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is an upland area centred on a small wildlife reserve just 15km inland from the Diani Beach
area of the southern Kenya Coast
This 300 square kilometres of undulating hills is actually of much greater significance than first meets the eye, being the most northerly section of the Eastern Arc Mountains, an ancient range across East Africa which massively pre-dates the relatively young but much better known Rift Valley landscapes. Whilst the climate of the surrounding plains has cycled through wet and dry periods of the millenniums, these mountains have maintained almost constant conditions of humid coastal rainforest and rolling grasslands. This stability has led to an extraordinary amount of endemism, with creatures able to become increasingly specialised into their various niches.
In truth this is less well demonstrated here than in the Udzungwa
mountains in Tanzania, but the Shimba Hills are still well worth a visit if you happen to be a naturalist.
The most obvious highlights of the area are the good populations of elephants and giraffes, although if you go with a good guide you should be able to encounter a good deal of lesser but equally interesting flora and fauna.
The main potential negatives are the difficulty in accessing and observing the wildlife in the area, the encroachment of human settlement around the reserve and the fact that, being so close to the busy Diani Beach area, there can be significant minibus traffic in core areas.
There is only one decent accommodation option in the area ...Kutazama
... is a relatively high quality lodge set high in the hills, a really interesting retreat, far from the madding crowds down on the coast.
To be honest we very rarely recommend the Shimba Hills for inclusion in trips, or at least we very rarely include nights here, it is just too peripheral for the majority of people. However the area can easy to visit on a day trip if you are staying down on the coast in the Msambweni