and the team. They gave us tents for the night. My blisters are getting worse, they are quite big and my left foot is swollen. One of the team members won’t even look at my feet, says they are too fragile to massage, another threatens to burst the blisters when I’m asleep because they are too large. I think tomorrow I’ll walk in my open shoes, at least in the morning hours. The internet connection here is great, I haven’t slept on a bed in a while, it feels great….am going to bed a happy man! Thank you Rob and thank you Wildlife Works as a whole.

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14th February, Valentines Day!!

I started my walk from Maungu set for Voi junction. Not sure why, but I had so much energy today, I managed to cover 30km by noon (maybe it’s the Valentine mood that has plagued my team, they are all so happy). Probably because I received a call that we had been given a valentines treat by a lady who learnt about the walk on Facebook (am grateful to my very efficient communication officer, all info is always up on time). This was from a lady I dint even know. She made reservations for the whole team at Tsavo lodge. Apart from that, she bought us meals and enough water to last us for 5 days. At around 5:30, though tired, I went with the team to the David Sheldrick station in Tsavo East National Park and here, I met my friends, the Ele’s, this was the best valentines ever. I wished the female jumbos happy valentines in person. How awesome is that! They’ll be talking about me for ages, haha We took so many photos with the gentle giants, they are so playful and friendly I can’t believe there’s a soul out there that would harm such an incredible creature. We got back to the lodge and I was visited by senior Assistant Director KWS (Tsavo Ecosystem), the senior Research Scientist and the Community Warden who later joined me for dinner. We had a lengthy and healthy conversation with them and they really encouraged me and offered so much support for the cause. One team member has busted my blisters, which are now three, my right foot is quite swollen I have decided to soak it in cold water this time. We are really enjoying our stay here, some of the team members are a bit sad being away from their loved ones on such a special day, but nevertheless, I can still hear them laughing from their rooms, their energy is just amazing.

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17th February

Having slept for an hour, I left at 6am as usual in the company of the rangers. The walk started at Man Eater’s junction. Here, there are no settlement at all since we are at the heart of Tsavo east and west. On the way, we encountered 3 troops of baboons, 2 hyenas and two giraffes that were peacefully feeding along the road, a caracal, a vervet monkey, a mongoose and a jackal. We had the chance to meet Lucy from Save the Elephants and two gentlemen from Walt Disney who were with her as they headed back to Nairobi. We covered an astonishing 47km today, like I said earlier, “If you want to walk far, walk together”. The rangers are extremely physically fit! They just keep going, which is a good thing, they motivated me so much. For the first time I drunk all the water I had carried. The rangers too emptied all their hydration bags (that’s what they call them) and we blamed it on the scorching sun. The walk came to an end at 7pm. My team was so proud, but concerned that I might have pushed myself a bit too hard, and now as I write this, I think I did. I can’t feel my feet, it’s like the blisters don’t exist anymore. I can see the wounds but can’t feel any pain. Sounds like a good thing, but we’re all a bit worried. I hope my nervous system is okay, I got pins-and-needles that just won’t go away. We’ve pitched our tents at Mtito Andei Tsavo East gate, this is the halfway kilometre mark between Mombasa and Nairobi.  My team are a bit depressed from worrying about my feet, though they try as much as they can to hide it, I can see the look in their eyes when the nurse is examining my feet, I think they’re more scared than I am. I’ll just sign off now and go sit with them, it is the last night with the rangers, and we’ll have a kind off a farewell.

