From the bustle and humidity of Mombasa, we took the ferry into Likoni and into the south coast. Diani is known for its more pristine and less crowded beaches that make it a better holiday destination than Mombasa.
(Where the journey started: Long way to London: Nairobi – Malindi)
The town comes to life as the sun cools off, and everyone wanders onto the beach and into a bar. One of the most popular spots is the 40 Thieves bar, where you can cool off with a chilled Tusker, or go next door into Ali Barbour’s for a sumptuous dinner. The great thing about the coast, and mostly all coastlines worldwide, is that you can have fresh seafood at reasonable prices. You can also dine under the stars right on the beach, and it’s divine.
Once you’re done with that, step right next door into the fun and packed pub next door, 40 Thieves. With its location right off the main road on Diani, and exiting onto the beach, 40 Thieves is a popular hangout. I recommend the Diani Kiss cocktail – a few of those and I was happily spinning and dancing!
With my hangover in tow the next day, it was time to head out to Kaya Kinondo, the sacred forest of the Mijikenda tribe. I’d heard a lot about this place, and I was longing to have a good, long walk in the woods. The forest was inhabited by the Digo tribe in the 1500’s and later the village abandoned in the late 1800s.
When you reach Kaya Kinondo, you are advised on what you need to observe and how to respect the sacred forest. The first thing that you must do is cover yourself from the waist down with a Kaniki, a black cloth, which is handed to you by the attendants or guides. This is in respect to the ancestors and the spirits that roam the forest. In addition, there is no smoking or drinking alcohol allowed in the forest. You’re allowed to take photos, except at the grave sites, in respect to those long departed. In addition, you’re expected to behave sensibly, no kissing, cuddling, or any other sexual hanky-pankying allowed. To understand more about the Kaya, check out their website here.
After a two-hour walk in the forest, filled with serenity, tree hugging and a great sense of well-being, I was feeling refreshed. Like the saying goes, “it’s impossible to walk in the woods and be in a bad mood at the same time”. It was time to hit the road and head to the border of Kenya and Tanzania at Lunga-Lunga.
I always thought Lunga-Lunga was just a part of Nairobi, at the industrial area. I hadn’t ever wondered where the name was adopted from, but clearly, there’s much I don’t know of Kenya yet. There is a vast difference between the City’s settlement as compared to the hustling and bustling border crossing, what with the hectic life of the city and the overpopulation, garbage and informal settlements that litter the Nairobian village. The coastal border crossing is simple yet full of the life that comes with border trade.
The one thing you must taste while at the border crossing is the fresh coconut drink, madafu. The roadside sellers quickly trim off the tops of coconuts to give you a drink of the cool coconut water, which is quite refreshing in that heat. Add the juice of about 4 limes, freshly squeezed, into your coconut water, and you will want to sit in that little banda forever, sipping on that drink.
Caution though, don’t take pictures at the border crossing without asking for permission from the local police. I almost got thrown into a cell for snapping a picture that happened to include the police station building. In this age of paranoia, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Also look out for money changers hustling to barter foreign exchange. Check the rates online and have an indication before you’re fleeced.
Saying goodbye to Kenya, it was time to explore the rest of the world. Finally, the Tusker Lager had crossed the border!
Where to Stay
Diani Cottages: Right off the main road, Diani Campsite and Cottages offers a cheap alternative to the high end hotels. You have a choice of pitching tent in a secure campsite, or taking up a room in the cottages next door. The rooms have options for single occupancy, or up to 4 people in one cottage. They also have a swimming pool to cool off in.
The beach is a mere 5 minute walk, and you will have the exclusive escort of the campsite’s dog, Killer, who is famous on the beach. He will escort you to your destination on the beach, then walk back home. 🙂
Check out their website: Diani Campsite and Cottages
If you decide to indulge in a drink or two along the beach, it is advised that you walk back home on the main road. Walking back on the beach, from experience, can get you confused and lost, since finding the trails and paths back to your hotel might be difficult in the dark, as the beach is unlit. Unless you want to get lost for about two hours, walking up and down the beach looking for your way back home, use the main road exits. 🙂