Mijikenda Kaya Forests

Mijikenda Kaya Forests
Photo by Michael Novins.

The Mijikenda Kaya Forests comprise the remains of numerous fortified villages (kayas) considered sacred by the Mijikenda people.

The kayas, created in the 16th century but abandoned by the 1940s, are now regarded as the abodes of ancestors and are revered as sacred sites and, as such, are maintained by councils of elders. Access is restricted, which has had a positive impact on the biodiversity of the forests.

Community Perspective: these consist of 10 kayas across 8 components, spread over some 200 km along the coast. Local tour operators from Mombasa can take you to a nearby kaya, such as Kaya Kinondo.

Map of Mijikenda Kaya Forests

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Community Reviews

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Michael Novins

United States - 12-Sep-16 -

Mijikenda Kaya Forests by Michael Novins

I flew from Zanzibar to Mombasa, where I stayed at the Castle Royal Hotel, which dates from 1909 and is centrally located between the Moi Avenue tusks and Mombasa Old Town. I made a day trip from Mombasa to Kaya Kinondo, one of the Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests UNESCO World Heritage Site (http://www.kaya-kinondo-kenya.com). The kindest thing that I could write about Kaya Kinondo is that its universal value escaped me; perhaps I need to consult a dictionary to get a clearer definition of the word "universal." To me, it seemed like I was walking around an ordinary wooded area, although I did see some wildlife (black-and-white colobus monkeys, horn bills and footlong millipedes). Kaya Kinondo was, very likely, the least interesting WHS that I have visited.

Rita Maria Johnson

England - 13-Aug-09 -

The Mijikenda Kayas are a beautiful environmental and cultural sanctuary. The sacredness of the sites is incredible and visitors are not allowed to venture into certain areas but the birds and the trees make you see nature at its best. The serenity and religious awe of the sites is thrilling and I was very privileged to partake of it. There are no entry fees but a guide has to come from the nearby villages. Once in Mombasa Kenya, one can find their way to the sites which are scattered in Kwale, Kilifi and Mombasa through a local tour operator. I recommend visiting the Fort Jesus museum for more information. You will definetly appreciate the calmness of the Kayas after the hustle and bustle of typical tourist zones.

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Site Info

Full Name
The Mijikenda Kaya Forests
Unesco ID
3 5 6
Cultural Landscape - Associative

Site History

2008 Advisory Body overruled

ICOMOS advised referral, noting number of improvements to be made

2008 Inscribed


The site has 8 locations

Mijikenda Kaya Forests: Kaya Giriama
Mijikenda Kaya Forests: Kaya Jibana
Mijikenda Kaya Forests: Kaya Kambe
Mijikenda Kaya Forests: Kaya Kauma
Mijikenda Kaya Forests: Kaya Ribe
Mijikenda Kaya Forests: The Rabai Kayas
Mijikenda Kaya Forests: The Duruma Kayas
Mijikenda Kaya Forests: Kaya Kinondo


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