Lamu Island

Lamu 400
Lamu shoreline
Photo by: Cessna 206, Creative Commons

Who says there is no paradise in the African Continent? You are probably missing out on Lamu Island, a part of the Lamu Archipelago of Kenya.

Lamu Island is composed of one town and three villages. A ferry ride from Mokowe will take you to this island. But once you get there, don’t fret over your mode of transportation in and around the island – here they use donkeys as cars and other motorized vehicles do not exist on the island. Now that makes for a thrilling ride! Well you can always walk or use a bicycle. It’s not that this place is being left out on the latest trends when it comes to automobiles; it’s just that the roads are so narrow that cars won’t fit in.

Lamu Island is part of the ancient Arab trade route. This is why Arabic influences can be seen throughout the island. It is believed that the Lamu port – established by the Arab traders – has existed for at least one thousand years. On some unconfirmed accounts, the legendary Chinese fleet of Zheng He sunk near the island, where survivors are believed to have settled in the island. Lamu Town is Kenya’s oldest existing town and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Being one of the original Swahili settlements, this town has painstakingly preserved the Swahili architecture. The people here are mainly Muslim but the general population is still considered ethnically diverse.

Shela, on the other hand, is totally the opposite of Lamu town. While the latter has always been known as a commercial town and a busy port, the former is known as the island’s center for tourism. Its pristine white sand beaches replete with traditional Arab dhows are simply breathtaking. Guest houses near the beach offer visitors a cozy place to stay.

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