Lamu is a small island off the Kenyan coast and the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa. Not as well known as Zanzibar or Mombasa, it’s smaller in population but has an equally energetic atmosphere, especially Old Lamu Town. The main religion is Islam, so you’ll see many mosques and hear the call to prayer throughout the day. As a result of this prevalence of Islam, getting henna in Lamu is popular.
Getting to Lamu: The Adventure Begins
Getting to Lamu can be an adventure in itself, but the journey is well worth it. The easiest and most convenient way to get to Lamu is by air. There are daily flights to Manda Airport from Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi. Then Lamu town is just a short boat ride away. Several airlines, including Skyward Express and JamboJet, operate flights. There are also private charter flights that you can book.
If you are uncomfortable with flying or prefer a more scenic and adventurous route, you can also get to Lamu by road. The drive can take up to 8 hours from Mombasa or Malinda. Get ready to understand the meaning of “pole pole”!
Henna in Lamu: The Chance Encounter
As I stepped off the boat onto the shores of Lamu, I couldn’t help but feel excited about the prospect of getting henna. It is something I really love, and therefore try to get it whenever possible during my travels. I wanted to see what a Lamu-style henna would look like and how it differed from other styles I’ve seen.
While preparing to leave for Kenya, I looked for someone who could do henna in Lamu—but found no one. So, I decided to wait until getting there and ask around on the ground.
As I was settling into my Airbnb, I struck up a conversation with Safari the caretaker. We spoke about life on the island and I mentioned my disappointment at not finding someone to do henna. To my surprise, he said he knew of a woman close by who could help me. Without hesitation, I asked Safari to reach out to Halima and see if she was willing for me to visit her at home. He mentioned she was a bit surprised as most guests prefer her working in their rooms. Feeling both excited and nervous, I made my way to Halima’s house with his help.
Getting Henna in Lamu: My Experience
Beyond Henna: Discovering Lamu’s Flavors with Halima
A Lasting Impression of Lamu’s Hospitality
Contact Info for getting henna in Lamu
Suggested Further Readings:
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This is priceless, I truly enjoyed this. You drew me right into the story. I felt like I was there.