An emerald creek, white sand beaches & an enchanting village. An experimental model of environmentally conscious living. Book a dorm, a safari tent, an ensuite shower private room or a banda with an ensuite shower and toilet in a private courtyard!
This Listing is for a Private Room for one person at Distant Relatives Ecolodge & Backpackers. Rooms only have an ensuite shower but share toilet facilities. Bandas on the other hand have ensuite shower and toilet in a private courtyard if you prefer - both are available!
Nestled between the Giriama village of Fumbini and the beautiful emerald waters of Kilifi Creek, Distant Relatives is both a message of optimism and an experimental model of environmentally and socially conscious living. Adventurers from around the world gather here to share tales of the road, mingle with the local community, and enjoy the beautiful ocean views and sunsets that Kenya has to offer. In just one hour’s drive from either Mombasa or Malindi you could be joining us for reef snorkeling trips, moonlit dhow sailing, village walks and beach bonfires, wild cliff adventures, and various live music events.
Distant Relatives is a new and unique ecolodge, hostel and backpackers, and an exceptional budget-friendly alternative to the classic hotels and resorts of the Kenyan Coast. Our accommodation options include camping, dormitories, safari tents, private rooms and beautifully designed ensuite bandas with their own charming private courtyards. Our kitchen serves some of the most delicious, mouth-watering and reasonably priced food on the coast. Wake up to the smell of local Kenyan coffee and go to bed after a full plate of fresh seafood pasta, grilled seasonal vegetables, or some of our signature Friday all-you-can-eat pizzas and free oysters!
At Distant Relatives, our philosophy has always been to work around nature, rather than making nature work around us. For us, caring for the environment and supporting our community will always be a priority and a passion, and we are happy that such efforts have led to our recent certification by Ecotourism Kenya.
Distant Relatives Ecolodge & Backpackers is staffed by a few travellers and a lot of locals ready with the best advice for your East African trip. In the spirit of Kenya’s tradition of generous hospitality, we look forward to welcoming you to our humble coastal shamba and making your stay in Kilifi the most memorable time you’ve had in East Africa!
-Bar and Reception: Open from 7:30am to 11:30 pm every day (sometimes later!). Bar is fully-stocked with wide range of beers, spirits, sodas, cocktails, and some home-made specialities!
-Restaurant: Serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks every day for very affordable prices. Grilled baby calamari, Mozambiquean Chicken, Succulent beef fillet with salsa verde, Charcoal grilled pilipili monster prawns, Grilled village beetroot with spicy hummus and runner beans, various salads, sandwiches and snacks are just a few of the delights available for all to sample! Check out our weekly menus for more details [LINK]. Vegetarian options are always included!
-Vast communal lounge spaces- carpeted floors, big comfy home-made pillows, hammocks, ocean breezes, book exchange… great for chilling out!
-Communal Kitchen: Guests can choose to cook their own meals in our spacious communal kitchen with access to fridges, shelving for storage, sinks, gas stoves, and plenty of pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils.
-Swimming Pool- recently rebuilt with new night lights and seating: a perfect place to spend the day with a good book and a cool drink! Free diving by Buccaneer’s Dive Club every Sunday!
-Beach Access: A short walk from our compound will take you to our beach and private jetty. Fantastic under the stars or for sundowners. Unbelievable phosphorescence in the evenings… if you haven’t seen this yet you are in for a treat! The famous white sand Bofa beach is otherwise just a few minutes’ drive away stretching further than you can see!
-Beach Volleyball: Get together with a group of fellow travellers and form an impromptu volleyball tournament on our sandy court next to the pool!
-Bamboo Showers: For those staying in dorms or tents, our communal showers are built into a bamboo forest and have the wildest, most natural and revitalizing feel!
-Eco-Toilets: All our toilets are the most eco-friendly water-less composting toilets and our garden is amazingly thankful!
-Parking: Plenty of parking spaces for all sizes of vehicles
-24/7 Security: Our gates and compound are guarded 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. We also have CCTV installed around the compound and KK Security on-call at a moment’s notice as well as Amini Security on standby.
-High-Speed Wifi: For 200/- per day enjoy the luxury of high-speed internet access. Soon we will offer free internet, as soon as we find a cheaper provider…
-Friendly Staff: Our staff are all very welcoming and accommodating; don’t hesitate to ask us any questions!
-Plenty of wonderful animals to keep you company! Ducks, guinea pigs, chickens, guinea fowls, pigs and our dogs Mowgly, Nemo and Toaster!
A typical day at the lodge might start with a walk down to our private beach to catch the sunrise, a bowl of fresh fruit and a cup of freshly ground Kenyan coffee, followed by a walk through the village, a sail to the coral reef for a snorkel, or a morning at home – a snooze in the shade by the pool with a book or in a hamac under a tree. Some might have roasted crayfish and sliced a few fresh fruits for lunch on a deserted beach or on a sailboat; others might taste the local dishes in a mud hut just across our gate in the village.
