Watamu Marine National Park: A paradise for nature and water games lovers

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By Felix Achanda

If you are devoted to aquatic sports and cherish nature, then Watamu Marine National Park, with various water sports activities, is a place to tour. The 10km2 park has a beache area, camping sites, an archaeological site and is home to over 100 bird species and marine life including over 600 species of fish. Non-resident adults – tourists’ visa pay $17 (Sh175I) while non- resident kids part with $13 (Sh1339).

Resident adults – expatriates and foreigners with Kenya work permits part with Sh300, while resident kids pay Sh170. Entrance fee for citizen adults is Sh130. Citizen kids are charged Sh125. The tour begins at the Gedi Ruins archaeological site.

Here visitors see various structures including mosques; palaces and tombs build in the 12th century. In the crumbling fortress, tourists get amazed by the remains of single-storey, self-contained structures built centuries ago. Tour guides take the visitors through the facility and explain the culture of those who inhabited the place years ago.

Next will be a tour to Kipepeo Project. Here butterfly moth and other live insects are reared and sold to other insect display galleries globally. Tourists also get a chance to buy honey harvested from bees reared in the nearby Arabuko Sokoke forest.

The tourists will then head to the beach. Here they will be delighted by the site of pristine white sand and beautiful lagoons. Most tourists immediately begin picking shells at the shores. Lobsters, oyster or crabs swept to the shore by tides thrill visitors. Occasionally, there are screams from a visitor pricked by crabs.

Tourists, especially from cold countries, usually enjoy lengthy sunbathes while relaxing on beach side. Most locals on the other hand dive into the warm waters of the ocean. through the Mangrove, swaying gently as tour guides explain how the over 50 species of Mangrove survive broad ranges of salinity, temperature and moisture in the area.

Aquatic game lovers engage in water boarding, skiing, surfing and snorkeling (swimming under water while equipped with a breathing mask.) Afterwards, tourists will take glass bottom rides across the Midas Creek – this is a shallow section of the Indian Ocean surrounded by a Mangrove Forest. A boat ride usually ends on a section of the Midas Creek.

Here there are plenty of great sights for bird watchers; black kites will be crisscrossing overhead, wading birds feeding on the undergrowth while others will be seen perched on poles and wires. However, the main spectacle is the site of fishing birds, specifically the Kingfisher and Fishing eagle hunting. The birds scour the surface of water from a perch, descending with a reverse sway of feet and seize fish.

Other times, the bird will be seen stealing food from weaker species. A daunting nature tour follows. Tourists trek on a suspended boardwalk that twists and winds its way through the Mangrove, swaying gently as tour guides explain how the over 50 species of Mangrove survive broad ranges of salinity, temperature and moisture in the area. On a nearby island, a restaurant sells seafood.

This writer enjoyed a delicious crab samosa and coconut wine at the joint. For those who won’t have got enough of the place, the can stay at the many beach hotels at the park. For those who love outdoor adventures, the place has great camping amenities.

 

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