Holidays to Lamu Town, Kenya

Located to the south-east of Nairobi, Lamu Town is at once a living embodiment of Swahili culture, as well as a melting pot of international influences. Boasting a warm local population who pursue a modest way of life, the area represents an ideal opportunity to learn about regional history and relax by the sea.

Founded in the 14th century, Kenya’s oldest living town grew to become a thriving port city by the 1500s, attracting traders from Europe, Asia and other parts of Africa. Since the 1960s, the area has been a hotspot for visitors, who appreciate the calm atmosphere and its convenient location for further travelling.

Explore the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where you can see examples of ornate carvings before you then meander through the local markets. To discover more about local living, visit Lamu’s Swahili House Museum, which features a renovated residence from the 18th century, when many of the area’s buildings were constructed.

Due to the area’s narrow streets, you won’t be able to drive around in a car - locals and visitors alike opt for walking, cycling and riding donkeys. The presence of the animal is unmissable. A couple of thousand roam around, acting as a practical means of transport; every November, they are the participants in a race as part of the Lamu Cultural Festival, where the winner earns a cash prize and a much sought after title. Other activities at the event include music, dancing, henna painting, swimming races and celebrations of Swahili culture. When the donkeys are ready for retirement they are cared for at a local sanctuary, which is open to visitors.

A trip to Lamu Town is incomplete without enjoying the crystal clear sea. Witness fishermen and sailors at work; take a trip on a dhow boat, where you can take in other islands and feel the sedate waves. Journey to Kiwayu Island, just north of Lamu, where you can visit a wildlife sanctuary and view the wildlife, plus experience the beautiful coral reefs by snorkelling. 

Highlights

  • Visit the Lamu Cultural Festival

  • Learn more about Swahili culture

  • Enjoy the crystal clear sea

Jen
Travel Designer & Safari Expert
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I was born and raised in Africa, and I have spent 25 years living, working and travelling across various African countries including South Africa and Tanzania. I learned how to track wild animals, went on to become a nature guide and later a safari lodge manager, and I can also speak Swahili and Afrikaans.

Map of Lamu