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Arabuko Sokoke National Park

A Guide To Arabuko Sokoke National Park

Arabuko Sokoke National Park is a 6sq km reserve near Malindi and Watamu reserve and park. It is the largest surviving coastal dry forest in East Africa, It is 110km north of Mombasa. Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve provides important habitat to unique and  endangered birds, insects and animals. The major attractions are about 600 bird species, butterflies and coastal forest.

Facts About Arabuko Sokoke National Park

Altitude: 0-210 meters above sea level.
Area: 420 sq km.
Location: Malindi/Kilifi District, Coast Province.
Gazetted: Proclaimed a Crown Forest Reserve in 1932 and gazetted in 1943. The Kararacha extension to the south-east was added in 1968.
Climate: Humid with a mean annual temperature ranging from 22-34 degree Celcius. Rainfall is around 500 mm per year.
Vegetation: Forest vegetation comprises mixed forest, Brachystegia woodland and Cynometra forest.
Forest animals: include the endangered Aders’ duiker, the golden-rumped elephant shrew, coastal races of the bushbaby and a remnant herd of elephants.
Forest birds: In excess of 230 species have been recorded.
When to go: The Forest Reserve is open all year round; the best time for nature walks is during the cool of the day, early morning or late afternoon.
Roads: The Forest Reserve is accessible all year.

It is a great reserve for bird watching and among the bird species includes Sokoke pitpit Amani sunbird, Fischer’s turaco, Clarke’s weaver and golden woodpecker, among others. Golden-rumped elephant-shrew, Sokoke bushy-tailed mongoose, Ader’s duiker, water and bushbucks, African civet, blotched genet and Sykes monkeys are some of the wildlife in the park.

The ecosystem comprises three forest types: Mixed, Brachystegia and Cynometra, each containing rare species of birds, butterflies, amphibians and plants. The Clarke’s weaver is endemic to the forest, while the sokoke scops owl, Amani sunbird and spotted ground thrush can only be found in the park.

Access by roads is through Mombasa, 75km on tarmac road. Visitors who want to fly can use Malindi and Mombasa airports. At present, the park does not operate on smart card system and entry is by cash only.

Arabuko Sokoke National Park

Arabuko Sokoke National Park

With a size of 420 km2 Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is the largest remaining section of dry coastal forest found in Eastern and Southern Africa. It is a unique habitat characterized by an enormous array of flora and fauna.

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It is a key site for the global survival of six bird species and three mammal species including the elehant shrew.

The Arabuko Sokoke Forest Guides Association has several expert guides who can accompany you on your forest walks. They are expert ornithologists and can help visitors find and see some of the rare and unique birds of the forest.

Over 260 species of birds have been recorded in the forest including the six globally threatened ones:

  1. Sokoke Scops Owl,
  2. Sokoke Pipit,
  3. East Coast Akalat,
  4. Spotted Ground Thrush,
  5. Amani Sunbird and
  6. Clarke’s Weaver.

Many of these are found and observed regularly by visitors.

For those less keen on “twitching” and ornithology the forest is also lovely for a walk, and exciting too, considering there is a resident herd of elephant and buffalo! If you are generally interested in nature or like hiking, biking and camping, Arabuko Sokoke is a good destination for you. On the 4 km long Nature Trail which is close to the Forest Visitor Centre you can learn more about the unique features of Arabuko-Sokoke

If you wish to go on a longer tour it is advisable to explore the forest with one of the well trained guides from the Arabuko Sokoke Forest Guide Association because they know where to find and can point out rare animals and plants for you.

Good spots to visit on longer tours would be the Whistling Duck Pools, the Kararacha Pools, or the fascinating Nyari Cliff and viewpoint where the ground suddenly plunges about 50-80m in depth and offers unmatched views of the forest, Mida Creek and beyond to the Indian Ocean.

The Visitor Centre at the Forest Station is open from 6am to 4pm daily. The best times to discover Arabuko Sokoke Forest are the early morning hours around dawn or the early evening hours around dusk when wildlife and birds of the forest are most active. These times are also more comfortable for you because you avoid the hot part of the day. Please be aware that the entrance ticket you buy at the Forest Station is valid for only 24 hours.

The Nyari Cliff is the perfect place to go if you decide to go on a longer tour in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. It is also possible to camp at the sight so you’ll be able to watch a beautiful sunrise over the forest.

What To See At Arabuko Sokoke National Park

An oasis of cool tranquility, the Reserve boasts some fine forest trails, nature trails, walking and driving tracks. The best place to start is the Visitor Reception Centre, which lies 1.5 km south of the Gedi and Watamu junction on the Malindi-Mombasa road. Here you can obtain forest trail maps, and engage the services (for a small fee) of an official guide, who will not only guide you faultlessly through the forest’s meandering forest park trails but will also have an encyclopaedic knowledge of forest wildlife, such as birds, mammals, insects and reptiles. Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve superb wildlife safari destination with forest trails.

What To Do At Arabuko Sokoke National Park

The forest’s two main walking trails start out from a small clearing about 1 km south of the Visitor Reception centre and meander through 1 km and 1.5 km of forest respectively. A driving trail (which also makes a fine walking or biking trail) enters the forest from the tarmac road almost 6 km south of Gedi Forest Station and runs for nearly 30 km before rejoining the tarmac 15 km further south at Kararacha. Halfway along this forest trail lies the Nyari viewpoint, which is set on one of the few steep cliffs in the forest and commands stunning views over the forest canopy, Mida Creek and the Indian Ocean. Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve superb wildlife safari destination with forest trails.

Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve is an excellent forest safari destination presenting a diversity of forest flora and wildlife . With adveture forest trails , visitors to the reserve enjoy the serenity of nature and see lots of forest wildlife which include numerous reptile species , insects as well as forest mammals .

Arabuko Sokoke National Park Contacts

Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Guide Association
Tel +254 (0)723-098-884; (0)721-145-236

Watch a tour video of Arabuko Sokoke National Park