Lamu is a fascinating place but I'm still enough of a nature girl to want to get to a peaceful place where you can really feel where you are: the Indian Ocean. I found that the most environmentally conscious guy in the tourism biz on Lamu was Said "Gabriel" Suleiman of Nature + Culture, a small ecotourism company completely staffed by locals. We sailed to Kiwayu, in the nearby eco-reserve, on a dhow (with motor) called Nakupenda, which means I love you -- what more could a girl want? What was also nice was that Gabriel employed as crew some very capable and good-hearted young guys who came from fairly poor backgrounds, so by employing them, we were doing some good. Gabriel also took us to Pate Island, where there were some really amazing archeaology sites and virtually no other tourists. Gabriel hooked us up with locals who familiarized us with the history, archaeology, and even the oral histories about this archipelago, which was a remarkable cultural crossroads starting 700 years ago. He's also kind of a local celeb, having been a professional soccer player, so we were treated very well! And the price was on the low end of what's normal for the trip, and included great food (Swahili food is considered the best in Kenya.) I highly recommend this guy's company: www.lamutravel.com.
It's great to be able to support a locally owned business instead of all these big safari companies, especially when the people involved really know what ecotourism is all about.
White, white sands and blue waters - with Manda Island across the channel. Perfection? It's about 30 minute walk from Lamu Town to Shela, but considering it's all along the seafront, a beautiful walk. And no dangers with mad drivers or cyclists! But look out for cattle....
Lamu's a fastinating place to be seen by the tourists in Kenya. WHY? that's as simple as it's weird. Imagine such a town in which there's no traffic (NO CAR, NOHORN)... so all you have to is relax and listen to silence... whenever you get bored; never stop take a boat (very cheap: pay max. 5000 Kenyan Shillings) so as to see other small islands...
what to eat on the supper? No problem; delicious & insatiable sea food in Hapa Hapa or The Bush Restaurant. Both owners are very friendly, talkative and sensible to the customers as all Lamu people. speacial thanx to Mr Sherif, owner of The Bush by the coast.
evening is on the way; never hesitate to go out unlike the Kenyan people do after 6 pm due to the security problem... Lamu is the safest place in all Kenya because of the effects of Islamic culture ruling there. I've made many friends in a couple of days...
A guided tour is included in the entrance fee to the Fort and is recommended if you start feeling guilty of spending too many lazy days doing completely nothing. For short term visitors, the Fort offers hardly anything entertaining though.
The Fort functions as a local Social Centre, with numerous rooms converted in study units and an extensive library. The Environmental Museum has exhibitions on space, local flora and fauna and so on that are definately educating for those interested.
For some, the best reason to buy the ticket is the roof offering great views on the Fort's surroundings, which include the Market and the endlessly fascinating Central Square.
Also there are some fine examples of traditional carved doors and occasional art exhibitions within its premises that are worth a look.
But to be honest, for visitors, the Fort is at its best from the Central Square with original canons at the gate or from the freely accessable veranda overlooking the Square.
Lamu Fort is one of the few non-ruined historical big buildings in Kenya.
Built with help of the Omani slave trader and Sultan Seyyid Said around 1810, the Stone Fort looked out over the sea to protect the Lamu people from hostile alliances.
It then became local headquarters for the Colonial Britsh administration and prison after that. From 1990, the Fort houses the Environmental Museum and an impressive library.
The entrance fee is a steep Ksh 200, but you may be offered a residents ticket for Ksh 100 (which normally cost Ksh 0,50).
Facing due east, Shela beach is the ideal spot to watch the sun rise over the flat Manda Island and Lamu Harbour (the narrow channel that separates the two islands).