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Half day trip Mombasa Tour

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This Half Day Trip Includes:

  • Hotel pickup and drop-off

  • A local guide/driver for the whole tour

  • Entrance fee Fort Jesus Museum and Butterfly House

  • Snacks and water bottle



Pick-up in the morning from the hotel after breakfast 09:00 or after lunch 14:00

Return by lunch time or before dusk drop off at the hotel


Nyali bridge

The bridge was opened in 2002 and is one of three road links out of Mombasa (the others being the Kipevu and Makupa Causeways). The Likoni Ferry provides a forth transport link to the island, and is situated at the southern tip. 


Mombasa Train Station

The old narrow-gauge Lunatic Express was the classic way to travel between Nairobi & Mombasa, overnight in a sleeper.  In 2017 it was replaced by a fast daytime standard-gauge railway built with Chinese help, the new fast way to get between these cities - spotting big game while you travel! THE LAST TRAIN RAN OVER THE CLASSIC LINE ON 28 APRIL 2017


Moi Avenue / Tusks

The road runs from west to east from Kilindini to a roundabout with Digo Road. Originally called the Kilindini Road, its name was later changed in recognition of Kenya's second President, Daniel arap Moi. Moi Avenue is known for two pairs of giant aluminium elephant tusks crossing the dual carriageway. The tusks were commissioned in commemoration of a visit to Mombasa by Queen Elizabeth in 1952 and have remained since that time.


Likoni Ferry

The Likoni Ferry is a ferry service across the Kilindini Harbour, serving the Kenyan city of Mombasa between the Mombasa island side and the mainland suburb of Likoni. Two - four double-ended ferries alternate across the harbour, carrying both road and foot traffic. The ferries are operated by the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS), and is the only remaining ferry service by KFS. The Likoni ferry started operating in 1937. Passenger services are free while vehicles, tuktuks, motorcycles and trucks have to pay a ferry toll.


Mama Ngina’s Drive

This place is now called The Waterfront after the government of Kenya Invested heavily in its rehabilitation. It was opened on 26th December 2019 to the public.


Mombasa Memorial Cathedral

The ACK Mombasa Memorial Cathedral is no ordinary cathedral by any standard. First, it dates back to the British colonial times. Secondly, it is built with coral-stone and thirdly, and the most striking, it looks like a mosque – literally!

This beautiful cathedral in all white and with arches and a silver-coloured cupola dome exactly like what you would find in mosques was initially to be put up in Freretown. Freretown had been established in 1875 on the mainland north of Mombasa Island as a settlement of liberated slaves.

But because Britain was eyeing Mombasa as the future capital of its British East Africa protectorate, the construction site of the Mombasa Memorial Cathedral moved from the mainland to the island. But why build a cathedral this way?

The Mombasa Memorial Cathedral sprouted from within a predominantly Muslim community and to blend in, its builders had to embrace the traditional Arab architecture of mosque construction.

Back then the spread of Christianity was not easy. Dr Ludwig Krapf, the German Lutheran who introduced modern Christianity in the Island faced so many difficulties making converts here, he had to move into the Coastal hinterland, among the Nyika, where Islam was less prevalent.

The Cathedral, established in 1903 as a memorial to Bishops Hannington and Parker and Reverend Wright, was an 1898 offshoot of the now divided Diocese of Eastern Equatorial Africa which at that point covered Uganda, Kenya and the then Tanganyika

By the time Mombasa Memorial Cathedral was consecrated on May 31st 1905, it had cost well above £4,400 to put up so that today we can celebrate over a century of Christianity and the day Arab met English in a magnificent piece of architecture.


Old Town

Buildings in the Old Town are influenced by Mombasa's trade culture, with many examples of Portuguese and Islamic architecture. In 1997, the Old Town and Fort Jesus were submitted by the National Museums of Kenya for selection in UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.

The exact founding date of the city is unknown, but it has a long history. Kenyan school history books place the founding of Mombasa as 900 A.D. It must have been already a prosperous trading town in the 12th century, as the Arab geographer al-Idrisi mentions it in 1151. The oldest stone mosque in Mombasa, Mnara, was built c. 1300. The Mandhry Mosque, built in 1570, has a minaret that contains a regionally specific ogee arch. This demonstrates that Swahili architecture was an indigenous African product and disproves assertions that non-African Muslims brought stone architecture to the Swahili Coast.

During the pre-modern period, Mombasa was an important centre for the trade in spices, gold, and ivory. Its trade links reached as far as India and China and oral historians today can still recall this period of local history. Indian history shows that there were trade links between Mombasa and Cholas of South India. Throughout the early modern period, Mombasa was a key node in the complex and far reaching Indian Ocean trading networks, its key exports then were ivory, milletsesamum and coconuts.

In the late pre-colonial period (late 19th century), it was the metropolis of a plantation society, which became dependent on slave labour (sources contradict whether the city was ever an important place for exporting slaves) but ivory caravans remained a major source of economic prosperity. Mombasa became the major port city of pre-colonial Kenya in the Middle Ages and was used to trade with other African port cities, the Persian Empire, the Arabian Peninsula, India and China. 16th-century Portuguese voyager Duarte Barbosa claimed, "[Mombasa] is a place of great traffic and has a good harbour in which there are always moored small craft of many kinds and also great ships, both of which are bound from Sofala and others which come from Cambay and Melinde and others which sail to the island of Zanzibar."

