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Waterfalls where tourists love to soak

Sheldrick Waterfalls in Shimba Hills Natural Reserve in Kwale. They were named after the late David Sheldrick, a park warden. PHOTO | FADHILI FREDRICK | NMG
Sheldrick Waterfalls in Shimba Hills Natural Reserve in Kwale. They were named after the late David Sheldrick, a park warden. PHOTO | FADHILI FREDRICK | NMG 

Hidden deep in Shimba Hills National Reserve, a densely forested home to endangered wild animals, a tree lodge built in the 80s still stands elegantly next to a large waterhole.

Here visitors watch the fish eagles, monitor lizards, monkeys, antelopes, elephants and other animals in their natural habitat.

At dusk, the voices of the rainforest wake up to perform their nocturnal concert.

“Coming to this lodge is a detox because you have neither noise nor air pollution,” says Gabriele Kampenhuber, managing director of Shimba Hills Lodge.

The lodge has an African vibe with a touch of modernity. The rooms have large glass doors and windows that allow a better view of the wilderness. But this is not the most interesting thing deep inside Shimba Hills. Sheldrick Falls at the heart of the national reserve is.

Nathan Gatundu, the Kenya Wildlife Service tourist warden, says the waterfall is undoubtedly the main attraction site that draws visitors in droves especially locals.

“It is a bewitching scenery. The 21- metre long waterfall gushes cold water from the sprawling Shimba Hills,” he says.

The water flows against a milieu of thick green vegetation and one can actually secure a position and watch as it sneaks its way through the greenery before it breaks out through the cliff.

Hiking to the waterfalls is a scenic two and half kilometre steep footpath. The natural waterfall provides a picturesque setting for picnics and swimming.
Snorkelling, dhow cruises, swimming, wind surfing are not the only fun activities in the Coast.
‘‘Most tourists come to Kwale to shower in the cool, clean waters of the Sheldrick Falls or take a dip in the pool. It is quite refreshing after a walk in the park,’’ Mr Gatundu says.

Eva Marcos from Austria and her friend are visiting Shimba Hills National Reserve for the first time.

The woodsy reserve draws lovers of the waterfall, rare wild animals, plants and birds.

“We have seen a lot of plants and birds but we were unlucky we did not see elephants. But we are happy to have gone for the excursion to the wonderful Sheldrick Falls,” she says.

Tourists hike from the Sheldrick Falls along the 2.5kilometres footpath that takes about 45 minutes to walk. PHOTO | FADHILI FREDRICK | NMG

Tourists hike from the Sheldrick Falls along the 2.5kilometres footpath that takes about 45 minutes to walk. PHOTO | FADHILI FREDRICK | NMG

Shimba Hills National Reserve is home to elephants, giraffes, leopards, civet cats, monkeys, shrews, and many other animals.

Bird watchers can sight more than 100 species including 22 coastal kinds such as the ostrich eagle, African hawk and honey guide. Visitors can also enjoy sundowner excursions and guided game drives.

Due to the dense vegetation, it is difficult to spot wildlife.

Mr Gatundu says one of the treats is a chance to see the rare Sable antelope which fights off predators using its long, scimitar-shaped horns.

‘‘For animal spotting, the best views are from the eastern side of the park near Giriama Point, as the animals move towards the rivers to drink,’’ he says.

Another area that offers a magnificent view of the landscape is Pengo Hill which is 1,476 feet high.

At this point, you get to see the Tsavo plains and Mt. Kilimanjaro on a clear day.

Another major attraction in the reserve is the Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary on northern side of the Shimba Hills National Reserve. It serves as one of the safe havens for elephants in Kenya.

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