North of Mombasa is the coastal forest of Arabuko Sokoke. This fascinating forest wilderness is nestled beside the beaches of Watamu, just minutes from the waters of the Indian Ocean.
But enter the forest and discover a world apart from the beaches and reefs. In this 400 sq km reserve there is an untold wealth of natural beauty. The air is filled with butterflies and birds, the trees alive with monkeys and the forest floor home to many smaller mammals. The forest stretches to the headwaters of the mighty Sabaki river, and occasionally herds of elephant pass through the forest en route to the river.
This rich forest once hid another secret. The 13th century Swahili town of Gedi thrived here for hundreds of years, hidden away from Portuguese invaders and the influence of the outside world. The town was eventually deserted, and today the ruins of Gedi, lying among the trees and twisting vines of the forest are a haunting reminder of the past.
Getting there – Main road access to Arubuko Sokoke is via Gedi, easily accessed from Mombasa or Malindi by bus/matatu or private transport. There is limited vehicle access into the Reserve itself. Some trekking companies can organize trips from Nairobi or Mombasa to Arubuko Sokoke. Some Watamu accommodation can organize transfers from Mombasa or Malindi. The Forest is located within easy walking distance of Gedi and Watamu. Taxis, buses or a hired car are useful for exploring the coast.