Bamburi Forest: from gloom to bloom
By Philip Mwakio

Image [Courtesy]

What was once a heavily mined quarry has transformed into a refuge to rare and endangered species

Excavation sites left on the ground after mineral extraction are not only a health hazard but an eyesore to the environment. 

It is due to this that rehabilitation of two major tourism sites at the Coast was initiated. Situated on the outskirts of Mombasa City is the expansive Haller Park and the Bamburi Forest trails measuring over 300 hectares, which were once limestone quarry mining fields.  

Rehabilitation of Haller Park started in 1971 while that of  Bamburi Forest Trails commenced in 1986.

Today, these two sites have been completely transformed and offer refuge to some rare and endangered species that roam the protected area freely, adding to the beauty of this once heavily mined quarry.

Travelog set out to explore this magnificent reclaimed nature park, with our guide for the day being Ms Linda Sogot, Education officer at the Bamburi Forest Trails. Our guide informs us of the diverse flora and fauna that we will encounter in the rehabilitated forest.

We set out early in the morning with a colleague and photojournalist, Maarufu Mohamed, to see for ourselves with this phenomenal transformation from a derelict minefield to the now luscious green conservation site.  

At the Game Sanctuary, we are enthralled by a host of wildlife that includes hippos, buffaloes and various ungulates including the Oryx, eland and suni antelopes that were grazing freely on the once bare land.

Antelopes at Bamburi Forest [Couresy]

There is also the Reptile Park where snakes of different sizes and types housed in glass cages. Next, we head to the Fish Farm that has huge ponds full of catfish and tilapia.

From there, we move to the Palm Gardens with various tree species which provide natural shade from Mombasa’s hot and humid weather.

Another of the must-visit locations is the crocodile pens where giant crocs swim majestically and at times come out to hunt at the banks of the ponds.

There is also the butterfly conservation centre and a giraffe viewing platform; offering a variety of attractions to educate and entertain visitors of all kinds.

One can feed the giraffe at very close range at it stretches itself to lick special cakes handed out by guides to feed the giraffes or just take a selfie at close range.

Linda who has been patiently explaining every detail during our excursion reminds us that Haller Park is the primed home to the awesome giant Aldabra tortoises, waterbucks and monkeys which can be seen roaming around the park; birds of all kinds – weaver birds, kingfisher, storks, herons, egrets, owls, eagles, kites, cranes, ibis, sandpipers the list is endless.

After more than three hours of mingling with nature, we were done with what Haller Park has to offer and hopped onto a courtesy van for a ride to our next centre of attraction; the Bamburi Forest Trails.

This site offers beautiful grounds – Great Lakes, Botanical Garden, Palm Garden, Island, Sunset terraces) ideal for outdoor sports, team building activities, product launches, theme nights, weddings, birthday parties, company parties and retreats, family outings, concerts and various social events.

The grounds can host from 10 to 4,500 participants.

“We have hosted some major outdoor events in the region including gigs by Radio Maisha, Safaricom concerts and Oriflame. Also, last year’s World Skal Congress was held here,” Linda explained.

The Forest Trails has four nature trails for cycling, jogging, walking and general fitness.

There are mountain bikes for hire within the Forest Trails or one can bring their own.

We set out on a short bike trip and encountered wildlife roaming the rangeland like Sunis and duiker antelopes, herd of eland and Oryx.