Departing from Lamu town via boat, it was a 45 minute ride to one end of the island, at Kipungani.
Situated on the edge of a 12 kilometer beach, you don’t quite see the Kipungani Explorer lodge till you land on the beach. Half hidden by the protected mangroves of Kipungani Creek, the rustic buildings blend excellently into the background, and are perched on the southwestern tip of Lamu Island.
The boat ride was smooth all the way, and we bypassed several villages, and somewhere, the route to Kisimayu. It was kind of tempting to attempt to go that way, at least for me!
We quickly disembarked, and word of warning – wear your shoes when you step off into the sand on a hot afternoon, or your feet will get baked. I had to hop very fast to get to a shaded area and off the hot sand.
Soon enough we had settled into our cottages – all made of locally available material created by the residents of the area. The rooms had mkeka palm floors and makuti thatch roofs with giant king-size beds and furniture all handmade from local mangrove and palm woods. Each banda has an ocean-facing veranda with local funzi sofas and chairs piled high with colourful cushions, and the common lounge area was filled with swinging chairs overlooking a glorious view where you could catch a magical sunset, or simply doze off on a hot balmy night to the sounds of the ocean lapping at the walls beside the lodge.
We quickly made a dash for the pool to cool off, and suddenly, we had to all scuttle to one end of the pool as we spotted a giant crab in the water. Turns out that the crabs love drinking in the pool, and are mostly harmless; they also tend to walk around in the cool hours of the morning, but will quickly scuttle off your path when you approach.
Dinner was simple but sumptuous and then it was time to have a sundowner and relax on the swinging chairs as we chatted the evening away. Kipungani, as the name suggests, is filled with a gentle breeze that cools off the excessive heat. While the lodge is closed for part of the year(during the rainy season if I’m not wrong) for renovations, it is a charming place to visit and just be.
Day two saw us enjoying the hospitality of the lodge. We indulged in kayaking in teams of two. It was strenous work, but good fun, and it worked up an appetite. I took the time to indulge in a delightful mud bath. Yes, you heard right…. when the tide receeds, some silt and seaweeds are left on the shore, creating a perfect formula for a mud bath. Stripping down to your swimsuit, there’s nothing as glorious as rolling around in the mud like a pig. I’ll let you in on a little secret – it works wonders for the skin! My face was glowing by the time I washed off the mud – whatever is in the sand and silt works like magic.
Evening came too soon, and we boarded the dhow Zahara and sailed off into the sunset, literally, to the edge of the creek. There is something magical about sitting in a boat, being served a perfectly chilled glass of wine, and enjoying the peace and quiet. The boat captain even played the horn for us on a giant shell, part of the traditions of the local residents in the area.
The next morning was filled with time to lounge around and relax as we ended the trip. I took time to enjoy the beach while it was cool, and when the tide was out. We ran into the delightful Eve D’Souza and her Travel Diaries crew as they had been right on our tails the entire trip. After a few interviews, it was time to head out back to Nairobi. We never wanted to leave, and kept delaying till the last minute when the folks at Safarilink sent us a message to inform us that they would leave us, haha.
On the boat with all our bags aboard, we hauled out fast to Manda Airstrip, and were right on time to catch the flight back.
As we bid goodbye to the coast, we were only left with memories, but with a resolve to come back to the magic that is served in a million grains of sand each day. Take time and visit the coast whenever you can… and get out and participate in the offered activities, as well as tour the area. Remember, it’s not just about relocating to a bar in a different part of Kenya. There’s a thousand and one ways to enjoy the coast, and we just skimmed the top off it.
So, when will you Tembea Kenya?And where will you be off to?
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Coming up soon: the adventures as we toured Western Kenya on another amazing Tembea Kenya Adventure.