We could never have found such a nice place if it had not been for Susan and Gabriel's assistance. I had the feeling that Susan had a sense of who were are, and set up a trip accordingly, a level of personal attention usually available only at the highest prices. Yet the rate was genuinely reasonable and they provided us with unbiased tips on what to do, and what to pay We felt that we knew the place quite well before we even arrived. Thank you, Susan and Gabriel!
One thing we'd like to mention: we discovered that the Kenyan government is planning a deep sea port that will threaten the fragile coral reefs just the other side of Manda Island. Our hope is that the project will not go through!
We are extremely grateful to Susan and Gabriel for allowing us to experience both tradition and comfort. It was the perfect combination. I would recommend their company to anyone.
Tess Lawson, nurse, Devon, UK
Captain Freedom was fantastic. He called the dolphins to our dhow by whistling to them, and they came to say hello...IT WAS AMAZING. Lamu is such a fascinating and interesting place that you could easily spend a month (or more) there, without running out of choices.
Catherine Gamba-Trimiño, program officer, The Arcus Foundation, U.K.
We've arrived. A small paradise. Warm water, white sand, many smiles. The island of Lamu.
Our "room" is really more of an apartment. Kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and huge open veranda with a view of the ocean and a coconut tree blowing in the breeze. (Thank you Susan! We love it!)
Yesterday we spent the day at the beach getting a little too much sun and then the evening on a dhow seeing the sunset and the full moon rise. A dhow has only one sail and watching the captain and his crew sail it was amazing. It's a pretty wide boat so it has to tack really widely, almost from one side of the channel to the other. The channel is Manda Island on the far side and Lamu on our side. Shawli (AKA Captain Cook) made us Swahili dinner on the boat. Doing all the prepping and lighting a charcoal grill to cook the rice and stews and then to barbeque the fish. I can't cook this well in my own kitchen.
Coconut rice, curry prawns, a potato dish, and herb and garlic stuffed barbeque fish net caught by the crew that morning. It was one of the best meals we've had since we've been in Africa. One of the crew Lali (nickname Lollypop) is 15 and one of his jobs was to crawl out on the trapeze, which is like a heavy 4 by 4 beam that balances the boat and counter weights the main sail. I caught his eyes and smiled and the smile he gave me was one of the most beautiful smiles I've ever seen in my life partially because this skinny boy will grow up to be a very handsome man, but mostly because the smile was so joyful because of
his love for the water, for sailing, and his true pleasure at doing this thing that he loves.
The day before we took an old town tour of Lamu Town (we are actually staying up-island in the village of Shela.) with Salim, who met us mainland on the day we arrived (Thanks Susan and Gabriel!) Then we had some beach moments back in Shela. The water is warm, but not too warm, still refreshing.
We hang out some at the Peponi, a fancy hotel that is kind of a scene, but fun. It's the end of low season and this seems to be the biggest gathering spot in Shela, at least for tourists. The beach boys (most of them dhow captains) have their "office" at the edge of the veranda there, which is right at the edge of the water. When the tide is out there is a wide swath of sandy beach, but when the tide is high the water comes right up to the retaining wall. They hang out and offer sailing trips or rides on small shaded motor boats to passersby.
The island has some really lovely and original art. A nice change from the Maasai beads that we have piles of at home (hard to say no.)
Today we walked to Lamu town (about 40 minutes) along the shore, only possible when the tide is out. We had lovely breakfast and now some interweb time. Feeling nervous, a little about going back to Nairobi's fumes and burning plastic and hordes of people after this. Wishing I could just teleport home rather than spoil the glow that this island has surrounded my heart with.
Rachel Sattinger, yoga and acrobatics instructor, Santa Cruz, CA
Thank you, Tess, Catherine, and Rachel! We have great clients. Susan, Gabriel, & the crew.