Palm-fringed beaches, stunning coral reefs and spectacular marine life characterize the coast of Kenya and its extraordinary islands.
Chale and Wasini, carpeted with coral gardens, in addition to the small archipelago of Funzi where Funzi, known for its pristine beaches, is the main island and the only one to be inhabited, are the ideal destinations for those seeking relaxation, privacy and an alternative leisure in Kenya too little known.
Chale Island which landed in the ‘500 that Carlis Pablis miracle worker of Portuguese origin whose name was derived the island, is located just 100 meters from the coast of the Indian Ocean. The people made Pablis a Robinson Crusoe and regard as sacred the place where Chale babu, Chale grandfather lived. Panoramic views, from which you look at the Indian Ocean, they soon forget the much more famous tropical beaches.
Of Wasini, near the border with Tanzania, and the series of coral islands and reefs surrounding it, it was written as part of the most amazing of the East African coast. But it is not just a promotional slogan.
These two destinations can be reached by land / sea from Island of Mombasa.
Chale Island is located just 12 kilometers south of Diani, on the south coast of Kenya. At the marina, away from the island a few hundred meters awaits the arrival of the tractor while admiring a majestic baobabs. Under the giant tree she would be buried Chale “babu”, became famous among the Digo people because it can prepare medicines based on herbs really prodigious. Within minutes the powerful half came ashore. It is a tractor, the kind that are used to plow fields: towing a horse, Wild West style. During the time of low tide, in fact, the island can not be achieved except with the tractor. The wooden motorized boat, however, is used during high tide.
Covered in lush vegetation from which peeps, here and there, the roof of thatched bungalows, the island has an area of only 226 square meters and a private beach of white sand where you can walk quietly to enjoy the ocean breezes and vegetation perfumes.
The island was officially opened in 1992 and has been called an “out of this world paradise”.
The bungalows are topped by two penthouse of four floors each. From the balconies on the top floor, you can appreciate the scenery created by the Indian Ocean that fringes its waves on the rocks coral shaped into a myriad of amazing shapes.
Not only a place of peace for travelers, but ideal habitat for a multitude of animals like baboons, colobus monkeys, porcupines, dik-dik and birds, including deserves mention the fearsome fish eagle.
Although a third of the island is occupied from the hotel with its tents and apartments, swimming pool and the workshops where skilled carpenters restoring the furniture mostly from Zanzibar, the environment was fully adhered to. All the furniture, furniture with fine decorations, doors and brightly colored pots, end to enhance the beauty of this place.
To arrive at Wasini, we set sail from the port of Shimoni, on a dhow , wooden boats that were used, and still are, such as cargo ships for the trade to the Middle East and for fishing for tuna and barracuda.
Low tide brings in crevices area, natural caves and coral reefs that make the pleasantly wild Kenyan coast, in a mixture of white beaches, crystal clear waters and lush vegetation.
But Wasini is singular for his “coral garden”, where hundreds of coral formations smoke gray stand out from the ground in an amazing variety of shapes and are always admired while walking beside them. Corals are dead, however, and therefore not colored unless the green layer of lemongrass produced from invading occasionally precious garden.
For divers, however, the reef that runs parallel to the coast, only stopping at the estuaries of the rivers is a paradise waiting to be explored. The water temperature does not undergo strong excursions during the year going from 29 degrees centigrade in March to 25 in September and this is one of the conditions for the development of coral whose growth requires light, water with high oxygen content and a lukewarm temperature.
The origin of this coral garden and other scattered nearby islands dates back a few thousand years ago when the islands formed with the land of Africa a single territory from which it would be detached due to violent earthquakes. The lowering of the sea level and the drying up of coral reefs have enabled the development of the mainland and the islands of this small archipelago are derived from fossilized coral.
In a few hours, more if the photo stops require patience, you can visit the island 17 square kilometers, 5 long and 1 wide and stopping with the fishermen falling at sunset with dinghy full of fish.
The return on the dhow Shimoni is very relaxing and you can enjoy the sea breeze.
Shimoni in the local language means “the place of the hole” here being a 15 km long cave where slaves before their north and west sorting were imprisoned.
From here Diani is a succession of small villages on the way and coconut plantations.