Vasco da Gama was the first known European to visit Mombasa, receiving a chilly reception in 1498. Two years later, the town was sacked by the Portuguese. In 1502, the sultanate became independent from Kilwa Kisiwani and was renamed as Mvita (in Swahili) or Manbasa (Arabic). Portugal attacked the city again in 1528. In 1585, a joint military expedition between the Somalis of Ajuran Empire and the Turks of Ottoman Empire, led by Emir 'Ali Bey, successfully liberated Mombasa, and other coastal cities in Southeast Africa from the Portuguese. However, Malindi remained loyal to Portugal. The Zimba overcame the towns of Sena and Tete on the Zambezi, and in 1587 they took Kilwa, killing 3,000 people. At Mombasa, the Zimba slaughtered the Muslim inhabitants, but they were halted at Malindi by the Bantu-speaking Segeju and went home. This stimulated the Portuguese to take over Mombasa a third time in 1589, and four years later they built Fort Jesus to administer the region. Between Lake Malawi and the Zambezi mouth, Kalonga Mzura made an alliance with the Portuguese in 1608 and fielded 4,000 warriors to help defeat their rival Zimba, who were led by chief Lundi.

After the building of Fort Jesus Mombasa was put by the Portuguese under the rule of members of the ruling family of Malindi. In 1631 Dom Jeronimo the ruler of Mombasa slaughtered the Portuguese garrison in the city and defeated the relief force sent by the Portuguese. In 1632 Dom Jeronimo left Mombasa and became a pirate. That year the Portuguese returned and established direct rule over Mombasa.

With the capture of Fort Jesus in 1698, the town came under the influence of the Imamate of Oman, subordinate to the Omani rulers on the island of Unguja, prompting regular local rebellions. Oman appointed three consecutive Governors (Wali in Arabic, Liwali in Swahili):

Mombasa briefly returned to Portuguese rule by captain-major Álvaro Caetano de Melo Castro (12 March 1728 – 21 September 1729), then four new Omani Liwali until 1746, when the last of them made it independent again (disputed by Oman), as the first of its recorded Sultans.

From 9 February 1824 to 25 July 1826, there was a British protectorate over Mombasa, represented by Governors. Omani rule was restored in 1826; seven liwalis where appointed. On 24 June 1837, it was nominally annexed by Said bin Sultan of Muscat and Oman.

On 25 May 1887 Mombasa was relinquished to the British East Africa Association, later the Imperial British East Africa Company. It came under British administration in 1895. It soon became the capital of the British East Africa Protectorate and the sea terminal of the Uganda Railway, construction of which was started in 1896. Many workers were brought in from British India to build the railway, and the city's fortunes revived. The Sultan of Zanzibar formally presented the town to the British in 1898.

Mombasa became the capital of the Protectorate of Kenya, sometime between 1887 and around 1906. The capital was later moved because medical officers warned that the ground was swampy, and urged Sir James Hayes Sadler, then Commissioner of the East Africa Protectorate, to plead with London to move the town elsewhere to mitigate potential disease. Nairobi has since been Kenya's capital to date.


Fort Jesus

Designed by Italian Giovanni Battista Cairati, it was built between 1593 and 1596, by order of King Philip I of Portugal, to guard the Old Port of Mombasa. Fort Jesus was the only fort maintained by the Portuguese on the Swahili Coast, and is recognised as a testament to the first successful attempt by a Western power to establish influence over the Indian Ocean trade.

Cairato, the designer of the fort, was inspired by Italian architect Pietro Cataneo, while the master builder was Gaspar Rodrigues. The fort was Cairato's last overseas work. Although the design of Fort Jesus is an example of Renaissance architecture, the masonry techniques, building materials and labour are believed to have been provided by the local Swahili people. The fort was built in the shape of a man (viewed from the air) and is roughly square, with four bulwarks at its corners. The fort is considered a masterpiece of late Renaissance military fortification.

Fort Jesus was captured and recaptured at least nine times between 1631, when the Portuguese lost it to the Sultan Yusuf ibn al-Hasan of Mombasa, and 1895 when it fell under British rule and was converted into a prison. After the Portuguese recaptured it from the Sultan in 1632, they refurbished it and built more fortifications, subsequently making it harder for the fort to fall. The fort was subject to an epic two-year siege from 1696-98 by the Omani Arabs, led by Saif bin Sultan. The capture of the fort marked the end of Portuguese presence on the coast, although they briefly captured and re-occupied it between 1728 and 1729 with the help of the Swahili city-states. The fort fell under local rule from 1741 to 1837, when it was again captured by the Omanis and used as a barracks, before its occupation by the British in 1895, after the declaration of the Protectorate of Kenya.


Butterfly House

The butterflies you see are purchased from community groups living near key forests landscapes who breed them as an alternative to forest use. Learn how these communities have supported forest conservation through butterflies and other nature based enterprises such as beekeeping, mushroom farming and herbal medicine among others. By buying a ticket to the butterfly house you are directly supporting local livelihoods. You will learn about unique and special sites like the Arabuko Sokoke Forest, Shimba Hills, the Mangrove forests and the Mijikenda  Kaya Forests (sacred forests).

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