Founded in the 14th century, Lamu is a delightful stone town with distinctive
architecture, carved doors, narrow streets, many mosques and bui bui clad women.
Vehicles are not allowed on the island; if you need a lift, try a donkey taxi
or a dhow taxi as an alternative to walking!
A thriving town since the 1500s, Lamu played a large part in trade between
Arabia and Eastern Africa for several hundred years. This trade resulted in a
new language, KiSwahili, which is now one of the most widespread Bantu languages
in East Africa.
Lamu was populated by a large number of different tribes as a result of the
slave trade, which used Lamu as one of its ports; the majority of people share
both African and Arabic blood. As the majority of the local Lamu people are Muslim,
there are a large number of mosques on the island; it is therefore considered
polite to cover your arms and legs when walking in the town.
The Old Stone Town of Lamu is the largest stone town in East Africa, but still
fairly easy to explore. Most of the buildings were built in the 18th century,
Lamu's Golden Age. The tall buildings, with their hidden inner courtyards, huge
carved doors and narrow streets are a living museum in themselves, making for
a fascinating walk.
In addition to its historical interest, Lamu also offers beautiful, white
sand beaches and superb seafood to its visitors; the relaxed, friendly style of
the island makes for a wonderful beach vacation.
Copyright Melinda Rees of Eco-resorts