A visit to Diani Mwana mosque in the XV century near the estuary of Tiwi and the giant baobab tree, 22 meters in circumference, near the Trade Winds occupy most of the day.
As well as the visit of the beautiful Mombasa, Kenya’s second city in terms of magnitude and its Old Town. It is located on the island separated from the mainland by two small rivers. The Old City tells the story of trafficking for the East and the Portuguese rule witnessed by the sixteenth-century Fort Jesus. But Mombasa offers a romantic evening cruise aboard the Tamarind dhow, where you can taste local specialties prepared on the large wooden boat while sailing in the bay.
Funzi Island is a true tropical paradise, ready to offer a real experience on African soil. It is the ideal place for those who dream of a quiet holiday, in a secluded location and far from the beaten track. Funzi is known for its pristine beaches and as best nesting site of Kenya for a variety of sea turtles.
Natural formations of sandbanks, which appear off the village at low tide and reach far more than a kilometer, allow swimming experience in the area undoubtedly unmatched and exciting.
The island is reached by a matatu from Likoni that will take you to Ramisi. Here take a boda-boda , a motorcycle taxi to the village of Bodo, from where the boats heading to the village of Funzi.
In northern Kenya, the quiet and relaxing Lamu archipelago offers relaxing holidays on paradisiacal beaches, between dunes and coconut plantations, and to discover the history of African art and culture in museums and streets of the homonymous island city greater.
Lamu , an island that gives its name to the small archipelago, is the oldest center of the African country, founded in the fourteenth century, and the largest settlement of the Swahili culture, the atmosphere of which is rooted in the traditions and medieval monuments. In fact the fascinating history of the island is much older and dates back to the seventh century: local legends describe her as the lost city of Hadibu, an Arab settlement buried under the dunes of Shela beach, from whose ashes would have been founded Lamu town. The island, in fact, home to some of the most valuable examples of Swahili architecture, renovated buildings with large skillfully carved wooden doors that welcome the many visitors. To find out more about the history and roots of the Swahili culture, it is good to get into the Lamu Museum, the Swahili House Museum, which displays artifacts and ancient remains, linked to the Kenyan island traditions.
The oldest village in Kenya, has retained all of its charm and the character that is built over time. There are no cars so the mules are the only means of transport. Lamu is a hypnotically exotic experience, made even more enjoyable by the attitude of the relaxed and friendly locals. Even just walking through the narrow, labyrinthine streets of the city, often at the back of a donkey, you can capture the atmosphere and beauty of this ancient and fascinating culture, typical of the African coastal regions, the result of the union of many different African cultural traits, Asian, Arab and even European. The island history can breathe a little everywhere, as in the ancient city center that houses the impressive fort of the Sultan, built by the Omanis in 1808, and declared a World Heritage of Humanity. Over the years, the historical site has undergone several architectural changes, including its conversion into prison and the current transformation into a museum. Besides having a great historic relevance, the fort houses in the courtyard the largest outdoor market in Lamu. Here too you can seize the peace of the people and discover the goodness of food products and colorful features of local handicrafts.
What attracts visitors to Lamu, however, is its sea: a succession of dunes and endless beaches of soft sand like talcum powder – the most beautiful beach is undoubtedly Shela Beach – hiding small villages, including fascinating Kipungani and Matondoni, surrounded by coconut plantations and mango, lapped by crystal clear water where they navigate the typical local boats, the dhow. To better appreciate the beauty and nature of Lamu and the sea is good to book a “dhow safaris”, the discovery of the archipelago with the other islands of Manda, Pate and Kiwayu hosting remote villages, ancient ruins and a few exclusive resort . The island of Manda is also interesting for the ruins Takwa , the remains of an ancient village Swahili, and the beautiful mangrove forests that provide the wood for the creation of crafts; not far you get islet Send Toto , surrounded by beautiful coral reefs, a paradise for snorkeling. The islands are covered with palm trees and wetlands with mangrove lush plants where live crocodiles and numerous aquatic birds to spot along the coast or inside, always on the boat, and thousands of crabs that hide under the sand of the beaches . Traditional wild animals are found, instead, in the dry areas of the big island of Lamu, and particularly in Dodori reserve , where you can admire up close buffalo, lions and leopards.
