At 420 square km the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is the largest remaining tract of indigenous coastal forest remaing in East Africa. A small part of the forest was gazetted as a National Park in the late 1980s and the forest as a whole was gazetted as an International Heritage Site in 2002. The forest contains three forest types, mixed forest, Brachystegia and Cynometra, each of which protects different communities of flora and fauna. The signature animal for the Arabuko-Sokoke forest is the endemic and charming little golden-rumped elephant Shrew and in the forest you also have the chance to see forest elephants, African civets, baboons and vervet monkeys as well as many other species of mammals. Actually the Arabuko-Sokoke forest contains an unusually high concentration of endemic species and Clarke’s weaver is found nowhere else in the world. All in all there are some 240 species of birds including the beautiful miniature Sokoke Scops owl, only 15 cm high and this unique forest also boasts an impressive 260 species of butterflies.
If you want to visit the forest, the entrance is only 10 km by road from Watamu. There is a visitor centre at Gede Forest Station and from here there are a series of nature trails cut through the forest. Early mornings are recommendable for visits as it is the best time of the day to spot the wildlife and also it quickly becomes very hot and humid later in the day.
The Arabuko-Sokoke Forest adjoins Mida Creek, a mangrove forest that is an important wintering ground for shorebirds including species such as the Terek Sandpiper, the Crab Plover and the Flamingo being one of the areas most prominent species. The mangroves also gives shelter for large colonies of breeding fishes and is therefore of vital importance in order to sustain a healthy ecosystem of the Ocean. Boat trips to Mida creek in glass bottom boats can be arranged in Watamu and via the hotels.