A two week holiday in Kenya has left me wanting to go back for more…again! There’s something magical about the remote northern coast – within minutes of arriving at Kiwayu Island and Mike’s Camp, I felt all the unnecessary stress and strain of the western world simply lift off my shoulders and disappear.
I first visited this island in the Lamu archipelago back in 1994 when I was backpacking through East Africa – the camp was in its early stages after Mike stumbled across it on his dhow fishing safaris through the maze of winding mangrove channels and surrounding marine national park. I instantly fell in love with it and the contrasting sides of this thin long island left me mesmerised – 6km of empty white sandy beach on the turquoise Indian Ocean to the east, and the calmer emerald green creek side to the west which boasts the best sunset view I’ve ever seen on the whole East African coast.
You can snorkel in the coral reefs off the beach on either side of the island, go sand yachting, kayaking, boogie boarding, sailing, waterskiing, wake boarding, kite surfing, picnicking on neighbouring remote coral islands, deep-sea fishing, fly fishing. Mike might even take you on a motorbike spin up and down the long empty beach…but the walk is also highly recommended! I hadn’t been back since I was lucky enough to work there in 2006 and it’s as heavenly as ever – since then I’ve obviously visited many camps and countries in southern and eastern Africa for Steppes Travel and this is the truest “eco-camp” I’ve ever seen, relying 100% on wind and sun for power, bandas made from palm leaves and the donkeys still bring the water up from the well to camp and your bucket shower.
Being on top of the dunes you need to be fit and well to really enjoy to-ing and fro-ing to the beach in the heat of the day. It is still my favourite place on earth and if you are young…..ish, adventurous, not overly concerned with running water and minibars, love the wilderness and privacy you find in such remote areas, then I can’t recommend it highly enough. The birds are all around in the bush outside your banda and along the creek and beach – kingfishers, herons, fish eagles, osprey. Some other guests went deep sea fishing and were joined by over 100 dolphins before returning with yellowfin tuna for sashimi that evening. The perfect idyllic home away from home – super relaxed! I’m already planning my next trip there.
Whilst staying with friends on Soysambu Conservancy the tour operator in me couldn’t resist checking out a couple of camps there – we had a great dinner at Mbweya Camp which had an interesting mix of guests, good atmosphere and I was very impressed with the lovely fresh feel to their bandas which are a very good price indeed. And we also went to inspect the progress on the building of the new Serena lodge on the edge of Lake Elementaita’s shores – a smaller venture than normal for Serena with only 25 rooms and great views, I think this will be an excellent option for those keen on birds and visiting the neighbouring Lake Nakuru National Park. We had fantastic sundowners on the lake’s edge where we watched the flamingos and pelicans in vast numbers flying low over the lake before they settled on their breeding ground for a nighttime bath in the dwindling sunlight…stunning views.
It really does have it all in Kenya! It keeps you coming back for more as there is just so much variety and you don’t have to sit in a bumpy 4×4 for hours on end to appreciate the wildlife all around.