Cheap Flights to Lamu Island, Kenya
- Area Size (County) : 6,474.7.1km²
- Area Codes : (254) 42
- Currency : Kenyan Shilling (KES or Ksh)
- Population : 101,539 (2009)
- Official Language : English, Kiswahili
- Time Zone : EAT (UTC+3)
- Airport : Manda Airport (LAU)
Manda Airport also referred to as Lamu Airport is located across the channel from Lamu Town on Manda Island in the Lamu Archipelago. Constructed in the early 1960s it was utilised as a landing strip for colonial administrators and smaller aircraft from the country’s defence force, the National Police Service, the Kenya Wildlife and Forest Services including civilian aircraft. Mutuma Mugambi, chairman of the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) announced in December 2014 that the renewed Manda Airport was now capable of handling larger aircraft such as the ‘Boeing 737’ range.
Travellers in South Africa can fly from Cape Town to ‘LAU’ with two or three stops with the following airlines:
- Kenya Airways
- South African Airways
- British Airways
Additional airlines flying to ‘LAU’ include:
- Skyward Express
Reasons to Visit Lamu Island, Kenya:
- Immerse yourself in tranquillity far from the hustle of modern-day life and concrete skyscrapers in one of the oldest and most well preserved Swahili settlements in eastern Africa that goes back to the 12th century. Nestled in an archipelago of coral edged islands, ‘Lamu Town’ was for hundreds of years the heart of trading with lateen-rigged dhows sailing from India and Arabia to buy and sell spices and ivory. With cars banned to the general public, the air is void of petrol fumes and transport is by foot, dhow or on one of 3 000 donkeys, the primary mode of transport. A Swahili proverb states ‘a man who doesn’t look after his donkey is a donkey’. Experience absolute serenity sailing or fishing in a dhow, relishing your grilled catch on the beach, exercise your body with kite, body or wind surfing, water skiing, sight dolphins frolicking offshore, view the coral beauty snorkelling or diving off Manda Toto Island and hire a dhow for a day of island hopping. It’s the perfect destination for a wedding or honeymoon and where doing nothing is pure bliss.
- Listed as a ‘World Heritage Site’ in December 2001, ‘Lamu’ affords many captivating architectural features that no other Swahili town compares to, particularly its carved doors, authentic furniture and leftover influences of Indian, Arab, European and Persian architectural styles. The ‘Old Town’ with its narrow streets has around 530 houses of which 23 are deemed public and 13 religious buildings, mostly mosques. The island is a major cultural hub, known for its traditional socio-cultural traditions, relatively unchanged for centuries and its historical past affords visitors a diverse and wonderful collection of attractions.
- The island isn’t always that quiet with the popular ‘Maulidi Festival’ that attracts around 20 000 religious tourists from around the globe during the Islamic month of Rabil awal. During this period visitors gain marvellous insight with traditional Swahili dances, a string of cultural events organised by the ‘Lamu Museum’ that comprise dhow and donkey races, bao games, Islamic calligraphy competitions and henna painting. The second largest festival, the ‘Lamu Cultural Festival’ is a 3-day affair with indoor and outdoor cultural activities that also draws visitors of 20 000.
- Visitors have an excellent range of splendid hotels and resorts to choose from that are charming, laid-back, off the beach and some designed in traditional Swahili architecture. There are luxury and mid-range establishments that include breakfast, have pools and allow pets. Also plenty of Inns, B&Bs, Holiday Rentals and Speciality Lodgings. Restaurants are aplenty, all affording their own unique ambiance with African, Italian, European and American cuisines that dish up superb food for every traveller’s preferred taste.
When to Visit Lamu Island, Kenya:
The ideal time for vacationing in Lamu is during the cooler months of July and August or from late November through to end of March. The rainy months are generally from May to beginning July including November. March and April are the hottest months.
Places to Visit Lamu Island, Kenya:
- ‘Shela Village’ is located at the end of a pristine 12km beach on the island. Meander down narrow lanes with high stone houses, take in ruins, market stalls and small stores and where in the cool of dusk, elders meet in the street to converse and women venture out for shopping.
- Located in Harambee Avenue, the ‘Lamu Museum’ provides great insight into the Swahili culture, the archipelago, the coast’s nautical heritage and displays of artefacts. From the museum, guided tours can be arranged to view numerous historical and archaeological sites, either on ‘Manda Island’ or further out to ‘Pate Island’, home to ‘Shanga’, the earliest known Swahili settlement dating back to 8th century AD.
- ‘Lamu Fort’ located in the Main Square of Lamu was constructed by Sultan of Paté from 1810 to 1823 and utilised as a prison from 1910 to 1984. Today it houses the island’s library and holds one of the finest collections of Swahili poetry.
- ‘Siyu Fort’ located on the north coast of Paté Island was built during the mid-19th century by residents with no foreign help, to safeguard the town.
- The ‘German Post Office Museum’ in Kenyatta Road features memorabilia and photographs from the period when the Germans viewed Lamu as a perfect base for exploiting the territory.
- ‘Swahili House Museum’, a restored 18th century house shows insight as to how the privileged Lamu Swahilis lived.
- ‘Takwa Ruins’ located on Manda Island are the remains of a Swahili trading settlement that thrived during the 15th century. Take a pleasurable dhow ride through mangroves to reach the site and glean much of its history.
- ‘Kipungani Bay Luma’, a secluded beachfront hotel located in Kipungani on the south-western point of Lamu Island is the ideal getaway for romance that overlooks a stunning 14km beach and offers traditional thatch ‘Makuti’ styled cottages.
- A must visit is the ‘Lamu Donkey Sanctuary’, founded by Dr Elizabeth Svendsen when visiting in 1985 and being concerned for the welfare of these animals.
- The ‘Lamu Animal Welfare Clinic’ located in Harambee Street is a non-profit organisation dedicated to assisting distressed and suffering animals. They provide a range of treatments and offer subsidised veterinary services to animals whose owners have limited funds. Worth visiting and donating to.
Getting Around Lamu Island:
- On foot