The atmosphere is very special island: relaxed, pleasant and moderately exotic; Lamu over the years has hosted numerous hippy communities and people in search of freedom and peace that have left a deep mark on the island, in habits and lifestyle. To better enjoy the local culture and traditions, you can visit some private homes and meet the families that live there, to better understand how they live, how they prepare the food or how to pray.
Lamu is also known for its skilled local artists henna , who paint their hands and feet of women with elaborate traditional designs on ceremonial occasions or simply for decorative purposes. There are many in the city and the historical center, shops where you can be painted with ‘ henna .
Located on a plateau in the western part of the Rift Valley and can be reached from Kenya with a flight to Kisumu, the Lake Victoria is one of the great lakes of Africa. So he named in honor of Queen Victoria by John Hanning Speke, with its 68,870 km² surface, a catchment area of 184,000 square kilometers, and a coastline that stretches for 4828 kilometers. It is the largest lake of the continent, the largest tropical lake in the world and the second largest lake in the world’s fresh water after Lake Superior in Canada, but being relatively shallow (maximum depth 80 m), is the seventh lake freshwater in the world by volume, with 2760 km cubic of water.
Its waters are part of the territorial waters of Tanzania (49%), Uganda (45%) and Kenya (6%). Lake Victoria receives most of its rainwater directly or through thousands of small streams that pour into this basin. The largest tributary is the Kagera River, which flows on the western shore of the lake. The only outlet is the Nilo bianco (the longest of the tributaries of the Nile), which begins its course at Jinja in Uganda, on the north shore Vittoria.
At first glance the great Lake Victoria seems really a beach looking toward the horizon did not see the end, and sailing on its waters the impression is just to cross a sea with waves and vastness that may include fear even to experienced fishermen local.
By favoring a mild climate and resulting in continuous rain, the lake has meant that this is the most productive and most populated of the country, even if it is from the tourist point of view the less frequented.
There are more than 3,000 islands within Lake Victoria, many of which disabitate.Tra These include the Ssese Islands, an archipelago of 84 islands belonging to Uganda’s territory, in the northwest of the lake, which have become a popular destination for tourists.
We will deal, among others, of some islands belonging geographically to Kenya including Rusinga Island, Mfangano, Takawira (Takawiri) and Migingo.
Island of Rusinga (0°24′S 34°10′E), is about 16 km long and 5 wide at its widest point. It is located in the northeastern portion of Lake Victoria. The island is connected to the mainland by a causeway, that joins the town of Mbita Point.
Rusinga is politically part of the Suba District, in turn included in Nyanza Province.
The island is mainly inhabited by Suba of Kenya who do speak the language Luo: the Suba arrived from Uganda via barges, to seek escape from a dynastic war that raged in the country hundreds of years ago. The word “Suba” is still in many names given to places on the island, also it seems that in Uganda there was a language, now extinct, called Singa, Lusinga or Lisinga, probably related to the Niger-Congo language group and currently spoken only on Rusinga Island. The fixed population residing on the island, according to 2006 estimates, amounts to about 25,000 people, mostly dedicated to subsistence agriculture (especially maize and millet) and fishing.
The island is constantly swept by winds coming from the west, that keep so clean the striking black beaches, consisting of magnetite and hornblende of volcanic origin, and make it an excellent docking: nevertheless the tourism and trade are severely hampered by the lack of viability in due to lack of appropriate connections with the nearest town, or Homa Bay.
On the island was born Tom Mboya, Kenyan politician appointed as the successor of Jomo Kenyatta and murdered in Nairobi in 1969: a mausoleum houses the remains of the late nationalist leader.
Rusinga was formed during a series of volcanic eruptions explosive that affected the area during the Miocene: the volcano that produced the island is now extinct, but its contours are still visible since his cone is currently formed by the hills of Kisingiri, Rangwa the mountains, the island of Mfangano and Rusinga same. This volcano fished its lava very deep into the mantle, which has resulted in a greater alkalinity of its deposits: as a result of its eruptions, rainforest present on the island turned into a desert, a situation similar to other African extinct volcanoes such as Menengai Crater and Mount Homa always in Kenya, Uganda and the Napak jn Mount Elgon in Kenya and Uganda, and the Ol Doinyo Lengai in Tanzania.
