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Mombasa Kenya – A Guide to Mombasa City

Mombasa City

Mombasa City is the second largest City in Kenya after the country’s Capital City Nairobi . Lying next to the Indian Ocean with a major Port and an International Airport. Mombasa Kenya also serves as the center of the coastal tourism industry. Its name derives from Manbasa, the Arabic name of the former sultan of Mvita, which had its capital here. In modern times the City was the headquarters of the former Coast Province.

Mombasa City is located on Mombasa Island which is separated from the mainland by two creeks: Tudor Creek and Kilindini Harbour. The island is connected to the mainland to the north by the Nyali Bridge, to the south by the Likoni Ferry and to the west by the Makupa Causeway, alongside which runs the Kenya-Uganda Railway. The Port serves both Kenya and landlocked countries, linking them to the Ocean.

Mombasa City History

Mombasa city’s history is a mixture of African, Persian, Arab, Portuguese and British influences which contributed to the rich cultures found in the city today. Mombasa, a great trading centre with several items such as glass, brass, copper, iron and rhino horn passing through the coast, was originally inhabited by the African Bantu people. The Jordanians visited the City in 6th century, Persians in the 9th and 10th century and thereafter Arabs. In this period the Arabs and Persians developed trading routes, commercial centers and contributed to a flowering of civilization reflected in the glorious architecture of their grand houses, monuments and mosques.

Over the centuries Mombasa struggled with numerous foreign invaders and hostility. The Portuguese, the ferocious Zimba tribe, and the Omanis have all tried to take over Mombasa since the 12th century.

By the 15th century, Mombasa was a thriving, sophisticated city with established trade routes to China, Persia, and India. Around this time the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama discovered the city while on a voyage around Africa to find the sea route to India. After a period of less than 5 years the Portuguese returned to attack the city. Five years later, Almeida, another Portuguese seafarer, plundered the port and 23 years later the Portuguese mounted another raid. The invaders then occupied Mombasa, building the impressive Fort Jesus and dominated the entrance to the old harbour, between 1593 and 1598.

The Arabs made several attempts to regain the town but, the Portuguese, supported mainly by supplies from their Indian colony, Goa, hung onto it for around 100 years. The occupiers were finally defeated in the siege of Fort Jesus which began in March 1696. Portuguese and Indian soldiers eventually relieved the Fort in September 1697, but they could not break the siege. The centuries of conflict earned Mombasa the name “the island of War”

Later the Arab’s triumphed scaling the walls of the fort. Intrigue and rivalry between competing Omani rulers led to a decline in trading along the coast and Mombasa fell under the rule of the Mazruis, who were finally overcome by the Omani leader, Bey Saidi Sultan Sayyid Said in 1822 (whose remains are still buried in Mombasa today). Two years later, the British warship HMS Leven arrived in Mombasa.

Answering to the appeals of the Mazruis, the commander, Captain Owen, agreed to declare the city a British protectorate, in return for a promise from the Mazruis to abolish slavery.

 

During this period, Mombasa prospered under the Sultan, underpinned largely by the slave trade. However he came under increasing pressure by the British to end the practice and in 1845, he was forced into a treaty that severely restricted this activity. In 1886, in an agreement between Britain and Germany, the territories of Kenya and Uganda were assigned to the British while Tanganyika (Tanzania) came under the rule of Germany. The Imperial British East Africa Company set up its headquarters in Mombasa in 1888. It was the springboard for the colonization of Kenya and the beginning of a British dominance in the country that was to last until independence in 1963.

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By the late 1800s it became the base of exploration for British expeditions to Kenya’s interior. In 1988, the Imperial British East Africa Company set up headquarters in Mombasa. British rule of Mombasa became official in 1895 when they leased a stretch of the coast including the port city from the Sultan of Zanzibar. Officially this coastal strip still belonged to Zanzibar until ceded to a newly independent Kenya in 1963.

