Shimoni slave caves Kenya are located an hour’s drive (50km) from Diani Shopping Center, Shimoni is a small village on the south coast of Kenya. The name ‘Shimoni’ is a Swahili word that means ‘a place of the ‘hole’ or ‘inside the hole’. The name is delivered from the existence of the caves by the seashore formed as a result of the natural forces. These caves cover over five kilometers inland and have a complex tunnels that have been used for different Kenya safari functions and different times, the age of the caves is evident with the huge stalactites and stalagmites inside that complete the horror feel, therefore the Shimon’s history revolves a lot around these caves.
These caves are where the slaves were supposedly kept before being loaded onto the boats and shipped to Zanzibar. A custodian takes you around the dank caverns to illustrate this little-discussed part of East African history, actual evidence that slaves were kept here consists the solely of the iron rings in the rocks, but as piles of the empty votive rosewater bottles indicate, the site definitely has the significance for the locals. The Shimoni Caves were used as a waiting pen for the captured slaves from the hinterland.
A long time ago before the slave trade happened, people used the caves for the spiritual rituals or as a hiding places whenever there was a war. Currently the place lies further south and is currently a somewhat sleepy fishing village with various resorts and operators that specialize in the scuba diving safari, dolphin safari while providing the accommodation and recreation for the guests.
The locals believe that the Shimoni cave is a living organism as some of the rock pieces have the outcrops from the top and bottom jaw-like structures, pieces of the old iron chains and shackles can be found in the cave which some people argue were used to shackle slaves in order to stop them from running away while others argue that the hooks inside were used to hang animals slaughtered during the rituals.
The caves closet to the ocean on a safari can be visited and are part of a community-run museum that recalls the dramatic period of the Arab slavery on the Kenyan coast, here in Shimoni, as in other locations clearly identifiable by the chained detention sites and museums, like the Bagamoyo in Tanzania and Takaungu near Kilifi, the sultans of Zanzibar sent their ships to capture the natives and sell them to Omani and Persian merchant, employ them on the large sailing ships and in heavy labour related to the trade in timber, stones, spices. The slave trade began in the 12th century, and the contribution of the sultanate of Zanzibar in procuring young Bantu men was a crucial, and there were market places and sometimes merchants would go inland to capture them or lure them with false promises of work and income.
The chains cemented into the rock of the Shimoni caves tell of the human conditions in which the African slaves were kept while waiting for the Arab boats to come and pick them up, the stone tanks where they were immersed and fed on the dates and nothing else, and where the light barely penetrated, with no possibility escape, on a safari can be visited in the caverns full of the stalagmites and the sudden lagoons, and home to the rare species of the bats.
A place to visit not so much for the uniqueness of these caves, but to learn about Kenya’s not-so-distant history and relive it in the original setting where it all happened, Shimoni can be reached from Mombasa by taking the road to Ukunda and continuing straight on for about 30 kilometers after the junction for the popular tourist resort of Diani. At the signposted junction, after the largest sugar factory in Ramisi, leave the road and turn left.
Entrance at Shimoni Slaves Caves Kenya.
A small entrance fee of Ksh 400 is charged to non-residents and Ksh for the Kenyan Citizens to explore the Shimoni caves and Kenya safari is usually between 8:30 am to 10:30am in the morning and 1: 30 to 6 pm in the evening.