Lamu Town is a small town on Lamu Island, which in turn is a part of the Lamu Archipelago in Kenya. Lamu is Kenya’s oldest continually inhabited town, and was one of the original Swahili settlements along coastal East Africa, founded in 1370. Here are some suggestions of some of the top things you can do while on a visit to Lamu.

 

EAT THE STREET FOOD

Most of the street food is sold at night. The most popular dishes were chips mayai (made by mixing chips with egg then frying the mixture) , mshikaki (marinated pieces of meat on a skewer) and mkate wa nyama (mixture of minced meat, vegetables, egg wrapped in a thin pastry and fried) aka Swahili pizza.

An array of street food found in Lamu

 

I ate street food every single night I was in Lamu and not once did I have any stomach issues. I do think though that the more I travel and try new things the hardier I become. If your stomach is sensitive then you could stick to the restaurants which are in plenty. My favourite was New Mahru’s Hotel, they had really good biriani and fried fish. Their fresh juice was delicious too.

Everything was very affordable

Lamu Town_HotelMangrove Centre by the Seafront opp the old jetty, they had the best mkate wa nyasa

 

VISIT LAMU MUSEUM AND SWAHILI HOUSE

Both these places showcase Swahili history and give you an idea of how life was in Lamu before colonization. I will do in depth posts of both these places on the blog soon.

Other places you can visit are the Old Fort and the German Post Office Museum. I went to the Old Fort but there wasn’t much to be seen there. German Post Office Museum I didn’t visit because I was told it is only one room and not very interesting if you haven’t a particular interest  in German history on the island.

Lamu Town_Lamu Museum

 

Lamu Town_Lamu Museum1

 

Lamu Town_Swahili HouseGuest bedroom

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Lamu Town_Swahili House1

 

Lamu Town_Swahili House2Freshwater well that is still in use to date

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Lamu Town_German Post Office

 

WALK THROUGH THE OLD TOWN

Lamu Old Town is the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa. Lamu has continuously been inhabited for over 700 years. The town is characterized by narrow streets and magnificent stone buildings with impressive curved doors, influenced by unique fusion of Swahili, Arabic, Persian, Indian and European building styles.

Lamu Town_Lamu Streets

 

Lamu Town_Lamu Streets1

 

Lamu Town_Old Town stairs

 

Lamu Town_Mkunguni square

 

Lamu Town_Lamu Streets3

 

If you are souvenir shopping then Gallery Baraka is a must visit. They have loads of beautiful antiques. Their prices are on the steep side so I did not buy anything.

Lamu Town_Gallery Baraka

 

Lamu Town_Gallery Baraka2

 

Lamu Town_Gallery Baraka3Gallery Baraka

There also some silversmiths (Make sure you visit Slim’s) situated in the street parallel to the sea front and a couple of shops selling trinkets. I only purchased one souvenir, a silver ring for around Kshs 600 ($6) which I had bargained down from Kshs. 800 ($8). It has not left my finger since I left Lamu. As usual make sure you haggle, and you’re sure to get  better prices if you go shopping with a local.

 

WATCH PEOPLE AS THEY GO ON WITH THEIR DAILY LIVES

The perfect place to do this is at the sea front. This is where most of the ‘action’ happens. There are some stone benches you can sit on as you watch the world go by.

Lamu Town_Old Jetty

 

Lamu Town_Man feeding catsMan feeding cats

 

Lamu Town_Boy jumping from jetty.2

 

Lamu Town_Boy jumping from jetty.3Boys jumping from jetty

 

VISIT THE DONKEY SANCTUARY

Donkeys are a big part of Lamu there are about 2,200 of them on the island. The sanctuary opened its doors in July 1987 and provides treatment to all donkeys free of charge. I didn’t get time to visit the sanctuary but on my next visit I will make time .

Lamu Town_Man on donkey

 

The donkey sanctuary, a unique concept only found in LamuEntrance to the donkey sanctuary

 

VISIT THE FLOATING BAR ON YOUR WAY TO SHELA

I didn’t get to go to the floating bar but I was told that it is one of the best places to go for drink in the evening . You will need to hire a boat to get there, the cost per person turns out to be cheaper if you’re in a group of 4-5 people.

If you want to have a meal there (limited options, mainly restricted to seafood) make sure you make your order in advance.

Lamu Town_Floating Bar

 

Lamu Town_Floating Bar1

 

Shela is the closest place to Lamu town you can go to enjoy the beach. You can actually walk to Shela but only when the tide is low, it will take you about an hour to get there. I took the easier option and got a boat, it costs approx. Kshs 500 ($5) to hire a boat.

Lamu Town_Shela

 

Lamu Town_Shela (2)

 

The beach was deserted and it was pretty safe to leave your things on the beach while you swim in the ocean. The water is calm and shallow near the shore so if you’re not a confident swimmer you can still enjoy yourself.

Shela Beach

 

Shela Beach1

 

Shela Beach2

 

WATCH THE SUNRISE AND SUNSET

I wasn’t able to properly watch the sun set while in Lamu but on my last full day there I took a trip to Manda and I was able to get a few shots on the way back to Lamu.