The British affirmed Mombasa’s importance as East Africa’s most vital port when they completed a railway in 1901 stretching from Mombasa to Uganda. Today, the city remains one of Africa’s major links to the rest of the world. Built on a 15 sq km island, Mombasa is surrounded by a natural harbor. The mainland coasts north and south of the city boast a proliferation of tourist resorts. Within the city itself, a traveler has numerous opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Remnants of slave trade can still be seen today around the town. Fort Jesus still contains cells where the slaves were held, and various artifacts from that era.

Economy of Mombasa Kenya

Mombasa Kenya is a major trade centre and home to Kenya’s only large seaport, the Kilindini Harbour. Kilindini is an old Swahili term meaning “deep”. The port is so called because the channel is naturally very deep. Kilindini Harbor is an example of a natural geographic phenomenon called a ria, formed millions of years ago when the sea level rose and engulfed a river that was flowing from the mainland.

Mombasa City is the centre of coastal tourism in Kenya. Mombasa Island itself is not a main attraction, although many people visit the Old Town and Fort Jesus. The Nyali, Kenyatta, Bamburi, and Shanzu beaches are located north of the city. The Shelly, Tiwi, and Diani beaches are located south of Mombasa. Several luxury hotels exist on these beaches, while the less expensive hotels are located further away.

Mombasa’s northern shoreline is renowned for its vibrant 24-hour entertainment offers, including both family entertainment (water parks, cinemas, bowling, etc.), sports (watersports, mountain biking and gokarting), culinary offers (restaurants offering a wide range of specialties from Kenya, China, Japan, India, Italy, Germany and other countries) and night life(bars, pubs, clubs, discothèques, etc).

Other local industries include an oil refinery and the Bamburi Cement factory. The major intercontinental undersea telecom cables reach shore next to Mombasa, connecting East Africa to the rest of the world and supporting a fast-growing call centre business in the area.

Population of Mombasa Kenya

The city of Mombasa has a population of 939,370, as per the 2009 census,and is located on Mombasa Island, which is separated from the mainland by two creeks: Tudor Creek and Kilindini Harbour. The island is connected to the mainland to the north by the Nyali Bridge, to the south by the Likoni Ferry and to the west by the Makupa Causeway, alongside which runs the Kenya-Uganda Railway. The port serves both Kenya and countries of the interior, linking them to the Ocean. The city is served by Moi International Airport located in the northwest mainland suburb of Chaani, northwest of Changamwe area.

Mombasa city is mainly occupied by the Muslim Mijikenda/Swahili people. Over the centuries, there have been many immigrants and traders who settled in Mombasa, particularly from Iran, the Middle East, Somalia and the Indian sub-continent, who came mainly as traders and skilled craftsmen.

Traditional dress for the Swahili women is a brightly coloured, printed cotton sheet called a kanga, which may have inspirational slogans printed on it. Muslim women wear a covering known as a bui bui, that is traditionally black, along with a head covering called a hijaab, and sometimes wear a veil called a nikab. Men wear a type of sarong, which is coloured in bright bands, called a kikoi.

Around Mombasa Kenya – Places and Neighborhood

Mombasa Island

Kizingo: Considered the prime residential area of Mombasa. The State House Mombasa,Provincial Headquarters, The Mombasa Law Courts, The Municipal Council are located in Kizingo. The Aga Khan Academy, Aga Khan High School, Serani Primary School, Serani High School, Santokben Nursery School, Coast Academy, Mombasa Primary School, Loreto Convent, Mama Ngina Girls’ High School and the Government Training Institute (GTI) Mombasa are all part of Kizingo.

Kibokoni: Part of Old Town with Swahili architecture. Fort Jesus is in Baghani.

Kuze: Part of Old Town with Swahili culture and architecture. Originally flourishing with Swahili people but currently becoming a more cosmopolitan neighbourhood.

Makadara: Part of Old Town consisting of a high number of descendants of Baluchi former soldiers who settled within this area before it developed into a town. The name is derived from the Arabic word Qadr-ur-Rahman meaning fate of God.

