To the north of Malindi and on the northern coastline is the town of Lamu. First documented in the 9th Century, Lamu is the sole survivor of a 1,000-year cultural epoch and is the oldest continually inhabited town earning it the accolade of featuring on the World Heritage List as “the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa”.
Lamu Island is steeped in history and has more than twenty-nine mosques, the oldest being the 14th Century Pwani mosque. Foreign rule and conflict litter its past: peace only came in 1873, shortly after the British anti-slave squadrons confronted the governors. This attractive Muslim town has a unique charm with its narrow streets, shuttered windows and elaborately carved wooden doors that conceal delightful secret gardens.
Lamu is an ideal base for excursions and boat safaris to neighbouring islands where other lost cities abound. On Pate Island are the ruins of Shanga, believed to be East Africa’s oldest Islamic settlement. Shanga was suddenly abandoned 600 years ago: to this day, the reason remains a mystery.