Ngomongo village

Ngomongo Villages is a theme – park original presentation of the ways of life of the rural peoples of Kenya.

It is a unique presentation of the ways of life of ten most colourful and diverse rural peoples of Kenya.  It is situated along the road leading to Five Star Hotels in SHANZU, MOMBASA.
Ngomongo Villages was born in 1991.  At that time it was a sun baked and barren rocky base of an exhausted limestone mine.  The floor of this quarry is barely five feet above the slightly salty water table.
A local medical doctor started single handedly to reclaim this quarry by planting four acres of eighty different indigenous trees.  Public awareness to tree planting was raised by inviting the public to plant the last open acre of quarry.  A total of about fifteen thousand trees and plants have so far been planted in Ngomongo Villages.
Once the forest was ripe, rural villagers from far-flung corners of Kenya were invited to recreate their rural homesteads, each in a niche of the now fully-grown forest.  The recreation was to detail including huts, farms, animals associated with some rural people like cattle for the Maasai and crocodiles for the crocodile hunting El molo people.
The paths connecting each village were themed to represent a dominant feature of each community.  For example, beehives line the path leading to honey gathering Akamba people.  Cattle skulls line the paths leading to cattle lovers Maasai homestead.
Once the households were complete, the villagers moved in in January 1998 to tender the crops and animals.  These villagers have since found a permanent home in the village, living as they would in their rural homes up country.
That completed the Garden of Eden creation of Ngomongo Villages.  A visitor completing this interesting one and a half kilometer walk through the village gets the impression of having literally walked through the entire rural Kenya in two hours.  It is easy for the visitor to forget that this was once a desolate quarry.
The village therefore presents a fairly comprehensive look at the ways of life in rural Kenya in an enjoyable manner and without having to go and travel into all the respective rural areas.
However, a written and probably more detailed look at these rural Kenyan ways of life would supplement details not possible to put in place in the village homesteads. Hence this short narrative that follows.
It is in itself neither complete nor exhaustive.  Just enough details are selected that would make an interested reader want to go and look up more details in our national archires and other books of “culture”, few and rare as they are.  
The writing is in present tense and therefore tends to project a rather stagnant “culture”.  This of course does not mean that rural Kenya has escaped Western influence.  Far from it.  There are various shades of western “development” in all the rural areas.  This has not been represented in this booklet, or in Ngomongo Villages.
Any reader who feels that vital knowledge has been left out, misrepresented or otherwise is very welcome to write to us and we will amend or add relevant comments in our next edition.
From wasteland to an eco-cultural tourist paradise.
The Ngomongo quarry in 1991 was a neglected wasteland of approximately 16 acres. This vast urban eyesore resulted from coral limestone mining. It was a hazard to the neighbours as it acted as a retreat for robbers. At around this time, the Mombasa municipal council had earmarked the quarry as the municipal refuse dumping site. This if carried out would have contaminated the water table which lies only four feet below the quarry floor, and by extension the Indian Ocean coastal and marine ecosystem.
The built up surrounding urban neighbourhood would have suffered air pollution from the decomposing dumped municipal refuse.
Once reclamation work had started, individuals and the public were involved by a local medical doctor in community tree planting.  This was later followed by incorporation of cultural tourism to ensure sustainability.
Geography and climate
The quarry is located 10 KM North of Mombasa Island, but within Mombasa municipality.  It’s about 600 – 700 m inland of the Indian Ocean shore line. The quarry floor lies only four or so feet above the water table, which inter connects with the sea bed as is evident from quarry well water level fluctuations that are coincidental with the ocean east of the° south of the equator and 390 °tides.  The site is 4 Greenwich meridian .  
It is excavated up to depth of 12m and is in the coastal and marine tropical climate.  Rain falls every month although not reliably, much of the rain falling during April – June period.  Average annual rainfall is about 1192mm with a maximum of over 2056mm.   The number of rain days varies from 85  - 130 except for a marked increase in  1997 due to the El nino weather conditions. In July and August. Average°the mean temperature is about 28.8 humidity varies too with lowest readings of 65% say in February and 85% in May.
The coastal region around Mombasa has two monsoon currents: the Southeast monsoon  during the month of May to the  beginning of October and the northeast from November to March.
Quarry rehabilitation project
Corals usually live in colonies.  Each single animal excretes a skeleton of calcium carbonate which cements with neighbour cell excretions, eventually forming a whole colonial build up of compacted constructions which extend over wide areas.  Corals don’t thrive in temperature below 20 degrees C and depend on shallow seas for growth.  Once the living corals get dry from shifting sea levels, the whole coral structure dies and are then known as coral limestone rock. It is at this point that man excavates coral limestone for construction works.
The arid and desolate Ngomongo quarry pit excavated to 12m was not conducive for plant growth.  
It  had no hope of being spontaneously  inhabited by trees for  another ten  years.
The reason for  quarry rehabilitation was therefore to make it into a good hospitable land, with high utility to the people around,  improve on the ecosystem, reduce its various hazards, and make it into a sustainable development..
The total dissolved solid and the salinity of the ground water was studied for planning purposes.
The casuarinas are famous for their prestigious timber which is used in the construction industry. 