Ganjoni: Primarily a middle class residential, home of second biggest dry dock of Africa after the one in South Africa.

Tudor: Another middle class residential area with homes and shops. The Mombasa Polytechnic University College (MPUC) is situated in this neighborhood

North Coast

Nyali: Also considered a prime and up-market residential area, it is on the mainland north of the island and is linked by the New Nyali Bridge. It has numerous beach front hotels in the area known as the “North Coast”. Nyali has two distinct sections – the posh Old Nyali and the upcoming New Nyali. For many residents, Nyali has now become a self-contained residential area, with two Nakumatts, a multiplex cinema, shopping malls, banks, schools and post offices. This often eliminates the need for residents to cross the bridge and to go into the congested Mombasa city center. Nyali is home for the Nyali Cinemax complex, Mamba Village, the Nyali Golf Club, and some of the most prestigious academic institutions of the Coast Province.

Kongowea: Kongowea Location is a densely populated area with 15 villages, two sub-locations and an estimated population of 106,180 residents. Kongowea is a cosmopolitan settlement mainly inhabited by people from mainland who migrated into the city in search of employment, mainly in service and manufacturing sector. The area is adjacent to the rich suburb of Nyali which employs a portion of the village residents. They are mainly hired as cheap labor as watchmen, gardeners, masons for up coming houses and house help. The most well known villages inside Kongowea include Kisumu Ndogo, Shauri Yako and Mnazi Mmoja, despite being located in this prime area, many residents live under extreme conditions – poor sanitation, high crime rate and lack of basic essential amenities like schools, hospitals and tap water. Kongowea is also home to one of the largest open-air markets in Eastern Africa.

Bamburi: also an outlying township (fifteen minutes drive) on the way to the town of Malindi. Bamburi is the location of Bamburi Portland Cement Company. Other notable features in the area are the Mijikenda public beach and Haller Park, a nature trail and wildlife conservatory.

Other areas include, Shanzu, Mkomani, Bombolulu, Kisauni, and Mtwapa.

The North Coast is famous for its broad entertainment industry which attracts locals and tourists as well.

South Coast

Likoni: is a lower income and lower middle class neighborhood connected to Mombasa Island by ferry. It is south of Mombasa Island and made up of mostly non-Swahili tribes. The ferry was the target of the Likoni Riots of 1997.

Diani Beach: a beach resort area situated over the Likoni Ferry on the south coast of Mombasa. It is located some 36 km (22 mi) south of Mombasa city on the mainland coast and is a prime resort for many local and international tourists. Diani Beach has an airport at Ukunda town to cater for tourists who fly there directly from Nairobi Wilson or any other airports and airfields in the country.

Other

Magongo: is an outlying township 20 minutes driving distance northwest of Mombasa Island, situated on the Nairobi Highway. This fringe community lacks any effective electricity, water or sewer systems, with a general lack of infrastructure. Poverty, lack of sanitation, and unemployment continue to be the greatest issues for the Mikindani Township, which have ensured low health and safety standards for its residents. Poor, lower class housing is widespread, ranging from simple stone, two storey structures to mud and earth homes fitted with corrugated iron roofs. Much of the community works outside of the township, within Mombasa Island itself as there is a lack of employment and industry. There are number of small health clinics, shops, and a few public primary schools: Nazarene primary is one school, which is known in particular as being staffed by a revolving volunteer teacher base from Western, and predominately English speaking nations. This small town that serves as a link between the city and Moi International Airport. Magongo is also home to the Akamba Handicraft Cooperative.

Mikindani, a suburban area: This is an outlying township on the mainland along the Nairobi Highway.It is built in the heavy industrial sections of Changamwe and mainly accommodate the working class who either work in the industries, the town centre on the Island and the Port at Kilindini harbor.

Miritini:outlying township on the Mombasa Nairobi Highway which is first growing as a suburban area.

