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Lamu Old Town, Kenya
Fast Facts
Historic Interest
Market / Fair
Boat Tours
Tourist Attractions
Kid-Friendly Hotels
Points of Interest Nearby
Family Travel Tips

Lamu, Kenya


Photo by Alfredo De Simone

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The old town of Lamu is quick to get under your skin. Not only is this 12th century community steeped in the Swahili culture that once dominated the East African coast, it's tightly built along narrow lanes and characterized by intricately carved wooden doors and historic homes made of coral stone. Donkeys, the only means of transport at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, are sure to fascinate children. Shela and its unspoiled beaches are but a short stroll along the coast. Archeology ruins, mangroves and snorkeling are just a dhow ride away. What's more, the atmosphere is relaxed and this backwater town is yet undiscovered by the masses. That said, families in search of beach bars, sun loungers and banana boats should think twice before booking a Lamu vacation as there are few tourist trappings anywhere in the archipelago.
Kanzu, Kofia & Bui bui
Kanzu, Kofia & Bui bui

Kanzu, Kofia & Bui bui

Alfredo De Simone

The brightly colored cotton sarongs called kikoi and khanga may be the traditional dress on the east coast of Africa but in Muslim towns such as Lamu a different kind of garb is more often worn. Muslim men wear full-length white robes called kanzu and embroidered skull caps known as kofia. Muslim women are veiled from head to foot. They wear full length black robes called bui bui. Some Muslim women also cover their face. Many decorate their hands and feet with elaborate henna tattoos and shadow their eyes with a cosmetic called kohl.
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Travel Trivia
Which of the following animals are you unlikely to spot in the Wisconsin Northwoods: