One of the best kept Safari secrets is Chale Island, 27km off the coastal town of Mombasa -East Africa. Here visitors can cover themselves in natural volcanic mud at Sleepy Creek and look younger than they actually are. Why waste money on cosmetics?
The first time I saw people taking mud-baths was on one of the celebrated Michael Palin's television programs. Little did I know that the very village where I have always gone for holidays, in my own back yard, was a little haven for mud-bath loving tourists. I first went to this location while visiting the Kenya Marines and Fisheries Research Institute during one of my field trips.
The Institute was then working on a very special project studying rare Mangroves species with a University in Italy. Because of my interest in traditional medicine, I wandered off and went visiting a traditional healer and Digo elder-Mzee Abdallah Mnyenze, which I had met through the Kenya Society of Ethnoecology. As an accomplished Ethnobiologist, Mzee Mnyenze knows one or two things that you can not find in Botany books. So when I get an opportunity to visit beautiful Mombasa, I pay him a visit just to listen to his wisdom under the coconut trees enjoying the sea breeze accentuated with the smell of the mighty Indian Ocean. I am digressing, back to the point.
The National Museums of Kenya is trying to conserve this Mijikenda sacred forest for its rare species of mangroves, birds and the colobus monkeys, which are a great attraction to foreign and local visitors.
Experts say that the natural vegetation on the island is very unique. The coastal Kayas, as they are called, are a mixture of marine and terrestrial ecosystems of very old mangrove species which biological diversity has not been seen anywhere in the world.
In this forests are numerous Digo cultural shrines that are scattered all over the island but whose secrets are only known to the few Digo elders, knowledge that has been handed down from generation to generation.
Now there are tourist cottages near this beautiful grove. A visit to this area is rewarded with traditional dances and the skin toning mud-bath. It took a lot persuasion for me to drop my clothes but I am glad I did.Do not go for cosmetic surgery before you visit Chale Mud-bath. It is free and the cottages are very cheap but opulent. Why waste money on expensive cosmetics and intrusive surgeries? Go plunge in the mud!