Changamwe: Industrial area which contains the Kipevu power generation projects, the Kenya Oil Refinery Company facility and housing estates such as Chaani and is the gateway to the Moi International Airport. The area has administrative offices of the D.O and the chiefs who serve the administrative division.

Port Reitz: Is a suburb on the mainland which contains a beach, oil refineries, housing estates etc. Moi International Airport and the Port Reitz District Hospital are in Port Reitz.

Mombasa Kenya - Mombasa City

Mombasa Kenya – Mombasa City

Tourist Attraction in Mombasa Kenya

Mombasa City is bestowed with such beautiful beaches with white sandy beaches and a deep historical and cultural heritage that most travelers cannot resist, the beauty of the beaches and the history surrounding this city is simply marvelous.

Here are some of the tourists attractions in Mombasa Kenya

Fort Jesus

Category: Tourist Attractions in Mombasa City

It overlooks the entrance to the Old Port of Mombasa. It was built by the Portuguese in 1593 to guard the port and their trade route to India. It has a turbulent history of wars between the ruling Arab dynasties.

For more information visit: Fort Jesus

Bombolulu workshop (North Coast)

Category: Tourist Attractions in Mombasa City

A major tourist attraction, founded in 1969, Bombolulu Workshop is a project of the Association for the Physically Disabled in Kenya (APDK). It has a Cultural Centre with eight traditional homesteads. The Centre runs a traditional restaurant and entertains guests with traditional dances during the day.

For more information visit: Bombolulu Workshop

Bamburi Nature Trails- Haller Park

Category: Tourist Attractions in Mombasa City

This is the largest animal sanctuary in Mombasa. Once a barren limestone quarry from years of mining, today it is a thriving coastal forest. Its success is largely due to Rene Haller, an agro forester who since the 19705 has been then force behind its transformation. There are four nature routes in the Forest Trails for cycling, jogging, walking and fitness.

For more information visit: Haller wildlife Park

The Mombasa Tusks

Category: Tourist Attractions in Mombasa City

The Mombasa “Tusks” are symbolic representations of the entrance into the heart of the town. The tusks were built to commemorate the visit of Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth’s sister, in 1956. Initially, made of canvas stretched over wooden frames by the municipal engineers based on Kilindini Road, now Moi Avenue, they were later rebuilt in aluminum and moved to their present position in the 19605. Coincidentally the tusks also spell the letter “M” for Mombasa.

For more information visit: Mombasa Tusks

Mamba Village

Category: Tourist Attractions in Mombasa City

Situated in Nyali, close to Haller Park, it is East Africa’s largest crocodile farm. A tour of the farm starts with a film on the life cycle and behavior of crocodiles, followed by a tour of the crocodile-ville. It ends with the highlight of the day: a spectacular scene of blood-thirsty crocodiles in a frenzy during feeding time.

For more information visit: Mamba Village

Mombasa Marine Park

Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve

Mombasa Marine National Park & Reserve

Category: Tourist Attractions in Mombasa City

The marine park off is easily accessible by boat or local canoes from the beach hotels on the North Coast. A rich coral reef, home to the most spectacular array of coral fish and plants live in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

For more information visit: Mombasa Marine Park 

Mombasa Old Town

Category: Tourist Attractions in Mombasa City

Mombasa Old town is reminiscent of the days when the Arabs and Asians exerted a heavy influence on the town and its culture, especially in the architecture and its language, Kiswahili. The Old Town, is on the tentative list to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

For more information visit: Mombasa Old Town

Rabai Museum

Category: Tourist Attractions in Mombasa City

Rabai is where Christianity and modern learning in Kenya started. Established in 1846 by Dr Ludwig Krapf as the first church edifice in Kenya, Rabai is 25km northwest of Mombasa off the Nairobi— Mombasa highway on the Mazeras — Kaloleni road. Dr Krapf, a phenomenal linguist, learned Kiswahili within weeks of landing in Mombasa and translated the first Bible into Kiswahili.

