North East Kenyan coast

Because I’ve always wanted to…

Issue 46 / December 2020

Seasonal Greetings – well what a year we have all had to endure, some more than others.

A few of my friends asked me if there was anywhere I could take them that was open for travel, safe and adventurous.  After a short deliberation, I decided that there was a need to practice what you preach and see what international travel really was like before the year ended.  Africa for many reasons has not been affected as badly as other continents so my country of choice became Kenya. It had been 20 years since I had visited the island of Lamu on the North East Kenyan coast so I set about finding the best way to achieve this trip with all the Covid rules and regulations in place.

BA was flying to Nairobi five times a week so no issue there. Local flights to Lamu from Nairobi were all operating and the famous Peponi hotel had plenty of rooms so now we had to establish what was required certificate-wise in order to enter Kenya.  All travellers must carry evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 96 hours of flying, a visa that could be obtained on line and finally a Ministry Of Health Travellers Health Surveillance Form QR Code needed to be completed and presented at check in at Heathrow and on arrival into Nairobi.

My friendly doctor performed the COVID-19 test and 36 hours later a signed certificate was emailed to me with the good news – negative! The visa and surveillance form came through within 24 hours, so I was good to go!

There was a government notice issued at the time of the November lockdown to say that only essential business travel was permitted. I felt, having faced since March the postponement of every trip we had planned for the rest of 2020, that a recce trip was absolutely essential for the future of our business with current travel confidence as low as it has ever been in our lives.

The BA check in could not have been more welcoming and accommodating.  Heathrow’s Terminal 5 was ghostly quiet and the only place open for a coffee and sandwich was a Pret as all the restaurants and airline lounges were closed.  Finally, the exciting time came to board and up, up and away we flew leaving behind a chilly UK with all its issues.

Arriving at Nairobi could not have been easier or more welcoming. A temperature test, cleanse the hands, present the necessary certificates along with the visa and I was free to board my internal flight to Lamu.  This was operated in a Covid-safe way and on arrival at the coast life was as relaxed as I remembered it.

From mid-December the quarantine period on return to the UK from non-exempt countries is reduced to 10 days.  There’s also the option to isolate for 5 days then pay for a test and, if the result’s negative, you can stop isolating straight away.” And then just continue as it is from “Along with the soon to be administered vaccine, travel from Easter 2021 onwards should be able to start up again with confidence. I’ve had plenty of time to consider how best we can provide you with the reassurance to start booking your long-awaited  and much-deserved travels to make absolutely sure that you won’t miss out on any trips you’d like to book in 2021, or even 2022.  We work with longstanding partners at all the destinations where we send people and know all of them well and in most cases personally.  Whilst precise details will vary from country to country, all our partners are happy to work with us to offer you extraordinary flexibility for future bookings. If you’re looking at booking some of the more sought-after destinations, now is the perfect time to plan ahead for 2021/2022.  This way you’ll secure your preferred options, whilst benefiting from our newly enhanced flexible booking policy.

For those with time on their hands there is no better time to leave the UK than in January, February and March – I rest my case! Click here to open the itinerary we put together based on all my favourite Kenyan discoveries.

Ever since lockdown started in March the team have been working on our new Laterallife website and I’m looking forward to launching it early next year!  I hope it will give you fresh inspiration.

Seasonal best wishes from us all at Lateral Life.

Peponi Hotel, Lamu Island

Peponi hotel is a small family run “lateral retreat” situated on the 12 km Shela beach. The hotel was opened by the Korschen family in 1967 and that is still wonderfully the situation. Right behind the hotel is Shela village with its winding narrow streets and donkey only traffic which reminds me of parts of Stone Town in Zanzibar.

All 28 rooms have a sea view. The gardens are simply stunning, bedecked with the most varied and exotic plants and palm trees imaginable. The pool is somewhere you can spend hours watching life go by along the beach below or just gazing in awe at the massive baobab trees that surround the turquoise waters you are immersed within – temperatures never drop below 32 degrees in Lamu as it’s only 2 degrees south of the equator.

Lunch is on a roof top terrace under a shady tree with the breeze fanning you as well as filling the Dhow sails that constantly pass by in the Manda channel. A simply breathtaking view. The bar is famous the world over but what makes it so special is it’s not just for residents so you have a constant flow of colourful people and banter! Last but not least is the food – all I can say is that after 16 days at Peponi I was still enjoying the huge variety of options on their fantastic menu.

Peponi is a slice of heaven – ask no questions – book a flight and go there!

Tusitiri Dhow

Tusitiri Dhow is a glorious piece of sailing history and almost literally the last of her kind in Kenya. She was built in Lamu during, we believe, the late 1950’s and plowed the Indian Ocean during the days of motor-less sailing and navigating by the night sky when dhows would leave Lamu in their hundreds on the Trade Winds to sail between the trade routes of East Africa and Arabia – Lamu, Mogadishu, Yemen, Oman and even as far afield as India. She carried mangrove poles, favoured in the region for house building along which such (nowadays) unmentionables as skins, ivory, shells, turtles and the like.

Life would have been quite different for the sailors of Tusitiri in those days but since that trade died out and she was left to slowly rot away on a beach in Lamu, she has been re-born into a magnificent holiday home, keeping much of her old world charm but with all the luxuries that make her on of the best places to stay on the Kenyan coast.

She now boasts a gorgeous wide deck, shaded during the day by sail cloth and open at night to the star filled sky, a permanently shaded aft deck lined with comfortable Lamu chairs and sumptuous floor cushions from which one can relax, drink in hand and watch the world pass by, she has a dining table that seats 12, a bar and a kitchen in the prow from which waft the smells of fresh seafood being prepared by the chef.

