The stars shine down on the best-laid plans. I am always proud to see an idea that started as a joke come to life. We grew tired of meeting in and around Nairobi and opted to take this trip further away to Diani.
We decided on a visit to the Kenyan coast, that later bull’s eyed to Diani, which is one of the most famous ocean beaches in the whole world. Over time, we have learned to set things in motion even if some aspects of the trip are not yet clear.
We started with the dates and considered that most of us are busy with work and have differing schedules. It was important that we settle down on a weekend that would have all of us present. Once we chose these, it was time to take leave off work and book transport to Mombasa. Most of us would travel with the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) on Thursday while the rest would join later on Friday.
SGR – Nairobi Terminus to Mombasa Terminus
As we came to appreciate later, booking your train tickets in advance is a wise decision. It will shield you from so many inconveniences and the best part is you can plan better because the trains follow a strict schedule.
A ticket in Economy class on the train is KES 1000 (10 USD). You can book your tickets on their website and pay via mobile money. You get a notification message that you have to keep until your travel date.
From the city of Nairobi, you can either take a taxi/Uber to the train terminus in Syokimau or take matatus heading to Athi River. You can catch the matatus at the Railways bus stop.
We took an Uber and paid KES 550 ( 5.5 USD). This was convenient because we split the fare amongst the four of us, which was fair enough. When you use an Uber, you have an option of alighting at the Terminus gate or driving in at a parking cost of KES 100 for your driver. If you use the matatus, you will have to walk to the SGR terminus, for about five minutes.
There are two trains services each day; a morning train (that makes stops on the way) and an express train(that goes straight to Mombasa in the afternoon).
We had booked the afternoon express train as we planned to sleep in Mombasa and continue our trip the next day. After a rather uneventful ride, aside from a noisy group of passengers in our coach, we pulled up in Mombasa. There is a false sense of status quo until you exit the train and the hot air blasts your face. You realize that you are on the coast and that is where the real excitement begins.
It was the high tourist season and we had naively made prior arrangements for a private transfer to our hotel. We regretted this because we had to part with KES 2000 (20 USD), yet there are Ubers and matatus that we could use right from the terminus. It was not such a big deal but a lesson for next time.
Unplanned Fort Jesus Trip
The original plan was to sleep in Nyali then wake up to catch the Likoni Ferry, then shuttle for about an hour to Ukunda. However, spontaneity is a mood within the group and a random suggestion to go to Fort Jesus went unopposed.
When you get an opportunity, you use it to the maximum. A KES 200 (2 USD) fee to enter the Fort Jesus museum was a great decision and we took pictures for the memories, and for the fun of it.
You have the option of hiring a guide into Fort Jesus but you can choose to give yourself the tour and save the money. Most of history is on the walls but some visitors might prefer additional information from a resident guide.
Likoni Ferry and onwards to Ukunda
From the Fort Jesus Museum, we took rickshaws (tuk-tuk) to the ferry terminal. Traffic builds up around that area and we had to alight and walk to the ferry. The Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) operates the free ferry service that takes you to Likoni. You have to pay a ferry toll if you have a vehicle or a motorcycle.
Likoni to Ukunda then Upani in Diani
Alighting straight from the ferry takes you to a flight of stairs that lead to a bus/matatu terminus. We took a matatu to Ukunda ( a ride that lasts about an hour with several stops along the way). The fare was KES 100 (1 USD) per person.
We had booked a villa at a Upani in Diani, a magnificent collection of 3 villas that houses travel groups and families. To get there, we took two tuk-tuks at a cost of KES 400 (USD) each. We later realized that Uber taxis are present and can be one of your options. It is a first come first serve service and we had secured one of the smaller villas.
Our villa had two private bedrooms and one common bedroom that was upstairs and had more beds. There is a kitchen, where you can cook for yourself or make agreements with one of the staff to cook for you. The kitchen is well stocked and you only need to provide the food and the spices.
Visiting the Galu Beach in Diani
The best part of our accommodation option that translated to a cost of KES 2700 (27 USD) per person per night, was the proximity to the beach. Our cost for food and drinks was about KES 3000 (30 USD) per person for the whole duration. It was a five-minute walk and it was fairly private and uncrowded.
Get ready to be mobbed by beach boys offering coconut (madafu) or trips to neighboring islands and normal boat rides. If you have the money, you can take a ride but always be careful and bargain before you make any deal. You will hear mentions of Robinson Crusoe island, Chale island among others. Do your research beforehand as you plan for your trip.
There is so much to see in Diani and if possible, plan a trip that is a week-long and more. I can guarantee you that it is surely worth it. There are many more hotels and resorts along the beach and depending on your budget, you can get value for your money.
Going back, half-hearted
We enjoyed the coastal experience for two nights in Diani and started our trip back on a Sunday. Work can get tiring sometimes and these mini-vacations at a pocket-friendly cost are necessary and amazing.
It is advisable that you plan for your transport well and seek comfortable options. It is crucial that you travel safe and fast enough. I would recommend the train and book early enough to avoid last-minute rushes.
If you are dark-skinned, the coastal sun will not do much harm to you, but please carry sunscreen lotion. Always better to be safe than sorry. Also, carry proper beachwear and hats and sunglasses. When the sun is out, the white sand is so uncomfortable to look at.
For more information on our accommodation in Diani, visit their Facebook page at Upani in Diani.
All the best in your adventure 😊
At first, you were worried about your privacy. However, the more you engaged in social med…