Arabuko Sokoke National Park is positioned on the coast of Kenya close to Mombasa, it is known as the largest and most intact coastal forest in East Africa on a total land of 420 kilometres squared. Arabuko Sokoke Forest Park is composed of impressive diversity and the park is a portion of Sokoke Forest reserve. However, the park is a magnificent place to visit because of being a paradise to some of the outstanding beaches in Kenya such as Marine National parks, amazing cultures, surreal ambience, and beautiful sceneries which are worth a visit on Kenya holidays.
The national park is one of the most popular destinations for birding and butterfly viewing on the African continent. The park is said to host over 20% of Kenya’s bird species,30% of her butterfly species and over 24% of endemic birds, mammal species and reptiles.
Note, Arabuko Sokoke National Park measures 6 kilometres square of its low land and then spread over 420square kilometres of Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve.
Kenya as a destination is so humbled to host the largest coastal dry forest in the whole East African region, and the second most famous for bird life and butterfly viewing in Africa which is quite an awesome safari.
The Arabuko Sokoke National Park is operated by the Kenya Wildlife Service while the Forest reserve is managed by the Kenya Forest Service. The park was established in the 1980’s to protect variety of wildlife.
Location-Arabuko Sokoke National Park
The national park lies 100kilomters north of Mombasa town and a few driving kilometres from Malindi along the Mombasa-Malindi highway.
The drive takes a short distance from both Mombasa and Malindi Marine National parks and interesting Watamu beaches. The Arabuko Sokoke National Park can be reached while using both taxi and public means of transport from Mombasa.
However, Arabuko Sokoke forest offers beautiful rewardable walking trails and driving tracks. Some parts of the forest are easily accessible using saloon cars, during wet months. We highly advise the travellers to use a 4×4 wheel driving vehicle to access the main destination.
The best way to enjoy the forest experience is to carry out a walking safari which allows tourists to experience more of the hidden treasures of the forest at a slower pace, you can still encounter the forest while driving but you will leave out many hidden interesting species which can be viewed by the one on foot. Professional guides will lead you through amazing forest walking trails, by hiring a guide registered with the Arabuko Sokoke Forest Guide Association. Charges are based on time spent. At the park, the entry point is where you can inquire about the charges.
Climate –Arabuko Sokoke Forest
The national park has got two wet seasons that are long rains that fall from ‘’April to June and short rains from November to December.
The rest of the year months are hot and dry with the annual temperature ranging from 22-34 degrees Celsius and annual rainfall ranging from 600 millimetres.
Best Time to Visit
Arabuko Sosoke national park is all year visited destination, but the best time for a nature walk is usually early morning or late afternoon.
Key Features of Arabuko Sosoke Forest Biodiversity
Arabuko Sosoke forest vegetation is comprised of three zones that is Brachystegia Woodland, Cynometra and several mixed forests. It is also home to a diversity of mammals, plants and butterfly species that differ from one ecosystem to the next.
Below are the brief explanations of the 3 types of forest;
Brachstegia woodlands/Miombo woodlands: This type of vegetation ranges from various thickets, shrubs and knee-high grass. This section receives more sunlight which makes the grass here greener and more captivating.
The forest here provides a beautiful walking experience due to the open canopy, where you can easily spot butterflies and birds.
Mixed Forest: Mixed forest is dominated by plants such as sansibarensis, manilkara and Hymenaea verrucosa.
The forest vegetation here is thick and it creates a humid dreamlike atmosphere, best way of experiencing a forest. Species of animals to spot around in mixed forest are; Coast Akalat, Tiny Greenbul and Elephants Shrew.
Attractions at the Arabuko Sosoke National Park
The Mida Creek, is quite an interesting tidal inlet featuring different mangrove trees. It is a wintering ground for migrant birds like the Sand plovers, Crab plovers, Greater Flamingo and Terek Sandpipers.
The Elevated Nyali is a rewardable viewpoint, for viewing a breath-taking canopy and Kenyan coastline as well as far beyond.
Platform viewpoints that offer a classic view of the forest.
Tracking in the forest is 30 kilometres of driving tracks across the 3 zones of forest vegetation.
Activities are done in Arabuko Sokoke national park
The park is packed with vibrant activities that ensure tourist’s visit to the park is nothing short of an amazing experience below are some of the activities you can engage in;
Wildlife viewing: This national park is home to over 252 mammals, 60 plant species and 79 amphibians.
These are some of the mammal species to see in the park such as yellow baboons, Lesser Galago elephants and Sykes’ monkeys, it also houses animals like the Aders’ duiker which are ‘’small antelopes and they live in pairs’’ and the unique Golden-rumped elephant shrew.
Other permanent species of Arabuko Sosoke Forest include Clarke’s weaver, Savanah elephants, Sokoke scops owl, Sokoke Pipit, Amani Sunbird, Sokoke bushy-tailed mongoose, Spotted ground thrush, African cricket, baboons and vervet monkeys.
Forest Drives: This is quite a mind-blowing experience to have a forest drive along with the park’s Kararacha pools.
Butterfly Watching: The park boasts various butterfly species such as Mimetic, Baliochila minima of the family Lycaenidae, Charaxes last and the Charaxes blandae of the family Nymphalidae. Other species are Danaus chrrtsippus alcipus, mylothris agathina and Amauris ochlea.
Bird watching: Arabuko Sokoke National Park is a truly a birding safari destination with over 270 beautiful bird species include the rare Clarke’s Weaver bird that sounds one of its type in the world.
Other threatened bird species found in the park include Sosoke scops, East coast akalat, Amani Sunbird, Spotted Ground Thrush, migrant from south Africa and Small Sokoke Scops Owl.
Most bird species that call themselves Kenyan coast home is easily seen in Arabuko- Sokoke National Park, making it an incredible place to visit.