Travel Guide to Lamu Old Town – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Lamu or Lamu Town is a small city on Lamu Island, which in turn is a part of the Lamu Archipelago in Kenya. Located 341 kilometers (212 mi) by road northeast of Mombasa that ends at Mokowe Jetty, from where the sea channel has to be passed to reach Lamu Island. It is the headquarters of Lamu County and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Frozen in the 14th century, Lamu is a must for any explorer to Kenya who wishes to skip the hustle and bustle of metropolis life.

Lamu a tranquil tropical island is known for its slow and relaxed rhythm lifestyle. An island of glorious history dating as far back as the 14th century. Over the centuries, Lamu has hosted numerous visitors and cultural attractions but despite all that attention, the island has developed its unchanging grace. The people of Lamu are great believers of tradition and culture and this has guaranteed a strong society built on respect of the past.

Lamu’s real attraction aside from the long, white sandy beaches, is the Old Town. The ancient stone town with its long winding narrow streets is quite captivating. There are no vehicles in Lamu and the only dominant form of transportation is either the dhows or donkeys…yes, donkeys.

Apart from traversing the town on foot and lazing on the beaches, one can go on dhow safaris beyond Lamu into the surrounding archipelago, where secluded villages, ancient ruins, and a few luxurious and exclusive resorts lie hidden between the islands of Manda, Siyu, Pate, and Kiwayu.Do you want an ideal honeymoon?

Are you a person who is influenced by medieval structures and rich cultures? Then Lamu is just the perfect location for you!

A must-see event is the annual Lamu Cultural Festival held every year in November. The four days event highlighting the best of traditional displays including plasterwork decorations, elaborately engraved doors, high-backed chairs, beds and chests, boat building, patterned traditional hats called kofia; traditional dances such as Kirumbuzi which is a stick dance in which pairs of men move within a large circle of men, carrying out a mock fight to knock the stick out of the opponent’s hand.

In the past, it assisted as a cathartic function in that men holding cases were able to work them out in a socially acceptable way; traditional competitions including a donkey and dhow races. Donkeys are part and parcel of Lamu’s life, carrying everything from sand, building blocks, and farm produce to shop merchandise and people. This race attracts tonnes of spectators. Young boys ride these creatures of burden in a race along the seafront that starts and ends in front of the Lamu Museum; Swahili Bridal Ceremony is a party including female friends and women kin of the bride before the marriage ceremony.

The bride undergoes extensive beauty preparations which include massages with coconut oil and sandalwood perfume, extensive henna decorations applied to both hands and feet. The elegantly dressed bride, mostly in green colors is showered with gifts. There is dancing and singing to Taarab music and the delightful ululations of women; Musical performances and book launches.

Stay in Lamu and the neighboring islands range from budget accommodation including hotels and guesthouses to the pricey accommodations including luxurious hotels, resorts, and beach houses. Lamu caters to every visitor because Kenyans consider visitors as a blessing.

Was it worth reading? Let us know.