The 14 Hour drive to Shimoni had definitely taken a toll on the group with others slumped in their seats, some snoring, and the rest lost in their own thoughts. We all could not wait to get to the destination that is Shimoni...the rows of massive baobab trees had become too monotonous. It is the sudden appearance of the ocean shore that had the group gasping. Granted, we had caught glimpses of the ocean on our way but this scenery in front of us was unreal. The calm waters were bathed in moonlight and there was the sound of waves gently lapping at the shore. The boats were bobbing to the current and the silence of the night was only broken by an occasional cricket chirp.
That excitement that we had initially felt at the beginning of the trip had been re-ignited but even then the fatigue was overpowering and exhaustion had taken over. This trip was courtesy of Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) which is working to give marine parks more exposure. Thanks to them, we got to enjoy the facilities at the KWS Shimoni camp. There is a camping area where tents can be put up and Bandas that have a bed and bathroom facilities.
Since it was dark, we did not quite appreciate the surroundings....we just trudged on to our beds. It was lights out as soon as our heads hit the pillow, I dont think any of us even changed positions.
Morning was ushered by the sounds of nature. The chirping of the birds, the incessant chatter of the monkeys, the sea breeze that carried with it a whiff of salt and if you listened really closely, you could hear the sound of the ocean. I could not imagine a better way to wake up.
Stepping out of the Banda, I had to whisper a quick apology to the gods for not appreciating the beauty they had cast before my eyes. The setting was that of an equatorial forest with dense vegetation, thick trees making their way to the skies. Their massive roots intertwined with each other as if engaged in the slowest underground show of might. The vines are not to be left behind as they snaked their way up the trees in a bid to get that all important ray of sunshine.
There was a rustle here and a rustle there as monkeys skillfully jumped from one branch to the next. The ants could be seen marching with a purpose as they got on with their tasks. A millipede slowly made its way across the path as it went on its merry way. I was amazed at the size of the millipedes which looked much more colorful and way bigger than the tiny worms I am used to seeing.
There I was thinking.....'All this beauty and we haven't even started on the park!'
Those thoughts were pushed to the back burner as i caught a whiff of bacon, eggs and sausages which pulled me to the kitchen where our host had prepared an amazing breakfast. We were all refreshed and looking forward to the trip to the park. But first, a word from the Marine Park's Warden, Mr Mark Kinyua. Now i have met my fair share of park wardens but this warden, this man was a cut above the rest. Handsome, charming, well built, smart and young! We, the ladies, hung on to every word he said. If ever you needed a reason to visit this park, the warden would be a good excuse.
He gave us a brief overview of the marine park. Kisite Mpunguti marine park is located about 85 km from Mombasa in Shimoni area. It is a mere 8Km from Tanzania. I was especially excited about that because this was the closest i had come to Tanzania. The actual marine park is comprised of 4 islands that can only be accessed by boats. You have the Kisite Island that covers 11 sq km while Mpunguti Reserve covers 28 sq km.
These islands have lots of coral reef surrounding them which are teeming with an array of sea life. Here you get a chance to spot the bottlenose dolphins, hunkpack whales and whalesharks! You should have seen the anticipation written all over our faces.
Do you know that for as little Kshs 300 you get a chance to enjoy the park and for accommodation, Citizens get to pay between Kshs 1000-1500 while the non residents are charged between USD 20-25! Its unbelievable how affordable this destination is.
All decked out in bikinis, sunglasses, sunscreen and childish excitement (and a final wave to the warden...), we set off to explore this gem. What we saw, found, felt and experienced will be described in the next post of the continuing marine parks explored series.
sunset over the coast