Inside the vast forest at the Shimba Hills National Park in Kwale lies the Sheldrick Falls.
The rapids found in the largest coastal forest in East Africa after Arabuko-Sokoke is located 33km from Mombasa island.
The waterfalls derive their name from Major David Leslie William Sheldrick, a Kenyan farmer and a famous park warden who was born in Egypt. He ‘discovered’ the hidden waterfalls while flying over the Shimba Hills National Reserve.
The waterfall, which was gazetted by the government in 1968 and put under protection of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), attracts large numbers of both local and international tourists.
It is the only waterfall at the Coast. To behold the 25-metre high cascade, a Kenyan adult has to pay Sh300 and Sh200 for children at the entrance manned by KWS officers. Non-resident adults pay Sh2,000 and Sh1,300 for children.
At the entrance, you will be escorted by a guide for a 15 to 20 minutes drive to a point where you would leave your vehicle for a walk to the waterfall that would last another hour and a half.
The waterfall is 2.5km from the second point and you must be accompanied by a KWS ranger down the hills.
A fascinating walk, preferably bare-footed, through narrow paths shrouded by trees makes for a wonderful experience down the waterfall.
The waterfall burble is what gives you the hint of the magnificent waterfall that is tucked under the thicket.
KWS ranger Robinson Gwabi, who has made numerous trips to the falls with tourists, says the waterfall has never dried up.
“The flow of the water only reduces, especially from December to March, but there is water throughout since it was discovered. From May all through October, the water flow is high and that’s when most of the tourists visit,” he says.
He adds that international tourists, including those from Germany and France, flock the site.
Mr Gwabi says that the water is fresh and comes from Risley Ridge, which is within the Shimba Hills National Park.
“The water that flows from this waterfall also connects to River Mkurumuzi and River Ramisi. The fresh water is used by residents for their domestic chores,” the game ranger says.
It also flows to Marere River whose water is pumped to Mombasa County from Kwale.
The communities living in Shimba Hills, including the Durumas, Digos and Kambas, are major beneficiaries of the fresh water, which is treated by the county government for domestic use.