In my previous article on my First time ever on an island, I explained how to get to Lamu and how to get accomodation, food and transport. In this article I am going to talk about how to maximize your stay in lamu with the activities you need to do and the places you need to visit. We travelled to Lamu in February and that weekend was during the Lamu Art Festival. This festival attracts a lot of locals and tourists from different parts of the world.
The beauty about this festival is that it was free and it was happening near where we were staying or at the beach. We arrived in Lamu on Thursday Afternoon and we ended up spending the rest of the day unpacking and unwinding on the rooftop.
In the evening we decided to take a walk along the beach and catch the sunset.
Shela beach and Manda Island
Day two, our plan was to visit the Shela beach and also Manda island as they are just opposite each other. That is where we spent most of the day before returning back to our house for dinner. You can carry packed lunch or you can buy from the local shops in the nearby areas. Shela beach is the most commonly known beach in Lamu. It is just 100 shillings away by boat but those who want to walk can also walk if they have no issue with the scorching sun and heat.
Donkey Sanctuary and Lamu Museum
Our day three, we decided to take a town tour. The only means of transport is donkeys or walking. The streets are really narrow. There are two cars in the whole of Lamu and they do not even come inside the town because there is no passage. There are a few motorbikes but they are not allowed in the town. I found the motorcyclists being really obedient unlike our own in Nairobi city. A donkey ride city tour is just 200 shillings per person and it takes about an hour or so.
This was one of my favourite places to visit. It is one of the less crowded places to visit. You can get there in 25 minutes using a speedboat but we decided to take a sailing boat/dhow. The dhow can carry up to 20 people. You can even cook on the boat or you can carry your foods. It is a very comfortable boat with mattresses and pillows and it even comes with a music system. It moves slowly so that you can take in all the views. It took about an hour and half to get to kipungani. The sailing boat charges 15,000 shilling per day regardless of the number of passengers. So the more you are the cheaper it becomes. They can also provide you with breakfast and lunch if you inform them earlier.
This is found near Manda Island. They are the remains of an old town which was abandoned in the 18th Century. It is a tourist attraction site and they charge 100 shillings entry fee. A boat ride is 6,000 shillings from Lamu to Takwa then to Shela beach depending on your negotiation skills because it can go upto 10,000 shillings per boat carrying around 10 people. Since we were many, we had to take two boats at 6,000 shillings each so a total of 12,000 shillings. You need to visit the place very early in the morning or late in the evening when the tides are really low. The boat ride was really amazing. The views too. It was so calm.
Lamu Art Festival
How could we not attend the festival?? On our second last day we attended the festival and the main activity was the Dhow race. It was free. You just had to pay for your transport which is just 200 shillings to and from the beach.
Get henna Tattoo
Why go all the way to Lamu or Mombasa and not get a Henna Tattoo?. The ladies are really talented. The art I got took less than 10 minutes and the lady was so keen to detail. The price ranges from 200 to 1000 shillings depending on the size and your negotiation skills.
Lamu fort Library
I really got carried away with the shots. The place was just magical.
I found lamu to be a pretty nice place to stay in except for the heat. The locals are really very conservative and most if not all of them, are muslims. So they will expect you to wear deras or be fully covered which to me did not make sense at all. The heat was too much to even wear a T-shirt let alone a dera. In a day you could shower like five times especially with the fact that our house did not have a swimming pool where we could at least take a dip. Food was pretty affordable. The swahili dishes like pilau was about 120 shillings,mahamri was 20 shillings, pizza mkate was 100 shillings, bhajia you could get from as low as 20 shillings, madafu range from 30 – 50 shillings depending on the size, tamarind juice/Ukwaju juice which I totally loved was just 50 shillings and it was amazing!!!!
My overall rate for Lamu was a 9 out of 10. That one point is just because of the heat and that our house did not have a swimming pool.
See you on my next one.