Mida Creek, Watamu
Mida Creek is a tidal inlet that expands across an area of 32 km2. It comprises different types of habitats that are influenced by the tide, for example mud and sand flats, open shallow waters and mangrove forests.
For good reason, Mida Creek is a recognized International Bird Area and, together with Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, forms a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It is not only a paradise for national waterfowls, but also migrating birds from Europe and Eurasia find a place to rest during their journey or they choose to stay at Mida Creek over-winter. The open areas of the Creek and its mangrove channels are important feeding and breeding grounds for many species of fish including Jacks, Snappers, Groupers, Rabbit Fish, Parrotfish, Emperors, and Barracuda.
It is an important feeding and development area for juvenile green and hawksbill sea turtles. Coral heads and the rich sea grass beds provide food in a sheltered area away from large predators.
-walk on the suspended boardwalk through mangroves and relax at the
bird hide and open balcony
-take a tour with through mangroves with local guides
-take a traditional canoe to kirepwe island and tour the unexplored
Arab ruins and feast on a picnic lunch
-enjoy dinner or a sunset on the mangrove board walk and platform
overlooking the creek
-visit the community snake farm and crab farm
-experience local culture with a village walk or lively dance
-eat, drink and stay overnight at the secluded eco-lodge
Crab-plover, Terek Sandpiper, Dimorphic Egret.
Conservation Status – Due to the presence of mangroves, the creek is protected by Kenya Wildlife Service, as part of Watamu National Marine Reserve. However it is threatened by over-fishing. Conservation organisations working in Mida Creek include Watamu Turtle Watch, A Rocha Kenya and ASSETS.
Watamu marine National park, Watamu
The Marine Park and Reserve is renowned world wide for its natural beauty and boasts a rich marine life from the visiting Whale Sharks and Manta Rays to three species of Sea Turtle.
Pristine white-sand beaches and reef-protected lagoons line the Watamu National Marine Park and Reserves, which are the oldest in East Africa and cover over 229 kmsq. It is one of the best kept secrets in the world with only the Great Barrier Reef itself having a bigger species list and that only in a far greater expanse!
The marine protected area in Watamu is also recognized internationally as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This means that the area is designated as a site of natural excellence, and should demonstrate how local people and the environment can co –exist through careful stewardship of our natural marine resources and human assets. The Marine Park and Reserve is renowned world wide for its natural beauty and boasts a rich marine life. It is virtually impossible to snorkel without seeing at least a few dozen species inside the main reef; divers outside the fringe reef stand an excellent chance of viewing the magnificent whale shark and Manta Rays that are seasonal visitors. November is best for spotting these animals. The Park is also home to three species of sea turtle who also nest on the Marine Park beaches. The Park and its coral gardens are one of the main justifications for visiting Watamu. Some of the more commonly seen fish include of course the parrotfish, whose digestion of the coral reefs over the millennia; have produced the white sand beach itself. Angelfish, groupers, filefish, lionfish and snappers are just a handful of the easily seen species within this superb, brightly colour underwater world.
One of the best routes for a snorkel exploration is a gentle swim to the ‘Larder’ in Turtle Bay. Head out in between the two rocky islands directly south of the KWS Blue Bay HQ. As you swim over the eroded coral ledges there are numerous damselfish, young butterfly and angelfish, morays, groupers and octopus. Through the sea grass pass you’ll find blue spotted rays, mullet and snappers. Once you get to the edge of the grass area, around 100metres out, turn right and follow the grass edge along its contour line. After about 100m you’ll find the larder to your left; a series of 6 or so large coral heads which are the home of hundreds of sweet lips, snappers and drummer fish. You’ll also find lionfish and crocodile fish if you look closely. Another bonus here is the large barracuda which hang around near the seabed in large groups. They are nocturnal feeders and ‘sleep’ during the day so are easy to approach.
Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Watamu
With a size of 420 km2 Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is the largest remaining section of dry coastal forest found in Eastern and Southern Africa. It is a unique habitat characterized by an enormous array of flora and fauna.
It is a key site for the global survival of six bird species and three mammal species including the elephant shrew.
The Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Guides Association has several expert guides who can accompany you on your forest walks. They are expert ornithologists and can help visitors find and see some of the rare and unique birds of the forest.
-take a guided nature walk, bird watching or a night tour with professional tour guide.
-enjoy breathtaking vies from the tree platform.
-explore the forest and watering pools by foot, bicycle or car.
-camp in the forest or on the tree platform and maybe see the elephants.
-stay overnight at the community eco-lodge and enjoy the serenity of the forest in a whole new way.
Sokoke Scops Owl – Africa’s smallest owl, confined to the Cynometra Thicket. Clarke’s Weaver – endemic and found from March to December in Brachystegia Forest.
Amani Sunbird – found in open Brachystegia Forest. Sokoke Pipit – present year round in Brachystegia Forest and easiest to observe flying over the tree canopy early in the morning. East Coast Akalat – shy and difficult to see.Spotted Ground Thrush – a migrant from South Africa and the most endangered of the six.
Gede Ruins, Watamu
Gede Ruins is a 12th Century Swahili village that was mysteriously abandoned some 600 years ago.It is now a National Museum, and the ruins are heavily overgrown with beautiful indigenous forest trees, baobabs and tamarind. Well worth a walk and a visit. Look out for Syke’s Monkeys, and the Golden Rumped Elephant Shrew can also be seen here. A quiet, careful look in some of the old wells can turn out the odd owl, too. The ruins of Gede are the relics of one of the Arab-African settlements found along the East-African coast. These towns were built by the Swahili people during the 15th and 16th century. By that time the Swahili people had already established trade contacts with countries in the Middle East and India. Experts suppose that at its peak of prosperity about 2,500 people lived in Gede. There are still various speculations why the town was abandoned during the 16th or 17th century. However, after Gede was abandoned, it remained undisturbed and nature had the time to re-conquer the place. The ruins at Gede were rediscovered in the 1920s and gained the status of Historical Monument in 1927. Since then about 18ha of the site have been excavated and the remains of several mosques, a palace, residential houses and elaborate pillar tombs have been revealed. Because it is hidden in deep forest the site is very atmospheric and mysterious. Gede Ruins is also an excellent place to observe wildlife. Forest birds like Fisher’s Turacos, Malachite Kingfishers, Paradise flycatchers and African Harrier Hawks can be seen from the tree platform which was built for the A Rocha’s Arabuko-Sokoke Schools and Eco-tourism Scheme (ASSETS) programme.
-do a guided ruins tour and nature walk in the surrounding forest with professional local guides.
-get a birds-eye view from the tree platform.
-watch (and join in) a traditional Giriama dance performance.
Dolphin watching, Watamu
Dolphin watching is an established eco-tourism activity in Watamu. It is popular with tourists and is an important source of income for local community members.
This project will clearly have a positive impact on the welfare of dolphins in the area. On top of this we intend it to bring real benefits to the local community who are directly and indirectly dependent on the marine environment for their livelihoods and socio-cultural well-being. Dolphin tour boat operators and tour guides will receive training and adopt eco-tourism best practice which will further promote their business potential. It will also benefit future local generations who will be able to participate in dolphin eco-tourism as a means of livelihood.