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The Kenya Diaries - Getting to Lamu

Saturday 3 March 2012
Departures at Lamu Airport
I last left you in Nairobi, after a evening of wine, storytelling and finally putting my head torch to good use. To be precise, I was laying back in my tent, happily listening to the rain fall on the canvas, and feeling rather content...

My happiness was somewhat scampered when I realised I'd left my clothes drying on the washing line. But hey ho, they dried off pretty quickly as I packed up my stuff and ate a final breakfast in Nairobi.

When I settled up, there was no surprises with the bill, which was a surprise in itself. What I did witness was an angry fight between the owner and a French guest who was disappointed with his room. Something about booking a double and getting a bunk bed. And you know the French like their humping. She was a slightly scary woman, this one. Not afraid to shout "All I care about is revenue!" in his face, as well as "Are you telling me you can't sleep in separate beds for one night?" and "You're not seeing this from any side but your own".

She ended it well, with "I'm going to lose my fucking rag!"


I got chatting to a Scottish couple, who had just come back from Lamu, the island where I was heading that afternoon. They had a distinctly pinkish hue, and they urged me passionately to buy the strongest suncream I could find.

"I have some 30spf, will that do?"

"No. 30 won't even hit the surface. You need to be white, pure white, with factor 70 if you can. We went out in 30, cloudy day, and ended up in complete agony. Go. Go now, while you can still walk!"

I may have embellished at the end, there. But not by much.

So I set off to the supermarket, found some factor 50, paid through the nose for it, and headed to the airport. Here I waited to board with a boring German man. Unfortunately, there weren't many places to hide at Wilson Airport, so I had to grin and bear it.

The flight was a rickety affair, but fun if you're not terrified of flying. Arriving at Lamu is an amazing experience, however you go about it. The airport is a little shack on a seemingly deserted island. From the runway, a boat takes you up to the old town, which looks remarkably like the Riviera. As you get closer, the bold colours adorning the side of the buildings are more Cuban.

Duty Free at Lamu
I was greeted by a jumble of men looking to help me as I stepped off the boat (wouldn't get that in London, now). I was shown to Jambo Hostel, which is set a little way back from the dock. Lamu has the narrowest streets I've ever seen in my life. On my way up the main street, I reach out my arms and touch both walls, all the while thinking...

"Yep. I'm definitely going to get lost here".

The owner of Jambo House is a lovely German man, eager to show you the sights and to offer a lovely welcome. I sat with him to chat on the rooftop, with a beautiful view out to the water. Afterwards, I rested and read up there for a while, before finding my way to the waterfront for dinner at Hapa Hapa. The people were so friendly and I was joined quickly by a man who couldn't bear to see me eating alone. Ah, my first pity date on Lamu.

Despite tempting offers of beers I decided to head home early enough. I instantly (and predictably) became lost in the tangled maze of miniature streets, and was guided back to the hostel by a man with a baby on his back. I had to momentarily fight the instincts to run the other way from a man in a darkened alley, but Lamu is seemingly one of the few places in Kenya that it is safe to trust. He and his baby led me back to my hostel, just because. Take that, Marrakech. That's the spirit of Lamu.

Of course, don't hold me to that. There might be some not so lovely people around, and I don't want anything bad to happen to you. But I only had fantastic experiences.

I drifted into a hot night's sleep to the sounds of the prayer calls and honking donkeys.


  1. Each word written has captivated its audience in the most unique way.
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  2. Now that is the thing that I call a colossal blog. Wonderfully composed.

  3. These are wonderful place to be walking around, strolling the roads. You should prepare few mobility aids to have a safe trip around. These items can help you being in a safe place.


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