Picture of the Day: The Majlis, Lamu, Kenya

This picture was taken under a moonlit night with just the candles. The generator had tripped a few times as we were having dinner but I couldn’t help but noticed how beautiful the pool looked under the moonlight. So the next time it tripped, I had already positioned my camera on a tripod and got this shot.

Location:
Majlis is a property situated on Manda Island in the Lamu archipelago in Kenya. It is located on the opposite side of the channel from Lamu town. It is directly opposite the Peponi Hotel. Lamu has had such bad press with the Somali pirates which is very unfortunate but my memories of Lamu is one of tranquilness and fond memories. It was originally a private home turned hotel. There were some interesting artwork at the property that included Julian Schnabel’s etchings.

Best rooms: Recommend that you request the "original" house and the Junior Suite which overlooked this pool and from the room there is a private staircase to the roof and one can enjoy the evening breeze and look at the stars above. During my visit, there was a full moon and on those restless jet-lag nights, I would sit outside and enjoy the breeze and watch the moon set into the Indian Ocean.

The Royal Suite used to be the late owner’s bedroom and I have had the pleasure of his company and members of the family during my stay.

Activities:
The surrounding archipelago is beautiful and sailing on the dhow is calming and therapeutic. One can meander with a small boat through the tributaries and look at amazing mangroves and birdlife. There are also some ancient ruins on the islands.

In the mornings, the beach is a great place to go for a jog or even a walk as it is a long stretch of unspoiled beach and it felt almost private because there are hardly anybody apart from private residents on that island.

From Majlis, you could hop on their luxuriously decked boats and go over to Lamu. The Peponi Hotel is just directly across and a great place for drinks as they have a bar that is full of character. There is also a good restaurant at the hotel and it is great for lunch as it is under a shady courtyard and on a sunny day, it is just wonderful.

From there one could walk into Lamu town and visit the markets and explore the little lanes and check out the historic buildings. Lamu is a step back into the Arabian Nights. It is similar to Zanzibar except more compact. There are no cars but just donkeys and boats to get around the island.

If you want a bit more action, charter a private plane and fly to the coast for some safari. Tsavo East and Chyulu Hills are close enough to do a day trip from Lamu. I did a day trip to Tsavo which had a big population of elephants. A good place to stop for lunch or even stay the night is Galdessa Camp. I had a day room where I could rest after lunch before continuing the game drives and then fly back to Majlis.

Around the corner of the Manda island is Manda Bay resort which I have stayed before and it is great place if you want to have fun! The rooms are right smack in front of the beach and there is a wonderful breeze that permeates through the bandas. They have the BEST food! Manda Bay is for those who love shabby chic that immediately makes you want to let your guard down.

They organize deep sea fishing and you get the boat all to yourself. Whilst waiting for the fish, you could sleep on the boat as it has daybeds. The crew will alert you when they get a bite. Whatever, you do, do not bring a banana on the boat or mention the word banana as apparently, it is bad luck for fishing and you won’t get to catch any fish. Well, I tested that "superstition" and it was true, I only caught 2 fish!

In the evenings, they do a great sundowner on their dhow called Utamaduni. It is a great dhow and you can rent and stay on the dhow if so inclined. You can climb up on the canvas canopy of the deck and enjoy the breeze and watch the sunset. It was romantic and yet fun.

From Manda Bay one can explore the island and it had some interesting trees that have lived more than hundreds of years ago, ancients ruins, birdlife and wildlife.

Dinner settings:
One of the great things about dining in Africa is that you can get "creative" as to where you want to have your dining. I often eat at different settings to mix it up and not get bored. There is the formal dining area, then there is the outdoor option and for the Majlis, I had my dinner by the pool, next to the bar and on the beach. At Manda Bay dinner was mainly outdoors and close to the beach.

For more photos of the Majlis and Lamu, please click on the links or visit my website