The Arabuko Sokoke Forest is a long tract of velvet green forest reserve flanking the coastline of Kenya just north of Mombasa. The habitat of mixed woodland forest provides a haven for amphibians, birdlife, and butterflies. The rich forest is 400 square kilometres and rests on the shores of the pristine tropical Watamu beaches.
Arabuko Sokoke’s strong point is that it’s the largest intact coastal forest in East Africa. The magical coastal forest is home to 20% of Kenya’s birdlife, making it a premier birding destination. This is the place to spot Clarke’s weaver, a bird endemic to the forest. The forest hides an array of small critters and creatures; and over 50 species of reptile.
Looming trees sway from the movement of monkeys, and the rare golden-rumped elephant shrew scurries around on the damp forest floor below, captivating its visitors. Arabuko Sokoke truly is a veritable garden of Eden.
Accessing the Arabuko Sokoke Forest requires a domestic flight from Moi International Airport (9 kilometres west of Mombasa) to Malindi. Visitors need to be aware that access into the reserve is limited.
Accessing the Arabuko Sokoke Forest requires a domestic flight from Moi International Airport (9 km west of Mombasa) to Malindi. Visitors need to be aware that access into the reserve is limited.
The habitat of mixed woodland beach forest provides a haven for amphibians, birdlife and butterflies. The rich forest is 400 square kilometres and rests on the shores of the pristine tropical Watamu beaches.
The Arabuko Sokoke Forest has a high rate of endemic wildlife. One such species is Clarke’s weaver—a real lifer for visitors interested in birding. Other birdlife specific to the area includes the Sokoke scops owl, Sokoke Pipit, spotted ground thrush, and the Amani sunbird.
There are 250 species of butterfly and 230 species of bird in the forest, making it the second most important forest for bird conservation in Africa.
Forest elephants and leopards dwell deep in the forests, but they are rarely seen by visitors. This area is recognized for its abundant presence of amphibians, making it a treasure trove of smaller sightings.
Arabuko Sokoke is a year-round destination, but it’s deeply affected by heavy coastal rains occurring between April and May. The short rainy season tends to hit November time, and there is no real dry season—it rains throughout the year along the coast.
June, July and August are typically drier. The forest enjoys a temperate climate that’s moderated by the cool sea breeze. Days are generally hot, and temperatures tend to drop during the evening.
The most popular activity in the protected area is to explore the guided nature trails. There is a crisscross of trails within the forest, meandering through its scenic parts. The nature paths also double as running trails and cycling routes.
Within the Arabuko Sokoke National Park, which occupies a small section of six square kilometres, visitors can enjoy game drives. Game drives lead to sightings of commonly spotted small mammals like the Sokoke bushy-tailed mongoose, distinct butterflies, and Syke’s Monkeys.
The biggest drawcard to this area is birdwatching, which might require visitors to camp overnight in the forest to catch birds at first light.
There is no formalized accommodation within the forest. Visitors can camp overnight, but most choose to stay in the surrounding coastal area of Watamu, about 15 kilometres from the forest. Here, visitors can stay in nature/eco-camps, beach resorts, or self-catering accommodation.