Pole-Pole ~ slowly slowy, are the first words that come to mind when describing Lamu and its people. A slowness and stillness that is not idle, but enchanting in it’s peacefulness. A truly humbling travel experience.
Travelling in Africa is one of my current personal goals, so upon a conversation I had with a friend who travels to Lamu annually, I decided to check it out and immediately fell in love. However the internet doesn’t capture the true magic of this place. I carried on doing my research, spoke to a few people and finally got my crew together to book our flights – the rest is history.
For those who haven’t watched my Lamu VLOG, you can do so to find out exactly what we got up to, however this blog post is dedicated to sharing some really useful tips I wish I had known before travelling to Lamu.
Where to stay ?
Lamu is relatively small so you don’t have a vast number of hotel options or airbnbs. Because we were a group, it worked out quite well to stay at one of the ‘fancier’ places which we’d seen on our beloved Instagram, The Majlis Resort. Other great hotels include Peponi Hotel and Lamu House. At the Majlis, breakfast is included in the room rate and there’s free wifi everywhere and its really good! Upon exploring Lamu, we met Marcel (my friend Amandla put us in touch) who manages a property in Shela that she will be airbnb’ing. Definately worth a try, if you are looking for something beautiful on a modest budget.
Majlis Resort and Shela apartment ( contact Marcel)
What to pack ?
There are 3 main considerations to make when packing your bag for Lamu.
- The heat – On a scale of Nandos sauce hotness, I would say Lamu is a HOT. Pack a wide brim hat and light linen long sleeved clothing to keep you covered. I didn’t feel it was as humid as I’d expected, however I did come back to South Africa a few shades darker.
- Modest clothing – Lamu is a prodominantly a muslim community therefore especially when visiting Lamu Town, it is an important consideration to dress modestly. I would recommend for women to pack tops that have mid/long sleeves or bring along a light scarf. I did not wear long sleeves however carried a scarf with me to wear over my shoulders when wearing a ‘strapy’ top, and always had my legs completely covered. But of course this all boils down to personal choice.
- Slay – Always 🙂
Planning your flight schedule
If you haven’t travelled in Africa yet, you are yet to experiences the wrath of unpredictability. There is one flight daily into Lamu via each airline – Safarilink, Airkenya and fly540. From Nairobi to Lamu we flew fly540 , which is a very affordable domestic airline. On our way back, my boyfriend’s flight from Lamu got cancelled when they arrived at the airport. On the very next day my flight was delayed by 3 hours, with an ‘unscheduled’ stop in Malindi. I would thus strongly suggest that you give yourself at least one night in between your flight from Lamu to Nairobi and Nairobi to home, in order to ensure you catch your flight back home the next day.
What to do ?
As true joburgers, in our short 5 day stay we ‘did the absolute most’! We visited Matondoni Village where traditional Dhows are made, attended Saba studio launch in Lamu Town, snorkeled in Manda Toto, strolled through the streets of Shela all the while drinking and eating (in surplus). I do have one regret however – we passed up an opportunity to have dinner at one of the local’s house, which I now so dearly wish we had done.
- Visit Saba Studio – An acquintance, now become friend, Moran opened his design studio in Lamu over December while we were there. His space is beautiful, calming and you are most likely going to fall in love with his furniture
- Go snorkelling in Manda Toto – Although I only managed to snorkel for a total of 5 minutes, because of sea sickness -I would definately recommend this in Lamu.
- Get lost in the streets of Shela – Take a slow afternoon walk through Shela – guided or unguided. It’s so safe, and you can chat to the locals. Also, if you want to buy gifts, there are quite a few shops here to buy ‘touristy’ things.
- Sunset Dhow – See Lamu from the water at the end of the day on a Dhow with a glass of wine and great company.
- Don’t pass up the opportunity to have dinner at a local’s home – only when presented with the option of course.
Saba Studio, Lamu Town
Snorkelling and Sunset Dhow