Kenya is a destination that I had had on my radar for quite some time. Kept on postponing trips to this country, but finally took the opportunity to see it through this past September: Lamu, Nairobi and Mombasa.
Pursued the 3-county trip, as a solo traveler which allowed for exploration on my terms. Let’s start with my Lamu experience:
First stopped at Lamu Museum, here I learned everything about the Swahili traditions and cultures from architecture, music, wedding ceremonies, jewellery to different tribes. History dating back to the 14th Century. How else are you supposed to develop a connection with a place without knowing its background?
Kenya is a visa free country for South Africans. All you need is a valid passport. A yellow fever card should also be on your person, as they sometimes ask for this. For uninterrupted connectivity, I bought myself a Safaricom sim card, loaded airtime and data bundles at my convenience.
WHERE TO STAY
I wanted to immerse my self in Lamu and all its glory, so I stayed in Lamu Town at a luxurious six suites Swahili oasis named Andavelo House, with beautiful renovations and all the amenities one would want. Couldn't recommend it more, for its great staff, attention to detail, spaciousness, delicious food prepared by Abu the chef as well as the cleanliness. Feel free to use my Booking.com code to get a discount.
Another amazing place to stay for a modern feel is Ndoto House in Shela, bookings can be made by contacting them on +254 733 455 821.
R1 = 6,77 Kenyan Shilling
$1 = 100,91 Kenyan Shilling
*Dollars and Kenyan Shillings are widely used. Best to have cash on you as most establishments are informal.
End September – early October, saw Lamu having at least 9 hours of sunshine with some random showers that didn’t last long. For clear weather, the best times to visit Lamu are reported as late November to end March.
The most convenient way to travel between counties was by flight, managed to book direct flights from Nairobi to Lamu through fly540. It is also important to note that boats are the primary mode of transport between the airport, villages and other islands. Once, in Lamu Town and Shela, you will also find that Donkeys are used as another means of transport by locals and visitors.
Lamu is an island, so trust that seafood was always on the menu. I mostly had the chef at Andavelo House (where I was staying), prepare meals for me, that consisted out of fish and vegetables. Have to say that this turned out to be the best food I tasted on the island.
Otherwise, snacked on sweet or savoury treats like Sim Sim and Bhajia with a cup of Cinnamon Coffee in hand from the Coffee Man at the seafront. Must Try!
For sundowners, I went to the infamous Majlis Resort and The Floating Bar & Restaurant Lamu, enjoyed delicious cocktails at both places.
Other spots to try in Lamu Town are Whispers Cafe for breakfast, Bush Gardens for fresh smoothies or Moonshine Bar at Lamu House for fish tacos or fish rolls. In Shela, Peponi Hotel was a great option for their White Fish Carpaccio.
Activities are often organised through “Captains”, mine was named Swaleh AKA Captain Pagwash. He helped me organise everything from donkey rides, sunset cruises to snorkeling with a beach barbeque on Manda Toto. To contact him dial + 254 714 115908.
Also got to witness a Green Sea Turtle hatching on Manda Island, which was quite an awe-inspiring experience. 140+ turtles were born that day and immediately tackled the harshness of the waves. Apparently only 1 in 1000 make it to adulthood and after 25 years, the females return to the same beach to lay their eggs and continue the life cycle. These trips are organised by the Lamu Conservation Trust, all proceeds go to guarding the nesting site and taking count of hatchings. If interested in finding out more do contact Famao AKA The Turtle Man on +254 723 963533.
Shopped at the market by Lamu Fort, where one would find fresh produce and hand crafted goods like basket bags. Bought a lot of unique gifts here for friends and family at affordable prices.
In Shela, a must see boutique store is Aman. Twas the only formal store setup that I spotted on the island.
Really appreciated the slow living in Lamu and the fact that I could experience the old and new within minutes. Another thing that made my journey special was meeting the likes of Sandy Bornman AKA @SandyLamu whose in-depth Instagram feed inspired my trip to this island.
Trust that I will be making it an annual holiday destination!