KISITE MPUNGUTI MARINE PARK & RESERVE
A Water World of Turtles, Dolphins & Dazzling Fish
Lions? Leopards? And Chimps
One of the finest Marine Parks in Africa, Kisite Mpunguti is an underwater explosion of colors and nearly limitless sea life. It’s a protected sanctuary created by an long pristine coral reef, providing just about the best diving and snorkeling in East Africa. In these warm crystalline waters expect to find a world of dolphins, turtles, and over 360 species of sparkling fish.
Adding to the rainbow of fish this brilliant rainforest of the sea hosts nearly one million kinds of marine life – literally every nook and cranny of the reefs are teeming with some species. Above the water’s surface you’ll also spot humpback whales and flocks of sea birds, many in nesting colonies.
This water safari begins with a dhow cruise from Diani Beach where you’re sure to see dolphins leaping alongside as a welcome to this waterborne paradise.
The Kenya Reef
It’s been described as a living coral garden, the reef runs along Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast, from the northern beach city of Lamu down to the southern Tanzanian border. It’s an entire eco-system, an underwater city of fish, octopus, clam, sponge and over 56 types of coral.
Swimming, diving, or snorkeling you’ll glide past a kaleidoscope of blue parrotfish, snapper, butterfly and angelfish, grouper, and sometimes in the deeper waters whale and reef sharks.
Whales, Dolphins & Turtles
Where else can you go on a dolphin safari? It’s hard to miss these showy cetaceans leaping from the water alongside your dhow or when you’re exploring beneath the waves. The reef is home to over 200 dolphins, and you may be lucky enough to find yourself swimming with a friendly spinner, bottle-nose, or humpback dolphin.
Exploring this rich underwater playground, you’re sure to cross the graceful glidepaths of the many turtles the park shelters. And in season (August – October) look for Humpback whales migrating through these endlessly abundant waters.
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.
The Underwater Experience – Your experience and that of the vast world inhabiting this spectacular coral reef. So snorkel and dive in these welcoming clear warm waters – there are many dive sites for beginners to pros. Start your dive easy at just 2 m (6 ft) and progress to more challenging depths of 32 m (100 ft).
Kobe – That’s the Swahili word for turtle – a wonderful treat in these busy waters. Either gliding undersea or perched on the rocks, look for green or hawksbill varieties.
Kisite – Visit this island to see the park’s above-the-water population of seabirds. In fact, it’s a sanctuary active with teeming colonies of roseate and sooty terns. They’re especially busy during their July breeding season.
Shimoni – These caves were ancient ‘Kayas’, sacred sites of worship for hundreds of years. In one of history’s great ironies, the 18th and 19th century saw these same caves become holding pens for imprisoned slaves before being sent on to the markets in Zanzibar.
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: Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park
Comprised of four small islands and the surrounding coral reefs, the marine park is just 39 sq km (15 sq mi) in size.
Location: Near the Tanzanian border on Kenya’s south coast, the park is 120 km (75 mi) from the city of Mombasa. The capital city of Nairobi is at a distance of 605 km (375 m).
Climate: The coast here is humid with annual rainfall of about 19 inches per year. Cooler than most inland parks, expect temperatures of 220C (710F).
Best time to visit: Swim, dive, or snorkel year-round at the park. The seas can be a bit rougher from June through August so the best diving is during the months of October through March.
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 Kisite Mpunguti
Explosions of undersea colors, forms, and every variety of aquatic life, the park is literally a deep dive into a coastal, coral treasure. Fish, dolphins, turtles, eels, whales and more, your senses may be overwhelmed at the non-stop display of nature’s bounty in this special marine park.
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