Kenya: Tana River Delta: Between Bush and Ocean
The Tana River Delta, where the bush meets the beach, is a remote, unexploited and wild panorama with the river winding along one side and an endless stretch of deserted beach on the other.
Arrive at Malindi airport this afternoon, where you will be met by lodge staff and transferred away from the bustle of Malindi to the quiet and serene Tana River Delta.
At the old mouth of Kenya’s mighty Tana River, your lodge sits high atop windswept dunes. Nestled among the palms, the lodge looks out upon an unparalleled landscape – lush, wild, and utterly unique. To one side, the river winds slowly into the bush, a rare wetland home to hippos, basking crocodiles, and rainbows of birds. To the other, deserted beachfront stretches for 50 kilometers along the Indian Ocean.
Each of the seven open-fronted dune cottages – built from driftwood and cooled by the ocean breezes – has a private view of this striking panorama. Castaway-style bungalows offer modern comforts and amenities, including sun-filled bathrooms with powerful showers and enormous Swahili beds.
Once you have settled in, explore your surroundings on a guided walk, or relax in a hammock by the pool. Tea and fresh-baked pastries are served every afternoon.
To end your day, enjoy a sunset river cruise, followed by cocktails and a candlelit dinner of freshly-caught seafood served under the stars.
This morning, rise early and begin your day with guided game tracking through the sand. The Tana Delta is the only wetland of its type in Eastern Africa. The swirl of salt and fresh water forms a vast playground for wildlife, including hippo, buffalo, crocodile, and over 400 species of birds. The river is teeming with fish, while the endemic Tana River bushback and elusive lions melt into the brush, leaving their tracks on the sand.
Return to a gourmet breakfast, and plan your day with the help of the lodge staff. Explore the shade-dappled creeks by kayak or go on patrol with the Rangers in the conservancy, learning some of their skills in tracking, bush craft, and survival techniques.
This evening, follow a trail of lanterns down to tables on the sand where you’ll find a dinner of fresh local ingredients, warm baked breads, and home made pastas.
Later, relax in the open-air bar in the company of your fellow guests.
Your lodge works very closely with the local community and, together, they have formed the Lower Tana Delta Conservation Trust, which supports schools, gamescout projects, conservation, and education. Your visit helps to support a community-run lodge on the main Tana River, which you can visit by boat. A cultural center is in the works to share information about the fascinating and very different cultures of the two unique tribes – the Pokomo and Orma – who call the Tana Delta home.
Since the 17th century, the Pokomo people have planted and fished along the Tana’s fertile banks, using the river’s flooding cycles to irrigate their maize fields and mango trees.
The pastoralist Orma, Ethiopian by origin, arrived in the late 19th century. The semi-nomadic herders move their beehive-shaped dwellings across the floodplains to graze their cattle.
Visit one of the schools today, and teach art or organize a volleyball game for the kids. Or you may wish to visit with a women’s group who are willing to share their knowledge of design and weaving, local handicrafts, and beekeeping and honey production.
Return to the lodge at the end of the day for dinner in the main dining area, looking out over your incredible surroundings from 300 feet above sea level.
Spend your last full day on the water. Following a leisurely breakfast, head out for a morning of gentle tubing on the Tana River. Keep an eye out for wildlife: reedbuck, topi, buffalo, bushbuck, and even elephant in the grassy clearings at the river’s edge. Most impressive is the Tana Delta’s prolific bird life. Colorful bee-eaters, kingfishers, and hornbills brighten every turn, while impressive flocks of storks, egrets, pelicans, and ibis dot the sandbanks.
Return to the lodge for lunch. Spend the afternoon channel fishing or crab catching along the endless miles of vast uninhabited beach. If you are up for something more fast-paced, race sand yachts along the shore. Propelled by strong ocean winds, the yachts can move at up to 90 kilometers per hour!
In the evening, enjoy a final dinner of seafood caught by local fisherman just this morning. Soak in the sounds of the waves and wildlife and the peaceful feel of this remote, unexploited, and wild place by the sea.
Rise early for a walk along the dunes, followed by a hearty breakfast, and then prepare for your departure. The lodge staff will transfer you to Malindi airport in time for your departure flight. Connect with your international departure flight today, or continue on to the next part of your Willing Foot adventure.
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