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THE MARAFA DEPRESSION, MALINDI

Marafa is the most underrated site on the coast 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 cost. 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.

Also known as HELLS KITCHEN. Located in the town of Marafa, a small unassuming village with conspicuous baobab trees. Known to the locals as ‘nyari’, a Giriama for ‘natural sacred depression’ or to others as ‘the place broken by itself’. It was once a great sandstone ridge worn by wind, rain and floods into a series of jagged gorges. The landscape is valued for its sacredness. The people around it go there to pray to the Gods if they have problems e.g rain, disease e.t.c and their problems are solved.

It was the site for many rituals in days of yore. Medicine men frequented its ever expanding base to source for natural herbs and other plants of medicinal value.The place is ever expanding by erosion. The most accessible high viewpoint, direct from the main gate, is protected by a wooden fence. The fence has been moved three times in the past 10 years because the previous one succumbed to erosion.

Years of eroding the soft sandstone have created a depression interspersed with rocky outcrops some 30 metres tall that can test even the strong-willed. The natural process has left verdant white, pink, orange and crimson hues. Hell’s Kitchen is our small version of the Grand Canyon in the United States. The depression attracts close to 100 visitors per day and is a major contributor to the local economy.

Marafa Depression (Hell’s Kitchen canyon) with red cliffs and rocks in afteroon sunset light. Malindi, Kenya

Naturally, local stories accompany the “place broken by itself.” According to legend, there was once a town located where the gorge is now. One day, all the town’s inhabitants received a vision telling them a miracle was coming and to move their town. Everyone moved except one old woman who refused to leave. The abandoned town then supposedly vanished with the remaining woman still inside  leaving the Marafa Depression in its place. And the woman cooks food hence the smell that emanates from the gorge, of sumptuous rice cooking on certain evenings.

Another legend is that many years ago, the people who lived here angered the gods by using milk to bathe since there was no water nearby. As a punishment, the gods killed all of them. The gods punishment was a heavy torrential rain. The local people heard a strange sound in the night and were all surprised to see the rich family had vanished. The red color symbolizes the blood and the white color represents the milk.

Together with a guide you will walk within this natural canyon whose color varies during the day according to the inclination of the sun rays. After the walk accede to the “terrace” ready to wait, with cameras, for a marvelous sunset with the typical colors of Africa. After the completion of your tour, enjoy the worry-free transfer in a courtesy car back to your hotel.

 

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