Why you should visit Lamu
Just last week my friends and I finally went on the long-planned and long-awaited trip to Lamu Island. You know that feeling when you plan something for so long then you finally see it happen? Yeah that was us on the way to the airport even though the flight delayed and shortened our trip by a few hours. If you would like to know all the financial details of the trip and how to get to Lamu, I’ll drop the details down below this post.
Why Lamu Island?
It is important to differentiate Lamu Old Town, the island from the mainland because people tend to confuse the two since the terror attacks on the mainland in 2014. Lamu is one of the oldest towns of Kenya with structures that are about 200 years old and majority of them were not built with cement but with coral, mangrove timber, lime and sand.
Lamu has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2001 due to its delicate traditions over the centuries and the fact that it is the oldest and best preserved Swahili and Islamic settlement in East Africa.
My favorite fun fact about Lamu Island is the fact that it has no cars or vehicles so you basically have to move on donkeys or walk or take a speed boat from one point to another (we actually watched a father send off his daughters to school in the morning on a speedboat and it was so beautiful!).
Unlike any other coastal town where you will probably spend most of the time at the hotel, Lamu Old Town has a lot of activities especially when there is a festival. It hosts about 6 festivals a year from the Lamu Food Festival where you pay about 2.5$ for an all-you-can-eat buffet, to the Lamu Cultural festival where you can watch dhows racing and where they award the prettiest donkey on the island. For more details about the festivals check out their website DiscoverLamu .
Lastly, Lamu Island is home to Shela village which is known for its aristocrats and wealthy residents such as Princess Caroline of Monaco, The royal family of Norway, one of the former presidents of FIFA, Adam Reed who was the architect of the Burj Khalifa hotel… the list goes on. Also, Shela village is almost entirely built on sand which I found really fascinating among other beautiful things like its breathtaking scenery.
What To Do While In Lamu
Wake up by 6:30am to catch the sunrise and watch young boys dive off the pier. This was a good way to start our tour of the island.
9:00 am: Go island hopping. We were lucky to get a boat ride from 9am till 4pm that took us to Manda Island and around the other parts of the Lamu archipelago/island chain. The ocean vibes are life-changing (no wonder people at the coast are so calm and relaxed).
12:00 pm: Eat their street food and fresh fish. They make the most delicious samaki with fresh herbal spices and you can literally taste every juicy ingredient. You should also try their tamarind juice which is locally known as “ukwaju” and their tasty bhajias.
Next day at 10:00 am: Go to the floating bar and restaurant. Unfortunately we were too tired to party at the floating bar and too early to get a meal there either but at least we set foot on it. It is anchored firmly and at times it steers to different parts of the ocean so you may not find it in the same place you left it.
1:30 pm: Roam Shela village, drink lots of coconut water and stare at the beautiful babies (I know that’s rude but I had a minute of baby-fever there).
2:00 pm: Ride a donkey. I know horses are fancy and all but who would not want to try riding these slow yet strong mini-stallions?
3:30 pm: Chill at the sand dunes in Shela but beware that sand gets hot so wait till the evening when it’s quite cool.
At anytime during your visit: Get a henna tattoo. I mean what better way to show off that you’ve been there?
What you must carry/have
- Sunscreen of at least SPF 30 because you don’t want to get mild sunburns like I did.
- Extra batteries for your camera and a charger.
- Costumes, comfortable beach wear and shades.
- A khanga because the community is rather conservative and you don’t want them staring at you in your shorts. This is entirely up to you as long as you are comfortable.
- For the ladies, plait braids or cornrows or have any reliable protective style because the air is extremely humid.
Contacts and details
- Travel agency: Rosolo Safaris
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact numbers: +254774274166, +254706274177
- Airline used: JamboJet
- Flight charges: 186 USD return trip from Nairobi to Lamu
- Hotel: The Subira House
- Contact of Captain Omar for the boat ride: +254715258915
- Boat ride charges: 40 USD for the entire day with lunch inclusive.
Which places have you been to and what did you like? What are your dream travel destinations?
Live and love,