I recently caught up with Fatuma Nchirenje Khamis, the reigning Miss Tourism Kwale County, to find out from her what the shape of tourism in Kwale will look like in the next few months under her watch.
But before that, I was curious to find out what inspired her into the world of pageants. She informed me that this was not the first time she was winning such an award. Back in 2012, she was crowned Miss Kenya Institute of Professional Studies.
The 24-year-old tourism ambassador is the second-born in a family of 3 siblings. She does not hesitate to reinforce the fact that she is beautiful and points out her other attributes as humble and hard-working – I guess that is how she landed this job in the first place.
When I asked her what places she would recommend to a visitor to visit in Kwale County, she suggested these 3:
Shimba Hills National Reserve
Fatuma tells me that besides being the only home of the rare sable antelope in Kenya, Shimba Hills National Reserve also boasts the spectacular Sheldricks Waterfalls, where your trip would not be complete without a cold ‘shower’ under the 25 M high falls.
Kisite-mpunguti Marine Park
This, Fatuma says, you must see. “This is the second largest marine park in the world after the Australian marine park,” she boasts. Kisite-mpunguti is also a popular spot to watch dolphins. “It is a snorkeler’s paradise for those who love the sport,” she adds. The marine park is also an excellent diving spot and offers some great boat safaris.
Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary
Located just a few kilometres from the Shimba Hills National Reserve in the south coast, Mwaluganje is the home of elephants and the endangered Encephalartos cycad. The sanctuary was formed in the early 1990s as a cooperative project between the people of the surrounding Mwaluganje community, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Born Free Foundation and the Eden Wildlife Trust.
Fatuma says the thrill of visiting Mwaluganje does not only lie in its magnificent African jumbos and the cycads but also on the captivating story behind the sanctuary which is that it is community-owned and managed through a trust on behalf of the people of Kwale.
“I would also like tourists to come to Mwaluganje and see the work the people of Kwale are doing to preserve a priceless piece of the country’s ecosystem,” she insists.
As I concluded my interview, I learned that Kwale’s tourism beauty queen has a few projects lined up for the future to promote the region’s tourism gems. She is particularly keen on promoting domestic and cultural tourism and hopes to bring back the idea of home stays in this coastal town.
“I am working to organise a cultural day event one of these fine days where my people can showcase their cultural heritage,” she informs me, as she promises to keep Kenya Geographic on the loop as things take shape. For us, we shall keep you updated – as we always do.