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Mwamba Field Study Centre

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Staying at Mwamba Field Study Centre

Sunset on the beach in front of Mwamba
Beach front at Mwamba
Beach front at Mwamba
Located just 80m off the dazzling white sands of Watamu's world-renowned beach and National Marine Park, Mwamba Field Study Centre provides simple but pleasant, friendly and relaxed full-board accommodation for anyone wanting to visit the area. We welcome all and anyone who is interested in either a holiday on one of the world's top beach destinations or as a base for exploring or studying the amazingly diverse habitats, flora and fauna that exist in and around Watamu. Apart from the obvious snorkelling and beach options, there are many other things of interest around Watamu for a visitor to do - visit the 600-year old Arabic city ruins of the Gede National Monument, Bio-Ken Snake Farm with the largest collection of snakes in East Africa and doing high quality research on many of them, Watamu Turtle Watch and their active marine turtle conservation programme, Kipepeo Butterfly Farm, explore Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and climb its tree platforms and walk the 260m suspended boardwalk through mangroves on Mida Creek are just some of the options. 

Birders / entomologists / herpetologists / botanists etc - Mwamba is ideally situated as a base to explore the rich diversity of coastal habitats in the Watamu-Malindi area - particularly Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Mida Creek, Gede Ruins, Sabaki River Mouth and the seasonal freshwater wetlands just inland from the coastline. We have a comprehensive library of reference material for identification of birds, butterflies, plants etc and have team members who can offer expert advice on where to go and what to see to maximise your time in the area. Plans are being made to construct a research laboratory equipped with good internet access, microscope, reference materials etc to facilitate researchers and amateur naturalists in their work and interests.

Mwamba Field Study Centre Entrance
Field Study Centre
Accommodation at Mwamba
Accommodation at Mwamba
By calling Mwamba a 'Field Study Centre' and not a 'Guest House' we highlight a distinctiveness about the place that as far as we know is unique in East Africa. We invite guests to join in as part of the 'team': as can be seen from the rest of our website, there are many conservation activities going on based out of the offices at Mwamba and visitors are often able to join in on things such as bird-ringing (either on the Mwamba nature trail, beach - see photo on the right - or possibly a night on Mida Creek ringing waders), watch a turtle nest hatch and help protect the baby turtles from crab attacks, a school visit or to help in a tree-planting or a litter-cleanup event. 

A further distinctiveness is that we provide good food of mainly local African dishes and as we are not a profit-making business and thus don't have a large centre staff, we invite guests to help in washing up dishes after meals - an activity which can become a social highlight in itself with many an interesting discussion had over the frying pan and saucers!

Through it all, by staying at Mwamba Field Study Centre you are helping to support the conservation work of A Rocha Kenya - providing some income that is critical in helping us maintain our conservation programmes with the local communities and to protect the precious biodiversity of the Watamu - Malindi area.

Facilities at Mwamba

  • A typical meal time at Mwamba
    A typical meal time at Mwamba
    The most affordable full-board accommodation anywhere on the Watamu beach front!
  • Accommodation for up to 18 guests - and more if people are happy to sleep on a mattress on the 'flat roof' under a mosquito net. Rooms are either double or triple, are comfortable and simple with mosquito nets and a fan and an attached bathroom with shower and flush toilet
  • camping facilities for small groups of campers
  • a covered "flat roof" with a gorgeous view of the ocean (see picture below) that picks up the trade winds - ideal for relaxing in the heat of the day
  • easy access to the beach and Watamu National Marine Park (including some snorkelling gear available for hire)
  • a nature trail
  • local African dishes for lunch and dinner, and a self-service breakfast
  • reference library for natural history - mostly birds, plants, fish, mammals and butterflies with some references for dragonflies and other insects
  • library of holiday reading material
  • 24 hour wireless internet access (when Kenya Telkom is working, that is!)

Places to visit and things to do around Watamu

Safaris to Tsavo East and West can also be arranged. Please ask about other activities or excursions.

To enquire about room and camping availability and rates, please contact the Centre Manager

How to reach Mwamba

If you are flying into Nairobi, the best way to reach Mwamba is via Malindi. Fly540 is the most convenient airline to use because they fly directly from Jomo Kenyatta international airport to Malindi Airport. Air Kenya is another option; they fly from Nairobi Wilson airport to Malindi, which might be more convenient for those who are already in Nairobi and would like to avoid traffic.

Once you arrive in Malindi, the simplest way to get to Mwamba is by taxi. If you are on a budget though, you can get up to Turtle Bay Beach Club using a matatu (KES80) and then take a taxi (KES200-300) or a tuk-tuk (KES100) the final two kilometres to Mwamba (Plot 28).

From Mombasa, the best option is to use a taxi (KES6000-8000).

Map of how to get to Mwamba

The Story of Mwamba

Training and equipping
Tsofa Mweni addressing science teachers at Mwamba during a workshop
Since the first beginnings of A Rocha Kenya in 1998, we were looking for a property in Watamu that would serve as a Field Study Centre & Bird Observatory, a place where we could welcome birders, butterfliers, conservationists, researchers and holiday-makers alike and provide the kind of relaxed and welcoming hospitality that A Rocha worldwide is becoming known for. From those early days we sought to develop excellent relationships with many of Watamu’s local residents and businesses, one of whom was Mrs Barbara Simpson who ran "Mrs Simpson's Guest House" at Plot 28.

Barbara, at that time in her 80s, was an avid conservationist and a Christian who's guest house had a far-reaching reputation for being wonderfully laid back with good food and amazing stories and tales of Barbara's extraordinary life and Colin Jackson (now Director of ARK) would regularly be found visiting Barbara for her legendary tea times when tea was served with freshly baked cake and to update her on the latest happenings in the forest. It was through this friendship that the option was discussed of A Rocha Kenya taking on the Guest House as a functioning Field Study Centre and Bird Observatory with Barbara as part of the team, something that Barbara was keen to follow through with. Sadly on 31st March 2002, the day before A Rocha Kenya was due to take over the property as its new Field Study Centre and Bird Observatory, Barbara passed away. In line with her wishes, A Rocha Kenya, went ahead with the plan to purchase and develop the former guest house into a fully functioning environmental field study centre which we called "Mwamba" (meaning "A Rocha" in Kiswahili,the most widely spoken East African language).

Since its opening, Mwamba has become a central part of A Rocha Kenya’s work and provides the hub for all of its activities as well as fulfilling the vision to provide a relaxed and friendly accommodation for visitors of a wide diversity of backgrounds and interests - come and visit us and experience it for yourself!

Training and equipping

Training in field observation and survey techniques, including bird-ringing, is given to specific groups by prior arrangement. The focus of this training is aimed at encouraging East Africans to develop a greater sense of involvement with and responsibility for their environment, but all visitors are welcome to join in with life at the centre and whatever is happening at the time of their visit!

Environmental resources

With the goal of fostering a sense of wonder in the created world, hands-on environmental education is being developed from the centre for schools, churches, and community groups. An interpretative trail is being developed to run through 5 acres of dune forest and coastal bush at the rear of the property, making use of the varied habitats on site. We have also built up a library of scientific books and journals and hope to eventually establish a laboratory.

Community living

Mwamba is run with an emphasis on community living with visitors and volunteers coming together at meal times and sharing duties such as washing up and cleaning. Like many other A Rocha centres, Mwamba brings people of different faiths together in the context of a shared commitment to the environment. Many visitors have commented on the warm welcome they have received and often leave challenged and motivated having witnessed people living out their beliefs in an everyday context.

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