All inclusive beach holidays in Lamu, Kenya
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    Kiwayu Safari Village in Lamu Island, Kenya

    Kiwayu safari village is a luxury 5 star beach hotel set on a stunning deserted beach on the north coast of Kenya, if you really want a remote beach holiday experience of barefoot luxury, there is probably no better place in this world than Kiwayu safari village, you catch a glimpse of the paradise that awaits you as come into land on their private airstrip, first you see rows of white breakers along unspoilt beaches where you can stroll for hours rarely seeing a single sole and ride the waves on boogey boards, this is one of the world's most enchanting beachfront hideouts, overflowing with suggestions that you kick off your shoes and forget the world you left back home. Tucked into the foot of sheltering dunes, this beach kingdom looks onto the sheltered lagoon and the northern end of Kiwayu Island, miles of deserted beaches with soft white sand and the sensual sound of waves lapping the shore of this beautiful bay slowly softens your senses and leads you back to nature's old rhythms. Kiwayu lies in the Kiunga Marine National Park on the northern edge of the Lamu archipelago; nestling amongst the mainland dunes, the oasis of Kiwayu overlooks a sheltered lagoon to the North of Kiwayu Island.

     

    Across the line of dunes which span the bay, lies the Dodori Game Reserve and simply miles of unspoilt Africa. Set out to preserve the delicate ecological balance which gives Kiwayu its magic: no concrete and glass or un-natural landscaping but simple rustic cottages, built in the local Bajuni style, which offer airy, shaded seclusion just a few steps from the shoreline, idyllic beach, fabulous snorkeling, tidal pools and peace and quiet beckon you to this beautiful island. Until date, it has been the secluded nature spot for celebrities, now it can become the dream destination for your holiday. A guest naps on a hammock above the bay; this exclusive resort right in the middle of the Kiunga Marine National Reserve and the Dodori Reserve and Boni Reserves where you can see cheetahs, giraffes, lions and elephants, this intimate accommodation is the hide-out for folks like Prince William and Mick Jagger, the trip by motorboat to Kiwayu Village takes about 15 minutes, lauded by, among others, Harpers and the Queen, Kiwayu takes its name from a nearby island, originally a private getaway, it has always been the preserve of the Pelizolli family, and grew from 6 tents and an ice bucket to the world renowned lodge it is today, with just Kiwayu village to the north, it is a remote, beautiful and wonderfully relaxed destination. Constructed from locally sourced materials, and using Bajuni build techniques to combat the light and heat, Kiwayu Safari Lodge is strung along the beach, and consists of a main shared area - which includes a restaurant, a bar, lounge and outside seating area - and 18 luxury bandas. Opening out onto the beach, and serving the most exquisite of cuisines - Italian, seafood, Swahili - the main lodge is a delight. The service at Kiwayu Lodge is first rate, and the decor - matted floors, whitewashed driftwood, shells and floor cushions, simple - is informal. The bandas themselves, discreetly located, bereft of television, tile or baths, are designed to maximize the natural - the sea, the breeze, the sound of water - and are some of the most beautiful sleeping rooms one could hope for. Each is en-suite, each contains a king-size bed, a solar heated shower, a seating area, and each is fronted by a thatched verandah - complete with hammock and Swahili lounger, as with the bar and dining area, the style is simple, African and just right. The feedback with regards to the standard of service at Kiwayu Hotel has been excellent.

     

