Sabaki River Estuary is located about five kilometres from Malindi town. The hidden destination mostly frequented by a few birdwatchers’ marks where a river pours its water into an ocean; yet the sea has rejected the water for years. Sabaki is the name of the last segment of one of the longest rivers in Kenya, Athi-Galana-Sabaki.
Despite nature hoping to unify the river and sea, there is a clear demarcation. The beauty is in watching the ‘fight’ as the turbid yellow water from the river refuses to mix with the sky-blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The ‘fight’ characterized by the force of the river and repulse by the high tide of the ocean is a sight to behold. You can stand and watch this ‘fight’ for hours especially during high tides when the sea water tends to rush out and clash with the muddled yellow-like incoming river water.
The estuary itself covers an area of about six kilometres and has sandbanks, mudbanks, dunes and seasonal and permanent freshwater pools, mangroves and scrub. North of the estuary, there are sand dunes, a rare sight in Coast. The coastal scrub and wetlands adjacent to the river mouth are an important habitat for shorebirds and other water birds. The mouth of the Sabaki River offers a rich diversity of bird species, including many rarities and spectacular numbers of gulls and terns. They feed far out in the sea and return to roost on the Sand banks
For birdwatchers, Sabaki estuary is like walking through paradise. Sabaki River Estuary is the best place in Kenya to see Madagascar Pratincole, a threatened afro tropic Malagasy migrant that is infrequently seen (March-September), Wintering Palaeartic wader the Broad-billed Sandpiper, White-faced whistling ducks roost amongst the waders, which include dozens of pied avocets, whimbrel and their larger relatives the Eurasian curlews, as well as bar-tailed Godwits. Lesser Flamingos also frequent Sabaki Estuary, when it is less flooded and the waters are low in the river.