Lamu - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Lamu


A gentle and relaxed holiday destination, Lamu is Kenya's oldest inhabited town and the unhurried way of life has changed little over the centuries. Part of the Lamu Archipelago, Lamu town (on Lamu Island) is reached by boat from the mainland. The narrow, winding streets are crowded with pedestrians, markets, vendors and donkeys.

Lamu's lovely old Arab houses feature intricately carved doors and lintels, and mosques decorate the streets of one of the last remaining Swahili towns from a civilisation that used to be the cultural force along the coast. A dhow trip is a mandatory holiday outing and sailing around the little islands or to the beautiful beaches is a memorable experience.

Information & Facts


There are plenty of tour guides ready to show tourists around the archipelago by dhow, and visitors can find them along the seafront by looking for the bright blue shirts of the Promise/Ahadi organisation. The Takwa ruins on Manda Island and ancient settlements on Pate are great attractions to visit. Shela Beach, on the north end of Lamu island, is a beautiful white sand beach popular for sunbathing and watersports. For a sense of local history and Swahili culture, visitors can explore the Lamu Museum, the Swahili House Museum, or Lamu Fort.

English is the official language but Swahili is the national language, with 42 ethnic languages spoken.

The unit of currency is the Kenyan Shilling (KES), divided into 100 cents. It is not advisable to take Kenyan Shillings out of the country, as they are difficult to exchange elsewhere. Travellers cheques in Sterling or US Dollars are recommended for your trip to Kenya. US Dollars in particular have become commonly used in many of the country's main hotels and safari lodges. Foreign currency can be changed at banks, bureaux de change and hotels; easiest to exchange are US dollars, pounds sterling or Euros. Street exchange merchants should be avoided as they are operating illegally. Banks open Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm and on the first and last Saturday of the month. Banks and bureaux de change at the international airport stay open 24 hours. Credit Cards (American Express, Visa and MasterCard) are accepted in the larger hotels and stores, and some camps and lodges. ATMs are widely available in Nairobi and the major towns.


Safety in Lamu is a concern as Somalian pirates are becoming increasingly active in the area.


There are some excellent seafood restaurants in Lamu, mostly clustered around the seafront. Moonrise is popular for its Mediterranean cuisine and relaxed terrace dining, while Whispers Cafe has a casual atmosphere and a blend of western comfort food and exotic African fare for reasonable prices.


There are some good souvenir shops in Lamu town, including a branch of MagicGrace, which sells cotton clothing, jewellery, and Maasai Treads sandals. Most stores in Lamu are closed in the afternoon heat from 12:30pm to 4pm.

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