Expert Reviews – Arabuko Sokoke

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A pleasant forest ramble near the coast and excellent for bird-watching
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Next to the coastal road between Kilifi and Watamu, Arabuko Sokoke is one of the largest patches of coastal forest left in Kenya. But don’t expect tropical rainforest – as you approach from the road the only discernable difference is that the coastal scrub thickens and the trees are higher. A number of trails lead through the forest, and the host of endemic and endangered flora and fauna are the main attraction. Some of the birds are rare or not found in other parts of Kenya; for example Fischer's turaco, sokoke pipit and amani sunbird, rare mammals include Ader's duiker and golden-rumped elephant-shrew, and there are numerous species of frogs and butterflies. Arabuko Sokoke can't compete with a wildlife safari but walking is easy, the knowledge of the guides that go with you make it much more interesting, and it’s a refreshing excursion from the sultry coastal resorts.

Arabuko Sokoke is the last refuge to many endangered animals
Overall rating

This extensive coastal forest might not be an obvious tourist attraction, but its certainly a very important refuge for a number of near endemic and highly endangered creatures like the Ader’s duiker, a species of elephant shrew and several bird species. You’re unlikely to see these rare animals on a casual visit, but any birder will enjoy this place in the early morning and even those on a beach holiday in one of the nearby resorts will find the forest a nice get-away from the coastal heat.

For me the forest is all about the chorus of the birds, the fluttering of colourful butterflies that congregate on moist patches, the little waterlily-filled ponds, host to a variety of frogs and just the sheer beauty of such a rare pristine tract of forest which long ago would have followed most of the East African coast. A visit to the medieval ruins of Gedi, enclosed by Sokoke forest, is a must when you head out this way.

Average Expert Rating

  • 2.5/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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