#Travel: 3 times Lamu proved it wasn’t your average coastal town

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It’s bang in the middle of Nairobi’s rainy season and I happen to have caught the common cold. I woke up this morning with a blocked nose, incessant cough and a slight fever – it’s no wonder my mind drifted to the sunny shores of Lamu.

Until earlier this year, I had never been to (or thought much of) Lamu. I knew it was a quaint, old island found off the north coast of Kenya but I hadn’t quite grasped the extent of it’s beauty, character or charm.

To anyone who hasn’t been to this island before, I suggest you bump it up your travel wishlist and make it happen as soon as possible! That is, if you enjoy beautiful beaches, sunset dhow cruises, romantic sandbars, fresh sea food, warm conversations with locals or immersing yourself in architecture and Swahili culture that dates back hundreds of years.

If that’s not your cup of tea, then as you were!

I’ve been to a number of Kenyan coastal towns before but none that tugged at my heart as much as Lamu did.

Here’s 3 reasons why this island isn’t your average coastal town:

Photography by Tatiana Karanja
Photography by Tatiana Karanja


Goodbye traditional taxis, hello donkeys! With only four cars found on the island, you can either make your way round Lamu by boat, on foot or a on a donkey. In fact, one of the four cars situated on the island is an ambulance dedicated to serving these animals. I couldn’t believe it when I came across a donkey taxi rank meant to shuttle goods or people from one place to another. Given the narrow streets and need to preserve their culture, it’s no wonder cars are kept at a bare minimum.

Pic c/o Lamu Conservation Trust
Pic c/o Lamu Conservation Trust

The Wild Side

Keen to see hippos, buffalos, elephants and zebras in huge herds? Well it’s a boat ride away! After chatting to one of the locals, I discovered that one of the smaller islands is home to a wide array of wildlife looked after by the Lamu Conservation Trust. According to him, a few decades ago the wildlife would often move between the island and mainland but soon the strip of land that connected the two got submerged and left huge herds stranded on what is now Amu Ranch. Best part? You can take a helicopter ride for a more stunning view of these creatures.

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Festivals Galore

As if the breathtaking sunsets, unexpected wildlife or authentic old town life weren’t reasons enough for you to visit, Lamu hosts several Festivals each year ranging from cultural, art and sports. Some of the more popular ones include Yoga, Food, Kite and Lamu Cultural Festival which bring together like-minded people to take part in the festival on the beautiful island. For an in-depth look at the upcoming festivals, take a look at their calendar here.

Happy holidaying in Lamu!

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