    Please note that Kiwayu safari hotel also offers the Baobabs of Kitangani, which with a living area separate sleeping bandas and two lounging bandas, is a small beach house located across the bay, on Kiwayu Island, and comes with its own staff, boat and private beach, with its relaxed feel and spacious rooms, Kiwayu is definitely up there with the best beach lodges in Africa, this region is such an untouched paradise that the World Wildlife Fund has a post here to study the turtle that are to be frequently found flapping their way up the beaches at night (best season being April to September and December to February), the onus here is on utter relaxation and tranquility with long beach walks and sun set picnics the norm, ideal for a honeymoon holidays. The current owner is George Moorehead and his wife, the standards of food and service are excellent and attention to detail has really been applied throughout, from the standard, huge bandas, to the private, honeymoon island. The best times to visit are from September through to April although it can get very windy just before the turn of the trade winds in October/November. The only real drawback to Kiwayu Hotel Lamu Island is the difficulty to get here...but that is also part of the attraction. Kiwayu is a natural, simple but luxurious and secluded retreat. It is a place to disappear and restore your soul. Miles of deserted beaches with soft white sand and the soothing sound of waves will soon awaken the senses and lead you back to natures eternal rhythms. Kiwayu Hotel offers a retreat to those lucky discriminating travelers on beach trips who are tired of superficial sophistication, who wish for a return to a natural lifestyle and who desire contact with the best and simplest seafaring life that Kenya can offer. Come with your family or partner and experience this unique place, whether its for enjoying our extensive selection of water sports or just relaxing and switching off from the outside world. Kiwayu Safari Resort is a more unique and exclusive alternative to Kenya hotels. Accommodation is in 18 cottages built in the traditional Bajuni style using mangrove poles, palm thatch and matting. The spacious suites are set apart, amongst the star palms along the beach, each enjoying complete privacy. Bedrooms are large and open to the sea, there is solar powered running water in showers and flushing toilets with a twin basin bathroom and bidet. Each banda has an extensive verandah for lounging (complete with hammock and Lamu beds) to enjoy the breeze where peace is total. A living room perched graciously under a baobab, leading a few steps away to a dazzling bedroom with en-suite facilities, is all that exists on the small hillside. As few more comfortable steps downwards lead to a pavilion on the edge of the water, perfect for daytime lounging, refreshments and shade. Each hammock-strung veranda offers privacy and a panoramic over the bay. And each one is within a few metres of the water's edge, clustered around the restaurant, the bar and the boats. Every room is furnished with a super king-size bed surrounded by a turquoise mosquito net. It is simple, spacious and well furnished with different sitting areas and tables - with many options for that all-important siesta.

     

    These bandas are designed to blend into the dunes - no concrete, no nails, nothing to jar the senses. The dining room and bar are also built in the local Bajuni tradition with palm-thatched roofs and woven matting floors, all open-sided to the beach. Kiwayu Lodge Lamu Island is very conservation orientated and strives to help the unique environment and the local communities where it is situated. Kiwayu Village Lamu Island is a member of the East African Wildlife Society, the African Billfish Foundation, The Kenya Sea Anglers Association and the Mkokoni Wildlife Conservation Trust. Kiwayu Safari Village has been strategic in creating a conservation programme designed through creation of the Mkokoni Wildlife Conservation Trust to empower the neighboring community, Mkokoni Village, its members and the environment. In a successful partnership between the two stake holders who look to protect the area directly adjacent to us, the community and inland to the boundary of the Dodori reserve. The Mkokoni Wildlife Conservation Trust area is approximately 36 square kilometers, a small but vital area defined by its unique dune system responsible for rain catchments, seasonal inland water holes, acacia woodland, dynamic tidal beaches and littoral mangrove forest and grass land. It sits between the Kiunga Marine Reserve on its Eastern side, the Dodori Reserve on its West and the Dodori River to its South. This vulnerable corridor is frequented by a variety of endangered species such as African Hunting Dog, Cheetah, Adders Dyker, Elephant, the Green, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill Turtles, amongst a wide variety of diverse birds, vegetation and smaller mammals. The Mkokoni Wildlife Conservation Trust aims, with support from other established conservation organizations such as the East African Wildlife Society and Kenya Wildlife Service, to protect the overall integrity of this area with proceeds generated by tourism, skills and capacity development, and community based projects used to enhance education, health, sanitation, environmental clean ups as well as the protection of wildlife and habitat. Kiwayu safari village is 35 air miles north of Lamu and 310 miles from Nairobi. Lamu can be reached by speed boat (1.50hr) or by

     

    air and Nairobi by Safari Link from Wilson airport � a 1hr 50 min flight. Aircraft lands on our airstrip with a 5 minute transfer by 4-wheel drive vehicle across the dunes. In November Safari Link flies on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. 8.5 hour international flight from London to Nairobi where guests will be transferred to Wilson domestic airport. A daily air service operates from Nairobis Wilson airport. (The flight may go via Lamu Island.) Private air charters can also be arranged. The flight is about 1 hour 50mins. On arrival you will be met and transferred by vehicle over the dunes to Kiwayu Safari Village.

