Travel

Watamu creek where lovers mend fences

The wobbly bridge that overlooks a mangrove forest in Mida Creek, Watamu. Photo | Kazungu Samuel | NMG
The wobbly bridge that overlooks a mangrove forest in Mida Creek, Watamu. Photo | Kazungu Samuel | NMG 

A boardwalk at Mida Creek in Watamu sways as one walks across to catch a glimpse of an island believed to a lover’s paradise.

The ‘dancing bridge’ is one of Watamu’s greatest gems which offers a mix of adventure, ocean fun and a bit of exercise.

I took a stroll across the famous mangrove boardwalk, a 260 metre long bridge that dances as you try to get to its end.

While the narrow bridge is safe and going overboard would mean just an eight metre fall, the thought of landing flat on your back on wet sand surrounded by crabs is scary.

But at the end of the bridge, you get to ride a canoe to an isle the locals call the Garden of Eden. Several edible crabs crawl around the mangrove surrounded isle, with oysters also lying around.

The isle has for years been an interesting piece of Watamu history and culture as many believe that it holds the secret to any couple that would wish to have twins.

“People believe that if you want to give birth to twins, all you need to do is to come to the Garden of Eden with your spouse and conceive right here. The place itself is popular with locals who like to come and relax here,” our guide Justus Karisa says as he digs into an oyster he found while taking us on a tour of the isle.

“Many people do come around to collect crabs and oysters and go have them as part of their meals at home. A bit further into the ocean from here there are bigger crabs, lobsters and oysters. There are some local fishermen who fish around there and sell their catch to some of the hotels around,” he adds.

600 bird species

After the short tour of the Garden of Eden, you canoe back to land where you can order a hot plate of fish and coconut rice cooked using local recipes.

The real allure of Mida is a bird’s paradise in the mangrove forest.

Over 600 bird species are believed to have nests at Mida and others come to the creek for ‘holiday’.

Most of the migratory birds come from Asia between September to April and stay at the creek for about three months. They then return to their native continent for hatching.

Locals believe this is the reason Mida Creek records high numbers of honeymooners and lovebirds.

The mangrove coast and extended sand flats during the low tide offer a perfect sight for anyone who wants to get a glimpse of the ocean from the mangrove boardwalk.

Sea turtles

Being adjacent to the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest forms a perfect habitat for the forest species. Locals believe Adam and Eve lived on the isle and it is where the two sinned.

Furaha Ngumbao, one of the guides at the Mida Creek eco-camp says the Garden of Eden has a special healing power for lovers.

“The Garden of Eden is an ideal place for lovers who are in a sour relationship. It is a place where you can settle your relationship problems,” says Mr Ngumbao.

Also, Mida Creek has eight species of mangroves out of the nine types available worldwide, beds of seagrass and coral, many species of fish and sea turtles.

The Mida Creek is best explored by boat, on a cruise through the creek at sunset for a sundowner drink, as the setting sun turns the waters to gold and flocks of roosting birds fill the sky.

Whether you fancy relaxing on white sand beaches, nautical trips that involve taking a dip in the ocean or heart wrenching adventures mixed with sampling of local cuisine and music, Watamu is certainly one of the destinations to consider dropping by.

Additional reporting by Kazungu Samuel