For more information visit: Rabai Museum

Jumba La Mtwana

Category: Tourist Attractions in Mombasa City

This 13th century abandoned Swahili settlement; 20km north of Mombasa town is like all early settlements, on the seashore. Besides a beautiful beach, it boasts magnificent ruins of the ancient homes and a mosque with its carved niches and arched doorways. There is a picnic site and a great beach for swimming

For more information visit: Jumba La Mtwapa

Accommodation and Hotels in Mombasa

1. Voyager Beach Resort

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

A vibrant, ship themed resort, Voyager Beach Resort is moored on the coast, at Nyali Beach. The resort provides family entertainment and animation programmes, including themed journeys across the seven seas.

For more information please visit: Voyager Beach Resort

2. Marina English Point

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

It sits across the stunning old Mombasa skyline in a natural marine basin with a breakwater coral shelf that is perfect for a marina. Out of this vision was born the idea to bring to Kenya, a modern, international development that offers the best in lifestyle and luxury, as well as the region’s first serviced marina to cater for the luxury boating market.

For more information please visit: Marina English Point

3. Sarova White Sands Beach Resort and Spa

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

Fusing Swahili interiors and Arabic architecture, Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa is an exotic resort on Bamburi Beach. Set in 22 acres of landscaped gardens, this resort has the largest beachfront on the North Coast.

For more information please visit: Sarova White Sands Beach Resort and Spa

 4. Serena Beach Resort and Spa

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

Stretching along Shanzu Beach, a ribbon of palm-fringed golden sand, chosen along ago by the local turtle to lay their eggs, and with the clear blue waters of the Indian Ocean spanning out before it. The Serene Beach Hotel & Spa offers the ultimate escapism.

For more information please visit: Serena Beach Resort and Spa

5. Turtle Bay Beach Club

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

Turtle Bay Beach Club is located on 650 ft of beach, on the edge of the internationally acclaimed Watamu National Marine Park. On tropical grounds, it offers an outdoor pool and 3 restaurants.

For more information please visit: Turtle Bay Beach Club

6. Bahari Beach Hotel

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

Beach front on Nyali Beach ,Bahari Beach Hotel offers a selection of restaurants, bars and water sports. The hotel is designed in traditional Swahili style, with coral blocks and thatched roofs in colorful gardens.

For more information please visit: Bahari Beach Hotel

7. Pangoni Beach Resort

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

Nestled on the tranquil Shanzu Beach, Mombasa. Pangoni Beach Resort is an exquisite and uniquely built sea side paradise, simply the most prestigious apartments in the history of Mombasa. Our elegant and spacious serviced and managed apartments will spoil you for choice, whether looking for a sole retreat or a family vacation, ascend to paradise.

For more information please visit: Pangoni Beach Resort

8. Plaza Beach Hotel

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

Situated on the gleaming white powder sands of Bamburi Beach, the Plaza Beach Hotel offers the amenities and comforts of a small, luxurious, ‘boutique style’ executive hotel. The main restaurant serves themed buffet-style dinners, with a variety of tropical and international cuisine, while the specialty restaurant features à la carte dishes and seafood.

For more information please visit: Plaza Beach Hotel

9. Castle Royal Hotel

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

The newly refurbished Castle Royal Hotel is situated in Mombasa town centre, only 10 minutes from the historic site of Mombasa Old Town and the world famous Fort Jesus. The island of Mombasa is known in Swahili as Kisiwa ya Mvita, which means Island of War, due to the many changes in its ownership through its long and eventful history.

For more information please visit: Castle Royal Hotel

10. Midview Hotel

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

Midview Hotel is located in the serene Nyali neighborhood only 20 minutes away from Moi International Airport and 25 minutes from Mombasa city center.

Enjoy air conditioned rooms,quality food,a tasteful lounge for reading or socializing and atmosphere where you can unwind,get a great night’s rest and truly feel at home.