After lunch guests can get involved in one of the many activities available, ranging from deep sea fishing or fly fishing lessons with fishing guides Jamie and Sven, dhow sailing along the creek and reef just out at sea with Captain Shallo, water-sports with Mark, Anne and Jo, a village walk with Juma, a day on one of Kilifi’s endless white sand beaches, or a hike along the wild cliffs of Vuma. Kayaking the emerald creek, diving with Kilifi’s dive club Buccaneers, traditional herbal medicine tours, hiking, and sunset beach volleyball back at the house are just a few other opportunities.
Finish the day back on our beach for sunset and a bonfire, barbecue, or foolish moon party. The adventurous might then like to head out for a night on the town in one (or many!) of Kilifi’s rather boisterous bars. Those less inclined could stay at home and watch a good film on our projector or gather around a few glasses of wine under the stars by the pool…
A major objective of our project is to act as an incubator for the creation of small local businesses providing market access to community members wishing to set up small tourism enterprises such as village tours, dhow trips, horse riding, fishing trips, local restaurants, snorkeling, hiking and cycling tours. Check out our complete list of activities you can take part in while staying with us!
oDhow sailing: Sailing trips can be organised ranging from a two-hour sunset “sundowner” trip, to a few days down to Mtwapa or Mombasa, or even all the way down to Zanzibar. Captain Shallo and his experienced crew can take you snorkeling, fishing, or sailing on the reef on one of his dhows (dhows are beautiful hand-carved traditional wooden Swahili sailing boats). The trip can include a traditional grilled seafood Swahili meal on a beach and/or snorkeling and fishing if requested. Discounted rates are available for guests of Distant Relatives.
oFishing: There is some great deep sea fishing for tuna, sailfish, wahoo, mahi mahi, blue and black marlin just in front of Kilifi! Bottom fishing is also excellent on the reef! This can be organized from a traditional dhow with Captain Shallo. Our friends Jamie and Sven, two very experienced fishing guides, can also take you out deep sea fishing, bottom fishing, cliff fishing, or offer you flyfishing lessons and even organize trout fishing trips in some of their secret spots on Mt Kenya or in Ethiopia! Email us for more info!
oWater-skiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, Hobicat sailing: 3DegreesSouth is a Kilifi Creek based company offering all sorts of water sports activities. Lessons and rentals can be organized straight from our beach! Discounted rates are available for guests of Distant Relatives.
oSnorkeling and SCUBA-diving PADI courses: There are great opportunities for snorkelling and scuba diving along the extensive coral reef with several community and nationally-managed marine reserves. Scuba diving can be organized regardless of your experience through Buccaneer Diving. The Vuma Caves at Kilifi Creek are a particular highlight, at a depth of about 20 meters just nearby Vuma cliffs. Inside the caves lurk some huge groupers, giant trevallies and barracuda. Dolphins can often be seen playing in the open sea near the caves and once in a while we end up swimming with whale sharks and Humpback whales! Discounted rates are available for guests of Distant Relatives.
oWild-Living Eco-Tour: Senior staff from Wild Living Organization will introduce you to all their community conservation projects (e.g. making of eco-charcoal, wild mushroom picking to prevent deforestation, natural soap making, aloe farming and many more) and run you through their approach to community development and conservation whilst walking through their 130 acre indigenous forest conservancy located less than 1 km from Kilifi’s centre.
oGame Park Safaris: Less than three hours from Kilifi is Tsavo East National Park. You can spend the night at Lions Bluff Lodge that clings to the edge of a cliff, suspended above the Lumo Community Wildlife Sanctuary. Numerous other accommodation options are available to suit all budgets. We will do our best to help you plan your trip and soon hope to offer game park safari bookings at preferential rates from our reception.
oSunset drinks and BBQ in Giriama paradise: This is our third community-run and owned activity. Our neighbours and friends just down the road will welcome you from to the top of their beautiful village which they’ve quite appropriately nicknamed ‘Giriama Paradise!’ From the top of a cliff, overlooking a stunning view of 180 degrees of the lagoon, join Rammadani, Juma, Saidi and their wives and sisters at their beautiful home in Giriama Paradise for a traditional meal. The menu includes BBQ chicken (born and raised in the village), coconut stew, beans, chapati, moringa (possibly the healthiest food on the planet), palm wine, baobab juice and other local delicacies. Dig into the delicious Kenyan flavours while enjoying the amazing sunset and sea views their village is famous for.
oSky Diving! Our friends from Sky Dive Diani will happily organize a Sky Dive for you over Kilifi landing on the beach so long as we have at least 4 people booked! Email us for more info!
oDinner in Mzee Kombo’s Village: Venture to a different part of Kilifi and experience village hospitality in a healthy family homestead. Motorbikes will take you on an enjoyable ride into the hills, away from the main roads through fields, forests and farms to the shamba of your host Mzee Kombo. You will be shown around the homestead, visiting the small fish farm, the cassava fields, fruit trees and coconut groves. Every visit is different depending on the growing season. Next you will have a chance to sample the local coconut wine, learn how to grate coconut and extract the cream as well as participating in the meal preparation. The atmosphere is laid back, the food is delicious and the company informative and engaging.
