One of the most exciting things when living abroad, is when your friends or family come visit you. On July 4th that was the case again, one of my closest uni friends Marloes came to Kenya for her first time! And I do not mind showing her how beautiful Kenya is! Since she came from Kampala, we met each other early in the morning at Nairobi airport at the gate to fly straight to the beautiful coast.
We wanted to spend some time on the beach and had decided for Diani. And besides it was Marloes her first time, it was actually my first time in Diani too! I don't know how, but in the +12 months I have been in Kenya I went to a lot of places, but not Diani. Even though, some say it's the best beach in Kenya. So Diani it was.
Diani's best taxi driver Sifa picked us up and brought us to the AirBnb we had booked in advance: Shambani Cottages.
We were welcomed at Shambani by Francis, who brought us the amazing news that instead of the Twiga Cottage that we booked (1 bedroom) we were upgraded to the Flamboyant Cottage. This was an entire villa, with a big kitchen, seating space, dining table and one en-suite bedroom downstairs. Another en-suite bedroom, lounge space and dining table on the first floor AND a rooftop terrace surrounded by palms with two beach beds on top of the villa. It had an amazing Swahili interior and the place was huge for just the two of us. Besides, the cottages are surrounded by green and palms which gives it a very quiet and peaceful vibe. There is also a beautiful swimming pool, that we didn't try out because we were a 5 minute walk from the beach.
Shambani Cottages is all the way down the Diani Beach road (opposite Jacaranda Hotel, where you can get great lunch + dinners on the beach). When you cross the road (Shambani works with some guys that will walk you to and from the beach, and can help you get sunbeds and a shed for a small prize), you arrive at where the Mwachema River flows into the ocean. This creates a sandbank, and a quiet place to swim with few waves. Since it is also kind of at 'the end' of Diani beach, it was almost empty when we were there and less beach boys etc. Also the 'Shambani guys' are there to help you out if anyone of the sellers are being annoying. Besides, the beach in Diani IS amazing!
Twiga Cottage, Shamabi: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/2363465
Flamboyant / Baobab Cottage, Shambani: https://www.airbnb.nl/rooms/5026652?location=Kwale%2C%20Kenia&s=Z5M3cTQR (this is not the exact same villa, but very very similar)
Shimba Hills & Wasini Island/Kisite Marine Park
We decided to not only spend our days on the beach, but also explore a little more of the area. On Thursday we went to Shimba Hills, just a 1,5 hour drive from Diani for a half-day trip. This is one of the many National Reserves in Kenya. We actually booked it really last minute through Francis from Shambani, but got a good driver that picked us up early that morning so we would have more chance to spot animals. We saw giraffes, warthogs and all types of gazelles. The elephants were hiding that day. We stopped at a few amazing few points and we joined the daily hike all the way down to the Sheldrick Falls where we refreshed in the cool water and took some photos. It was quiet a slippery hike, so make sure you don't go on flip-flops or you will end up walking on bare feet like me haha. Personally, I think a half-day trip was enough to see the reserve and a whole day would be too long.
On Friday we wanted to go to Wasini Island, a few hours drive south towards the Tanzanian border. We went on a boat with a few other tourist and first went on the look for... dolphins! We saw a few of them, but since they were hunting for fish we mostly saw fins. After that we went around Wasini Island towards Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park & Reserve. The sea was super rough and a few people got sea sick (including poor Marloes :( ). But the Marine Park is beautiful, it is close to an island and has the clearest blue water ever! I went snorkeling and saw beautiful coral, lots of fish (Blue Tang aka Dory, Potato Fish, Unicorn Fish, Parrot Fish etc.) and even swam for a few minutes next to a huge sea turtle! It was really awesome and because it wasn't deep, with a small dive you were next or in between all the fish.
After another rough boat ride back, we went to a restaurant on Wasini Island where we had an amazing local lunch including seaweed and chapati. There was a choice of fish and chicken, and we even tried some sweet fresh crab. After lunch with a view we walked through the village for a bit. From Wasini Island its only a short trip back to the main land, where the boat guys sang songs and drummed which was really a fun. I think this is really worth to do as a day-trip when staying in Diani!
A d v e n t u r e s o f
a D u t c h g i r l
i n E a s t - A f r i c a.