African Traits will cross boarders to make sure our customers discover the beauty of Africa. Now, let’s enjoy the beach together in Mombasa which is known as the city of salt and spice, of dreams and battles, of poetry and seafaring stories, and of wave upon wave of traders from faraway lands. “It does not reveal the great secret it holds,” wrote the classical Swahili poet, Myakka, about his hometown of Mombasa. “Even those who are well-informed do not comprehend it.”

Indeed, the city dubbed Kisiwa Cha Mvita – the Island of War – in Swahili has many faces: its muttered chants echoing over the flagstones of a Jain temple; the ecstatic passion of the call to prayer; the teal break of a vanishing wave; and, the sight of a Zanzibar-bound dhow slipping over the horizon. There are also rows upon rows with purveyors of herbal medicine, cows dozing outside hair-braiding salons, birds swooping low over great piles of smoking trash, and buildings so scorched by the sun that their burnt skin has peeled away, just like ours.

Mombasa has more in common with Dakar or Dar es Salaam than Nairobi. Its blend of India, Arabia and Africa can be intoxicating. But, it’s also grimy and sleazy with deep ethnic tensions and security concerns which threaten to boil over. But, what else would you expect from East Africa’s largest port town? Cities by the docks always attract mad characters and Mombasa’s people come from all over the world.

Perhaps it’s best to let the Swahili people themselves describe their city in their native tongue with an old line of poetry and proverb: ‘Kongowea nda mvumo, maji maangavu. Male!‘ (‘Mombasa is famous, but its waters are dangerously deep. Beware!’)

Key Activities in Mombasa

  • Snorkel and Scuba
  • Relaxing on the Beach
  • Historical Town Tour

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Godfrey Willy is our Safari Expert and as a seasoned traveller has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

Godfrey Willy
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