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Mombasa, Kenya

Africa's Major Tourist Destination

Mombasa's history dates back to the 16th century, and it has been ruled by the Portuguese, Arabs and British, which have all influenced the town's culture and the attractions that still exist including historical ruins such as Fort Jesus and the Old Town.  Mombasa also has one of the best white sandy beaches and coral reefs that Africa has to offer.

There are many excellent beach activities for individuals, couples, and families including reef tours. Guided boat tours take you out to the reef where you can walk along the edge and watch the sharks swim at the lower depths.  Apart from the beautiful beaches, another unique aspect of this wonderful town are its historical treasures.

The Old Town is reminiscent of the days when the Portuguese ruled, and you can experience the history in the structures that still stand, such as the Fort Jesus.

In 1498 a Portuguese explorer called Vasco De Gama landed on the shores of Mombasa. The purpose of his exploration was to spread the Christian faith and to further expand Portugal's trading area. His arrival to Mombasa was met which much hostility among the local people. 

The coastal city of Mombasa is one of Africa's major tourist destinations, with some of the best beaches in the world. Located on Kenya's Eastern coastline bordering the Indian Ocean, Mombasa has become popular for its exotic beaches, diverse marine life, world-class attractions and friendly people. 

Mombasa became Portugal's main trading centre along the East Coast of Africa. This led to the construction of a monumental fort that still stands today known as Fort Jesus. The Fort served as the main hub for trading goods, a prison for slaves, and most importantly protecting the Portuguese from conflicts with locals and threatening foreign battalions.

Old Town is the part of Mombasa that is reminiscent of the days when the Arabs exerted a heavy influence on the town and its culture, and especially in the architecture and language (Kiswahili has a lot of phrases derived from various Arabic dialects). It is well known for its ancient buildings, extravagant art designs and curio shops that sell antique and popular Kenyan souvenirs. Old Town is best by foot with an experienced guide, as the streets are too narrow to accommodate a large number of vehicles.

Fort Jesus is Mombasa's most popular tourist attraction. The fort, located along the coastline near the Old Town, is a monumental piece of architecture that was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese. The fort has a museum that displays various artifacts from the era where Mombasa served as a transit point for the slave trade and commodities, and which enjoyed regular visits by seafarers and the like. Its interior comprises of torture rooms and prison cells where slaves were kept in captivity before being traded.

Mamba Village, which is situated in Nyali, is East Africa's largest crocodile farm. A tour of the farm starts with a movie on the life cycle and behaviour of crocodiles, followed by a comprehensive tour, and ends with the highlight of the day; a spectacular scene of blood-thirsty crocodiles fighting for food during feeding time.

On a somewhat calmer note, the Bamburi Nature Trail is the largest animal sanctuary in Mombasa. Located in Bamburi, the Nature Trail boasts an enormous variety of animals, reptiles, insects and botanical gardens.

On the North coast of Mombasa towards the town of Malindi lays one the most pre-historic ruins found in Mombasa, called the Gedi Ruins. Gedi was a small town built entirely from rocks and stones, which was inhabited by a few thousand Swahili people and ruled by a very rich Sultan. These ruins date back from the 15th century, and through careful preservation most of the original foundations can still be seen today.

Complementing its diverse culture, Mombasa's restaurants offer an array of tastes sprinkled across the town. Delicacies include things such as freshly-caught seafood, made to order on a dhow while you watch the sunset and hear the live band playing your favourite song.

Another factor that draws tourists from Mombasa, not only internationally but also from other areas within Kenya such as the capital Nairobi, is the exciting nightlife. There are many nightclubs and casinos situated along the North and South Coasts of the town, all of which have different themes that cater to different crowds. Many hotels also have their own entertainment events, which are very appealing to those wishing to have a relatively mellow evening.

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