I kinda eased off on the stories of the Tembea Kenya coastal circuit trip… before I start on the Western circuit, here’s the last of the coastal stories.
Read the beginning of the Lamu circuit here
Day three started off slowly, with us taking time to enjoy the Beach House, till afternoon when it was time to head off to the dhow race.
The elegant dhow races are a true display of the age-old skills of the local sailors. Traditionally crafted, the dhows have unfurled lanteen sails and the majestic Jahazi dhow race draws large dhows from the villages across the island. The smaller dhows from the villages of Lamu, Kizingitini, Faza, Shela, Matondoni and Pate are in the Mashua race. We were out to cheer our adopted village of Shela, who had a boat participating in the race.
It was a thrill following the dhows as they raced, and our boat guide intimated that the teams often used ‘wazee’ who guide the dhows using magical powers, through the churning ocean and away from the winds that drift them off course. At the end of the race, the winning boat is ‘sunk’ into the water to cleanse it of evil spirits and bad omens.
One of the unique ways of experiencing the beauty of the islands and the coast is aboard the Tusitiri Dhow which provides a luxurious sailing experience, with a unique opportunity to sail around the Lamu archipelago. Her spacious decks and gracious furnishings allow for up to 12 guests, with excellent local cuisine onboard. Guests sleep on deck under the stars on comfortable bedding. The dhow offers a range of adventure activities as it explores the waterborne wonders of Lamu.
This time, the Tusitiri dhow had a party on board, with the guests enjoying the dhow races from it’s solid decks. We soon had to disembark and head off to the Beach House, but not before we were thoroughly fed and plied with drinks. I had quite the time teetering off the boats and trying not to fall into the waters, dawas sipped onboard a boat seem to be more potent!
Dinner time saw us cross over back to Manda island, to the Majlis Resort, where we met some more of the Kenya Tourism Board staff who were also in the area. We didn’t get to see more of the lodge, but from what I heard, it is one of the exclusive places to stay in the coast. Take some time and check it out. We were so full after the dinner, and walking back to the boat was an adventure in itself. Being on the water in the dark is very surreal, and time seems endless as you seemingly float in the water to nowhere. We couldn’t help but worry about Al-Shabaab attacks, but the locals assured us that we were in good hands. Indeed, the same day, 6 suspects had been arrested on the island, implying that vigilance had been stepped up, with more plainclothes policemen and locals on the lookout.
Safely deposited on the island, as others made it to a party, I opted to sleep off the weariness, and instead wake up early to catch sunrise out of my balcony. I was glad I woke up early, as the view was amazing. The sun slowly bathed the land in a glowing red, as it slowly rose up from behind Manda and soon was up in the sky, infusing us with it’s pure goodness.
At some point, I had forgotten that we had a heena application appointment, but was glad to see that the lady had asked us to call when we were ready. Ahenda ‘s and my arms were soon covered in the ancient artwork that is pico – a pigment that is darker than the usual heena.
We then made our way for a quick walk around Lamu, visiting the backstreets of the old town, narrow and only allowing a few people and donkeys through at a time, and out into the market square where more festivities were ongoing. It was nice sauntering through the streets without a care – it’s exactly the feeling that Lamu dissipates, a land where time seems to move slower.
Dropping by the Lamu Donkey Hospital, it was good to see someone taking care of animals that are often mistreated and abused. Donkeys are very valuable to the community here, not just because they’re workhorses, but because they provide most of the transport in the island. So far, there are about five cars on the island – I think I got it that there’s a District Commissioner’s car, three tractors, and a donkey ambulance.
Soon enough, it was time to leave Lamu and head off to Kipungani – 40 minutes from the main Lamu jetty, and at the edge of the island. This was our final destination for the Tembea Kenya Coast Edition trip.