oVillage tour with Saidi: This is our second community-run and owned activity. Saidi will take you for a guided walk through the hills allowing you to experience village livelihoods, learn about natural plant medicines, seasonal use of crops and livestock, and village lifestyles. Born and raised in the village, Saidi knows every secret of the area. He will take you to visit the local Mangwe (palm wine bar), several village homesteads and subsistence farms, traditional Giriama buildings as well as schools and church services (on the right days), and finally the sacred baobab shrine. You might be lucky and meet the animal trap builder and all kinds of other fascinating characters. Kick back and enjoy the walk!
oExplore Takaungu village and Vuma cliffs: Takaungu is thought of by many as one of the most spectacular parts of the Kenyan Coast. Takaungu is a small traditional Swahili village virtually untouched by western influence. The village is located along a beautiful and pristine emerald creek amongst cliffs and baobabs. A few kilometres further are Vuma Cliffs, with even more spectacular scenery of huge waves crashing against wild rough cliffs. This is a nice day trip, great for photographers, fishermen, and anyone feeling a little adventurous!
Nautilus (for when you’re feeling fancy!)
Kilifi Boatyard (the seafood, crab samosas and cheeseburgers are absolutely fantastic all in a stunning location!)
Village Dishes (for the best local food!)
Everyone respects everyone is the only rule! Pamoja!
We are always around and available for a chat, a drink or an adventure! But we value everyone's private space so we make sure not to be invasive in any way! Some people like to stick to themselves and we highly respect that! We are also always delighted to take guests along with us for dinners, to the beach, fishing, sailing or any kind of adventure we might be getting up to! everyone is always welcome!
ABOUT DISTANT RELATIVES
Distant Relatives is located in the ancient coastal town of Kilifi, on the coast of Kenya (midway between Mombasa and Malindi). More specifically it is squeezed between the village of Fumbini, a community-owned forest, and the beautiful emerald-blue Kilifi Creek.
The project began in 2010 when, as travelers ourselves, we happened upon Kilifi and were immediately struck by its peace, beauty and relative simplicity of life. The people were welcoming and friendly, the village and town center were unintimidating and one could make friends very quickly. The natural beauty and biodiversity of the local environment was simply breathtaking. Naturally, we loved Kilifi and left begrudgingly. Since then, and after several further visits, we decided to make it our home.
The name ‘Distant Relatives’ is a nod to the prevalent Kenyan practice of appropriation, but it also accurately sums up the central principle and aim of our operation: to bring people together from all around the world to learn and share with one another and build lasting, positive relationships based on an understanding and appreciation of community and sustainability – we are all Distant Relatives!
An excellent environmental management system is obviously central to this project. We placed much emphasis on the responsible management of waste and resources by promoting and applying at all times the ‘Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle’ philosophy to preserve natural resources, landfill space, emissions, and energy. Organic waste is composted or fed to pigs, chickens, ducks, guinea fowls and guinea pigs. Grey water from sinks and showers are used for watering banana, papaya and passion fruit gardens. Plastic bottles are reused or recycled and all metal is collected by scrap metal dealers who give the metal a second life. Our 500 square meter roof surface allows us to collect vast amounts of rainwater for our showers, kitchens and swimming pool. All the wood used for furniture is either up-cycled from old shattered boats, driftwood, or from non-native and/or invasive species. We are also very pleased with the compost toilet system in place which allows the garden to become more fertile every day – the system works amazingly well, receives much positive feedback and many people have often asked us if we could help them build similar ones for their houses and NGO’s. In terms of construction, we have tried to use a combination of local and traditional Swahili designs, whilst trying to reduce all possible impacts on the environment – we have built our rooms around old-grown trees, we have minimized the use of cement to the maximum, banned the use of mangrove wood as beautiful as it might be … etc. We only use LED and energy-saving lighting. We have up-cycled hundreds and hundreds of car and truck tyres as retaining walls (saved from open burning in town) and used hundreds of glass bottles collected from restaurants for building and also for our pathway light shades and soon for the glasses at the bar (once we master the art of glass cutting and sanding!)
We hope to install further green technologies and systems such as a full solar power system, but they are very costly investments… We would like start producing biogas from organic waste by then of the year. We were very pleased to have obtained our first official certification from the Ecotourism Society of Kenya (ESOK) within just one year of operation! We are also partnering with like-minded companies such as Wild Living, an organization committed to working on sustainability projects resulting in the generation of sustainable incomes for local communities.
We are pleased that Distant Relatives has already become a central meeting point for all the backpackers visiting Kenya’s coast, as well as for those with an interest in alternative and more sustainable and conscious living lifestyles. Feel free to browse the rest of our website or email us if you have any questions about who we are and why we do what we do!
ABOUT THE OWNERS
Together with a group of friends Tom and Romain travelled from Ethiopia down to Cape Town and fell in love with Kilifi on the way, and decided to come back and set up this little paradise! Tom is originally from Zimbabwe, lived many years South Africa and also in Australia where he completed an MSc in Community Development. Romain is from France, lived some years in the US, Ireland, South Africa and Australia where he completed an MSc in Marine Biology and Natural Resource Management. Distant Relatives is 100% owner-managed.