Lake ChallaA few hours south of Nairobi, I arrived in the small junction town of Voi and headed west to the Tanzanian border to take a look at Lake Challa, another volcanic crater. The lake hit the news a few years ago when a British backpacker was killed by crocodiles, so I stayed well away from the water (neatly saving me a strenuous trek down from the rim) and had a look at an abandoned hotel (mainly wrecked bandas full of lizards). Feeling that I’d had my quota of Rift Valley volcanoes, I headed straight to to coast and Malindi, saving Mombasa for the return journey.

Gede palaceGede mosque

Gede archJust south of Malindi is the ruined Swahili town of Gede – a 12th century trading centre made mysterious by the complete absence of any historical records referring to it. The ruins are very atmospheric, with trees and vines growing over everything and the odd arch standing well off the path in the middle of a thicket. One could well imagine it in Planet of the Apes, especially with all the samango monkeys scampering around. There are many extremely deep and large wells (made slightly hazardous by the complete lack of safety screens), which are home to medium-sized owls and spiders. As I sensibly arrived early in the morning, I had the entire site to myself for a few hours and the first tuk-tuk full of cigarette-smoking package tourists arrived just as I was leaving.

Bottle wallThe journey from Malindi to Lamu was uneventful, except for some blatant bribery of a police officer to allow our overloaded bus to pass and a kid who vomited, somehow managing to hit everybody within one metre in all directions. Lamu Town is similar to Stone Town, and I spent much of my time wandering around the streets and checking out the nearby village of Shela. A local who claimed to own the only guitar on the island also persuaded me to tune it (it still sounded a bit odd, as it has three steel and three nylon strings) and write down all the chords I knew so that he might make a living from entertaining tourists. I may have made the first busker in the entire archipelago.

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