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Sample Trip

3- to 7-Day Tusitiri Dhow Sailing, Lamu to Kiwayu

“Explore the magical Lamu Archipelago sleeping on the deck of age old Tusitiri Dhow”

Budget level: Mid-Range
Country
Kenya
When to Go
All year, not May to July
Duration
6 Nights
Safari Type
Boating
Location
Kenyan Coast
Kids Min Age
All Ages

Explore the islands of the Lamu archipelago on the in age-old style and in great comfort. Sailing, al-fresco dining, fresh seafood, sleep under the stars, fishing and water sports Also discover Lamu town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, culture, history, wildlife, festivals, all in all a stunning way to relax, explore and unwind!

The 3-to 7-day Tusitiri Dhow Sailing adventure lets you explore the islands of the Lamu Archipelago on the north of Kenya’s coast. This remote and sleepy destination is steeped in history and devoid of mass tourism, while offering incredible ocean adventures best accessed from the Tusitiri Dhow!

THE ESSENCE: Dhows are traditional wooden sailboats, originally used for carrying exotic spices and goods along the Indian Ocean trade routes. Originally a working dhow, Tusitiri has been painstakingly restored and is today a majestic and comfortable vessel, offering exclusive use sailing safaris for group of 6-10 guests. Tusitiri is based off Lamu Island in the beautiful Lamu archipelago on the north coast Kenya. Lamu is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has a colourful history shaped by the seasonal dhow trade. The local Muslim culture pervades the atmosphere of this bustling little town where the streets are too narrow for cars and the locals use donkeys to get around.

FACILITIES: Life on-board revolves around Tusitiri’s broad deck. The chef prepares meals, usually seafood and other local produce, in the open-air galley at the bow. A large dining table and cushion lined sitting areas provide a laid-back atmosphere for days on-board. Nights are spent on deck under the stars on ‘white linen’ bed rolls. Below deck a wide dressing room provides shared facilities for guests to unpack and change. There is also a toilet and a ‘mirror room’ as well as a ‘toys-room’ for the water sports equipment. Further bathroom facilities are available above deck with an open-air warm water shower and a traditional dhow toilet.

ACTIVITIES: Tusitiri provides a comfortable base for exploring the archipelago: walking on the pristine sand-dune lined beaches; deep sea fishing or creek fishing; SUP boarding in the mangrove channels; snorkelling off the coral reefs; shopping and sight-seeing in Lamu town and nearby Shela Village; water skiing or wake-boarding; picnics, ‘sun-downers’ and ‘moon- risers’ in selected beautiful spots, visiting one of the fishing villages on the nearby islands and unwinding and relaxing in place where it feels time has stood still.

YOUR JOURNEY: Three to seven nights is ideal for a dhow safari on Tusitiri, although longer trips can easily be accommodated. A minimum of 3 nights is required to go to Kiwayu and back as the journey requires almost a full day travelling in either direction. In order to visit all the wonderful sites the archipelago has to offer we recommend you stay for 5 -7 nights. From her base near Shela, cruising, or sailing in the right wind conditions, the dhow meanders between the islands of the archipelago, stopping in a sheltered bay for lunch for a night, or visiting one of the coastal villages and historic ruins in the area. All safaris are tailor-made to suit guests’ arrival and departure times and daily movements depend on the seasons and the tides, and as such the order of the suggested itinerary below may change. And of course, parts of the itinerary can be adjusted to your particular needs.

Below a 7-day itinerary as an example of what is possible.

Itinerary in Brief

Day 1: Arrive Lamu & board Tusitiri!
Day 2: Explore Takwa & Lamu Old Town
Day 3: Water sports & sail to Kipungani
Day 4: Explore Pate Island & arrive Kiwayu
Day 5: Explore, dive & fish Kiwayu
Day 6: Discover Kiwayu & remote Kui
Day 7: Slow sail back & depart Lamu

Safari Rating

adventure
wilderness
wildlife
comfort
photographic
guiding

detailed itinerary

Most scheduled flights arrive into Lamu late morning. Guests are met at the airport from where it is a short speedboat transfer to Tusitiri on her mooring in the Shela channel.

After a seafood lunch the remainder of the afternoon is spent unwinding – walking on Manda beach and swimming or paddle boarding in the creek by the dhow – and enjoying a first sundowner as the sun sets over Shela village.

Dinner is taken al-fresco by candlelight and after dinner ‘white linen’ bedrolls are laid out on the deck for a comfortable night under the stars. Overnight is spent at the Shela mooring.

