Responsible tourism: Mida Creek nature camp
Mida Creek nature camp is a non-profit organisation, that supports the local Giriama Community around the Mida Creek. It’s led by Harrison Hare Karise, a Watamu native and member of the community.
The camp has the aim to use tourism as a source of income for the local community. The area is beautiful and they built the camp for travellers to experience the local Giriama life.
In this article
The Mida Creek
The Mida Creek is a tidal inlet opening into the Indian Ocean, on the tropical coast of Kenya. It runs almost five kilometers land inwards. The creek consists of a deep channel that’s surrounded by sandflats, which flood at high tide. Most notable is the mangrove forest that contains seven of the nine existing mangrove species.
The Giriama community
The Giriama community living in Mida Creek is extremely poor. In their restricted lives, nature conservation makes them feel even more restricted. For example, they’re no longer allowed to go into the forest to get wood for their homes. Also, fishermen use illegal nets because they can’t afford the proper nets. For this, community members are facing penalties should they get caught.
Balancing nature conservation and the local community
Mida Creek nature camp tries to set the balance between nature conservation and the well-being of the local community. The camp gives locals an opportunity to work, a market for their goods and a chance for travellers to stay within these beautiful surroundings.
Locals who benefit from Mida Creek nature camp
- Direct employees of Mida Creek nature camp
- Locals, selling vegetables, fruit, fish, milk and charcoal
- Giriama dancers and drummers
A nature experience provided by the community
A perfect example of an experience the Mida Creek nature camp undertakes with its travellers, is the ‘Mida Creek boardwalk and canoe ride’. In this experience, you’re taken on a swinging boardwalk through the mangrove forest by ‘the captain’ (Daniel). He explains everything there is to know about the mangroves. From how they grow their roots to support larger roots, to how mangroves are supporting the combat of climate change. A forest of mangroves absorbs as much as 10 times the carbon a similar size forest of ‘normal’ trees absorbs.
The mangrove nursery
Although the mangrove forest is large, the growth used to be a lot thicker. Which is why, one of the local initiatives is to plant more trees. This helps to:
- Rehabilitate the forest
- Shelter the community village
- Absorb carbon dioxide
The community created a mangrove nursery where they plant mangrove seeds in smaller pots. As soon as the mangrove plants are large enough, they are replanted in the mangrove forest. They’re doing everything to conserve the Mida Creek. And if travellers are there at the right time, they’re encouraged to take part in the replanting!
Traditional canoe ride
On your way to the canoe, you must cross the mudflats left by the lowering tides. While walking the (very slippery) mudflats, you see hundreds of little crabs scrambling away from your steps. It’s an entire ecosystem and the captain tells you all about it while you walk through. When reaching the water of the Mida Creek, you board a traditional dugout canoe, and ride the creek like a local fisherman. Locals carve these canoes out of a single tree.
The captain guides the canoe with skill, since he’s been going out fishing on this creek since he was 12 years old. All the while, he explains about the vibrant bird life in the area. There are over 65 different species and you see many flying around, floating on the water or diving to catch fish.
As the sun goes down, the sky turns to beautiful shades of pastel colours. The perfect time to take some pictures, while the sun still shines over the water.
Community owned restaurant: The Crab Shack
On the other side of the creek, travellers can be dropped off at the community owned restaurant The Crab Shack. Standing at the edge of the mangrove forest, with its wooden construction (for low environmental impact), it has a panoramic view of Mida Creek. It’s the perfect place to sit down with a drink and home-made crab samosas.
Leading up to the restaurant is a 200-meter boardwalk. This gives travellers another opportunity to view the beauty of the surrounding mangrove forest. The restaurant menu includes fresh local fish, prawns and crab. Crabs are sustainably farmed, and the fish caught by local fishermen. In this way, eating out truly supports the local community and travellers will have a great time as well!
Mida Creek community projects
Mida Creek has several notable community projects. From staying at the Mida Creek nature camp or going on a canoe ride on the Creek, to having dinner at The Crab Shack. This area excels in offering community-based experiences. Not only does the community profit from this, they’re also big on supporting nature conservation. This travel experience is the perfect example of a win-win-win situation for the local community, the environment and the traveller!