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Kenya 160297 01 Pate, Pate town

Selected for Google Maps and Google Earth

Comments (4)

meade on July 8, 2009

Hi, interesting photo. It's difficult to find info on contemporary Pate town. One report stated it's buildings are stone and 3 or 4 floors, similar to Lamu, but this photo contradicts that. Any comments?

Thomas Tvergaard on July 9, 2009

Hi meade. I can't tell you for sure that my photo is placed correctly. I have placed it from memory of the way I got there. I never noted the actual location or name of the town – since I didn’t know that I was going there in the first place.

We got there by boat. We sailed from Lamu in the morning through the canal to the North-East of the town (just south of Kilimana. The trip by Dow took about 4 hours before we laid in to the coast on a beach (I also posted a picture of that place). We then trekked for about an hour over land before reaching the town. I calculated the distance to being about 4 km (I usually walk about 6 km/h at but we had been in Africa for a while and were walking with locals so I estimate a more leisurely pace). We had a Swahili meal on the roof from where I took the picture, before returning. I remember that I calculated that we would not be able to get back to Lamu before six. This was correct – we were only halfway back when darkness fell and we had to locate the canal in darkness. Having sailed for most of my life back in Denmark I was not thrilled by the fact that I was stuck on a leaking wooden boat at night on the Indian Ocean without a life west and warm clothes. The description of the tour had been vastly different from what it turned out to be – we were supposed to sail to a spot where we would scuba dive and catch fish, which we would then prepare for lunch on a beach nearby. After that we would return to Lamu before nightfall.

meade on August 15, 2009

Thanks for the reply. I Went there thirty years ago. Landed in late afternoon, planning to walk to the town the next day but the mosquitoes were so bad caught a boat back to Lamu during the night, sleeping on coconuts! Apparently Pate town has existed for at least 800 years, was prosperous and a major rival to Lamu but the port silted up. They lost a battle with Lamu at Shela in 1830 and never recovered. Didn't know that at the time of my visit. Would love to go back.

meade on April 11, 2016

Hi. Not sure you're going to pick this up seven years later but have you seen 'The Land of Zinj' by Chauncy Hugh Stigand? On the google books website it has interesting extracts about the archipelago in the preview, including some of the history of Pate. I found it with a search 'boriti poles makuti roof', boriti being the mangrove pole used for building, makuti the palm frond thatch for the roof.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on February 28, 2007
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Thomas Tvergaard