I have been on a mission to visit all the historical sites in Kenya. I’m not doing too badly so far but I could definitely do better. I was in the Kenyan Coast in December and on my to-do list was to visit the Jumba la Mtwana ruins.
Jumba la Mtwana is a picturesque ancient ruins village situated in Kilifi County. The site lies 15 kilometres north of Mombasa, 4 kilometres from the Mombasa-Malindi road and extends along the shore for a distance of about 300 meters and 250 meters inland.
It is pretty easy to access the ruins via public transport. You simply board a matatu heading to Mtwapa and get off at the last stop. We decided to stop by the supermarket to pick up some snacks and cold drinks. You can walk to the ruins (if you don’t mind the 4km distance) but we decided to take a bodaboda (a motorcycle taxi).
The journey by bodaboda took us 8 minutes. There are no signs on the road, at all – the National Museums of Kenya need to style up. The only sign is at the entrance of the ruins. Fortunately the route to the ruins is pretty straightforward and unless your sense of direction is as bad as mine, chances of getting lost are minimal.
We walked to the office and bought our tickets. They cost only 100 bob ($1).
We then asked for a guide and were told that they usually don’t have one on Sundays. I was a bit bummed out but on the plus side we’d get to make up our own story. I would definitely love to go back and have a guide show me around.
Most of the information about the ruins I got from the National Museums of Kenya website. There is a museum on site but hardly any information about the ruins in the museum. However, you do get to learn quite a bit about the Swahili culture and about other historical sites in East Africa. Once we were done with the museum we then went off to view the ruins.
The ruins were much larger than I expected. Jumba la Mtwana is Swahili for “the large house of the slave”. From the name I had assumed it would be one large house.
There is one main paved path that leads from the museum all the way to the beach. Feel free to wander from the path so as to properly explore the ruins.
The ruins are generally a very pleasant place to visit even if you have no interest in history.
After walking around for a bit I started to feel like I was in a different time and age. The ruins are surrounded by trees which were gently swaying in the wind.It was such a welcome relief to have a break from the sweltering heat.
Within this area four mosques, a tomb and four houses have survived in recognizable condition. These houses include the House of the Cylinder, The House of the Kitchen, The House of the Many Pools, which had three phases, and the Great Mosque. The largest of the mosques faces the ocean.
The town had been built in the fourteenth century but abandoned early in the fifteenth century. The dating is based on the presence of a few shards of early blue and white Chinese porcelain.
After exploring the ruins we decided to take a walk on the beach.
Next time I visit the ruins I am definitely carrying a picnic basket. There is a restaurant by the beach if you want to have a meal but I think having a picnic is so much better and cheaper. There is a grassy spot right underneath the palm trees that is the perfect spot to picnic.
You can also swim since the beach is right there. It is best to wait when the tide is coming in, that way you can stick to the sandy shallows and avoid stepping on the coral.
The beach was deserted so we had a bit of fun trying to capture the perfect jumping shot
For more detailed descriptions of the ruins you can read more here.
Linked to Noel Morata’s Travel Photo Mondays.