Lamu has reserved its place on the coveted list of idyllic destinations in Africa. This little town lies just off Kenya’s far north coast. The Archipelago is a group of beautiful islands on the Indian Ocean – Lamu, Manda, Pate, Kiwayu, and Manda Toto. The UNESCO World Heritage site holds within its boundaries a rich Swahili history and is home to a magical beauty. An extensive 12km beach perhaps its most outstanding charm is guarded by lazily swaying palms and villages and an unadulterated town. The narrow alleyways are only open to wandering donkeys and lazy dhow boats sail the ocean afar. How it has escaped the encroaching civilization is still a surprise and the mark of its charm.
Jambojet, Kenya’s first low-cost airline that operates from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, is relaunching its flights to Lamu, starting 15th of September 2021, and we all can’t wait! The fantastic thing about that flight and any other flight to any of Jambojet’s destinations is that you can actually pay in installments through their Jaza Pole Pole payment plan. Ticket prices will start from Ksh 7,100 from Nairobi to Lamu and from Ksh 4,600 from Mombasa to Lamu. The flight frequency will be four times weekly.
Here is a list of touristy things you can do when you visit Lamu!
Not surprisingly the laid-back town attracts quite discerning travelers, ex-pats, and international celebrities looking to unplug from the bustle of civilization. This jealously preserved Swahili settlement holds a lot of archaeological and historical interest. The Asians, Persians, Indians, Europeans, and Kenyans who have lived here over the centuries have given the island a unique blend of cultures. Grand old forts, elegant rooftop cafes; narrow streets, and intricately carved front doors strikingly reflect these strong cultural expressions.
Even with its small nature, you can easily miss out on its best-kept secrets. While visiting Lamu these top 10 must-do and must-see checklists from us will help you savor the best of the town:
1.Rediscover Lamu’s History
The UNESCO world heritage site tag speaks of the rich history within Lamu. Additionally, the Lamu Museum offers an introduction to the island’s age-old history and architecture. Further down the road from the museum stands Lamu Fort built by the Sultan of Paté in the 1800s. The fort that was used as a prison in British Colonial rule now stands as a library holding lessons of ancient splendor and conquests.
Image Courtesy:Ministry of Sports Culture & Heritage
2.Sail into the Sunset.
Do you fancy enjoying the tropical sun or would just like to catch a sunset. The waters of the Lamu island are best toured on a dhow. Make sure to arrange an afternoon dhow boat ride from Shela beach or Lamu Old Town jetty along the sheltered strait of water between the island and the mainland. The inviting horizons of the setting sun make an enthralling adventure. These are best enjoyed on the bedecked sailboats that provide a lovely sail with chilled drinks lazing upon the deep cushions.
3.Enjoy Water sports.
Don’t let the old town laid-back nature hold in your inner junkie. Water sports like snorkeling and scuba diving are best enjoyed between November and March when the water is clearest. You can also learn how to paddle here and make the most of this adventure.
4. Stay in Luxury Accommodation
Lamu is rumored to have the exotic ‘barefoot luxury’ experience. However, this is a rumor best confirmed in person. The town has developed quite a reputation for hosting its guests. From local rustic spaces to high-end hotels you can enjoy a great vacation experience here. Revel in the great cuisine, exemplary service, locals chit-chat, fresh off-the-water seafood, and unbeatable views. Whatever options you choose, you are bound to want to stay longer here where everything moves in the slow breeze of the sea. Many townhouses are owned by Westerners who beautifully restore and turn them into guesthouses.
5.Stay in Traditional Villages
The Lamu Archipelago hosts three villages on Lamu Island; Shela Village, Matondoni, and Kipungani. The villages stunning in their natural character propel you further from the lie of civilization. The little villages beautifully nestled among coconut plantations are a lovely way of seeping into the culture. Shela Village is a 15 minutes boat ride from Lamu town. The village has a wide stretch of pristine beaches and palms in the backdrop making it the perfect spot for a walk or afternoon siesta. The ostentatious dunes give a birds-eye view of the island.
6.Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Swahili culture and style of Lamu are a rich cultural mix of East African, Arab, and Indian influences. Lamu town is built on coral stone and mangrove timber which gives it the unique beauty. The town is characterized by simple architectural designs dating back to the 17th century steeped in history. The houses are intricately embroidered with distinct features like inner courtyards, verandas, and elaborately carved wooden doors. Lamu hosts major Muslim festivals dating to the 19th century. Its rich history and traditions have made it a significant center for the study of Islamic and Swahili cultures.
7.Savour Swahili Tastes
Lamu’s rich culture provides for its diverse range of culinary experiences. Furthermore, Its proximity to the ocean guarantees lots of fresh seafood. However, the age-old recipes passed down in these cultures are what make it impossible not to fall in love with the tastes. The Swahili delicacies are hard to beat despite the ancient Portuguese, Indian, Arab influences and remain a favorite among locals and foreigners.
8. Go back in time
The island has been inhabited by Asians, Persians, Indians, Europeans and the Swahili people who have over the years left a rich history. Having a local tour guide can help you understand the intricate architecture and tradition. The maze of narrow alleyways and intricately decorated doors make for the perfect photo backdrop. The colorful food and spice market and traders allow you to collect souvenirs. Handmade Swahili furniture, reed hats, and baskets, antiques, jewelry, and paintings are just a few of the findings that you can walkway with. Or get even more indulgent get one of the local ladies to paint your hands with beautiful patterns made from the local dye (henna).
9. Hop into a Festival
Getting in on the fun is the best way to full bathe in the culture of a place. Lamu is known for the annual Yoga festival that takes place in March. Yoga enthusiasts can jump on this time to engage in this wholesome activity. However, experienced or not, the idyllic setting of the island makes it a welcome idea for anyone. Several other special festivals such as the art festival, hat festival, and an annual food festival can make your visit all the more wonderful.
10. Catch a sundowner
What’s not to love about an African Sundowner? Couple that with a coastal feel and the idea is irresistible. Bring around your friends just across to the mostly uninhabited Manda Island and chase down the glorious African sun setting behind the Lamu island. Or set up on the palm-fringed coast white sand beaches of the island and enjoy the unhurried evening sink further into the horizon.
See you soon aboard that Jambojet Flight to Lamu!
While at it, read about Goma in the DRC!