Lamu: a serene island off the coast of Kenya.

Lamu is an idyllic Indian Ocean tropical island which, unspoilt by mass tourism, seems not to have changed in centuries. The Old Town, with its majestic houses, dates back to the 12th century and was given World Heritage Status in 2001. It is one of the oldest and best preserved Swahili settlements in East Africa, reports BBC Fast Track, and home to one of the first Arab settlements. The island was an important trading post in the 16th century.

This combination of history, tradition, being cut off from the modern world and spectacular solitary beaches began to attract tourists in the 1970s and the money they brought has improved the lives of the local people, allowing for better houses and schools. However there are still very few bars and no roads, so locals and tourists get around the island on foot, by donkey or by Dhow (traditional sailing boats), which have a special appeal. There are some restaurants and a waterfront hotel at the popular Shela beach.

However there is some concern that influences of the modern world are creeping in, the downside of tourism. The island now faces the challenge of holding on to the traditions which make it such a unique destination.

There are daily flights from Nairobi and Mombasa.

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