Cultural activities can include, at high tide, an opportunity to weave through the Mangrove channels to visit Takwa ruins on Manda Island where the people of Shela used to live until the 17th century when their wells became salty, and they were forced to ask the people of Lamu for space to live on Lamu island. Takwa can only be reached at high tide, which was the reason for building the town there during a time of fierce fighting among the various clans on the Lamu Archipelago islands.

Alternatively, if the tides are not right visitors can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lamu Old Town (and go to Takwa later in the day) which is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement on the Swahili coast. Here it seems time has stood still, where old men in Muslim dress are found in the shade of the trees of the town square playing wooden board games while women clad in black bui-bui’s scuttle to market to purchase the fresh produce that has come in from farms or come out of the sea. The narrow streets are suitable only for donkeys and shade people from even the harshest of midday suns. Here you can visit the impressive Fort in the town square, which was used as prison as recently as the 1980’s, and also the museum which has a fascinating collection of carved Lamu doors from throughout the centuries, each one influenced by the rulers of the time.

There will also be time for beach, swimming, and the possibility to enjoy water sports activities – water skiing, wake boarding or donuting!

An early start can be made for those who would like to head out for a spot of deep-sea fishing, where there can be opportunities to catch tuna, snapper, king fish, barracuda.

After breakfast we will hoist the sail and take a long leisurely sail around Lamu island to the other side where Kipungani Village is and a long sandy beach where guests can enjoy beach walks, swimming, and waters sports.

On the low tide there is a lovely snorkelling site just out to sea – a rock called Kinyika – where if you are lucky, you my spot dolphins as you snorkel above coloured corals and plenty of fish. Overnight at Kipungani.

If the tides were not suitable for Kinyika Rock yesterday, then this can be done this morning, or alternatively another fishing trip, where you get the chance to catch your own lunch.

As the tide comes in the dhow will move back around towards the channels that separates Lamu from the rest of the archipelago, moving north towards Pate Island. As the dhow moves north there is an opportunity for those who enjoy cultural sites to visit the town of Pate.

Pate Island is the largest of the islands in the archipelago and has 8 villages on it, mostly ringing the edges of the island. Pate Town is the largest of them and has a ‘new’ part and the old, ruined part where parts of the old, ruined town can still be seen. There are fewer visitors here and as such the locals will be both happy and surprised to see you. Also on Pate Island is the Fort of Siyu, which is the only fort on the East African Coast built by locals (as opposed to foreign invaders!). It was built to protect the local population from the Omani Arabs who were a presence in the archipelago at the time. Siyu can only be reached at high tide through a mangrove channel from the sea which made it easy to defend and as such it was the last town or village on the coast to be captured or colonised. Of course, nowadays it can be reached by van or motorbike through the sandy island tracks.

Depending on tides and currents we should arrive into Kiwayu at the top of the archipelago by nightfall.

Kiwayu is a beautiful and remote sand and coral island in the Kiunga Marine Park with only 1300 inhabitants living in two small fishing villages.

The leeward side of the island has calm waters ideal for paddle boarding and water skiing. The seaward side of the island has a fabulous 6 km beach with no development on it at all, which is wonderful for walking and beach combing, and there are some stunning snorkelling areas.

Kiwayu is regarded as an excellent sports fishing area so there are more opportunities to get out on the sea and catch dinner! Overnight is spent at the Kiwayu mooring.

Today there are more opportunities for snorkelling and swimming, visiting the small village on Kiwayu island.

For those who wish to venture even further north there is a possibility to take the large fishing boat ‘Express’ to Kui for a picnic lunch in a beautiful and remote part of the archipelago, where you can feel you might be alone in the world!

After an early breakfast guests head off on a snorkelling trip or a beach walk while the crew gets Tusitiri ready for sailing.

The rest of the day is spent slowly sailing south past Ndau Island and Pate Island, in rhythm with the tides and currents, watching a quiet unspoilt world passing by.

Depending on your departure time, you may be transferred back to the airport by speedboat as the channel separating Manda Island and Lamu Island can only be passed through with the Dhow at high tide, such is her size.

  • Dec & Jan: Good snorkelling, fishing, sailing.
  • Feb – April: Best for snorkelling, fishing and dolphin watching.
  • May – Jul: Closed for rainy months.
  • Aug – Nov: Relatively cooler in August (with a chance of rain), good fishing and snorkelling from October, calm and clear in November.

when to go

janfebmaraprmayjunjulaugsepoctnovdec
Kenyan Coast BestBestGoodMixedMixedGoodBestBestBestGoodGoodGood
Best = Best Good = Good Mixed = Mixed

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