     

    Kiwayu safari village Accommodation:

     

    The theme of Kiwayu is informality. A bikini, a kikoi (sarong) and a hat are all you need for a holiday there. You will find no concrete; only thatched bandas (ensuite cottages) which blend into the dunes and sway with the sea breeze. This is not a 5-star hotel: this is a 10-star hotel; Your banda (cottage) is one of 18 spread along one kilometer of the sandy shoreline, built with great imagination, in the local Swahili tradition of palm thatch and woven matting floors. The only sound you will hear is the lapping of the sea, the wind in the palms and bird song. Your banda consists of a suite containing a spacious bedroom, a dressing area with twin basins, a shower with solar heated hot water and bidet. Electrical lights are 24 hours. Each private thatched veranda offers you panoramic views across the lagoon from the comfort of your Swahili bed or hammock� and only a stones throw from the water. Every room is furnished with a super king-size bed surrounded by an ample mosquito net and decorated with local furniture for comfort and relaxation. Our bandas are designed to blend into the surrounding dunes � no concrete floors, no coral brick walls, nothing to jar the senses. They are within easy distance of the centrally located bar and dining room, also built in the same local tradition. For those who need to connect back home, mobile phone coverage arrived in 2007 and wifi internet connection is available near the lodge office. Kiwayu�s bandas do not have AC, television or a tiled bathroom or a bath, we have tried to keep the environment and your experience as natural as possible. In short, it doesnt get any better, in my view!

     

    The Baobabs of Kitangani

     

    On Kiwayu Island approximately three kilometers from the existing Kiwayuu Safari Village, �The Baobabs of Kitangani� has been developed. Nestling between the enormous ageless baobabs, almost invisible from the beach, this a dream of a couple or family expecting the perfect setting and total privacy, in the most aesthetically pleasing blend of architecture, comfort and scenery imaginable. A living room perched graciously under a giant baobab, leading a few steps away to a dazzling bedroom with spectacular panoramic views with ensuite facilities, is all that exists on the small hillside. A few more comfortable steeps downwards lead to two beach bandas on the waters edge of the water, perfect for daytime lounging, refreshments, shade and swimming. Staff and boatmen are at guests service and meals are served in the bedroom or on the beach under the shade of the bandas. The staffs are discreet and over a kilometer of beach are available to guests. Kiwayu Safari Village Lamu -Booking Reservations, We offer online hotel information and bookings for Kiwayu Safari Village Mombasa from this website. We offer discounted and competitive rates for the Kiwayu Safari Village and other Lamu hotels Kenya. Contact us today for professional suggestion and personalized attention to your Lamu Kiwayu Safari Village request!

     

    Meals at Kiwayu Safari Village

     

    From the sea: charcoal-grilled lobster with tarragon sauce, giant mangrove crab kalaloo or crab with fresh basil from the fragrant garden, red snapper, rock cod, tuna, sushimi with wasabi, sweet rock oysters and other shell delicacies. Italian touch: pasta in infinite varieties, home made tagliatelle and lasagne, risotto, tonno tonnato - all simple but oh, so good. Fresh fruit salads filled with mango, papaya and passion fruit flavored with fresh orange, limejuice, and homemade fruit sorbet. All foods are selected from the best organic farms and markets of the country and vegetarian and other dietary preferences are met with gourmet professionalism. Excellent and selected wines from the well stocked cellar please any connoisseur. Special food or eating times for children can be arranged. The restaurant is waiter serviced and unlike most safari camps, Kiwayu is not communal dinning. The temperature is fairly constant but the months of August and September can be windy. The southern monsoon begins to change in early October and becomes a gentle and cooling breeze. The average temperature is 27 to 28 degrees in the shade. February and March are the hottest months and towards the end of March the northern monsoon veers to the south. The Village closes after Easter for the monsoon period.

     

    Kiwayu Safari Village Activities

     

    Go sailing in the camps Jahazi or dhow, to roam the Kiwayu archipelago of islands and sample some of the undisturbed Bajuni culture in this very sparsely populated area. Bird watching is particularly rewarding, not only for the great variety of seabirds to be seen, but also for the dry thorn country varieties seen in such abundance within few yards of the beach. So is the wild game, like Lesser Kudu, Buffalo and other species, which can be seen in the reserves. Deep sea fishing off Kiwayu is world famous. In a 28 ft fully equipped Bertram sport fisherman, ELUSIVE. The experienced Captain, Ubi Saragoni, knows the local waters intimately after fishing here for many years. Record size sailfish, marlin and tuna are just a few of the trophies to be captured. Kiwayu Safari Village's seafood cuisine has been highly praised by various gourmet magazines and connoisseurs. It includes an abundance of fresh crab, lobster and fish, though with prior warning Kiwayu Safari Village is able to cater to all special dietary requirements. Naturally the bar is stocked to international standards. The seafront environment provides for excellent sport. Fifty kilometres of wild, uninhabited coastline offer unlimited boat trips along the beaches and islands, through natural channels and inlets, through the mangrove forests or to visit the friends the dolphins. Snorkeling off the coral heads is at its best from November to March. Guests are taken to the reef by boat and the equipment is provided. Diving trips in the lagoon for beginners and offshore for certified divers can be arranged.

