Travelling to Lamu: is it safe?

Amazing! I am in New Zealand! Literally on the other side of the world from my home country (Italy). And I do feel all the difference. 12 hours ahead. When I wake up, my friends and family are going to bed, when I get ready to go to sleep, my family starts her day! It is so funny to exchange messages of goodmorning-goodnight!

I am here to visit my friend Ruby! Last time we saw each other it was 7 years ago in Nairobi, Kenya, where both of us used to live in 2012. We had some really amazing times together hiking, having fun, travelling. We went to Zanzibar, Lamu and other places in Kenya. Among all of the places I have seen in my life, Lamu is the one that is still impressed in my memory as one of the most magical, maybe comparable only to Mardin, in the South of Turkey.

Me and Ruby in Lamu

Lamu, paradise Island with no tourists

Lamu is an island in the North of Kenya, close to the border with the beautiful yet complicated country of Somalia, which is still pretty much out of control, with the central government really weak and the terrorist group Al-Shabab still really strong.


It was indeed because those terrorists kidnapped some tourists in 2008 in Lamu that this paradise-like island – which was colonized by the Oman Kingdom, the Portuguese and the British last  – was in 2012 literally tourist-free. It was really pleasant for us! We were the only white people around and inhabitants of the island were really happy to see us! Everyone was extremely nice to us!


Is Lamu safe?

I am really happy I did not write about this adventure of mine back then. I would have been just telling you how many crazy and irresponsible things we had done and how cool it was. Looking back, yes, we had lots of fun, yes, we felt really brave and invincible in our twenties…but I would definitely recommend taking some precautions (which would be very basic things, that we did not even consider doing when we went there), such as:

  • Book the place where you are staying in advance and from a reliable agency
  • Be sure you arrive at daylight
  • Don’t accept lifts on boats from strangers
  • Be respectful of the culture! Lamu is mainly Muslim (this might be the only point of this list me and my friend Ruby followed).

How to get to Lamu

By plane

You can fly to Lamu with Kenya Airlines and probably also with other companies! The “airport” is not on the island so you will have to get a boat ride to reach it.


By land

You can catch a bus to Mombasa, which will leave you in front of the island. From there, there is a boat-shuttle service which I doubt has timetables! As said before, just be sure you get there during the day!


Our holiday to Lamu

Having said all of this, I and my friend arrived in the night with the bus from Momabasa, found the famous shuttle-boat, arrived in Lamu at night during Ramadan when Muslims where happily enjoying their iftar time, got offered a place to sleep by complete strangers and accepted it, rode on donkeys the following day to reach the place where my friend Ruby had booked the accommodation for us (and what an amazing place, I will write you the details if I find them in my notes from 2012), got a boat ride by a complete stranger to the other island where the tourists were kidnapped a few years before, had a drink on a floating pub, got lost in the main town, played with children, ate lots of fish samosas (so good!!!). So, we did all the most dangerous stuff and nothing happened to us! But, hey, as I sad, be careful out there! Be safe and be responsible! It is always better!!!


Safe Journeys everyone and may your path be bright!