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Jim and a team of rangers

21st February

Today I left Sultanhamud for Kima at 6.15am. I was to meet Mary from Action for Cheetahs. I covered 14km before meeting her, my support team and a group of pupils from Kavuko Primary School and Kiima Kiu secondary School. The students are scouts and members from the wildlife club in their school. They somehow reminded me of my days back in primary school. I was a founder member of the wildlife club in my high school. I told them briefly the main purpose of my walk though I knew Mary had done so prior to our meeting, (they needed to hear it from the Elephants mouth). They were ready to walk with me for a few miles. The terrain here is quite hilly and I was afraid I will drag because of the little ones, but I was shocked to see them climb the hilly roads with so much energy, BRAVO little ones. As we walked, Dr. Cynthia Moss an old elephant matriarch from Amboseli Elephant Trust joined us to show her support. Even with a twisted ankle, she managed to walk with me for about 10 meters. She also brought us a gift of wrist bands printed with a strong message “DON’T BUY IVORY”. I gave some children and my team members each wore one. Thanks Cynthia. We covered 9km to Salama town, had lunch before meeting students from Kiima Kiu Secondary School. The people of Salama had so much to tell us about elephants, very friendly people. I think we were given a better service at the restaurant when they realized who we are. They had seen us on TV and had been waiting eagerly for the day we would pass by their town. They really admired the wrist bands and I distributed some at random to a few lucky chaps. (Thanks again Cynthia, you’re a lifesaver). My sincere gratitude goes out to the highway patrol officers for making the walk a success. They really helped in controlling the fast moving traffic, and ensuring that the students crossed the road safely. Together with the secondary school students we covered another 16km to Malili centre. Mary has accommodated me and the entire team for the night. For a relief I will sleep on a bed after days camping in a sleeping bag. I can hear my support team chatting around the bonfire and others playing poker with Mary. I wish I could join them but I have to wake up early tomorrow. Wonder why they haven’t come to say goodnight yet, they always come at around this time…….maybe for a change I’ll go say goodnight instead. “Big mistake Jim!”

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23rd February

Today being the last day, I can say excitement woke me up earlier than usual. At 6.30am I received a call from Anabella from Maniago safaris (She is like a mother to me) asking where I was. She was already at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (a few Kilometers from camp) waiting. We met at Small world and I was surprised to see a very big team from Maniago safaris ready to walk with me. The staff told me that Manaigo offices had been closed for the first time in history on a Saturday. Together with Maniago safaris was Dr Sitati: Head Species/Elephant and Rhino Program World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Kenya and his team. The walk destined to end at the Aboretum grounds started at 10.30am and along the way we were joined by a bus full of members from Wildlife Clubs of Kenya and others from Elephant voices who also walked with us all the way. Students from The University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University wildlife clubs also joined us. The energy in this young people was immense. They sang and danced and waved, encouraging passersby to come walk with us. The crowd kept getting bigger and louder. Our convoy was getting longer and longer. I was wrong last night, Kenyans really do care about our Elephants. Ever since I started this walk, I walked fastest today. One of my team members said it was like I was walking with the rangers again…….. And I replied, “son,……this time I have a whole army”!! Good Job Kenyans! Good Job. People will always lend a helping a hand to a man who tries hard We walked through Nairobi City to our finishing point at Aboretum. We received a warm welcome amid cheers from a large group of energetic people. Later, Dr.Kagiri and I received the Chief guest The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Wildlife; Mr Gathara, The Kenya Wildlife Service(KWS) spokesman Mr. Mbugua and together we held a press briefing and gave a few short speeches. Very inspiring speeches by the two and the very funny speech by Dr.Kagiri. I introduced every member of my team and they surprised me with a lovely gift of an elephant carving with my new nickname “JIMBO” engraved………thanks guys! I couldn’t have made it without you!!  So everyone asks me what next Jim?……….. Well my blisters are dry now, I have the best support team ever and a strong will , I could walk round the globe for the elephants, we’re not even halfway in the fight against poaching……. to me, the Walk has just began.

                                     “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching” Francis of Assisi

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                         Jim accompanied by the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and other officials

                                     

So what next? The Maasai Mara – Mt Kenya walk here I come in May ….. Welcome to the next exhilarating, amorous and longest WALK.

Here is a link for those interested in reading the whole adventure; http://www.elephantneighborscenter.org/files/jim_diary.PDF

Governor Joho in Clean up exercise

In a clean up initiative dubbed Mji Wetu Wajibu Wetu, Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho led amongst others; students, local music artists, the US navy, companies, politicians and other residents in an effort to bringing out a new image to Mombasa county. The exercise launched on the 18th of may, targeted  areas known to be a menace in terms of garbage accumulation; Kongowea Market, Mwembe Tayari, Marikiti (Mackinon), Majengo and other parts of the CBD.

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This initiative which is sponsored by the private sector is clearly a step in the right direction although eliciting  mixed reactions; some locals have applauded the efforts while others are still reserved about it stating that cleaning the town once a month will bring no clear change. Earlier on, hoteliers and some businessmen had gone to court accusing the Mombasa Council of not collecting garbage.

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The exercise is aimed at making Mombasa one of the cleanest in East Africa as well as attracting more tourists in a better, cleaner environment. It has since been declared a monthly exercise.