     

    Kiwayu Bay is perfect for windsurfing, kite-surfing or to skim the waves in one of the sailing boats (Laser), while the adjacent North-Bay with its open ocean waves invites and challenges the classical surfer. There is excellent creek fishing in the wide mangrove channels - rock cod, snapper, barracuda, the bone fish and many other species. The fringes of the lagoon pose a challenge to every marine fly-fisher. The inland mangrove channels are home to many different birds: listen to the cry of the fish eagle and the chatter of the hundreds of carmine bee-eaters as they swoop over the headlands.

     

    Walking is an infinite pleasure along the sandy beaches stretching on each side of the oasis or on Kiwayu Island. Foot safaris over the dunes to watch the sun set over hundreds of miles of uninhabited game country with a chance to detect the elusive lesser kudu coming through the doum palms are as exciting as to see the wild animals coming to refresh themselves at the water holes below. An experienced tracker from a local tribe will point out the pugmarks and spoor of a lion or the prowl for baboon, and while he accompanies guests he will let them know what this great nature is all about. Kiwayu Safari Village beaches are frequented by two species of turtle: the green and the hawksbill turtle. They lay their eggs in the dry sand above the tide line throughout the year although the most important nesting season is usually September and October. In 1998 the number of recorded nests numbered 74. Guests can take short or longer dhow trips to the island or adjacent coves and beaches with an elegant lunch of soup, pizza, crab, lobsters, fresh bread and mangoes. Boat trips can be arranged to visit the old town of Lamu (a World Heritage Site). That is a two-hour trip by speedboat, which takes guests past the historic islands of Manda and Pate. Enjoy the colorful sunset, play games or read a book in the cushions, while enjoying a perfectly mixed cocktail and biting from the bar. Before dark or after dinner guests will have a chance to meet other pleasant Kiwayu guests and enjoy a nice conversation with people from all over the world. Wildlife ecologists, tribal anthropologists or specialists in deep-sea fishing are often the resident guests and might share some of their experiences and knowledge of the bush, the wildlife, the people and the Indian Ocean. African tales and songs fly high with the flames at a bonfire on the beach.

     

    Lamu Island Information

     

    Lamu Island is an exceptional place like no other that is situated in the Lamu Archipelago in a tranquil tropical island where life is appreciated at its own relaxed rhythm. Its history is as intriguing and enchanting as the winding streets of its marvelous old stone town. Lamu Island is a beautiful place of rolling dunes and endless beaches, where tiny villages nestle among coconut and mango plantations as lateen sailed dhows ply the quite waters. Lamu is an idyllic place to unwind and relax, where you can immerse yourself in medieval antiquity, only interrupted by the braying of donkeys and the devoted calls to prayer from the many mosques on the island. Some believe that the island has been settled since the 7th century, although the first written history of the island dates back to 1402. Folklore also speaks fondly of the lost city of Hadibu, an Arab settlement buried beneath the rolling dunes of Shela beach, when the islands of the Lamu Archipelago grew wealthy on fortunes brought in from the East over the ages. Now they offer visitors the luxury of expansive virgin beaches, a laid-back lifestyle and beautiful private villas. Governed by tides and seasons, nothing happens quickly around here at this UNESCO World Heritage site and Lamu looks much as it did in the drawings rendered 200 years ago.