The island is very well known in paleontology for its wealth of fossils, most of which dates from the Miocene: the sending of Louis Leakey in 1947 gave way to a series of research and excavations on site, which continued until our days. Only in 1948, they were found on the island over 15,000 fossils, including those of 64 primates. There are also plans to develop an archaeological’m dedicated to Mary Leakey.
On the island a club with various activities such as fishing, sightseeing and waterskiing was also built.
Island of Mfangano has fishing areas that offer many activities and Mbesa and Namolo islands, only a few meters apart, have many species of birds including herons and osprey. There are also many monitor lizards, wild goats and sheep.
Island of Takawiri or Takawira (0 ° 28’S 34 ° 5’E), with an average elevation of 1,200 meters, is located in the middle of Lake Victoria in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and is the ultimate destination for lovers the quiet and nature; you can walk along the beach in the shade of a beautiful palm grove or enjoy the cool air ventilated from the bungalow porches. A resort, with rooms that feature solar-powered hot water in private bathrooms, offers a variety of activities such as snorkeling, swimming, windsurfing and sailing.
It is one of the most unpoilt islands on Lake Victoria, where, next to the beautiful white shaded sandy beaches to lush palm groves and banana trees, papaya, fig and mango trees, stretches an unspoilt natural landscape, a refuge for hippos and a wide range of bird species .
It can be reached from Kisumu with a cruise for a few hours, or from Mbita with the use of a dhow , a local wooden boat, in less than half an hour.
The waters are rich in fish and in fact, fishing is the main activity of the islanders. Tilapia and Nile perch, weighing up to 60 kilograms are caught with some ease.
Four square kilometers covered by pristine nature populated by cormorants, hawks, ibises and pelicans; there kingfishers, the osprey, the Egyptian duck and even a surprising variety of birds.
It takes little to understand that this is a corner of Africa still intact and extraordinary beauty.
Island of Migingo … one of the strangest islands in the world: the ultimate dream … the last hope …
Central Island, “Smoke Earth and Fire”, also known as Island Crocodile , is a volcanic island located in the middle of Lake Turkana in Kenya. The island is the Central Island National Park, which is ruled by the Kenya Wildlife Service.
It is composed of more than a dozen craters and cones, three of which are filled with small lakes. The two largest lakes partially fill the craters up to a kilometer wide and about 80 m deep and have the bottom at a depth close to sea level. The highest point on the island, mainly basaltic, reaches 550 m, about 190 m above the surface of the lake. A chain of small craters cuts the eastern side of the island. Several small islands in the southeast part represent the edges of a submerged crater, and other cones and spikes of lava are located below the surface of the lake near the island.
Central Island can be traced back to the Holocene (a geological period of the Quaternary). The fumarole activity is concentrated along the rim from the northeast to the southeast of the central crater, and intense emission of molten sulfur and steam clouds are visible from the mainland.
Central Island has a campground where visitors can enjoy the wonderfully disturbing view of the bright waters of the lake lapping on a black lava beach as the moon rises over ominous smoldering craters.
South Island, “Mystery Island”, sometimes known as Höhnel Island, has inspired many tales of ghosts and evil spirits. The island has a volcanic origin and consists of a central ridge of cinder cones that run from North to South. Some of these cones reach a height of 320 m above the level of the lake has a depth of 114 m, so the South Island volcanic complex is about 430 m (1400 ft) in height. From North to South the island size is about 12 km and about 5 km from east to west and is the South Island National Park.
North Island, is a volcanic island formed by a set of several tuff cones located in the northern part of Lake Turkana. The island has a diameter of 2 km and rises up to 220 m high above the lake level. Its formation dates back to more than 3 million years ago and is composed primarily of freatomagmatici deposits. The center of the island is made up of a young tuff ring of about 1 km in diameter with nested inside an old tuff ring. Trachite lava fills the central ring and exits on the west side. The same type of lava is on the north of the island. The island is traversed by a fault line – Turkana Rift – towards North-East / South-West.
There is much geothermal activity on the island. In the south there are hot springs, steam vents, fumaroles and sulfur mines.
Here is the list of the most beautiful islands, the seaside activities and marine wildlife in Kenya.
Kenya Beaches, Islands and Sea: (When necessary use translators)