Watamu is a beautiful and exotic outpost on the Kenyan coast, nestled between pristine beaches and verdant coastal forests. Known for its unique and laid back way of life, the name Watamu means ‘sweet people’ in Swahili. Watamu is home to an eclectic mix of local residents, as well as a sprinkling of Italians, Germans and Brits. The expansive stretches of sugar white sandy beaches, fringed by swaying palm trees and lapped by the sapphire-clear waters of the Indian Ocean, have been voted as one of the top beach destinations in the world.
So if you are planning a family holiday, a romantic getaway or a wild coastal adventure, here are five exceptional activities that you can do with Bountiful Safaris if you’re looking to chill out, explore and enjoy the allure of Watamu.
A BOAT CRUISE ON MIDA CREEK
A visit to Mida Creek gives you a refreshing break from your active Watamu beach vacation. Stretching inland from the sea, Mida Creek is a broad-water tidal inlet area surrounded by extensive mangrove forests. Its unique ecosystem of mangrove forest, mud flats and tidal wetlands support a huge variety of birds such as herons, flamingos, kingfishers, ospreys, bee-eaters, sandpipers, sooty gulls, and many others. Mida Creek is also a vital stopover point for migrant birds and, as a result, it has been designated as a protected area for their survival.
Mida is best explored by boat, especially at sunset while the setting sun dips behind the horizon and turns the waters to gold. At this time flocks of roosting birds scamper around as the last rays of daylight linger in the air.
The creek also offers an incredible kayaking experience. Visitors can explore the endless small channels and passages through the mangroves alongside locals fishing in their dugout canoes.
A VISIT TO BIO-KEN SNAKE FARM
If you’re interested in learning about some slithering creatures native to the East African coast then the Bio-Ken Snake Farm is the place to visit. The farm houses the largest collection of snakes in East Africa. A diverse and interesting selection of Kenyan snakes of all colours and sizes can be found in this farm. It also happens to be one of the world’s most renowned snake research centres, specialising in anti-venom research and producing antidotes for snake-bite victims throughout the region. Another interesting fact about the farm is that it supplied most of the snakes for the Indiana Jones films.
Passionate and highly experienced guides offer informative tours of the premises and will promptly answer any questions regarding the reptiles. A visit to Bio-Ken Snake Farm is sure to amaze and thrill you!
PARTICIPATE IN THE WATAMU TURTLE WATCH PROGRAMME
The Watamu coast is well known for its turtles, providing critical nesting areas for the green, olive ridley and hawks-bill turtle. The Watamu Turtle Watch Programme is a community-based marine conservation organisation, which works for the protection of endangered sea turtles and their marine environment. The programme offers a veritable vanguard against poaching by educating the locals on turtle-friendly fishing methods and sustainable food production. It also rehabilitates injured and unhealthy turtles, and offers rewards for the preservation of turtle eggs and nests. The Local Ocean Trust provides accommodation and training for visitors interested in helping with the turtle conservation and rehabilitation.
Working in conjunction with the the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Kenya Sea Turtle Conservation Committee and the Fisheries Department, the programme has resulted in the successful rehabilitation and release of many turtles, hence playing a critical role in the survival of this fragile species.
SNORKELLING IN WATAMU MARINE PARK
The Watamu Marine National Park with its extensive coral cover and host to a startling number and variety of marine life, provide for exceptional snorkelling conditions. The marine park is approximately six square miles with reefs that extend out almost one-quarter mile from the shore. Low tide, especially during a spring low tide, is the best time to experience the wonders of the under sea world.
The north part is where the main hotels are, and here you find excellent snorkelling at the Larder, Turtle Reef and the Pothole. The central part of the park is where the main coral gardens are located. Here a string of buoys has been set up to where boat operators can tie up while guests go snorkelling. To the south are the Rock Cod Caves – an excellent snorkeling site although one needs to notify and get written permission from the park warden.
A park fee of around US$5 must be paid if you want to go snorkeling in the park. Most hotels, however, offer boat trips and snorkeling as part of their overall package.
Enjoy a relaxed early morning ride against a backdrop of white sandy beach as the sunrise paints the sky in vivid colours. Extend your ride at a nearby local village where you get to catch a glimpse of the local Agiriama people’s way of life as they go about their daily chores. Then come back to the hotel for a leisurely breakfast, before mounting up again, packed lunches in saddle bags, to head off towards the surrounding forest interspersed with plantations of coconut, mango, and cashew nut trees.
Under the watchful eye of your skilled equestrian guide, horse riding offers you a unique and unparalleled safari experience that you are unlikely to forget soon.