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Safari Highlights in Kenya
As Kenya's oldest living town, Lamu has a rich and colourful history. This town was one of the original strings of the Swahili settlements that stretched from Somalia to Mozambique. Lamu remained a thriving port-town through the turbulent Portuguese invasions and later the Omani domination of the 17th century. Lamu had a slave-based economy until the turn of the 20th century. The slavery was abolished in 1907, and then the economy of the island suffered greatly. Only recently has Lamu become more popular with travellers, as many people are intrigued to discover this quaint little city and know more about the life and culture of Lamu.
Lamu appears to be a region almost frozen in time. The physical appearance and the character of the town have changed very little over the centuries. The narrow, winding streets accommodate only pedestrian or donkey traffic. The population of Lamu remains almost exclusively Muslim, and in the early 1970s, Lamu became famous for its reputation as an exotic, remote, and self-contained society.
Lamu has become something of a spiritual centre for many drawn to its undisturbed traditional culture. Some people feel that Lamu’s popularity and increased tourism may, over time, undermine the unique value system and culture of this Swahili settlement. Others argue, however, that without the tourist industry Lamu will suffer and stagnate. Who knows? What we do know is that visiting Lamu on a daytrip during your Kenyan safari is a great idea – you will be amazed with the town, its lifestyle and its ancient atmosphere.
There are numerous sights in and around Lamu worth exploring. The architecture of the houses and buildings are especially unique. Most buildings date back to the 18th century (or before) and are constructed out of local materials including coral-rag blocks for the walls, wooden floors supported by mangrove poles, makuti roofs, and intricately carved shutters for windows. The villages of Shela and Matondoni, Lamu Fort, the Swahili House Museum, and the Donkey Sanctuary should also be included on every traveller’s itinerary.
If you are interested in travelling to Lamu, Jenman East Africa will be able to assist you with planning your Kenya adventure.