Days on Tusitiri can be exactly what you want them to be: for the water sports devotees there are days of deep sea fishing trips, wake boarding or water skiing in the flat waters of the mangrove seeks, paddle boarding from the Dhow to the beach or whirling around on the donut while our captain does his best to unseat you into the clear warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

Wazi Dubu Villa

Wazi Dubu is one of an exclusive development of 8 private homes spread out across 24 acres of lovely coastal land close to the southernmost tip of Lamu Island, along a virtually private paradise called Kizingoni Beach. Wazi Dubu is arguably one of the finest houses on the island. It is beautifully and imaginatively designed giving you the feeling of space, simplicity, comfort and tranquillity. It is furnished in colonial Arab Swahili style with fabrics, fittings and fixtures sourced from Lamu, Kenya, Morocco and the Far East. A wonderful setting to entertain in style or simply relax with friends and family.

Wazi Dubu was designed to be as eco-friendly and self-sustaining as possible, powered by solar and wind with clean water pumped from shallow wells. Absolutely everything is organized and arranged to make your stay at Wazi Dubu as easy, relaxing and luxurious as possible. The house comes complete with friendly and experienced house staff, full board menu and plenty activities on offer. Including the option to nip across to the mainland for a wildlife safari around Lake Kenyatta, or a mangrove creek boat-safari, spotting animals and exceptional birdlife on route.

The Cabanas

Kizingoni Beach is steeped in a beautiful story, it was an empty desert beach 15 years ago and the beautiful oasis that stands there today was imagined and designed by just one visionary woman, the late Leslie Duckworth who designed, built and planted everything you can now see. Her daughter Anna joined Leslie 4 years ago, Anna and her husband Shawn carry her legacy forward today, proudly hosting guests at Wazi Dubu, and making their own mark on the beach with the newest and most exciting accommodation option, The Cabanas – for smaller groups, couples and single travelers.

The Cabanas are 5 unique elevated beach front “pods” offering a unique island experience, think Swiss Family Robinsons with a luxury twist. Curated by this passionate couple Anna and Shawn, who have mindfully designed the resort to provide all the creature comforts, whilst impacting the environment as little as possible. The Cabanas are 100% off-grid and eco-friendly from their palm woven walls to their copper straws.

THE CABANAS – LAMU ISLAND from Anna Campbell on Vimeo.

It’s the Cabana “experience” that sets this place apart. Shawn – a world renowned kitesurfer from Hawaii, competed all over the globe from the age of 12, and finally chose to set roots at his favourite place to kitesurf … need I say more. He now runs a high end, bespoke kite school at The Cabanas. Meandering through the wild Cabana paths framed by doum palms and coconut trees you will find The Zen Den, a space for complete restoration and relaxation, offering massage therapies, meditation & professional yoga classes at their breezy, ocean view yoga shala. At the Cabanas, you can expect delicious, healthy meals, designed by their on-site nutritionist & health coach. As well as a rooftop infinity pool with uninterrupted views over both sides of the island and Lamu’s first wine cellar that sits underneath… the pool! A funky Cocktail Bar just footsteps from the ocean with bar-swings and film nights, dolphin and dhow adventures on tap… the list goes on. There is something wonderfully contagious about the Cabanas, built, managed and hosted from the heart.

Kinondo Kwetu

Kinondo Kwetu is a wonderfully quiet and private “home away from home” paradise on Galu beach just south of Diani village. It is accessed by air from Nairobi/ Wilson directly into the Ukunda airstrip and is an excellent hotel to visit post a safari trip or even as a stand alone flop and drop beach holiday.

It has 5 beautifully appointed air conditioned cottages, all facing the ocean as well 2 swimming pools and a HUGE villa called Mama Taa within as well as a stunning lounge, garden terrace and upstairs restaurant.
Ancient Baobab trees adorn the property under which you can enjoy a shady breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The bar and main terrace areas are beautifully furnished and decorated and only too easy to enjoy!

Here you can have fun with all the water based activities you can think of and if horse riding along the beach is your thing then Kinondo is just the place to enjoy this.

To me, this is the most outstandingly lateral hotel stay south of Lamu on the Kenya coast.

Up Periscope: Serra Cafema Lodge, Namibia

Hidden within the enormous Hartmann Valley, overlooking the bubbling rapids of the Kunene River and yet surrounded by the lunar-like infinity of the Namib Desert, Serra Cafema is probably one of the most remote camps in Southern Africa. The camp is located just inland from the Atlantic Ocean and the Skeleton Coast meaning that the cool winds that blow from the Atlantic help to keep the camp cool, even in summer. For those who appreciate truly wild places, the journey to Serra Cafema is one of the most exciting in all of Africa – the flight in takes guests over colourfully mesmerising red desert landscapes giving off the evocative feeling of being on a different planet!

The small, modern and peaceful camp stands within an island of ancient, shady Albida trees on the banks of the Kunene River, the only permanent source of water in the whole region, which creates a lush oasis along its banks surrounded by rugged mountains and sand dunes.

The region is shared with the Himba people who are some of the last truly nomadic people in Africa. The native Ovahimba families, who live in the nearby vicinity and often visit Serra Cafema, give guests the chance to learn all about their lifestyles and traditions. Spend time in breathtaking landscape scenes in the Hartmann Valley with herds of springbok, zebras, ostrich and even leopard. Traverse sand dunes on 4×4 safaris and boat on the Kunene River watching Kunene crocodiles basking the riverbanks. Walking trails in the remote mountain and river valleys will always be a highlight for those who enjoy foot safaris.

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