Mombasa, Kenya’s second city, is a heady mix of sights, sounds and smells that will intoxicate your senses. Explore the narrow streets of the Old Town, where the daily hustle and bustle and shouts of salesmen in the souks are interrupted only by the lyrical call to prayer. Venture down to the fragrant spice market, where tourists and locals rub shoulders in their pursuit of the best prices for aromatic ingredients, from saffron and turmeric to cardamom and pepper.
Think of Kenya, and your mind’s eye probably summons vast open plains dotted with great herds of wildebeest and prides of majestic lions snoozing in the midday sun. While boasting some of the best safaris in the world is high up on the list of reasons to visit Kenya, Mombasa demonstrates that it’s by no means the end of the story.
Our Mombasa Rendezvous Safari will take you from the paradisiacal white beaches of the Indian Ocean, to the heart of Africa at its wild best on a four-day adventure through Tsavo and Amboseli national parks. No amount of nature documentaries will prepare you for the spine-tingling thrill of seeing a herd of elephants looming, larger than life, just metres from your vehicle.
If you’re looking for a longer safari, our eight-day Masai Mara to Coast Safari will take you on a more comprehensive journey across the plains of Kenya in search of the Big Five. Starting in Nairobi and ending in Mombasa, en route you will get an intimate look inside a Masai village, witness rhinos and lions in the wild, and have your breath taken away when you first catch a glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance.
“I didn’t know what to expect from the cuisine in Kenya, so quickly acquainted myself with the street food. I’d recommend trying the local take on pizza, which is a type of soft dough wrapped around meat and onions and then fried. And don’t miss the little powdered doughnuts.”
“If you want to visit the idyllic Diani Beach, take the Likoni ferry from Mombasa to the southern mainland. There’s a crossing roughly every 15 minutes, which is free for pedestrians and cyclists. The alternative route is out of the way and can take hours.”
“Embrace Mombasa'a culture in all of its wondrous variety; don’t be afraid to haggle at the local markets; never eat with your left hand; and learn a couple of words of Swahili to greet people before engaging them in conversation – it’s a sign of respect.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the currency in Mombasa?
The currency of Kenya (and therefore Mombasa) is the Kenyan shilling, but you’ll find that many places also accept British sterling and US dollars. If you’re leaving tips, it’s best to do so in the local currency, so that whomever you’re tipping doesn’t lose out to transaction fees.
When’s the best time to go to Mombasa?
The best time to visit Mombasa is during the long dry season, which lasts from July through to early October. There is also a shorter dry season in January, February and early March. Similarly, there are also two short rainy seasons that are best avoided, from late October or November to the end of December, and also throughout April and May.
Which is the best beach in Mombasa?
There isn’t an easy answer to this question, as the coastline just south of Mombasa boasts some of the best beaches in Kenya, but if you only have time to visit one, the beautiful Diani Beach should probably be top of your list.
With its rich, multi-cultural heritage, Mombasa is a city with many different sides to it, and the gateway to some of Kenya’s most spectacular scenery. From the powdery white sands of its beaches to the wild natural beauty of its national parks, expect some wonderful memories of your time spent here.
Why you'll love Mombasa...
- Feeling the soft white sands of Diani Beach squeaking between your toes
- Immersing yourself in the history of battle-scarred Jesus Fort
- Getting wonderfully lost in the maze of streets and souks in Mombasa’s Old Town
- Dancing in the street during the colourful Mombasa Carnival in November
- Marvelling at the Swahili ritual that surrounds the humble cup of coffee at Jahazi Coffee House
- Inhaling the exotic aromas in Mombasa’s famous spice market
- Hearing the passionate call to prayer reverberating throughout the Old Town
- Absorbing the local culture in the galleries of the converted Old Law Courts
- Sampling the aromatic flavours of the local street food
- Spotting hippos, elephants, and lions while out of safari
- Visiting Masai villages in Amboseli National Park
- Stopping in your tracks to take in the views of Mount Kilimanjaro from Tsavo National Park
Did you know?
- The four giant aluminium elephant tusks that arch over Moi Avenue were created to commemorate the visit of Princess Margaret in 1956, back when Kenya was part of the British Empire.
- Mombasa Old Town is also home to the oldest mosque in Kenya, and the first hotel and post office too.
- The chase scene, featuring Leonard DiCaprio, in Inception was filmed in Mombasa Old Town.
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