     

    Lighthouse attraction

     

    Built in coral stone and mangrove timber, the town is the islands real attraction. It is characterized by the simplicity of its structural forms enriched by such features as inner courtyards, verandas, and intricately carved wooden doors. As the most populous part of the island, it is recognized as one of the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlements in East Africa. It is still acknowledged as Kenyas oldest continually inhabited town and was one of the original Swahili settlements along coastal East Africa. he town was first mentioned in writing by an Arab traveler, Abu-al-Mahasini, after his encounter with a judge from Lamu who was on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1441. There are however some other accounts that mention the Chinese ships of Zheng Hes fleet sinking near Lamu Island in Kenya in 1415. It is now confirmed that the survivors who settled on the island intermarried with the local women. This has been proven recently by archaeological discoveries on the island that has resulted in the finding of evidence which suggests this connection. According to credible sources further DNA testing done on some of its residents show that they indeed have Chinese ancestors! Lamu town flourished as an independent city-state until Portuguese traders, seeking to control the lucrative market with the Orient, invaded it in 1506. The Portuguese invasion was prompted by their successful mission to control trade along the coast of the Indian Ocean.

     

    For some considerable time, Portugal had a monopoly on shipping along the East African coast where they imposed export taxes on the established local channels of commerce. Over the course of the 16th century, the once prosperous Swahili town lost its middleman position and gradually declined to oblivion. In the 1580s, Lamu led an aggressive rebellion against the Portuguese that was precipitated by the Turkish raids on the island. In 1652, Oman joined the resistance with the help of the Turks until 1698, when the last Portuguese forces finally surrendered. The Omanis who had helped overcome the European invaders now became the dominant force in the region. Lamu later spent its years as an Omani protectorate under their domination from around 1813, after the Battle of Shela, marking the beginning of its golden age. During this period, Lamu became a center of poetry, politics, arts and crafts as well as the trade. After defeating Pate Island in the nineteenth century, Lamu advanced to become a local power. The island remained prosperous for over two hundred years until the late 19th century but declined after the British forced the closure of the slave markets in 1873, when the British began to take greater interest in East Africa. In 1890 the island was made part of Zanzibar after they forced concessions on the ruling Sultan leading to the established of the East Africa Protectorate in 1895. Lamu town then became the headquarters of Lamu District under the administration of a resident British official together with a Muslim official. The islands economy continued to be based on slave trade until abolition ending in Lamus obscurity until Kenya was granted independence from Great Britain in 1963. Each of its aspects give a graphic demonstration of its cultural impact infused with several hundred years of European, Arabian and Indian influences. Lamu Old Town is now recognized as a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, since 2001, based on these distinguishing features entailed its architecture and urban structure. They are essentially a utilization of traditional Swahili techniques to produce a very distinct ambiance and culture. The growth and decline of the seaports on the East African coast. In addition to interactions between the Bantu, Arabs, Persians, Indians and Europeans also represent a significant cultural and economic phase in the history of the region. Its paramount trading role and attraction for scholars and teachers also gave Lamu an important religious function in the region, which it still maintains to this day. In 2011, proposals were advanced to build a deep-water port which would have much greater capacity in terms of depth of water, number of berths and ability for vessels to maneuver simultaneously, eclipsing the countrys main port at Mombasa. Agriculture had been the most important economic activity for Lamu until its plantations withered after imperial proclamations made the procurement of slaves increasingly difficult and expensive. In addition to its abolition, construction of the Uganda Railroad in 1901, which started from the competing port of Mombasa, significantly hampered Lamus ailing economy.

     

    This introduction of the Uganda Railroad stretching from Mombasa to Lake Victoria in 1901, left Lamu somewhat isolated. As the railroads terminus Mombasa later became the main seaport of the East African coast, Lamu Island was relegated to a minor role as a small local harbor. With neither trade in traditional exports which were shipped via the Indian Ocean to the Middle East and India nor agriculture to support the economy. Lamu stagnated and was in a full-scale depression by the mid-1920s. Subsequently the population in Lamu fell by nearly half as it drifted into economic obscurity as a small, remote island town. Ironically, it was the towns isolation from 20th century modernization that preserved the rich architectural heritage that is still recognized to this day. The rapid population growth coupled with an increased awareness of our cultural heritage led government officials and residents to undertake an extensive conservation study of Lamu town in the early 1970's. Today the mangrove exports, commerce, and government jobs paired with traditional maritime occupations continue to provide a stable economic base for the growth of the town since the 1960s. Tourism has also continued to gradually refuel the local economy in recent times. This current increase in tourism has contributed an additional source of revenue for the popular island.

