“What to do when everything has changed? Littlegig has been pondering this. And we have big plans brewing. But now is still the time for the small and intimate (but no less wondrous), so we are excited to present our first Littlegig Retreat.“
The hallmark of Littlegig has always been the pairing of inspiring creatives with spectacular, original locations. This remains unchanged. The first Littlegig Retreat will have Writing as its creative pursuit and will take place at the famed Peponi Hotel, on Lamu’s tiny Shela Island in Kenya. The retreat facilitator is writing coach and literary agent Sarah Bullen of the Writing Room, who has had over 100 books published by writers she has mentored.
Since the 1960s, Lamu has attracted artists and nomads, writers and seekers. They have been enchanted by its hundreds of years of invaders and influences, its vast empty beaches, those white sails against that blue sea.
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Follow their footsteps, as you embark on your own creative journey with Sarah, and Littlegig festival owner Georgia Black. While Sarah will make sure that you take your writing to the next level, Georgia has developed a programme of extraordinary events so that you experience the full magic of Lamu, from world-class yoga to moonlight dhow trips.
Join a group of 10 writers and creatives for 5 nights on this secret archipelago off the East African coast of Kenya. This is the place to discover your story, to connect, to rest and dream.
WE STAY AT THE PEPONI
The legendary seafront hotel, which has been in the same family for over 50 years, is the epicentre of Shela. It has lovely, airy rooms in whitewashed buildings, and plenty of shady nooks and hammocks, perfect for reading and writing.
Its bougainvillea-shaded terrace overlooking the Lamu Channel is Shela’s famed sundowner spot. And the hotel restaurant has some of the best food in East Africa, including their famous crab linguine and other delicious Italian, Indian, local and vegan food. From the restaurant, down the few steps to the beach, you can keep walking for miles along a deserted beach with palm-covered dunes.
You won’t find a television or telephone in your room, and you won’t miss them either, because the charm of the place lies in that fact that it gives just the right amount of everything – no more, and definitely no less.
WHO SHOULD JOIN
You, if you need an adventure, mixed with the gift of time and space to get going on your project, in an extraordinary island setting. You will join an international mix of travellers, memoir writers, novelists, bloggers, Masters students, poets and playwrights. And you don’t need to have a grand project in progress. Some of you may be halfway through a novel, some may come simply to write a special letter, and others may choose to spend the days just dreaming and reflecting before you get started on your writing.
HOW THE DAYS UNFOLD
This is Littlegig’s suggested structure, though you are invited to do what you and your retreat most need.
- Morning yoga at the renowned Banana House studio.
- Daily group or individual writing time.
- One individual session with Sarah during your stay, which will focus on planning your project, or receiving writing feedback.
- Optional evening feedback session.
- A massage, a snorkelling trip, or a barbeque on a deserted beach. More information on optional activities below.
- Drinks and dinner together each evening in various restaurants and locations around Lamu and Manda Islands
- 5 nights’ accommodation (including delicious breakfasts) at the Peponi Hotel in a Single Standard Room with an en suite bathroom and private patio leading onto the hotel’s incredible Palm Garden. While the Standard Rooms are some of the hotel’s loveliest, there may be the option of upgrading to a Superior Room at an additional cost of 300USD, subject to availability. If you are planning on sharing a room with another guest on the retreat, please let Littlegig know, and they will send you revised accommodation rates.
- Transport to and from Lamu Airport by boat to the Peponi (20 minutes).
- A structured writing journey for your full retreat.
- Daily group writing sessions, for those who wish.
- An individual session with Sarah.
- A group lunch. For the rest, we encourage you to explore the island or the hotel grounds.
- An evening dhow cruise around the archipelago.
- Group sunset hour followed by dinners each night, either at the Peponi’s famous restaurant, a hotel on Manda beach, or in one of Lamu’s villas where a private chef will treat you with island-style deliciousness!
- Daily, onsite support by Peponi’s wonderful team
- Flights, which you will need to book yourself. Please note that flights from Nairobi or Mombasa to Lamu are limited and on small aircraft, so don’t leave this leg of your booking too late. Please let Littlegig know if you would like them to refer you to their travel agent who has considerable experience with Lamu bookings.
- Nairobi hotel and airport transfers, if your international flights require a stopover.
- COVID test if you need one to return to your country. The hotel can arrange for a doctor to come to the Peponi to test you timeously.
- Daily 9am yoga at Banana House’s renowned yoga studio.
- Alcohol, additional lunches and room service.
OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES AND EXCURSIONS
Aside from the daily writing and yoga programme and our evenings together, the following optional excursions will take place during the retreat, for those who want to immerse themselves in the Lamu experience.
Daily Yoga at Banana House, 9 am
The owner of Banana House, a dreamy guest house 5 minutes walk from the Peponi, started Lamu’s annual Yoga Festival, which attracted more than 300 people. Her guest house has the best yoga venue and teachers in town.
Dhow trip to Manda Toto Island (5-6 hours)
The romance of East Africa is encapsulated by its dhows. Sail slowly up narrow mangrove channels to the tiny Manda Toto island for swimming, snorkelling (conditions permitting) and picnicking on grilled fish caught along the way.
Shela Architecture Walking Tour (2 hours)
The understated elegance of Shela’s hotels and villas (many of which have been painstakingly restored by their owners) is unmatched, and is what has made Shela famous. We visit a few of our favourite private villas, art galleries and best boutiques.
Lamu Old Town Walking Tour (2-3 hours)
Dating back to the 12th century, Lamu Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa. It is here that you will find the most authentic places on the island. We explore the narrow streets, the ancient fort with its wooden carved doors, the bustling markets, museums and cafes. (Remember that Lamu is a Muslim town so please dress modestly when walking the streets.)
Watersports (e.g. waterskiing) can also be arranged at your request.