When I was planning to visit Lamu, I was looking for the cheapest option for my commute there and we all know road travel never disappoints in this category. I initially thought of going there from Nairobi by road but I later found out from my research that there was no direct bus from Nairobi to Lamu. Mombasa was the best option and since I was also going to visit Mombasa, I considered it a win situation.
During my research, the most recent review/information about the commute I came was writen in 2007! TWO THOUSAND AND FREAKING SEVEN!!! How in the world am I sure that the information stated is still valid? “Scratch that!” I thought to myself. I just have to wing it and see how it goes. One smart thing I did do was keeping in mind some of the facts I gathered from the review like:
- The Best bus company to Lamu from Mombasa was Tawakal
- It costs KES 700 ($7) for a one way trip
- The bus stops at Mokowe jetty where you get a boat to Lamu
Well, I’m pleased to inform you that some of the facts did come in handy. I ended up using Tawakal for my commute. Apparently they are the best bus company ploughing the Lamu-Mombasa route. The other option I would have ended up with was to get a regular bus from Mombasa to Malindi and board another bus heading to Mokowe which would have been disastrous. Thank goodness I was able to get a seat on the Tawakal bus. The price from the review I saw had also changed. I boarded the bus for KES 1,000 ($10) (well as at May when I took the trip).
It took about 8 hours to arrive at Mokowe jetty from Mombasa. The bus departed at 10am and we had a brief stop at Malindi. The road condition to Malindi was great but afterwards, it was all crooked and bumpy making the trip longer than it would have been if the roads were in better condition. We were pulled over just once by officials all through the entire journey and the ID check was a swift one. The bus was a bit old and rickety but had a functional USB port to charge phones which is a plus so there was need for complaining. Besides, why blame the bus company when you can blame the road condition. When we arrived at the jetty I got a boat from there to Lamu town only to find out that I needed to get another boat to Shela where I’ll be staying. The total was KES 250.
Flying is always an option. There are low cost carriers in Kenya: Jambo jet, Fly 540 and Skywards Express that fly to Lamu via Malindi or Mombasa. The prices can range from $50–$80 (or more) one way depending on when you book, extra add-ons and baggage. I flew back to Nairobi from Lamu on Jambo jet and I got my ticket for $62.74.
Another cheaper option will be to take the Madaraka line to Mombasa for KES 700 ($7) pass a night there and catch the bus with Tawakal to Lamu the next day.
I hope this post comes in handy! *fingers crossed*