Dusk is fast approaching as we slice through the dark blue waters of the vast Indian Ocean. The sun is slowly sinking as our captain Ramba, whose dreadfully aware of our late start, jets towards the dense mangrove channel.
Our view gradually opens up to a fleet of traditional wooden vessels gracefully gliding over the horizon. The dhows and stillness of the night evoke a feeling of peace and gratitude. There is an eerie silence and I can hear my heart gently pulse in the rhythms of the ocean
Instinctively, Ramba kills the engine, something I imagine he’s done innumerable times- allowing us to remain motionless for what seems like an eternity.
I carefully make my way toward the arc of the boat, planting my feet squarely on the swaying dhow. I’m momentarily oblivious of those around. Standing at the arc that creates an incredible illusion of being both immersed and surrounded by the waters- I feel invincible, transcendent almost.
The scene is utterly picturesque- We watch as the sun illuminates a quivering path along the water. The sky changing from bright pink and blue to a deep magnificent golden hue
The moment is made ever so magical by the gorgeous backdrop of Lamu town in the night. Catching a Lamu sunset came highly recommended but I never imagined it would turn out to be so spectacular.
Also Read: How To Get To Lamu
WHERE TO STAY IN LAMU
I arrived at Manda Airstrip in Lamu 3 days prior to a warm hearty welcome by Omar. He donned a wide smile and a “welcome to the Kijani hotel” sign. Shortly after we boarded Kipepeo, a beautiful blue and white dhow Captained by Mohaji to our beachfront home for the next two nights. The hotel conveniently provides free boat transfers on arrival and departure.
When you walk into the compound you are met by a medley of scents, colors, and sounds. Resident pets are an amiable, playful dog and tiny turtles, you’d think crawled from the ocean to find residence here.
Upon arrival expect a wet hand towel and refreshing coconut drink, I notice the straw is made of paper and understand they are big on conserving the environment.
Kijani hotel is located on Shela beach, a 30-minute boat ride from Manda Airstrip. Its structure is faithful to the Lamu architecture of white-walled stone houses with both Makuti and flat roofing tops. The hotel is a labor of love, the owner Pierre Oberson labored passionately for years on end restoring it from a formerly residential home into the endearing hotel it is. It’s divided into three structures with 10 guest rooms.
My room is modest and elegant as the white of the structure’s walls flows into the inner space. I especially love its arabesque framed paintings that give it Moorish feel and look. The furniture has the same patchy lime white painting found everywhere around the hotel.
There’s a unique custom made mosquito net that is drawn to the sides during the day and that splits the spacious room into half. One side has a canopied king-size bed, done with white beddings that add a classical feel of luxury, calmness, and opulence to the room. By the bedside are two rustic lamps which when lit give the room a cozy golden homely ambiance.
One can check some emails by the reading table with studiously carved friezes into its chest drawers. On top, find: a candle paneled with glass, a map of the island and a brass vase of freshly picked bougainvillea flowers. The wardrobe is simple yet highly functional.
My room (room 9) has an exceedingly gorgeous view of tropical garden, freshwater swimming pool and beachfront! Enjoy a delicious breakfast on the verandah while catching glances of the sailing dhows, locals going about their business and fishermen working on the boats.
WHERE TO EAT IN LAMU
WINE & DINE
Kijani has an idyllic open-air, Makuti restaurant that allows you stunning views of the sea and its tropical profusion of plants in the garden.
The floor takes the blue hue of the ocean that’s met, picked and continued by the coral white of the walls. Potted plants are strategically placed around the restaurant giving the space a fresh and outdoorsy look. The space is furnished with an assortment of tables and benches and planter chairs- all made from locally sourced tropical wood and given the thematic antique look with a patchy lime white painting.
The restaurant offers scrumptious free breakfast, Swahili dishes, and seafood. I highly recommend the Calamari, the best I’ve ever had.
Kijani Hotel in Lamu is perfect for vacationing couples, solo travelers or a group of friends!
Have you visited Lamu? How was your stay…If not is Lamu on your bucket list??
Also Read: How To Get To Lamu