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Lamu tourist Activities and Sports Dhow Trips Taking a dhow trip is almost obligatory and drifting through the mangroves is a wonderful way to experience the islands. You'll be approached by touts and would be captains almost as soon as you arrive, but its worth shopping around to find a captain you like and a price you're happy with. Prices vary depending on where you want to go and how long you go for; with a bit of bargaining you should pay around Kshs 500 per person in a group of four or five people. Groups of more than five aren't recommended as the boats aren't very big. Solo travelers joining an existing group to make up numbers will often be offered a great price, on the condition that they don't tell their fellow passengers how much they paid. As this generally means the others paid the extortionate asking price of Kshs 1000 each, it probably shouldn't be encouraged! What ever you arrange, make sure you know exactly how much you'll be paying and what that will include, to avoid misunderstandings and overcharging. Don't hand over any money until the day of departure except perhaps a small advance for food. On long trips, its best to organise your own drinks. Make sure you take a hat and some sunscreen, as there is rarely any shade on the dhows. Most day trips meander around the channel between Lamu and Manda Islands, and the price includes fishing and snorkeling, although both can be disappointing as the fish tend to hide among the coral during the day. Lunch is usually served up on a beach on Manda Toto Island, which has better snorkeling. For something abit more flashy, Peponi Hotel, at Shela, offers full-moon dhow cruises for Kshs 4500 (minimum eight persons) including drinks, wine and a lobster dinner. Multi-day trips head out to pate or the still more remote island of Kiwayu. When it is properly up and running, Lamu Dhow will offer luxury trips with accommodation actually on board a massive vessel. Dhows without an outboard motor are entirely dependent on wind to get them anywhere, although poling the boat is fairly common along narrow creeks and channels. It's common to get becalmed or stuck on sand banks, so you'll just have to be patient and wait until the wind picks up or the tide rises to move on. With this in mind, it's probably unwise to go on a long trip if you have a flight or other appointment to meet. Likewise, dhows are dependent on the tide. You can't sail up creeks if the tide is out and there is not enough water to float the boat. This will be the main factor determining departure and return times. Festivals & Events The mauled Festival celebrates the birth of the prophet Mohammed. Its date shifts according to the Muslim calendar and it will fall on 12 April 2006, and 20th March in 2007 and 2008. The festival has been celebrated on the island for over 100 years and much singing, dancing and general jollity takes place around this time. Among the interesting traditional dances are the goma or cane fighting dance and the quivering-sword dance, where sword-wielding dancer set up a chorus of vibrating steel. Organized events include swimming galas, poetry reading, calligraphy competitions, and donkey
races for young boys and dhow races for all the dhow captains. Most of the cerebrations are centered around Riyadha Mosque, although there is much loud rejoicing at all of Lamu's Mosques. On the final day a procession heads down to the tomb of the man who started it all, Habib Swaleh. The Lamu Cultural festival is another colorful event, held in the last week of august. It's actually a recent initiative, established in 2000 and aimed more at tourists than local people. Attractions include traditional dancing, displays of crafts such as Kofia embroidery (a kofia is a cap worn by Muslim men) and dhow races and dhow races. The donkey awards in March/April are an unusual spectacle, organized by the Lamu Donkey Sanctuary in conjunction with the KSPC to promote animal welfare. Prizes are given for the bestcared-for donkey, and a surprising number of locals turnout to parade their well-tended beasts. Wine Tours Long Island