Being vegan in Mombasa
What happened before we got to Mombasa
Suraj, two of our friends, (Leo and Eva), and I went on Safari before arriving in Mombasa. We went from Nairobi to Masai Mara, where we stayed for three nights, after which we came to Mombasa for four nights. You can read about the Safari here. We stayed at Intrepids Camp while we were in Masai Mara, and we couldn’t have asked for more! You can read about what it was like, and how vegan friendly it was, here.
Arriving in Mombasa
After landing, we were a short drive away from the resort that we were due to stay at. That resort was Southern Palms.
When we walked in, my first impressions were that it was spacious, clean and nice to look at. We were welcomed with fresh coconut water which was delicious. This was followed by the Receptionist talking us through various things about the resort, what is included, the extras and so on. So far, everything was great.
As we walked around, we were impressed and grateful for being there. There were a number of different areas where guests could sit. Some of the seating was cosy, with low tables, whilst others were more upright with higher tables, which one could use to for example, play games or work on a laptop.
The resort was open and beautifully lit and there were parts that hosted Weaverbirds. They were gorgeous, colourful and lovely to watch.
The beach only took a couple of minutes to get to on foot. We took long walks on the beach and sunbathed too. It was lovely. We later realised that the beach has been split up into two parts. The locals are allowed to sell what they make on one half of the beach, whilst non-locals can work the other half. We got approached by a number of people who would have been content even if we only took a look at their products. Many of them said ‘looking is free.’ When we weren’t up for that we were polite and told them that we may come back later, or that we weren’t going to do any shopping or that we didn’t want to stop; and they understood. It was fine.
On the most part, the staff we engaged with were polite, quiet, considerate and wanted to please. A few people that stick out are Esther and Gideon.
The pool was awesome! One of the best things I liked about it, was that it was split up into sections. They were different shapes and sizes, but one thing that they had in common, is the depth of each pool was marked on the tiles.
The food was great! However, it wasn’t labelled so we had to ask what was vegan every time we had a meal. The staff was vast, so when someone may have understood what we will/won’t eat, they were working a different shift, it was their day, or unavailable for some other reason. After providing the Assistant Restaurant Manageress and Receptionist with a list of what we would and wouldn’t eat, I thought that the various staff who were on duty during our stay, would be informed, and we wouldn’t have to think about it anymore. However, this wasn’t the case and I got tired of having to repeatedly explain what vegan meant and then check that there wasn’t something non-vegan in the item they pointed out as being fine for us to eat.
Regardless of the above, once we knew what we could eat, the food was absolutely delicious! Here are some photos of the food we enjoyed.
The tour company
We booked our stay through a tour company. Prior to booking the resort, we asked them to recommend one that would be able to cater for us, after we chose from the list of suggestions, we checked that they would manage again, before finalising our plans. A couple of weeks before we left, we asked them to remind the resort to get some vegan milk, bread and margarine. However, Southern Palms said they weren’t told and Mario Tours said they had informed them. Either way, Southern Palms tried hard to help make the stay smoother, but I can’t say the same for Mario Tours. The person we were liaising with kept palming us off onto one particular chef, who was meant to be the answer to all our problems but he was nowhere near that.
Leaving on a good note
When we left, Esther came and asked us how we felt about our stay. We were very polite, positive and honest, but we didn’t say anything about the dramas around the food. She knew it had been an issue, so she asked further, encouraging us to suggest how it could be made better for future vegan guests. She is one of the people who was on the ball, polite, retained what we said, really thought about our requirements, took steps to ensure relevant members of staff were updated and was full of smiles. We suggested that they mark the vegan dishes, so guests can easily spot what’s suitable and what isn’t, and to ensure that all the staff understood what vegan meant, so that if they were asked, they didn’t guess or assume.