     

    Explore Lamu

     

    Swim in the turquoise waters, stroll the pristine deserted beaches, experience Lamus rich swahili culture, wander the charming streets of Lamu, Shela and Matondoni and indulge in exquisite fresh seafood or al fresco dining by the sea! The Lamu Old town contains many fine examples of Swahili architecture worth visiting though there are no roads on the island, just alleyways and footpaths. Lamu is also famous for its woodcarvers whose specialties include the famous carved Lamu doors, furniture, signboards and Swahili boxes, intricately carved and inlaid with brass, copper or marble work. This makes it an ideal place to shop for well priced coastal handicrafts and artful souvenirs. Lamu has a long history related to dhows and lots of stories about dhow sailing trips. You can go for a cruise on one of the traditional Arab sailing vessels with one or more lateen sails, which is a very sought after experience offered in Lamu. They are relatively inexpensive and you can explore the Lamu archipelago by dhow as you enjoy the romantic sunset cruises or day excursions. You can combine tours to historical ruins and snorkeling which will offer you a unique opportunity to sleep on a cruising dhow as you savor fresh caught fish on the beach. Dhows are primarily used along the coasts of the Arabian Peninsula, India and East Africa. Dhow safaris can take you beyond Lamu into the surrounding archipelago where isolated villages, ancient ruins plus a few luxurious and exclusive resorts lie hidden among the islands. You can go as far as Manda Island, Takwa Ruins or Matondoni, Siyu, Pate and Kiwayu. Dhow trips are also available at any hotel including Peponi in Shela and Lamu House. Today, several local captains have taken to Mozambique dhows which are wider and more comfortable than the traditional Lamu boats to enhance their services. Its best to rent dhows from the locals, especially in Lamu Town, where they are an essential part of the economy. Several companies specialize in trips to Kiwayu but you can also go directly to the local captains, who know the islands and the villages best not to mention the sea. One small company called African safaris and Adventures has made Kiwayu and ecotourism its specialty through its close relationship with the communities. The delightful people of Lamu are great believers in tradition and custom as this is a strong society built on a respect for the past. Once a center for the slave trade, the population of Lamu is ethnically diverse. Lamu was on the main Arabian trading routes, and as a result, the population is largely Muslim. The obvious culinary attraction in Lamu is seafood and there is plenty available with excellent fish, crabs, lobster, oysters and more. There is also an abundance of fresh tropical fruits and vegetables. There are several other museums, including the Lamu Museum home to the islands ceremonial horn known as the siwa. There are other museums that are also dedicated to Swahili Culture and to the local postal services. Some of these notable buildings in the old town include:

     

    Lamu Fort

     

    This is a massive two storey stone structured located 70m inland at the main jetty. Fumo Madiibn Abi Bakr, the Sultan of Pate, started to build the fort on the seafront to protect members of his unpopular regime. Its construction commenced in 1813 shortly after Lamus victory over Pate and Mombasa in the battle of Shela and completed in the early 1820s. The major building task was reputedly undertaken with the cooperation of Seyyid Said, the Sultan of Oman who was cultivating a promising new alliance with the rulers in Lamu. Upon its completion in about 1821 the fort marked the southern corner of the traditional stone town and served as a garrison for Baluchi soldiers sent by the Sultan of Oman. Its protective presence encouraged new development around it. By 1900 the Fort had become a central to the community, a role which it still plays today. It served as a prison from 1910 to 1984 to both the British colonial regime and the Kenya government, before it was handed over to the National Museums of Kenya in 1984. Efforts to turn the Fort into a museum were started with technical and financial assistance from Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). With its inception as a museum with environmental conservation as its general theme; Lamu Fort is basically a community center for the people of Lamu old town. The courtyard is available for weddings, meetings and theater productions. At the ground floor there is a large exhibition space, which most recently hosted the first Environmental Museum in Africa. Upstairs there are administrative offices, laboratories, a workshop and a rooftop with impressive views over the town. There is also an excellent conference facility that is available for hire.

     

    Mnarani Mosque

     

    These ruins were first gazetted in March 1929 as Ruins of Mnarani. It is a scenic, serene site that was first occupied in the early 14th century before the Great Mosque was built in AD 1425. Close to the first Mosque is a smaller mosque which was constructed after a similar one in the same location. The foundation of its Mihab may still be seen east of the present Miharb. The original mosque was built around 1475, while the later mosque in about 1500.

