ARABUKO SOKOKE FOREST RESERVE
Great & Tiny Elephants plus Forest Secrets
Lions? Leopards? And Chimps
This last and largest coastal forest may be enchanted. Not only will you find giant elephants here but it’s also the only habitat for the tiny golden-rumped elephant shrew. Scurrying about on the forest floor, it looks uncannily like its enormous cousin. Just minutes from Watamu Beach and the Indian Ocean this wonderland of birds and butterflies has also secreted away a 13th century Swahili village, protected from time.
As you step under the reserve’s lush forest canopy, the colors and forest sounds of monkeys, owls, sunbirds, baboons, and bushbaby will amuse your senses. Exploring the reserve’s well-marked paths, you may also come upon a herd of buffalo, bushy-tailed mongoose, and the tiniest owl in Africa – the Sokoke scops owl. And filling out this magical realm, are the many flavors of birds and butterflies swirling about.
Platforms and Pools
Lucky wanderers in this reserve will spot some of the 270 types of birdlife and amphibians filling the trees and also its many pools. Take a hike to the Kararacha Pool and don’t miss the Whistling Duck Pool, home to whistling ducks, storks, and grebes.
Another unique treat is the reserve’s high vantage points with which to view the elephants, birds, and monkeys. Safari-goers can ascend two tree-top platforms and gaze upon the thick forest life below. Check out the drama of Nyari Cliff with its postcard views of the forest canopy and the ocean beyond.
A Walk Back in Time
The enchantment here isn’t just held in the present but goes back centuries. Hidden amongst the dense forest glade lived the 13th-century Swahili town of Gedi. A thriving community, it was little-known and thus protected from the Portuguese invaders of the colonial era. You can still see relics of the ancient town as you hike the paths of the reserve.
Sharing this land flocked with distinctive acacia trees are the Maasai people, nomadic herders from whom the park takes its name. They construct traditional villages surrounding the reserve and live as they have for eons, herding their cattle and pushing back at an ever-encroaching modern world.
Known for their brightly colored shukas and deft beadwork, the Maasai are a living link to a past that stretches back beyond colonial Africa, to an era when the entire continent was wild and untouched.
Hiking trails – The hiking here is easy on the well-marked paths and you’ll enjoy the lush shade the dense vegetation provides. You can explore on your own but the guided nature walks here will afford a more complete discovery of the flora and fauna. The best discovery times are early morning and dusk when the wildlife is most active.
Viewpoints – Nyari Cliff is a dramatic vantage point for viewing the park and an ideal camping spot to catch the sunrise. Don’t miss going up the tall tree platforms with views of the wildlife below.
Milda Creek – Visit this stunning inlet to catch views of flamingoes and sandpipers. There is also a bird hide to get even closer sightings.
Birding – Over 270 types of avian life fill the park including the Amani Sunbird and Clarke’s weaver.
Camp out – The reserve offers 3 fine camping locations for a truly immersive experience.
These reserve-based projects help the livelihoods of the nearby rural communities.
- Education for local students, including computer skills training
- Healthcare – providing medical supplies to the local health centers and mobile clinic
- Energy – providing hundreds of local families with energy-efficient stoves – reducing the need for firewood.
Ol Pejeta Eco-Facts
- Sanctuaries to protect endangered chimpanzees, oryx, hartebeest, Grevy’s zebra, and bat-eared fox
- Home to the world’s last remaining northern white rhinos
- The largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa – the rhino population has increased by over 100 in the last 25 years.
Survey: Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve
The last piece of tropical coastal forest in Kenya, the reserve is 420 sq km (162 sq mi) of living history.
Location: Situated between the resort towns of Kilifi and Malinda, Arabuko Sokoke is 110 km (68 mi) north of the coastal city of Mombasa.
When to go: This accessible park is open year-round.
Climate: You’ll appreciate the cool shade of the forest canopy, for the park can be warm and dry. But come the long rains from April through June and wet weather provides a cooling break.
Best time to visit: The wildlife is most active in the cool early morning and around dusk, avoiding the mid-day heat.
Operating hours: 6:00 am to 6:00 pm daily.
Getting there: You can Book a tour with Africa Kenya Safaris. And you’ll go in style – a specially outfitted 4 x 4 safari Jeep.
This is Arabuko Sokoke
A perfect retreat from the sunbaked coast and typical big game safaris, a visit to this shady tropical glen brings visitors up close to rare and unusual wildlife, birds, and even amphibians. An easy, peaceful reprieve, come here to relax, learn and soak up the primeval vibes.
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