Distant Relatives Eco Lodge and Backpackers – Kilifi

Footprints and Photos - Distant Relatives Kilifi

It was the name that got me. After reading it how could I not want to go. Realsing then that it was located on the Kenyan coast about an hour north of Mombasa in idealic Kilifi cemented the idea. I recently visited Diani Beach and knew that if Kilifi was anything like that then I had to go!

A quick 45min flight from Nairobi to Mombasa, an hour or so bus ride (who keeps time in Kenya?!) followed by a fun and bouncy tuk-tuk ride delivered me to an unassuming gate. What was inside = pure heaven.

The accommodation

Distant Relatives is definitely an eco retreat. The grounds are gorgeous and lush – with monkeys, guinea fowl and lizards roaming the pathways.

Footprints and Photos - Distant Relatives Kilifi

A cheeky visitor that I didn’t mind at all.

Constructed using locally found or upcycled/salvaged materials the accommodation ranges from double bed bandas, to family sized rooms to dorm rooms – one of which incredibly has a tree growing up through the roof!

Is it wrong to say that my favourite part though is the bathrooms? Regardless of if you’ve elected for a dorm or a private room, you will shower under the sky and the branching bamboo or bougainvillea. The shower heads are plumbed to follow the branches of trees and taps are disguised. The toilets are composting and help to fertilise the food grown. Eat – excrete – fertilise – grow. Simple cycle that works wonders for the environment and the experience!


Footprints and Photos - Distant Relatives Kilifi

An outdoor bathroom with composting toilet and separate urinal in a tree trunk – does it get better?

An eco-friendly setting

Wandering the grounds lets travellers really see the inventiveness that went into constructing this place. Used tyres have been used to construct staircases – preventing the tyres from being set on fire in the street and capturing those harmful emissions. Old glass bottles are used as lamp shades throughout the garden and a recycling/composting section is set up near the back gate for organic matter. It’s clear to see that a lot of effort goes into reducing or capturing waste as much as possible.

The chill out areas are equally impressive. Chairs carved from old boats covered in cushions displaying traditional African print make it hard to venture out of the Distant Relative confines.

Footprints and Photos - Distant Relatives Kilifi

The perfect setting to chill

Local produce cooked the way you miss!

Distant Relatives offers up restaurant food for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The breakfast smoothies of mango or banana are incredible and even Lonely Planet raves about them. With a good shot of moringa or baobab in there to get you going, they are the perfect start to a Kilifi day. Whilst not as cheap as the local joints in town, the food is filling, delicious and still better priced than many tourist places. And if you are missing home cooked western food, then they’ve got what you need!

Footprints and Photos - Distant Relatives Kilifi

Who knew that these baobabs produced such a super food?

Community engagement

Adding to all of this is the great attitude of the staff. Between having posters up announcing that straws are banned in the bar, to refilling your water bottle and tips on the best way to get to all the incredible natural highlights of the area, the staff are priceless.

The staff are mostly local Kenyans or backpackers that couldn’t find the heart to leave. By employing locals, the lodge helps ensure it is assisting and not exploiting the community. Distant Relatives also promotes local tuk-tuk, motorbike and taxi drivers, sending much needed business to those that are safe and responsible. It also allows the travellers to feel as though they are getting a good deal with a good driver – win-win.

Add it to the list

With a chill vibe, access to a small and safe beach (even night swimming is encouraged) and excellent eco initiatives, Distant Relatives has my vote for any travellers heading to Kilifi. If you weren’t planning to, well then maybe this is the excuse you needed to add it to the list!

Footprints and Photos - Distant Relatives Kilifi

A few visitors during the day, but deserted at night – PERFECT!

The Footprint Scale

Footprints and Photos - 1/5 on the Footprint Scale

Distant Relatives: 1/5 footprints

Construction materials are local, recycled or salvaged. Water reduction and reuse is promoted throughout the grounds and actively practiced by staff. The reduce, reuse, recycle philosophy is on show everywhere you look, as is travel and eco notice boards. Hiring local staff and promoting local businesses also means Distant Relatives is environmentally and socially responsible.

Looking for more advice on the Kenyan coast then check out Diani Beach. If you’d like more of an insight to my life here in Kenya, head to this page. Want to book a stay at Distant Relatives? Here you go: Kilifi Backpackers