     

    Riyadha Mosque

     

    Lamu has hosted major Muslim religious festivals since the 19th century, and has become a significant center for the study of Islamic and Swahili cultures. Habib Salih, a Sharif with family connections to the Hadramaut. Also spelled Hadhramaut, was an ancient South Arabian Kingdom that occupied what are now the southern and southeastern Yemen and the present day Sultanate of Oman in Yemen. He settled on Lamu in the 1880s, and became a highly respected religious teacher. Habib Salih had great success gathering students around him and in 1900 the Riyadha Mosque was built. He introduced Habshi Maulidi, where his students sang verse passages accompanied by tambourines. After his death in 1935 his sons continued the Madrassa, which became one of the most prestigious centers for Islamic Studies in East Africa. The Mosque is the center for the Maulidi Festival which is held every year during the last week of the month of the Prophets birth. During this festival pilgrims from Sudan, Congo, Uganda, Zanzibar and Tanzania join the locals to sing the praise of Mohammad.

     

    Donkey Sanctuary

     

    Since the island has no motorised vehicles, transportation and other heavy work is done with the help of donkeys. There are currently close to 3000 working donkeys on the island. Dr. Elisabeth Svendsen of the Donkey Sanctuary in England first visited Lamu in 1985. Worried by the conditions for the donkeys, the Sanctuary was opened in 1987. The Sanctuary provides treatment to all donkeys free of charge.

     

    Lamu German post office

     

    This building is located in Lamu old town. was the first German Post Office ever established along the East African coast. The Post office was established on November 22nd 1888 by the Germans led by Clement Denhardt. The communications and trade contacts for the German Protectorate in Witu could at the time be served through Lamu, as a well-established town with links to the outside world. The Post office operated for more than two years before its closure on March 3rd 1891 after the withdrawal of the German settlement in Witu.

     

    Lamu Museum

     

    The Lamu museum was the former residence of the British Governors during the colonial era. Visitors here can enjoy the experience of learning about the rich Swahili culture that is embodied in Lamu Town.

     

    Other attractions around Lamu Island

     

    In addition to Lamu Town, there are other fascinating villages on Lamu Island. Some of which are favored getaways and retreats for famous celebrities like Sir Richard Branson, Songstress Sade and Rolling Stones Mick Jagger.

     

    Shela beach

     

    It is on the North end of the Lamu Island set on a beautiful stretch of white sand and tiny broken sea shells. The walk from main Lamu town is only about a mile and a half and well worth it due to the welcoming locals you meet on the way. Watch for the young boys selling delicious homemade samosas on the beach.

     

    Kiunga Marine National Reserve

     

    The marine ecosystem incorporates a chain of about 50 calcareous offshore islands and coral reefs in the Lamu Archipelago, running for some 60km parallel to the coastline and adjacent to Dodori and Boni National Reserves on the mainland. The larger and more sheltered inner islands are covered with tangled thorny vegetation including grass, aloes and creepers. The small outer islands provide nesting sites for migratory seabirds. The reserve conserves valuable coral reefs, sea grass and extensive mangrove forests and is also a refuge for sea turtles and dugongs. Major wildlife attractions include reptiles such as Sea turtles, Olive ridley, and Reef fish. Lobsters, Sea urchins, Sea star and also frequent sightings in the reserve. It is an important site for wind surfing, diving and snorkelling, water skiing and sunbathing.

     

    Practical Travel information

     

    Lamus narrow streets remain unchanged, and the winding streets of the towns are best explored on foot or bicycle. Many locals also use donkeys in the markets and squares around the fort where life moves at the same pace as it always has. The island is still linked by boat to Mokowe on the mainland and to Manda Island, where there is an airport. Residents move about on foot or by boat, and donkeys are used to transport goods and materials since there are few motorized vehicles on the island. Due to the narrowness of the streets, automobiles are not allowed. Shela village and the beaches are also accessible by foot. Alternatively dhows regularly carry paying passengers back and forth from Lamu town to Shela. To access the surrounding islands of Manda, Pate or Siyu, either take an organized Dhow Safari or for the adventurous traveller, just hitch a ride on a passing dhow and explore. It is also possible to hire donkeys to ride around the island.

     

    Tour guides are licensed on Lamu and they will show you their license on request and they have a well-organized association and work together cooperatively. Recently, Lamu dhow operators joined hands and formed a dhow organization called Promise/Ahadi. Their aim is to offer standard prices and insure cheating of tourists does not occur on Lamu. These young men really made an effort to improve the tourist experience in Lamu, while also trying to empower themselves. They offer quality services and affordable, reasonable cost-ratio rates for their services. Lamu is still a popular destination for backpackers.

