Do I need kayak experience?

Not at all! Kayak experience is useful but not necessary. The only prerequisite is a healthy spirit for adventure and fun. The choice of tandem, stable, sit-on-top kayaks makes it possible for novices to enjoy kayaking. Tandem kayaks offer more stability and improve energy efficiency. Sit-on-top kayaks allow easy entry and exit whilst in the water and do not require technical (Eskimo) rolls.

How fit should I be?

Whilst our expeditions are not designed to be too strenuous, you should be of good general health and physical condition. You should be reasonably fit, have no debilitating injuries and be able to swim. It is advisable that before you start your kayak expedition you exercise the muscle groups that will be used (shoulders, arms, torso). A good option is to do two weeks of light upper-body work, like rowing, skipping or gym circuits. If you are overweight, in poor health or have special medical needs please contact us for advice on your tour options. Those with health or medical risks should contact their physician for advise before beginning our expeditions.

Is there an age limit for participation?

Anybody above the age of 16 can participate in one of our kayak expeditions – as long you are reasonably fit (i.e. hiking fit), can use your upper body and have no health problems or debilitating injuries.

What travel documents will I need?

It will be necessary for you to have a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate when travelling in and out of Kenya. Please call on your local physician or travel clinic for advise on what vaccinations you may require. Certain countries require a visa for their citizens to enter Kenya, please ask your travel agent if you need one. It is possible to get a visa through your travel agent, Kenyan High Commission office or to simply obtain one upon arrival at Nairobi International Airport (current cost is US$50). Guests must have travel insurance that will cover them for the duration of the expedition.

What medical precautions must I take?

All tourists to Kenya should take malaria prophylactics. Malaria may be present in coastal villages and towns. Please see your doctor or pharmacist for the appropriate preventative medication. Yellow fever vaccination is necessary when travelling to Kenya, please ask your travel agent, physician or travel clinic for this and any other precautions they may recommend. Because of the outdoor nature of our kayak expeditions please take appropriate sun protection, including a wide brimmed hat, loose fitting clothing and sun cream. Whilst each tent has an insect screen and the coastal breeze does a good job keeping most flying bugs at bay, it is advisable you bring insect repellent.

What kind of weather can I expect?

The Lamu Archipelago lies just south of the Equator. It is a tropical climate and during the kayak season you can expect a lot of sunny, hot days, with warm tropical waters. Any non-seasonal rain is usually in short showers. During the off-season (May – July) the monsoon turns and the area experiences heavy showers and winds.

What should I bring?

All camping and kayak equipment is provided. Please see the checklist for a description of what you should bring.

How do I get there?

International guests should fly into Nairobi and will be able to transfer to one of the domestic charters that fly to Kiwaiyu Airstrip. These scheduled flights depart from Wilson Airport in Nairobi. Alternatively if you are coming from another region within Kenya, then a chartered flight may bring you directly to Kiwaiyu Airstrip upon instruction. Sand Dollar Kayak Expeditions will be able to organise your domestic flights upon reservation.

What are the local customs?

Lamu Town was designated a World Heritage Site in 2001 based upon its architecture, the cultural influences from India, China, Europe and traditional Swahili, the interaction between the various cultural groups and its important position as a centre for Islamic religion and Swahili culture. It is the oldest best-preserved Swahili settlement in the East African region. The local residents are friendly and hospitable and pride themselves on their knowledge of sailing, fishing, handcrafts and donkeys! Being an Islamic area locals do not drink alcohol and women are conservatively clothed. Alcohol is only found in those lodges that house international tourists. It is advisable that when in public areas tourists respect local customs.

What if I’m a vegetarian?

When making your reservation please specify any special dietary requirements or food allergies.

Will I need cash once on the expedition?

Each expedition is fully inclusive of accommodation and food. It is advisable to bring some loose cash should you wish to purchase any local crafts or offer tips to staff. It is not advisable to carry any large sums of money or valuable jewellery that may get lost or damaged.

What happens if I fall ill or am injured?

The expedition carries a comprehensive first aid kit and the guides are trained in first aid. Should you have a serious condition the trained staff will be able to stabilise you for transfer to a medical facility. The expedition carries a marine radio, there is often cell phone reception and there is the support dhow (with backup engine). Whilst we believe we are thorough in our safety and guiding there is always an inherent risk of injury when participating in an outdoor activity. When you choose to participate in one of our expeditions you must also assume responsibility for the possibility of personal injury. You should also comply with safety advice from your guides and do your best to contribute to your own personal safety and that of the groups. On expeditions into remote areas preparation and prevention are your best defence, please ensure you have followed the checklist carefully, have taken the appropriate preventative medicine, have adequate sun block and insect repellent and are physically prepared for the expedition.

Where will we camp?

Each night of your expedition will be spent on one of the many islands within the Lamu Archipelago. Preselected sites have been chosen, depending upon the route and weather. Most nights on the 4-night tours are on uninhabited islands within Kiunga Marine Reserve. On the 7-night tour you will spend one night in a lodge within Lamu Town on Lamu Island.

What are the camp facilities?

Despite the wild and remote area every emphasis has been placed on comfort and enjoyment - no sleeping bags or ‘cosy’ domed tents. Our accommodation is in classic cottage shaped safari tents that you can stand in, custom designed for improved ventilation and comfort, with rollout mattresses, bedding and a side table. Outdoor facilities include safari hanging showers and temporary outhouses. Being in a nature reserve all efforts are made to be eco-friendly and guests will be encouraged to participate in eco-camping etiquette. Camp staff will be on hand to set up each day’s camp and to ensure no litter is left when they break camp. The camp kitchen will be supported by gas cookers and will be managed by the experienced camp chef.