It was the observation of the Sultan of Zanzibar who controlled Mombasa from 1840 to 1895 that: The fun doesn’t stop with the setting of the sun. “He would know. Something kept him there for 55 years and it wasn’t the strength of the Kenya shilling against the US dollar.
Beset with a power struggle between the Portuguese and the Omani Arabs. Mombasa’s rich heritage provides many sightseeing opportunities manifest in the old town with its temples and mosques, and in the new with its bazaars and shops.
Exuberant markets with exotic displays entice you with Arabian, Portuguese and Turkish offerings. Here haggling with customers is the order of the day. If your weakness lies in wood carvings then you cannot afford to miss the Akimbo Handicraft cooperative where over 1900 members produce a great variety of their reasonably priced wooden wares.
As early as the 8th centry Arab trades settled in Mombasa and brought with them one of the port’s most celebrated traditions – a coastal trip in an Arab dhow. Apart from the tourist appeal trading dhows bring in frankincense, myrrh and beautiful Persian O’Hara carpets unloaded by hand.
A walk around the old town is a fascinating maze of narrow streets, overhanging balconies and mysterious doorways, leading to dark interiors.
The massive Fort Jesus, built by the Portuguese in 1593 still guards the entrance to the old Dhow harbour and is today a museum housing a fascinating collection of coastal artifacts.
Stretching over Mombasa Island, the town is connected to the mainland by an artificial causeway carrying the rail and road links.
In recent years Mombasa has spread itself onto the mainland, both north and south of the island. Although it has expanded laterally, the town has retained its low-level traditional character and there are few high rise buildings.
Mombasa is the largest port on the east coast of Africa , comprising a population of nearly half a million, 70% of whom are African, the rest mainly Asian and a small minority of Europeans.
With annually temperatures averaging above 30C, things tend to get hot and steamy. If you need to cool off, :Twende (let’s go) maji (water)”, is the ambitious translation of: “How about a swim?”
The sea, which literally teams with marine life is just waiting to be explored! Equally tempting is a leisurely stroll along miles of palm-fringed beaches dipping into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
Embraced by coral reef and unspoilt by time, Mombasa is the epitome of a tropical island paradise.