Believe me, ad rather be typing this from Lamu on a dhow in a *** but life has me doing it in Nairobi. Lamu! Lamu! Lamu! A song I have sung since 2017 and it’s not about to end. The only difference in the song is that I will now sing of its goodness. A week ago a group of 6 (myself included) set out for Lamu after 6 months of heavy google work, planning, and saving up cash. We left Nairobi via Wilson airport on a rainy Thursday morning at 9:00 hrs and landed in Manda airport around 11:11 am. Transfers are done via boats (stop imagining a cab) and within 5 or so minutes Lamu old town, Shella, and Manda islands welcome you on the other side. For this particular trip, we chose a house in old town Lamu for our 4 days accommodation. All these thanks to booking.com and a few referrals from chinku travels.
How was our stay?
Being out in a group of serious travelers everyone had their expectations and experiences from past travels but Lamu blew out our minds. It’s the not-so-hot weather, the culture, food, and the people for us. Forget the Nairobi saying “watu wa Mombasa ni welcoming” Lamu people are IT! They have this genuine love and the want to help. Forget being a tourist, they treat you for the human being you are. I enjoyed moments when a random guy would ask you where one group member is moments when we could be walking without one of us. This tells you how small the town is and everyone knows everyone. I have never felt this safe ever during a holiday. You forget your tripod in a restaurant and someone is running to get it to you. Now, enough of the praises let’s have a look at some of the activities enjoyed during our stay. (Emotional going through them)
Departure from Nairobi to Lamu. Hotel check-in, lunch, and an afternoon of swimming and catching up. Later in the evening we took a stroll to the beach and to familiarize ourselves with the town. During our walk, a gentleman invited us to his workshop where he makes boats from scratch. The work and processes involved are fascinating. This gentleman was kind enough to do demos of his work and even allowed us to record and take photos in the boat workshop. We (ladies) got some Henna work done again courtesy of a stranger who invited us to his house where his wife did the henna work on us. On our way back to the hotel we stopped by for some street food which ended up being our dinner.
Remember the gentleman who helped us with henna? We chose to have him as our guide throughout our stay. While most guides study the culture to tell stories, Mr. Abu (our guide) has lived through the culture. (Culture is him and he is culture as put by Nairobian). This is a full day packed with the following activities;
Takwa ruins sail
This is a historical site, part of the national museums of Kenya hosting remains of a Swahili trade town that was abolished in the seventeenth century. It is situated on the south side of Manda island and getting there one needs a boat ride. During the sail to and from enjoy the mangrove vegetation and the breeze through the mangrove. Take as many shots as you can and enjoy the sail through the creek. Make sure to have a well-versed guide who understands the ocean timings to avoid high tides. On the far end of Takwa ruins enjoy the beach.
This is a unique town/village 45 minutes away from Lamu town while walking. It is one of the most tourist villages in Lamu town with a very beautiful beach, dunes, and high-end hotels. During the visit enjoy the dunes and cool off on the Shella beach. Take a tour through the village and learn more about the people’s culture while at it.
Lamu old town tour
This was and is my favorite bit of the entire trip. I love culture and cultural stories. Lamu old town is so rich in culture that you cannot ignore it. The narrow streets, the smell of food, the slow activities, and the Lamu cats in this town is everything. While at it make sure to visit;
An art gallery; phoenix art shop to be specific, get yourself some art pieces and promote Mzee Abu through which you promote the community.
Lamu Museum; Get a guide to walk you through the museum rich with the Swahili culture. Learn more on the Swahili way of life as well as the coming to be of Lamu.
Lamu fort; one of the oldest buildings in the middle of Lamu town built between 1813 and 1821 by Omani as a protection tool along the coastline. Today the open auditorium inside the fort is used by the community to host events. The fort has a library as well and supports kids talented in arts. Discover more about the Omani and this watchtower.
Smith workshop; if pieces of jewelry with a touch of culture are your thing, make sure to visit this shop and get yourself or a loved one a piece or two. The rings are said to have been made from the remains of a wrecked ship from the oceans.
As usual, we ended the day with a street food dinner this time mshikakis and
I can hear Phenny and the girls scream this is IT! It’s the last day of activities and guess who is about to shake what their mamas gave them on a dhow? Wait let’s do that again…. guess who is about to shake what their mamas gave them on the Lamu dhow competition-winning dhow? Us! We! Well, let Us see how the day went;
Manda Island;An island opposite Shella beach with the most beautiful beach and hotels. If you wish to have a honeymoon in Lamu, this is the place! Quite and deserted from all the world noise. We enjoyed a cold swim and just relaxed by the beach.
Sunset cruise; Drum rolls, please… The excitement that comes with the dhow cannot be explained on a word document. The breeze through the mangrove creek is the perfect entrance every bride should have. The swahili snacks on board aaaah. If you miss the perfect sunset due to weather changes make sure to enjoy the ride. Throw a party if you like and just let go. On this particular day, the sunset was not as hot as expected as we experienced some rain before and during the cruise. That said it was still a sunset cruise that we all enjoyed.
Floating Bar; after enjoying the sunset make a stop at the floating bar, enjoy a meal, drinks, and music.
Day 004: Donkey ride
This happened to be our final day with an evening flight back to Nairobi. After breakfast part of the group enjoyed a donkey ride while the rest enjoyed baskets shopping in Lamu town. We also enjoyed the pool for one last time, lunch, and off to Manda airport for our flight back to Nairobi.
Now how much did this trip cost us?
|Accommodation ( for the 3 nights pp on bed & breakfast)||6,950|
|Airport boat transfer to & from Manda airport||200|
|Sunset dhow cruise+snacks||1,333|
|Lamu X fort museum entrance fees||100|
|Takwa ruins entrance fees||100|
|Guide (Day 002 full day)||1,500|
|Boat rides; Return Takwa X shella Return Manda island Return to the floating bar X Lamu||400 400 300|
- Skyward have ahave a Ksh 6,950 offer running on most days for the remaining part of the year from Nairobi to Lamu.
- The above prices are per person in Kenyan shillings.
- Airport transfers are priced at 100 pp to Lamu and 100 pp to Manda on departure date.
- Dhow cruise was 8000 inclusive of snacks / 6 people thus 1333 per person.
- The ticket used at Lamu museum is also used to enter Lamu fort.
- Our full day Guide charged 9000 for all the activities on Day 002 (8am-5pm) / 6 people.
- Meals we were always on the move hence street food served us best with “viazi karais” ranging from Ksh 20 to 100 depending on portions served.
- Above prices are bound to change depending on the season, vendors wish and our economy.
Lamu is densely populated with Muslims hence if you can transport your alcohol from Nairobi as most restaurants do not sell liquor.
Lamu town has beautiful affordable hotels with all the facilities a traveler would require. Check your options on booking.com.
Dress appropriately; avoid booty shorts and tinny tops as it is a Muslim community. Respect their culture!
Till next time like comment, share, and keep safe.