"The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa - for he has so much to look forward to."
It was strange how things were working out for us. I was very sad as we left Tsavo East, to think that this was the end of the visits to the realm of wild animals. Be it national parks, game reserves, forests or conservancies, this had been the main thrust during our almost 9 months on the road. There had hardly been a wild place that we had not visited. Anne I suspect, was secretly relieved to be making for the coast. We had visited a grand total of just over 50 national parks or game reserves and also numerous other wilderness areas, including lakes, volcanos, depressions, crater lakes, deserts, forests and freezing mountains. It was now the time of the tropical East African coast. What was strange was the fact that since childhood we had become used to spending the festive season at the coast and this was how things were panning out for us despite many delays, detours and a very flexible travel plan. It felt so good.
We were for the first time beginning to feel real pangs of home sickness. To think that our extended family were once again gathering at our place on the coast, for the first time without us. Our phone calls home over the festive season were not without a considerable lump in the throat. But the Kenyan and later the Tanzanian coast proved to be a more than suitable substitute, despite missing out on Lamu. We were ready for this aspect of our explorations.
We left Tsavo East with our customary early start. I am a firm believer in building in a time cushion, one never knows what unexpected developements a day’s travelling may hold. We were heading due east to Sala Gate, Malindi and the coast. On the way out of the park we were stopped by rangers who checked our receipts for camping and park entry, good to see! There were very few animals in the eastern sector and the terrain is very open. The road becomes progressively more rutted and bumpy as one begins to approach Sala Gate and there was plenty of evidence of fun and games with mud in the wet, thank goodness we were spared this. Just driving along, I could not help thinking to myself that in more peaceful times, without the threat of Moslem extremists, how good it would have been to divert directly further north and visit the Lamu area. This will definitely have to be a fly-in vacation for the future. Sala Gate was reached 2hr and 78km from Ndololo Campsite. Here we joined the Galana River again. There appear to be a number of cheap lodges and campsites on the eastern border of the park, not that this is what I would recommend. The 103km road to Malindi was rather schizophrenic with multiple and changing personalities. On the whole it was better than we had feared but in some sections was quite testing. We had to take certain sections fairly slowly hence the 2hr 30min this section took.
Our impression is that Malindi was too big and chaotic to fulfill our criteria for an enjoyable coastal holiday. What made an very unfavorable impression were all the older Italian male tourists with their young Kenyan “girlfriends”. We made some last minute purchases at Nakumat. We had been a little disappointed at the quality of their steaks but luckily in the same mall there is a butcher selling great Angus steaks and other meats. If I remember correctly it is named Coastal Meat Services. The road to Kalifi is good tarmac and we certainly enjoyed the tropical feel to the coast. It is the first place where we had seen a coconut palm and a mango tree, with a baobab standing between them. T4A directed us accurately to Distant Relatives Eco-lodge and Backpackers, which was not very well sign-posted. There are (I hope), accurate directions in the Geek post. To our surprise and pleasure here we met up again with Michael and Juliane Stahl and family, last seen in Ethiopia. It was good to see them all well and healthy after the family had gone down with a severe gastrointestinal upset when last seen. With them were 2 very entertaining and friendly young French families. We had a great 2 days together.
Distant Relatives is a fairly well organized backpacker’s establishment with a pool, pub and reasonably good restaurant. The camping is in a very nicely shaded adjacent piece of land, very convenient. There are cold showers and compost toilets that are a little on the rustic side but adequate and clean enough. The facility overlooks the wide Kalifi Creek and estuary from a bit of a height and the view is good. Unfortunately, although one can walk down a steep path to the water, there is no beach or seafront to speak of. There are more upmarket holiday homes and establishments on the other bank and the emphasis seems to be on boating. The nearest beach is about 2km away. There is a lovely swimming pool which is the mainstay of the entertainment here. There are plenty of spots suitable for camping at this resort and there must have been about 15 other campers. They also have chalets and dorms. The wi fi is reasonably fast but payment is required at Ksh 2,000 for 24hrs or 1 gigabyte, whichever first. In our opinion, the lack of direct access to the sea detracted considerably from this very attractive venue and we decided to move on further south on the coast, despite the warm invite and temptation to spend Christmas with the 3 families. In conclusion we feel that Distant Relatives at Kalifi will be enjoyed by most, certainly more so than Malindi.
Camping KSh 500pppd (US$5).
Main. The view from the campsite at Kilifi, Distant Family Campsite.
Thumbnails. Slow Donkey resting on the coast.