The Marafa Depression is what’s left behind of a massive sandstone ridge that slowly eroded over time due to the harsh winds, rains, and floods that often hit this region, which is why the locals of Marafa call this geological wonder “Nyari” which means “the place broken by itself.” This canyon designed by the skillful hand of the elements is one of Kenya’s most unique geological sites, where vibrantly tinted rock layers and jagged gorges form a kaleidoscope of colors that illuminate the canyon during sunset, as intense shades of crimson, orange, pink, and white come to life. The formation of the Marafa Depression is highlighted by three distinct colors and ores with red representing iron, yellow representing sulfur, and white representing calcium.
The Legend of Hell's Kitchen
According to local folklore, this magnificent sandstone canyon is also the site of divine retribution where god punished an extravagant local family who indulged in a hedonistic lifestyle while letting the rest of the village languish in poverty. It is said that this wealthy family owned various cows who would often produce valuable extra milk, which instead of going back to families in the village who were in dire need, would be used for bathing and washing instead. God, who was furious at this wasteful behavior, inflicted a curse and punished the family by sending an earthquake to open the ground beneath their home. When the local people of Marafa heard the unusual sounds throughout the night, they were surprised to find that the family had disappeared once the sun came up the next morning. And what remained was the iconic milky white and crimson sandstone of the Marafa Depression, which now serves as a reminder against unnecessary waste and extravagance. Today, the village elders still visit the Marafa Depression for its sacred significance and pray to the gods for help with their problems.
Explore Hell's Kitchen with a Local
For a truly local tour experience near Malindi, join Evelyn and the Bore Community on their Marafa Village Experience in collaboration with I Like Local’s community partner, ActionAid. This experience benefits a community organization working to empower villages along the coast of Kenya.
You’ll have an excellent opportunity on this Hell’s Kitchen tour to take a cliff walk at the Marafa Depression with one of the local villagers as you listen to the history and folklore of this sacred geological site. You’ll also learn how to cook a traditional dinner with one of the local chefs, where you’ll learn to make chapattis, ugali, ndengu, and mandazi while sitting by the bonfire and enjoying a relaxing sunset sundowner. In the morning, you’ll even have the chance to go on a birdwatching tour with one of the local leaders in the village!