Downtime on Lamu – Kizingo Lodge Review
After a super stressful time eating three-course meals, seeing all the animals, and taking frequent catnaps at the wonderfully awesome Encounter Mara safari camp it was time for some much-needed rest. Clearly I am writing this now with a sarcastic pen but when I booked my trip to sleepy Lamu through Safari Partners I actually thought I would need some downtime between camps. This, of course, was due to having no expectations for my 1st Safari experience. Even though I was well rested and well fed I was more than happy to head to Lamu, a place I knew nothing about, to check out the beachfront Kizingo Lodge.
No shoes, No News
Kizingo Lodge touts themselves as the ultimate “no shoes and no news” destination. After spending 4 days disconnected from the world at Encounter Mara I was a bit hesitant to spend 3 more days without updating my blog or sharing pictures on Instagram. Once my foot touched the soft sand of the point (Kizingo literally means “the point” in Swahili) and saw the spacious yet super cozy banda, I didn’t care about anything but relaxing. That’s how it should be right?
It was a refreshing and almost cleansing experience to do nothing but sway in a swing bed, read a book, and catch up on writing. By the end of the trip I wanted to throw my phone into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Kizingo Lodge is that relaxing and the laid-back mindset that the delightful owners Mary Jo and Louis exude is that contagious.
Quiet and Peace
Kizingo Lodge owner/operator’s Mary Jo and Louis’s personalities and hospitality are worth the trek to Lamu alone. Once coffee farmers in Zimbabwe, they were forced out of their home under Mugabe’s reign and left to start over. You can imagine the stories these two have to share and thankfully we got to hear plenty. With Lamu Island’s unfortunate proximity to recent terrorist activities business at Kizingo Lodge has been slow. “Complete rubbish” if you ask Louis. Thankfully I knew this before heading that way but unfortunately not everybody is as open-minded. The media plays a terrible role in overplaying situations in areas that have little to do with conflict and often lumps them in. Good for me, not so good for business. This left us on the Kizingo Lodge point along Louis, Mary Jo, and a couple of Canadian friends of theirs that just happened to be from Vancouver as well. When we checked in we were told that we were the first Canadians to visit in over three years and just like that we invade the place.
This friendly encounter led us to getting to know the owners better and in return we got to appreciate what makes Kizingo Lodge so special.
We quickly adapted to island life at Kizingo Lodge. Swaying in the Indian Ocean breeze only being interrupted for afternoon tea (brought to your banda of course) is a beautiful thing. Frequent naps, dips in the Indian Ocean, playing with the local crabs, and cocktail hour became a routine. We also spent an incredible day swimming with dolphins in Lamu which was not only a highlight of Kizingo Lodge but my entire time in Africa. More to come on that.
Meals at Kizingo Lodge are nothing short of amazing. Fresh fruits for breakfast and seafood everything for lunch and dinner made for a very tasty stay. Much like the quality of the meals found at Encounter Mara, producing meals of such caliber in a seemingly remote location is always impressive. Seafood risotto, fish Curry, okra soup, and a crab boil fresh from the sea paired with stories of Louise’s upbringing in Zimbabwe and Mary Jo’s take on raising children in Africa made for some really great food with interesting company.
Lamu is Open for Business
Our time at Kizingo Lodge ended as quick as it came. What originally was going to be a spot to relax in between our African highlights quickly became a place I will never forget and hope to return to. Hopefully, others will too. Countries like the United Kingdom, who used to account for 90% of Kizingo Lodge clientele, have a travel advisory on Lamu that voids travel insurance. Even though there are more tourist instances in Nairobi, Lamu Island is suffering and it’s a shame because Kizingo Lodge truly is a gem.
Then again, more beach and more crab for me.
What say you?
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My down time at Kizingo Lodge was made possible by The Safari Partners through a travel professional educational trip. Although my trip was discounted, the experience, opinions, and caught Zzzz’s are my own.