Monday, August 24, 2015

Takwa Ruins near Lamu, Kenya


Takwa was a thriving Swahili trading town during the 15th and 16th centuries but was abandoned during the 17th century when the drinking water became salty.  Without fresh water, they had no choice but to leave, and the remains are preserved pretty well, considering how long ago that was.  It's located on Manda island near Lamu, so if you're in the area, it's worth a visit.

Getting to Takwa is half the adventure.  We came by boat, and had to be sure there was a high tide to make it through the mangroves.  We passed ancient looking sailboats called dhows. We saw coral bricks being cut and transported. There were acacia trees.  If it had not been raining, it would have been picturesque.
boating through the mangroves

a dhow is a pretty sight

houses on stilts at water's edge

coral being loaded on the dhow

We were told this village is called Obama, but he has never visited

When you dock, there's a long elevated walkway to the site where you'll hear barking dogs and bleating goats, which tells the caretaker he has visitors! There's a fee of 500 shillings for foreigners.  We learned that there are only a few visitors a day.  Sadly tourists stay away from this part of Kenya due to terrorist threats of Al Shabab.  You can view the site on your own, but we enjoyed the caretaker's company and stories for no additional charge.  He had great stories to tell about elephants making their way here or even lions. It must get lonely.
You have to walk through the mangrove

We came through this waterway to the dock

I liked how the goats had taken over the front porch- even one in the window!
There was a complete village here at one time- homes, a mosque, burial places, maybe a market, and a place to meet ships coming from the mainland.  Carved into the buildings is a form of graffiti.  The mosque is maybe the best preserved.  You can tell where the imam might have delivered his weekly message and could see where the foot washing was done.  It was incredible to think that these buildings were built in the 1400s!  I wonder if they knew how long their legacy would be around.  We saw huge banyan trees growing- the first I'd ever encountered.  Such an amazing giant of a plant.
graffiti carved in the coral wall- a dhow


a dagger- can you see it?

An alcove probably used by the imam

The archways are still intact

a huge banyan tree
After making our way through the fields and looking for ruins, we hiked to the top of a sand dune where we could get a nice view of the ocean.  On a nicer day you could probably see ships and maybe even the mainland of Kenya.  It was an interesting place full of history.

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