Lamu overview

Lamu is a small island town with a population of about 50,000 people. Lying off Kenya’s north coast, this is a town where everyone knows everybody. It is so small that tourists can walk the entire town in just two hours. The streets and pathways constructed in-between buildings are narrow and interconnected. There are no taxis or modern means of transportation within the town. Everyone walks around either on foot or donkeys. There are over 4,000 donkeys in the town. Speedboats, canoes, dhows and donkeys remain the main means of transportation within the town and neighbouring islands. As a matter of fact, you need a boat to convey you from the airport into the main town. There are only 3 vehicles in the town. One belongs to the District Commissioner, another is an Ambulance (Tri-cycle) and the third is used for waste disposal.

Lamu is powered by four large generators: two during the day and the other two at night. The city has lots of mosques and hotels, few churches and a handful of local banks. There are many Quranic schools, few high schools and a polytechnic where arts and crafts are learnt. The primary occupation of the Lamu people is farming (fish and agriculture) and tour guiding. Lamu is a self-sufficient island with its basic needs produced from within. The town is divided into the three sections: the Old town, the New town and the main town. The town has two main streets – Harambee Road on the waterfront and Jomo Kenyatta Street. There is a central town square where people gather every evening to watch news on a giant outdoor screen using a projector. Most of the houses are built and designed using a fusion of archaic Arabian, African and Indian architecture, which dates back to the 15th century. The oldest building in the town is the Lamu Fort, which is about 300 years old. It was built with coral stone and mangrove timber. Finally, Lamu is a conservative island, so visitors are expected to respect local customs as well as recommended dress codes, especially while away from the beaches.

must see in Lamu

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The Lamu Fort is a gigantic piece of history which testifies to the ancient nature of the town’s architecture, culture and people. Visitors will be fascinated by one of Lamu’s many glories, its Traditional Swahili Architecture – houses built of coral stone and mangrove timber, with inner courtyards, verandas and elaborately carved wooden doors. The Floating Bar, just as the name implies, is a stunning bar floating on water which hosts patrons who’d love to drink, dance and party. Manda island, home to a large collection of mangrove trees is another must-see destination as well as white sandy Shela beach which is a 30-minute walk north of Lamu. Don’t leave Lamu without visiting the only World Heritage Site on the island, The Lamu Old Stone Town. It’s a remarkable place to be.

Food and Drinks in Lamu

Lamu mainly parades a collection of seafood meals. Barbecued fish, rice, salad, and coconut sauce are the main dishes served at the restaurants and hotels. Adventurous tourists can however try out the local food outlets to have a taste of the local cuisine. Chicken and chips, toast bread, pancake and potatoes are some of the other ‘items’ included in the menu. The fried and spiced potato balls, which are between 5 - 10Ksh a piece, is also worth trying out. Bread, biscuits and other pastries as well as soft drinks, beer, spirits and wine can be enjoyed at the bars, shops and outlets.

Top 3 things to do in Lamu

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