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Kenya

Lamu Archipelago tours & holiday packages

The best preserved port town on the Swahili Coast

A UNESCO World Heritage Site whose rich architectural, historical and cultural heritage make this the most characterful and absorbing town anywhere along the coast of East Africa.

The urban heart of the remote and sleepy Lamu Archipelago is the town of Lamu, which was founded as an Islamic mercantile trade port before or during the 14th century. Changed little in shape in recent centuries, the old town is a knot of cobbled alleys that rises in isolation from the surrounding coastal scrub and lends itself to casual exploration on foot (there are no cars). Lamu is notable for its many traditionally constructed multi-story houses, with their shady inner courtyards and elaborately carved wooden doors, and for the rare and thoroughly satisfying sense of integration that exists between tourists and residents. Key buildings include the Lamu Museum, the 18th-century Swahili House Museum and the 19th-century Lamu Fort.

Our African Travel Expert

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Philip Briggs says

I last visited Lamu in 2011, shortly after the kidnapping incidents, and it was tragic to see how the negative publicity had gutted the (largely locally driven) tourist industry. Even so, it is a lovely, relaxed and welcoming town, and a simply wonderful place to be.

More on Lamu holidays

Elsewhere on Lamu Island is Shela village, known for its fabulous sandy beach and striking Friday Mosque, with its 18-metre conical minaret that is ascended via an internal spiral stairwell of 58 steps. On the opposite side of the island, Matondoni is a picturesque fishing village whose main claim to fame is as a dhow-building centre.

Further afield, Manda Island, the smallest of the archipelago’s three main islands, is the site of the Takwa Ruins, the extensive remains of a trade port abandoned in the 17th century. Dhow trips to Takwa can be combined with snorkelling at Manda Toto ( “Child of Manda”), an uninhabited coral islet whose reefs swirl with colourful reef fish.

The largest but least-visited island in the archipelago is Pate, home to three absorbingly time-warped small towns – Pate, Faza and Siyu – which make Lamu seem positively modern by comparison. 

Lamu Map

Lamu's location on Google Maps

Frequently Asked Questions about Lamu

What kinds of animals will I see on safari?

Whether you are in the Southern or East Africa you will generally be able to see the big five. The difference really comes in when considering antelope as they are based on your chosen location. go there.

What vaccinations should I get?

This is all dependant on the countries that you will be visitng and due to the status of certain vaccinations changing at times, please consult our experts before getting vaccines. go there.

Is it okay to drink the water?

In some parts of Southern Africa it is safe to drink the tap water, however it is highly recommended to stick to bottled water (mostly supplied) during your trip as even drinkable African water is completely different in taste and… go there.

Lamu - Africa Wildlife Safaris

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