Basic Tips while visiting Lamu
If you are an extrovert, one of the highlights of travelling is you meet people from various walks of life. Some are just for the moment while others end up being travel buddies for life. The first person I interacted with once I landed in Lamu was an American called Rebecca. You should see the way she twists her tongue while pronouncing Rebecca. Anyone called Rebecca would want to stick to their native names. Same goes for Sarah, Rachael and Levi. Apparently, the way we pronounce these names is the African way, which sounds ridiculous when compared to the American way. I appreciate folks who give African names to their children. Speaking of which, I am at that age where all my friends are getting kids, I’m here thinking soon I will be showing my friends pictures of my cats when they show me pictures of their adorable babies. Also, I have no cats. Also, No pressure at all! Speaking of which, congratulations to my dear friend Kevin who recently welcomed a bouncing baby girl named Kwanza. I love the name Kwanza; it is creative and very African. Way to go Kevin!
Anyway, Rebecca mentioned she had lived in Kenya for three years. During that period, she had been to Lamu thrice. This was her fourth visit to Lamu. You will understand why at the end of this post. The trip to Lamu was unpremeditated. I have never been to Lamu so this trip provided the perfect opportunity. Moreover, I had the chance to hang out with very cool people and coerce some of them to turn into photographers for this post. Sam, if you are reading this, thank you.
Lamu old town is chaos, from characters trying to make a buck off tourists by convincing them to buy souvenirs to others trying to act as tour guides. A walk through the town will make you forget traffic, well, not really because theirs is a different kind, I am talking about donkeys. There are all types of donkeys: jacks, jennets, foals, skinny and even fat ones. By the way, a fat donkey can be referred to as a fat ass, no? As you can imagine, their road marks are donkey shit. They say, each town has a distinct welcoming scent. Lamu’s old town smell is donkey shit. I didn’t see a single vehicle in Lamu, just a couple of Lorries that were transporting construction materials. Their main means of transport are boats and donkeys.
Lamu beaches are hands down the most beautiful, serene and magical ones I have visited in Kenya. Any place with a large water body works for me. The Indian Ocean for some reason looks extra blue on these beaches probably because there are no humans in sight. I would take long evening walks along the crisp white beaches in and think I could get used to this life.
Lamu has Zanzibar vibes from the architecture, to the Swahili, the people and even the cuisine. Yes, I said cuisine. For some reason I have always wanted to use that word.
You can either go by road or by bus if you are travelling from Nairobi. In fact, with the introduction of the SGR to Mombasa then get a flight from Mombasa to Lamu. I hear the road to Lamu is bad, I’m not sure how bad but my friends mentioned it was dusty and they were stopped at various security checks and got escorts by the police. Honestly, I think flying is your best bet if you book your flight early enough since it will be way cheaper than booking say a week to.
One can either choose to stay in Shela, where accommodation is right next to the ocean or Lamu town. I loved how quiet and peaceful Shela was.
Lamu Old Town and the Museums
At the old town, check out the donkey sanctuary, ride the donkeys if you may. I rode the donkey for a good 20 minutes. A few more minutes I would have started feeling like Khaleesi, surrounded by the unsullied (by the unsullied, I mean a single donkey owner).
Visit the museums. See the history of Lamu .See the town. The architecture is a mixture of Indian and Portuguese. I highly doubt this will ever change, I believe the architecture is one of the factors that make Lamu old town a UNESCO heritage town .
Manda Toto Reef Snorkeling Trip
This a full day trip on a hired boat. You may want to carry your own drinks. Hand lines are offered to those who would wish to fish. Cooking happens on board. You may have lunch in transit or on one of the beautiful beaches like kizingoni beach.
Manda Toto is surrounded by beautiful, lush green mangrove trees and the ocean is oh so perfect for snorkeling.
Notice how round my cheeks are? Look, I usually have pregnant cheeks but they get rounder when I get in contact with salty water.
The majlis resort offers this activity. It was a first for me and my arms were on fire after. It was a hilarious experience. First of all, I had no clue what I was doing. Secondly, standing on the surfboard was difficult and once I managed to at least try, my body was arched in a twerking position. See how chics stand when they are about to twerk? I looked like I was about to drop it like its hot only that I ended up dropping in the cold ocean. Now, when I realized I was in water, I panicked. The Jet Ski was a couple of meters away. Of course I had a life jacket on but I’m also black. I cannot possibly trust not to drown. I started swimming towards the Jet Ski when I realized I couldn’t make it that far and that is when the thought of drowning set in. Si I yelled? No the correct word in this situation is Scream.The captain tells me in simple slow Swahili “Mrembo, tulia , huwezi zama, ukishtuka ndio utazama.” I’m there like I will, I’m freaking terrified. Ever tried crying with water on your face? DON’T!
My friends checked out the floating bar which I didn’t get to. Hopefully someday I will get to go back and visit.
The majlis resort has amazing sea food. Literally, only thing I ate when I was there. Their cocktails are also out of this world. Majlis resort is a must visit for anyone going to Lamu. You do not have to stay there to visit.
Have you been to Lamu?
If you haven’t, tembea Kenya! It is definitely worth it