Arabuko Sokoke Forest is the largest remaining natural coastal forest in East Africa’s (420 km²). You can find common animals and plants but also some endemic, rare or endangered birds, plants, mammals and reptiles.
Anything written here about Arabuko Sokoke Forest can only be the merest introduction to the vast tracts of the largest indigenous coastal forest, but it shall show how important this habitat is – for animals, plants and human. Some international organizations assist the local people to use the forest without destroying it. Eco tourism, education, reforestation programs and gentle utilization should help as well so that future generations can tell about an exciting visit to this wonderful place. Well trained guides accompany you on your walk or drive from the entrance at the Kenya Wildlife gate. From Watamu town it is a 10 to 15 minutes drive. Your visit plays an important part in preserving this forest and at the same time you learn about a unique biotope.
Arabuko Sokoke Forest is divided into 3 different types of vegetation:
Mixed forest contains the greatest variety (67 tree species) and grows near the main Mombasa road
Brachystegia-woodland prefers the light sandy soils of the Eastern side
Cynometra-forest covers the red compact magarini-soils of the Western more than 50% of the forest
The various biotopes provide a niche for almost 600 species of plants / trees (many are not yet described). While walking under the tall trees your guide will explain the characteristic and use of plants and trees. Best times are early mornings and evenings.
3 endangered mammals occur in the forest
Golden-rumped elephant shrew (Rhynchocyon chrysopygus)
Ader’s duiker (Cephalophus adersi)
Sokoke bushy-tailed mongoose (Bdeogale omnivora)
Some of the 40 mammals of the area: Red-, Blue- and Common Duiker, Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Suni, African Civet Cat, Large-spotted Genet, Caracal, Golden cat, Wild cat, Serval Cat, different Mongoose, Sykes Monkey (Cercopithecus mitis albigularis) and Green Monkeys, Yellow baboons, various squirrels, Ground Pangolin, Aardvark, Cape hare, Buffalo, Elephants and many more
30 amphibian species and 88 reptiles (tortoises, lizards and snakes) occur in the region. Should you be interested in snake please visit East African Reptile Centre former Bio-Ken snake park
Invertebrates – Nobody knows exactly how many beetles, dragon flies, grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, ants, millipedes, centipedes, termites live here. Butterflies are around 250 registered species. Some of them can be seen at the butterfly farm (Kipepeo Project) near the Gedi ruins.
6 world wide endangered birds occur in this area
Sokoke sops owl (Otus ireneae)
East coast akalat (Sheppardia gunningi sokokensis)
Sokoke pipit (Anthus sokokensis)
Amani sunbird (Anthreptes pallidigaster)
Fischer’s Ground-Thrush (Geokichla (guttata) fischeri)
Clarke’s weaver (Ploceus golandi) (Dakatcha Woodland)
Over 230 bird species are recorded and will attract your interest. Some like the Black-headed oriole accompany you with their typical call on your walk.
We list some of the special bird species of Arabuko Sokoke Forest– some are only found in this region and in East Usambara Mountains / Amani Forest– they are described on the bird pages
Southern-banded Snake, Eagle, Lizard Buzzard (Kaupifalco m. monogrammicus), Thick-billed Cuckoo, (Pachycoccyx audeberti validus), Green Malkoha, African Wood Owl (Strix woodfordii nigricantior), Southern White-faced Owl, Sokoke Scops-owl, Plain Nightjar, Forbes-Watson’s Swift (Apus berliozi bensoni), Mottled Spinetail (Telacanthura ussheri stictilaema), Böhm’s Spinetail (Neafraus boemi sheppardi), Green Barbet (Stactolaema o. olivacea), Eastern Green Tinkerbird, Mombasa Woodpecker, African Pitta (Pitta angolensis longipennis), Malindi Pipit, Sokoke Pipit, Grey Cuckooshrike (Ceblepyris caesius purus), Eastern Nicator, Red-tailed Ant-thrush (Neocossyphus r. rufus), Fischer’s Ground-Thrush (Geokichla (guttata) fischeri), East Coast Akalat (Sheppardia gunningi sokokensis), Red-capped Robin-chat (Cossypha natalensis intensa), Bearded Scrub-Robin (Cercotrichas q. quadrivirgata), Little Yellow Flycatcher (Erythrocercus holochlorus), Coastal Cisticola (Cisticola haematocephalus),
Black-headed Apalis (Apalis m. melanocephala), Pale or East Coast Batis (Batis soror), Eastern black-headed Batis (Batis minor suahelica), East coast Boubou (Laniarius sublacteus), Retz’s Helmet-Shrike (Prionops retzii graculinus), Black-bellied Starling (Notopholia c. corusca), Olive Sunbird (Cyanomitra olivacea changamwenis), Mouse-coloured Sunbird (Cyanomitra verreauxii fischeri),
Plain-backed or Blue-throated Sunbird (), Purple-banded Sunbird (), Violet-breasted Sunbird (), African Golden Weaver (), Golden Palm Weaver (), Dark-backed Weaver (), Clarke’s Weaver () more frequent in Dakatcha Woodland, Black-necked Weaver (), Fire-fronted Bishop (), Green Twinspot ()
While spending time in Watamu we overnight at Ocean Sports Hotel (if you prefer an other hotel just let us know and we book it for you). Ocean Sports Hotel is a comfortable hotel directly at the beach of the wonderful Turtle Bay. At 5 a.m. they serve us some sandwiches and coffee so that we can be at the entrance to Arabuko Sokoke Forest by 6 a.m. That is the time the light is coming in and birds as well as mammals are most active. Soon it will be hot and all will hide in the shade.
Our guide David Ngala knows Arabuko Sokoke Forest in and out, he knows every bird species even if it is not well visible in-between the leaves. David can also tell you a lot about the history of the forest and its plants.
You will drive and walk. David knows the whereabouts of most species and will tell you to leave the vehicle and follow him. He will also not rest until he will have found the Sokoke Scops-Owl. Please don’t disturb them and keep a good distance. The species is endangered and disturbance is one of the reasons.
Watamu is an amazing place to spend “only” beach holiday. We gladly organize excursions for you with our super team from Watamu.
Our 12 days safari South Eastern Kenya ends in Watamu and you have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful beach and the highly interesting places Watamu offers
Some impressions from Arabuko Sokoke Forest – sometimes we walk with a ranger since elephants and buffalos are in the area