According to the Lonely Planet, Marafa is “the most underrated site on the coast (if not Kenya)”
And if you, “put this geographic phenomenon anywhere else on earth, families would plan vacations around visiting and a glut of shopping malls would surround the approaches.”
Lucky for us, Marafa is NOT surrounded by shopping malls and fast food stores, and is an absolutely incredible natural wonder that is easily accessible from Malindi. It’s remote enough to give you an incredibly unspoilt experience in the wilds of the rural Kenya coast. The drive there is interesting in itself, as you drive over bands of red soil, white chalky soil and white rock. Quaint rural communities, ladies carry bags and buckets on their heads, children carry babies on their backs and lone cyclists all creating interesting sights along the way.
Legend has it that the Marafa depression (known as Hell’s kitchen) was caused long ago by God’s wrath on a local family. The family were so rich and extravagant, that they indulged in bathing in the valuable milk from their cows. God was so furious with their excessive behaviour that he punished them by opening the ground beneath them which is what you see today in the Marafa depression. The depression warns the dangers of excessive living through the white and red stone (milk and blood) which were splashed all around this magnificent and surreal landscape.
The geological explanation for the amazing rock formations is that the region is made up of layers of mixed rock; some hard, some soft. The crumbly, sandstone rocks have been eroded more quickly than the harder (taller) outcrops of rock. Within the varied rocky outcrops, some have three distinct colours contained in the same rock (red iron, yellow ochre and white chalk). This place is a rock enthusiasts dream!
A charge of about 250/-ksh ($3-4) per person is made to visit the site, with all proceeds helping the local community. A guided walks is also offered which we highly recommend. Guides expect to be paid 200/-ksh ($3) or more and we felt that this was excellent value, as the walk over, under and through the rocky outcrops was superb.
Public Transport to Marafa is not easy, so most visitors either hire a car or drive their own vehicle.
Marafa get’s REALLY hot so avoid visiting at midday if you can. Take loads of water, cover up and wear a lot of sun screen.
Address: 33km North West of Malindi
Guide: Jonathan Charo Kalume