Before we left to the coast of Kenya, friends warned us how dangerous it was. Hijackings, robbery, and corruption. Our experiences were actually far from that. Mombasa is a fascinating cosmopolitan port town that is filled to the brim with foreign influences and flavours. It is an incredibly diverse city, where all are welcomed and quickly absorbed into this great coastal melting pot.
Kisiwa Cha Mvita – the Island of War
Dubbed "the Island of War" in Swahili, Mombasa has been the battle ground of many inter-dynastical wars on the past. It's strong strategic position, has given is an important place in Kenya's history over the course of time.
The true heart of Mombasa is found in the exotic old town, among the narrow winding streets and Arab architecture. The air here is always heavy with the scent of spices and foreign flavours.
There you will find Fort Jesus, which was built between 1593 and 1596, by order of King Philip I of Portugal, to guard the Old Port of Mombasa. The high gun turrets,underground passages and battlements of this 16th Century Fort were the centre of a historic struggle for control of the Kenya coast between the Portuguese army and the Shirazi Arabs. For hundreds of years and countless battles the war endured, , and the Fort stands as a testament to this tumultuous past.
I'm not going to act as if Mombasa is like Disneyland. When the sun sets the rules change, and certain places you just shouldn't want to wander around at night. When walking around Old-Town with a camera we were kindly advised to leave before it got dark, if we wanted to keep the camera. But the excitement when you drive down Mombasa roads, avoiding those terrible pot holes while the led-covered taxi-minibuses blaze pump local jams is one of a kind. Modern day Mombasa is a fascinating city which is full of incredible diversity and life. A place where both history and progress are greatly valued, where a busy harbor existence is lived at its own unique, tropical pace.