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The Tree of Life

Expecting to enjoy a couple of fun-filled days at the beach, Alison lost her heart to the captivating baobabs of Kilifi
Above: One of the towering baobabs of Kilifi

As a child, I was a bit of a tomboy; I enjoyed playing garden cricket with my dad and wrestling with my boy cousins. A home with a treehouse was the ultimate dream — gardens with big “tree-climbing trees” a good second prize. Our family home had a large avocado tree with branches I manhandled daily: higher and higher I climbed, testing the tree, testing myself, annoying my little brother who tried to keep up but couldn’t follow. Climbing trees made me feel brave, connected to the natural world and truly alive.

Not even Jude could put his arms around the baobab
Climbing trees may run in the family

I’ll never forget the first time I saw a baobab in real life. It was the 1990s and my family had made the long journey from Cape Town to Zimbabwe by road. We stood around an enormous, ancient baobab with our arms outstretched, embracing it in a giant hug as the six of us tried to reach all the way around it. We couldn’t; it was that big, and I was fascinated to learn these trees were hundreds of years old, about their resilience and all the ways in which their fruits were used. Seeing baobabs was the highlight of the trip for me — along with the fast white waters of the Zambezi, the sweet taste of Mazoe Orange (a local orange cordial) and golden family memories.

A baobab looking out over the Indian Ocean

Had I done my homework, I might have been prepared for the beautiful baobab trees that greeted me as I arrived in Kilifi, a small coastal town on the Kenyan coast. But travelling with three small children and my mind otherwise occupied with projects on the go… Needless to say, I arrived in awe. Our welcome briefing was a blur as I took them all in along with the incredible views, the sweet smiling staff and the decorative frangipanis welcoming us to our home for the next few days. As my children pulled on my clothing and nagged “When can we swim?!”, our host kindly told me a little more about the trees. Each had its own pattern and shape — some were in full bloom while others were completely bare — and its own view, with more than a lifetime of stories to tell.

The pool has views of the ocean for some, and of the baobabs for others
Bare bottoms and sandly curls
A pool always provides endless hours of entertainment

While my children dropped their clothes and jumped straight into the lovely warm pool, Steve entirely in his element discovering more about the house, the beaches and what was on the dinner menu, I was transfixed by the two baobab beauties that stood at the very front of the property, stealing the ocean’s thunder.

One of Kilifi's beautiful creeks
Leo, a newly converted beach-bum
The beaches were a treasure-trove of shells, much to Holly's delight
Happy days playing in the sun and sand

We spent a wonderful few days exploring this lovely coastal town, the creeks, Bofa beach. The simple pleasures of warm sun-filled days in the water, delicious seafood and restful nights with the sounds of the sea and the frogs singing us to sleep we truly relished. And everywhere we went we were accompanied by baobabs standing humble and proud, representing centuries of life. For me, they added a layer of intrigue, of unexpected beauty and magic that kept me transfixed.

Portrait of a family who can't wait to return

Notes from the Editor:

Thank you to our kind friends at Nderit House for inviting us to stay and for hosting us so graciously — sticky fingers, sandy feet and all. For a private home on the Kenyan coast, with sea views and gorgeous baobabs, this one is hard to beat.

Filed under: East Africa Travel

Tagged with:

Angama Travel , Beach Villas , Kenyan Coast

About: Alison Mitchell

As the head of creative development, retail and operational support (try say that three times quickly), Ali is the keeper of 'the look', ensuring current operations and new projects are to Angama standard. In her spare time, she also manages three other special projects — a set of twins and their younger brother — on the beautiful Kenyan coast.

Browse all articles by Alison Mitchell Meet the angama team

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