The Neem tree is also doing very wells, so are the Baobab tree, coconut, mango trees and the date palms, “mvuli”, “muratina” and others. The Neem tree (“mwarobaini”) is believed to be able to cure 40 diseases hence the name “mwarobaini”.  The logs are used for carving wood sculptures by “Akamba” carvers.  Its bark and leaves are used for treating fevers such as due to malaria and other ailments.  The leaves yield a non – synthetic insecticide.  The small branches are used as disposable toothbrushes. the powdered back of the tree is used for protection of maize granaries against weevils.  
The “Muratina” tree spongy fruit is the traditional ‘yeast” for brewing traditional “muratina” brew for the “Kikuyu” and the “Akamba” ( this can be sipped and tasted at the Akamba  village  of Ngomongo villages)
“Mvuli” is a sought for hard wood originally from Tanzania.  It is the best oak tree equivalent for furniture in East Africa.
Plants and insects
Ferns, mushrooms and other plants which require tree cover and a lot of humus started appearing after just a few years in the forest.  At first only a few species were found flourishing but more species are now appearing, some on branches, trunks of dead wood and on the rock cliff faces. 
Leaf shedding ants are useful in cutting leaves into small pieces.  The ants work day and night.  Their leaf shredding habit and their fungal cultivation are beneficial to the forest. These types of ants are many, an example being the weaver ants. The termites are also in large numbers in our forest.  The termites feed on soft timber trunks, thus they are usually considered as pests, but they play a great role in reducing the dead wood in forests to humus.
 Wet lands 
Natural Ponds were dug by an improvised homegrown hole and shovel. The shovel was made from an empty fifty gallon steel water storage tank whose designated shoveling edge on the tank open top was reinforced with a sharpened pick – up main leaf spring, welded on to this edge.
With two men sitting on the plough or shovel to give it weight and anchorage, the donkeys would drag the plough or shovel.  This would be repeated many times until the lake was at least one meter deep below the water table. The depth of the 3 ponds is an average of one metre.   
Crocodiles were introduced into one of the ponds that represent Lake Turkana in the village theme.  (Lake Turkana is on the northern part of Kenya).
The other pond represents in our village theme, Lake Victoria which is on the Western side of Kenya.  Tilapia has been introduced into this lake. Large flocks of birds nest on and feed on these wet lands. These including king fishers, weaver birds, Egyptian geese etc.
The bird sanctuary 
 Within the quarry, a two acre bird sanctuary has local chicken, ostriches, geese and 
cranes. The daily feeding of birds at the bird sanctuary has attracted many wild birds like the Egyptian geese.  These wild birds have established their breeding sites on the quarry rock out crops and most of them have made the quarry their home. There are now over 50 species of birds in the entire quarry. The birds help in seed dispersal as they feed on wild fruits and drop their droppings on other parts of the forest.
Frequently identified species are:
 Egyptian geese, Ostrich, Helmeted guinea fowls, Crested cranes, Tortoises, Black water tortoise, Quails, Local chicken, Peacock, Kingfisher, Weaverbirds and Strike
Farm gardens
The quarry now has ten diverse rural Kenya villagers each with a niche of forest, displaying his true “culture” and “rural home replica”. Among the things they display are huts, utensils, gardens and the crops they grow in their rural areas.  The gardens were made by clearing patches of the new forest (how destructive again!)  Loosening the coral, then putting a 4” soil and manure cover on which various tribal unique crops are being cultivated. The land which was once a lifeless wasteland now has a diversity of life.  Readers whenever you visit Kenya remember to visit Ngomongo villages.  The quarry has turned out to be a paradise where one can see the whole of rural Kenya in one spot.
This excursion starts in the early morning when you are picked up from your Mombasa hotel. You will then drive to the South coast, crossing the Likoni ferry enroute and heading to the South coast of Mombasa. On arrival at the Shimoni Jetty, at approximately 0800 hrs, you will board a traditional Arabic dhow and ride into the Wasini Channel.
Highlights include snorkeling in Kisite Marine Park to spot dolphins (and probably take a swim with them), and possibly turtles. Take time looking at marine-life from a glass-bottomed boat, enjoy an excellent seafood lunch, and then a historical tour around Wasini fishing village and the Shimoni Slave Caves where slaves were "stored" before being shipped off to Arabia in the early 18th century.
Depart Shimoni in the late afternoon to arrive back in Mombasa in the early evening where you will be dropped at your respective Mombasa hotel, 
A dhow ride along side Dolphins.
Enjoy a full day of game drives at the Tsavo East National Park, home to a vast number of red elephants. Tsavo East is also one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya.
Attractions here include the Luggard falls, Yatta platue and the Galana River among others. The park also is also home to a great variety of bird life such as the black kite, crowned crane, lovebird and the sacred ibis.
Early morning pick up from your Mombasa or Malindi hotel for Tsavo East National Park. Drive to Aruba lodge for Lunch with game drive enroute. After lunch proceed for another game drive to arrive back to your hotel in time for Dinner.
The red elephants of Tsavo east
The reserve is one of the last remaining habitats of the rare Sable antelope in East Africa a treat you will not want to miss. The reserve is rich in flora and fauna and hosts the highest density of African elephant in Kenya.
Other animal species found in the area are Sable antelope, black and rufous elephant shrew, bushy tailed mongoose and other small mammals like fruit bat.
On a clear day one can see the outline of Usambara Mountains in Tanzania.
Early Morning pick up from your Mombasa or Diani hotel for Shimba hills national reserve. You will cross the ferry and drive towards Kwale and into the park with game drive enroute.
For the physically fit, you can choose to do a 45 minutes walk which will lead you to the spectacular shedrick falls, where one cam have a swim at the falls. Proceed for lunch after which you do another game drive before exiting the reserve. At around 4 o’clock you start driving back to your hotel.
The Rare sable antelope at Shimba National Park.
Itinerary Type: 
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Tanzania Weather

Arusha: Few clouds, 30 °C / 86 °F

Uganda Weather

Entebbe Airport: Broken clouds, 23 °C / 73 °F

Egypt Weather

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