Manda Bay has been closed for almost two months, and during that time we’ve heard a lot about the security measures they’ve put in place. So having announced that Manda Bay is to open on 1st December, I decided to come down and see for myself how things are in the archipelago. After a fast and gentle flight with Roland of Air Lamu (don’t forget they have a plane based in Nairobi!), we landed at dusk and Andy showed me everything. The radar system in place, the APs (armed) who patrol at night, and how to use night vision – it’s all very effective and immediately made me realize that they are very much in control of the situation. I haven’t seen or heard the APs since, but knowing they are there is quite enough – after all this is a beach holiday! I slept soundly last night in that softening sea breeze.Shadowing Roland and Bimbi today meant starting with a meeting in Lamu about the reefs and establishing a conservation fee for snorkelling in order to protect their resources. I really enjoyed being there and listening to the discussion of how the fee of US$5 per person would be divided up between the different stakeholders – the swahili is coastal perfect and for the unaccustomed Nairobi ear it takes some hard concentration! So obviously we deserved a nice lunch after that and booked ourselves in for some indulgence at Peponi’s. Andrew joined us and Lars as well, as we feasted on tapas (bouillabaisse, warm camembert with honey, seafood gnocchi and tomato salad) and looked out at the green and blue striped ocean. It’s quiet, and wonderful. A boat came in loaded with people, maybe practicing for the dhow race on Friday at the Lamu Festival, which starts tomorrow. Hafswa was paid a visit – she showed us around the Air Lamu office, and as we left a couple of donkeys were being washed in the sea by their owners. We returned to Manda Bay in the afternoon to find that Henry Henley and John Clark had also just returned from a fantastic day’s fishing – they caught a black tipped shark on fly! It hasn’t been recorded as yet so they reckon it might be a record! They also caught dorado and some other fishies that I wasn’t quite sure of, and had gone up towards Kiwayu. Henry says the fishing is amazing at the moment because there is no one else around… he features in our fishing video
The atmosphere down here is like that of an hidden gem – probably as it was twenty years ago. Come now for soon it will be back to its buzzing normality!