On my way to Kilifi for a much-needed beach getaway, I decided to spend a weekend in Mombasa. The first time I visited, I spent less than 24 hours in the city as my friends and I were actually on our way to Diani. This time, I spent two days exploring some of the sites I had missed out on earlier.
Getting to Mombasa from Nairobi
As I had previously done, I travelled on the SGR train from Nairobi to Mombasa. I decided to travel with the 8 am train to allow me to arrive in Mombasa in daylight. Unlike the express trains that leave the city at 3 pm and 10 pm, this one makes several stops before arriving in Mombasa. The stops are short and painless but the journey takes an hour longer than the express.
I arrived in Mombasa at 2 pm and took a one-hour long Uber ride to Shanzu, a suburb of Mombasa. My accommodation for the next 2 nights was an Airbnb managed by a friend of mine in La Mera Apartments and I enjoyed my stay there.
Most of my time was either spent by the pool or admiring the beautiful views of the ocean from the beachfront property. However, I did get some downtime to explore a few sites within the city.
A Weekend in Mombasa – What to Do
In my original itinerary, I had planned to visit Haller Park and Nguuni Sanctuary. Since I have been to Fort Jesus in the past, I left it off the itinerary for this trip. In addition, I planned to take a walking tour of the old city and end my stay with an evening sail on a dhow.
In the end, I was only able to fit two of these stops in my schedule, however, I think they are all worth including in a weekend in Mombasa itinerary. So here goes:
Check out the Nguuni Nature Sanctuary
Giraffes may currently be my favourite animals so I couldn’t miss the chance to check out this nature sanctuary. The Nguuni Sanctuary is a small animal sanctuary housing giraffes, ostrich, tortoises, oryx and elands. The animals are free-roaming, although when I visited, the lone ostrich was in an enclosure, albeit, a large one.
The nature sanctuary also has a few picnic sites where guests are welcome to enjoy a picnic in nature. I visited this place at midday but the best time to go is around 4 pm when the giraffe feeding takes place. When I visit Mombasa again, I will surely plan for a picnic here.
Visit Haller Park
This park and the Nguuni Sanctuary are part of the same foundation. Haller Park contains more animals, including hippos, crocodiles, snakes and other smaller animals. There, you can feed giraffes – similar to the experience at Nairobi’s Giraffe Centre and watch crocodiles get fed as well.
Go Dhow Sailing
I ended up not sailing in Mombasa, mainly due to the cost of doing so on my own. Usually, the dhows on the coast are rented by a group at a time. What this means is that if you are travelling solo, you are left with the option of footing the entire cost of the outing and the boat.
The dhow I was to sail with cost 10,000 shillings for a two-and-a-half sunset ride, with a maximum capacity for 10 travellers. Without a discount, I decided to forego the ride and do it in Kilifi instead, where it was several shillings cheaper.
The sunset dhow sail is still an experience I look forward to having in Mombasa. I also believe that it deserves a spot on your weekend in Mombasa itinerary. However, it’s more cost-effective and fun to do it with friends or a partner.
Explore Mombasa Old Town
Finally, before heading out of the city, take some time to walk around and visit sites in the old town. Be aware that the old town is quite different from areas with resorts. Hence, it is common to find refuse on the streets and an associated stench.
Some places to check out include Fort Jesus and Mama Ngina Waterfront. You’ll also find the infamous elephant tusks structure on Moi Avenue and a few other interesting statues all around the town.
I certainly enjoyed my weekend in Mombasa and I look forward to returning for the third time!
Have you visited Mombasa? I would love to hear more about your trip! And if you live in Mombasa, please share some of your top recommendations for places to visit, eat and things to do there.