Lamu Town_Sunrise1

 

Lamu Town_Sunset2

 

Lamu is very safe, at no point was I concerned for my safety. I was able to walk at all hours of the night alone without worrying about being harassed or robbed. The locals are very friendly and helpful. Every time I would ask for directions they were more than willing to take me exactly where I was going.

Lamu is conservative so do keep this in mind and dress modestly.

 

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20 Comments

  1. January 31, 2016 at 4:10 am — Reply

    Such beautiful photos of Lamu! I especially love the ones of the man feeding the cats and the children swimming. The street food looks rather delicious too! 🙂

  2. January 31, 2016 at 6:51 am — Reply

    Your photos are so pretty. Wow! This island is full of character. I would not mind getting lost in its streets. The street food looks delicious. I would eat it every single day like you did.

  3. January 31, 2016 at 7:14 am — Reply

    Amazing photos of a place I don’t know about.
    Paula McInerney recently posted…The Green Mountain Inn in the Charming Village of Stowe, VTMy Profile

  4. January 31, 2016 at 2:58 pm — Reply

    Rachael, Another gorgeous place to put on my Kenya list. I’m going to have to live there to do it all!
    Corinne recently posted…My First Love – Traditional German Schnitzel and a Recipe!My Profile

  5. January 31, 2016 at 6:08 pm — Reply

    I like your blog because each week it is the one most likely to introduce me to a place I did not know at all. This looks wonderful, especially the street food. We often take a chance with it too, because it tells you a lot about the local culture, and have never had any problems. Usually when you get food poisoning it’s something you least expect!

    • February 20, 2016 at 6:49 pm — Reply

      You’re so right! The first time I ever got food poisoning I had had a meal from a ‘proper’ hotel. I vowed I would never go back.

  6. February 1, 2016 at 10:30 pm — Reply

    In all my years of eating street food, I’ve never taken ill from it. I imagine that the food in photo #8 that’s being deep fried in oil would certainly have all germs killed off by the time it came out of the pan. It all looks delicious, so it’s a good thing I’m eating my own lunch as I read this. That floating bar sounds like a unique and fun idea, and the beach looks very relaxing. I like your pictures of the town, particularly that framed doorway leading to the steps. Makes me wonder what’s up there.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted…11 Free Activities Onboard the Disney Dream CruiseMy Profile

    • February 2, 2016 at 11:47 am — Reply

      I have gotten ill from street food so for a while I was wary. I’ve decided that I’ll be eating whatever my stomach desires and just carrying some Imodium (which I won’t need hopefully)

  7. Manesha
    February 5, 2016 at 3:37 pm — Reply

    I like the picture of the guy and the cats, seems so sincere…

    • February 20, 2016 at 6:47 pm — Reply

      It looked like he feeds them everyday. The minute he sat down all the cats approached him.

  8. February 11, 2016 at 12:15 am — Reply

    What a quaint place! I love the boys jumping in for a swim. Great pictures as always..glad to see it..been too long :-). I very rarely eat street food. That looks like our “suya” on the grill..
    Kemkem recently posted…Vilamendhoo Resort and Spa – Luxury in the MaldivesMy Profile

    • February 20, 2016 at 6:36 pm — Reply

      I’ve had suya (far too spicy for me) and yeah, mshikaki is quite similar. What do you mean you rarely eat streetfood, you’re missing out!

  9. February 15, 2016 at 8:35 pm — Reply

    I could use a kicked back, itinerary free getaway to Lamu right about now. I would love to spend hours wandering through the streets of Old Town and people watching. This is yet another place I’ll have to add to my Kenya itinerary (I’d love to get there soon!).

    • February 20, 2016 at 6:35 pm — Reply

      When are you and Jave visiting??!! I am sure you will love it.

  10. February 19, 2016 at 3:27 am — Reply

    Hi Rachel, I really appreciate the introduction to Lamu – that it is Kenya’s oldest inhabited town truly makes it fascinating. Love the street food, the beach, the Swahili House, the bar – but, of course, my favorites are the images of locals going about their daily lives. They give us a true feel of the spirit of the place. As usual, your sunrise/sunset shots are stunning. Thanks for sharing.

    • February 20, 2016 at 6:34 pm — Reply

      Thanks Marisol, I am glad you were able to experience Lamu through the photographs.

  11. February 23, 2016 at 2:02 pm — Reply

    […] promised in my previous post  here is my post about Swahili House […]

  12. March 18, 2016 at 11:13 am — Reply

    […] Some reading for you on Top Things to do in Lamu: http://www.safari254.com/top-things-to-do-in-lamu/ […]

  13. March 21, 2016 at 10:46 am — Reply

    I got a serious case of Lamu Wanderlust from seeing these pictures. I live for street food!
    Xx
    http://whisperywind.com/

    • March 30, 2016 at 11:15 am — Reply

      Yes to street food! Especially viazi karai. I can live off them for days.

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