For more information please visit: 

11. Lotus Hotel

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

Near Mombasa Old Town, Lotus Hotel is located within easy reach of the historic Fort Jesus and its surrounding picturesque alleys. The bright orange hotel is a landmark on Cathedral Lane,just off Nkururnah Road.The hotel welcomes families, and can also arrange conferences and seminars. The Lotus Hotel’s aim is for visitors to feel like a Lotus-eater in the Odyssey of Horner, the Greek, full of contentment and if you wish, dreamy indolence.

For more information please visitLotus Hotel

12. New Palm Tree Hotel

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

Not far from Fort Jesus, New Palm Tree Hotel evokes the history of the old part of Mombasa. This colonial building is whitewashed, with a sweeping wooden staircase and a large rooftop courtyard decorated with pot plants.There are 30 en—suite rooms. All rooms have aircon, fan, mosquito net, fridge and satellite TV. WiFi is available throughout the hotel. The rooms open onto the courtyard which has plenty of seats and makes a comfortable place to spend the evening. Room service and laundry service are provided.

For more information please visitNew Palm Tree Hotel

13. Panaroma Gardens Hotel

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

Near the Mombasa Municipal Stadium, Panarorna Gardens Hotel’s orange facade makes a striking landmark. The hotel is situated between the centre of the town and Moi International Airport; airport transfers can be arranged. The rooftop bar is an attractive place from which to watch the sunset.

For more information please visitPanaroma Gardens Hotel

14. Manson Hotel

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

Manson Hotel is Within walking distance of the giant elephant tusks, famous symbol of Mombasa. There are 80 en-suite rooms, made up of standard, deluxe and executive.
Standard rooms are equipped with fan, while deluxe and executive have aircon, telephone and satellite TV. All rooms have traditional coastal carved doors and balconies. Eden Parlour Restaurant serves Kenyan and international dishes such as chicken wings, spaghetti bolognaise, fried fish fillet, stir fried liver and mixed grill.

For more information please visitManson Hotel

15. Castle Royal Hotel

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

The newly refurbished Castle Royal Hotel is situated in Mombasa town centre, only 10 minutes from the historic site of Mombasa Old Town and the world famous Fort Jesus. The island of Mombasa is known in Swahili as Kisiwa ya Mvita, which means Island of War, due to the many changes in its ownership through its long and eventful history.

For more information please visitCastle Royal Hotel

16. Glory Grand Hotel

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

In the centre of Mombasa, Glory Grand Hotel offers budget accommodation and a restaurant. Its central location makes it convenient for the shops, businesses, bars and restaurants of Mombasa.
There are 43 en—suite rooms, made up of singles, doubles and triples. 25 of the rooms are equipped with aircon, TV with local channels and fridge.

For more information please visitGlory Grand Hotel

17. Royal Court Hotel

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

Royal Court Hotel, located in the centre of Mombasa, is Well equipped for both business and holiday visitors. The impressive 8-floor building combines coastal Wood with terracotta finishing.

18. Nyali International Beach Hotel

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

Established in 1946, Nyali International Beach Hotel was extensively refurbished in 2010. The hotel is in lush gardens on the beachfront.
There are 48 palm wing sea facing rooms, 102 garden wing rooms, 3 luxury villas, 3 presidential suites and 3 executive suites. All rooms are equipped with satellite TV,telephone digital safe, minibar, kettle, hairdryer and WiFi.

For more information please visitNyali International Beach Hotel

19. Pridelnn Hotel Mombasa

Category: Hotels in Mombasa Kenya

Originally called Kohinoor Hotel, meaning Mountain of Light, Pridelnn Hotel Mombasa has been designed using ancient lndian art to enhance the light. The hotel offers serviced studios and apartments. Located on Haile Sellasie Avenue, the hotel is well situated for the shops and businesses of Mombasa.

For more information please visitPridelnn Hotel Mombasa

Mombasa City Video


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