Shark Bait: Swimming with Dolphins in Lamu
“Alright chaps, over we go.” With that Kizingo Lodge owner Louis was gone. We had traveled 40 minutes or so in large swells to a tiny rock in the middle of the Indian Ocean to swim with dolphins in Lamu, and no one moved. On the ride over Louis explained that the dolphins may or may not be interested in hanging around so once they’re spotted it was important to get in the water as quick as possible. Oh, and the water may or may not be teaming with great white sharks.
Large waves and the possibility of sharks aside, the fact that Louis’s friend Sally was hesitating was a bit of a concern. She grew up in Durban and is very familiar with the shark attacks there. It felt like one of those times where you do what the locals do, like trying to cross the busy roads in Ho Chi Mihn or which street vendors to eat from. Then again Louis, a God damn dolphin whisper, was the real local in these waters and was now looking back at us like we were bloody idiots for still being in the boat. With that combined look of disappointment and disillusionment I dove in and was quickly rewarded with one of the most exhilarating and satisfying experiences of my African trip.
Swimming with dolphins in Lamu was high on my to do list while visiting Kizingo, only for the fact that, aside from eating and sleeping, it looked like the activity to do while staying there. All I knew of swimming with dolphins was cheesy advertisements showing smiling family splashing around a pool with flipper. This, of course, was no swimming pool or commercial, and these, of course, were not captive dolphins. These were wild dolphins swimming free, and now they were within inches of my reach.
We spent a good half hour following different pods around and jumping in once close enough. Diving down I could see Louis spinning and turning with the dolphins. “You have to interact with them to keep their attention.” He said on the surface. With that I dove again, this time doing my best dolphin impersonation, which seemed to work. The dolphins would circle around me on their sides watching my peculiar moves. I could hear their squeaky calls as if to say “Hey Larry, check out this asshole.” It was great.
We continued on by boat to the “Calm” side of the island for some snorkeling. There we were treated to colourful fish and bright coral. After few minutes Louis said we were going to swim to shore. Looking at the crashing waves on the jagged reef I questioned this idea. Much like trusting Louis with swimming with dolphins in Lamu, I followed him through the current ashore. When we got to the beach I was gassed and convinced the man was fearless. Hearing his stories about growing up in Zimbabwe it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
The island itself was fascinating. There was interesting coral formations, pools with trapped fish from the tide being out, pieces of shrapnel shells from the navy using it as target practice, and so many black crabs that the rocks looked like they were moving. I tried to keep up with Louis, a man in his 60’s, as he bounced around the island with ease. Barefooted I must add and too much my tender city feet.
One. More. Time.
Back on the boat we enjoyed a cold Kilimanjaro to celebrate the day. This was the only picture I got as I have learned my lesson about saltwater and electronics while in Vietnam years ago – Much thanks to Louis for providing the amazing pics!
As we made out way back towards Kizingo Lodge we spotted a very large pod of dolphins. Louis’s eyes lit up and asked if anyone was up for one last swim. Sally, the recipient of two knee replacements, was already seasick while waiting for us to return from the reef. She was ready for home as was her husband Rod. “I’ll go” I said half feeling bad about keeping the others any longer and half thinking when will I be swimming with dolphins in Lamu again? I was thankful my selfish half won because it was by far the best swimming with dolphins Lamu experience of the day. So much so that five minutes in I saw flash of white in the corner of my eye and, thinking about sharks still, was panicked until I realized it was Rod who was too eager to miss out.
Swimming with Dolphins Lamu – a Must Do.
It was a day packed with emotions of fear, excitement, wonder, and awe. Swimming with dolphins in Lamu is a must if visiting the island of Lamu or staying at Kizingo Lodge. Louis’s dolphin whispering skills puts you in good hands and is entertaining to say the least. Added bonus, his guests have never lost a limb.
What say you?
Thoughts on swimming with dolphins in Lamu?
Let’s hear it!
My swimming with dolphins in Lamu experience was made possible by Kizingo Lodge and the The Safari Partners through a travel professional educational trip. Although my trip was discounted, the experience, opinions, and fear of sharks are my own.