At 420 square km the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is the largest remaining tract of indigenous coastal forest remaining 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.
tree in Arabuko-Sokoke
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.
Narina Trogon in Arabuko-Sokoke (Photo by Steffen Foerster)
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.
Tree platform in Arabuko-Sokoke (Photo by A Rocha Kenya)
In Arabuko-Sokoke, one can undertake the following activities:
- Forest walks
- Forest drives
- Bird watching
- Butterfly watching
Red-legged Sunsquirrel in Arabuko-Sokoke (Photo by Steffen Foerster)
Important Things to Remember when Visiting Arabuko-Sokoke Forest
- Enjoy yourself; in addition to seeing, pause and listen regularly.
- Stop to allow wildlife to move off the tracks before you pass.
- Do not feed wild animals.
- Do not start fires in the forest.
- Do not take away animals, animal products, plants or plant parts.
- Do not mark or deface tree stems, stones and other features.
- Avoid noise as it disturbs both wildlife and other visitors. Do not exceed 40kph
when driving in the forest.
- Be careful as animals here are wild and can be dangerous.
- Take all the litter that you brought away with you.
- Keep to the designated tracks and paths when walking and always be sure of where you are headed to or coming from as orientation in forests can be difficult