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Kilifi in Kenya

Kilifi is an ancient coastal town on the Kenyan coast 25km north of the city of Mombasa. It sits on the estuary of the Rare River and its long white sandy beach, Bofa, is regarded as one of the country's finest.

Bofa Beach is sheltered by a magnificent coral reef and is an unspoilt and quiet paradise. Big game fishing, snorkelling and diving along the reef are all popular here and you can also water ski in Kilifi Creek.

The 20 metre deep Vuma Caves are a must for experienced divers. At the entrance cave you might see dolphins and sharks, whilst inside the caves are home to eels, large groupers, big Napoleon wrasse, snappers, tuna, jacks and barracuda among other species.

For golfers, the town of Vipingo, just south of Kilifi, has two 18-hole par 72 golf courses.

Kilifi is well known for the ancient Swahili ruins of Mnarani, a set of tombs and mosques dating between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries which are well worth a visit. Amongst the ruins is a magnificent Pillar Tomb, which was recently dismantled and carefully rebuilt to make it safe. Also worth seeing are the remains of a large Mosque and several tombs dating to the 15th century.

One of the best ways to see the beauty of Kilifi Creek is to take a trip on a dhow – a traditional Arab sailing vessel – at sunset. The dhows visit tiny bays and inlets and you should spot plenty of birdlife whilst admiring the stunning scenery.

For a perfect combination of beach and safari you can easily visit the Shimba Hills National Reserve which is a hilly, forested park covering 24,000 hectares and close to Mombasa.

The tropical forest setting is a unique place to spot elephants and there are more than 600 in the area. Giraffes, ostriches, warthogs and hyenas can also be found here, amongst others and more than 100 species of birds have been recorded. The park also has the last breeding herd of sable antelope in Kenya. They are among the country's largest antelope, with black coats and long, scimitar-shaped horns.

Close to Shimba Hills is the Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary. It's connected to the park by a fenced elephant corridor. The sanctuary was established in 1993 to protect the forest, preserve the elephants and improve the socio-economic development in the area for local people. They now manage the park and make more money now than they did when farming. Revenue is ploughed back into the community to improve education and living standards.

Another local excursion is Ngomongo Villages, a sustainable community project set up on the site of an abandoned quarry. Sixteen acres of land were planted and transformed into forest and tourists can learn more about the Kenyan way of life by visiting the nine rural tribal villages which have been established here. Each homestead has a range of different activities to see and take part in which reflect the tribe's heritage and culture.

Arabuko Sokoke Forest, situated between Kilifi and Malindi, is the last large remnant of lowland coastal tropical forest in Kenya. It's one of Africa's most important sites for birds with over 260 species documented. You can take walks through the forest, led by expert guides.

For a contrast with the laidback beachlife of Bofa visit Mombasa. Take in the sights and sounds of the atmospheric Old Town with its blend of Arabic, African, Indian and European influences, relax on a dhow cruise round the harbour or climb the battlements of the 16th century Fort Jesus, built by the Portugese to protect their interests in the region.

Kilfi is a tranquil spot and you can relax in the evening in the hotel bars, watch the stunning sunsets, or have dinner at the local boatyard and admire the yachts that moor in the safe and sheltered harbour.

Mombasa is actually an island and is connected to the mainland by the Nyali Bridge to the north, by the Likoni Ferry to the south by the Makupa Causeway to the west. To get around, taxis are easy to find and the most convenient way to travel, although the most expensive. The cheaper, but busy, matatus are shared mini buses which run through the city and suburbs. Tuk tuks are three-wheeled auto rickshaws which are also popular, as are bicycle taxis called boda-bodas.

Moi International Airport is around 10km from the centre of Mombasa. If you are flying from the UK then flights operate from London's Gatwick Airport as we as from Manchester Airport. A flight between Nairobi and Mombasa takes about one hour. There is also an overnight train between Nairobi and Mombasa. The journey time is at least 12 hours but first and second class sleeping compartments are available and breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the dining carriage.