Thinking of an affordable but idyllic local to just recharge after a hectic season at work? Well, Adisa Hudson, an editor at a local publishing firm, explores an exquisite but affordable destination that will see you packing your bags and cruising to beautiful Watamu, in the larger Kilifi County.
If you love the rustic setup of the Kenyan coast and appreciate a clean private beach in the middle of a simple but beautiful village, then keep reading!
I have a hectic two-day assignment in Malindi. After a whopping 10 hours on a Mash Cool bus from Nairobi, we arrive at Malindi, the Mijikenda Stage. Two days after arrival, it is the weekend and a getaway seems a pleasant idea. I want a restful setup surrounded by Mother Nature to help me get away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city.
From Malindi town, it is a 40-minute drive to Gede junction, where the vehicle branches off to Watamu. I love adventure and because Mida Eco camp is not far from Gede stage, I decide to hop into a motorcycle with my back pack and camera. It takes about 7 minutes to get to the entrance of Mida Eco Lodge Camp. The beautiful white sands cover the compound, and I remove my boots and splash my toes on the sand, just as we did when we were children. It’s a lovely evening and I can’t wait to get down to the beach. I have a list of to do things that evening in the hushed and remote village camp.
Away from the city traffic, crowds and endless hooting; Mida Eco Camp is an oasis of stillness, with birds chirping, white sand, soothing ocean waves, and a village hidden from civilization.
The camp is characterized by high coconut palms, mango and cashew-nut trees, entrenched in high grasses reaching as far as the forest and mangrove coast. Mida is bordered by the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, the largest East African forest by the coast, and a beautiful rich mangrove coast.
The people here are the Agiriama. Their life is peaceful, characterized by their closely-knit families. Theirs is a relaxed lifestyle with no pressure, life is lived in the moment and I love that about the people.
I quickly check in and drop my bag in one of the huts. I choose a Swahili hut; simple, spacious and clean. A young man who mans the camp gives me a tour of the place. His name is Benson, simple but intelligent, and very friendly to the guests.
We bump into a young boy dashing through the sparse vegetation of trees. He is enjoying madafu, a Swahili name for a drink obtained from freshly-cut raw coconut. Locals cut open the raw coconuts and sip the refreshing coconut water using a straw.
The beach is now clear and tranquil. It looks deserted and I enjoy the feel of the cool sand and the rise and fall of small water waves in the pleasant breeze. If you are the shy type and prefer swimming in privacy like myself, then this is the place. Because my visit here is during the off-peak month of January, I can count the number of guests I bump into at the vicinity and mostly the dining area. Later, Benson’s crew passes by on a local canoe and whisks us off on a lovely sundown ocean cruise on. I enjoy the ride for over an hour to a small island within the locality, the Mida Creek. The enchanting island is full of the melodious chirping of indigenous birds. A one-hour canoe ride costs Ksh 800. After the canoe ride, the last adventure is the board walk in the Mangrove Forest.
I am so nervous, I don’t want even to look down. Every little squeak of the board sees me vibrating with fear and I can’t tell how long it takes to wind up the board walk. It has been a wonderful evening!
My stay at Mida Eco Camp is surprisingly affordable. Staying in a Swahili hut, I part with Ksh 1300 per night, inclusive of breakfast.
There are two other traditional huts available for accommodation besides the Swahili hut:
The Zanzibar Hut which is the most popular one, because it offers amazing views from the first floor seating area over forest and coast.
The Giriama Hut which is built with the precision Giriama traditions; the bed is located on a platform, that in old days would have been used to store maize. Similarly, the furniture for the seating area has been made by town elders in the ‘old ways’.
To note, the Swahili Hut is the smallest, but offers comfort with its four-poster Swahili bed for a simple person.
There are a number of activities one can enjoy during a stay at the Mida Eco Camp and canoe ride is one of them.
The canoe ride costs about Ksh 800 per person but the rate is flexible for groups. There are also numerous excursions to choose from:
- Boardwalk and Bird Hide
- The getaway Island off the Creek
- Village tour
- Gede Ruins Visit
- Creek Fishing
The camp is about 8 kilometers from Watamu and 40 kilometers from Malindi. It is a beautiful place, especially for campers looking for a natural environment.
It is simply home away from home!