     

    How to get there

     

    Lamu is best accessed by air. There are scheduled flights daily from Nairobi, Mombasa, Diani Beach and Malindi. The island is serviced by an airstrip on neighboring Manda Island. The strip can also be used by private charters. A dhow ferries arriving passengers to either Lamu town or Shela. Many yachts also come to Lamu, often sheltering in the channel near Shela.

     

    Where to stay

     

    There are many unique luxury hotels, retreats and houses in Lamu and the surrounding islands of Manda and Kiwayu. Each hotel and house in Lamu has its own character and charm. Whether you are searching for a quiet weekend getaway from Nairobi at a boutique beach hotel or a luxury Lamu house rental for a romantic or family getaway from Europe, there is something for everyone. Accommodation in Lamu archipelago ranges from budget hotels and guesthouses to the luxury of the Peponi Hotel in the village of Shela and private houses in Kipungani at the islands far end. Nature + Culture offer a range of accommodations from backpacker guesthouses in Lamu to mid-range and luxury rentals in Shela village. Again, this company goes local whenever possible without compromising quality. There are some exclusive listings of private houses which are real finds. This place is known for its unusual mix of travelers reminiscent of the 60s Euro-voyage to India in search of enlightenment in spectacular natural beauty and ancient culture. In Lamu, that happens. See the ancient eco-houses of limestone and coral rock in this unique, natural, unspoiled place. Community values are comfort, safety and hospitality. Reaching out to people, between people, is a community practice. We trust that this feature has been informative to you.

     

    Boats and Equipment at Kiwayu Safari Village

     

    Deep Sea Fishing Elusive - a 28' Fly Bridge Bertram Cruiser with twin Volvo Penta TAMD40 engines. 6 Rods complete with Lures. Captained by Ubi Saragoni with a crew of 2. Max Pax 6. Lamu Excursions or any long distance excursion /Picnics 'Cobra' - a 30' Rigid Inflatable with 200HP inboard engines capable of 35 knots. Max Pax 8

     

    Water-skiing

     

    2 Fiberglas speed boats with 80HP outboard engines>

     

    Dhow Trips

     

    A motorized Traditional Local dhow 'Uwazalo', with inboard engine

     

    Sailingp> 

    A Traditional Local Dhow with sail, 'Tusitiri'.

     

    Snorkelling/creek fishing/bird watching

     

    4 Fibreglass canoes with 15 HP outboard engines.

     

    Scuba Diving

     

    Scuba prosuits, Aqualung regulators , Scuba pro and Mares BCs and steel 12lts diving cylinders . This activity is at certain times of the year and with set dates . Please enquire for further details.

     

    Swimming Pool

     

    Kiwayu does NOT have a swimming pool. There are sheltered areas for swimming in calm waters on the side of the bay near the lodge and in the mangrove channnels.

     

    Kiwayu safari village is a luxury 5 star beach hotel set on a stunning deserted beach on the north coast of Kenya, if you really want a remote beach holiday experience of barefoot luxury, there is probably no better place in this world than Kiwayu safari village, you catch a glimpse of the paradise that awaits you as come into land on their private airstrip, first you see rows of white breakers along unspoilt beaches where you can stroll for hours rarely seeing a single sole and ride the waves on boogey boards, this is one of the world's most enchanting beachfront hideouts, overflowing with suggestions that you kick off your shoes and forget the world you left back home. Tucked into the foot of sheltering dunes, this beach kingdom looks onto the sheltered lagoon and the northern end of Kiwayu Island, miles of deserted beaches with soft white sand and the sensual sound of waves lapping the shore of this beautiful bay slowly softens your senses and leads you back to nature's old rhythms. Kiwayu lies in the Kiunga Marine National Park on the northern edge of the Lamu archipelago; nestling amongst the mainland dunes, the oasis of Kiwayu overlooks a sheltered lagoon to the North of Kiwayu Island. Across the line of dunes which span the bay, lies the Dodori Game Reserve and simply miles of unspoilt Africa. Set out to preserve the delicate ecological balance which gives Kiwayu its magic: no concrete and glass or un-natural landscaping but simple rustic cottages, built in the local Bajuni style, which offer airy, shaded seclusion just a few steps from the shoreline, idyllic beach, fabulous snorkeling, tidal pools and peace and quiet beckon you to this beautiful island. Until date, it has been the secluded nature spot for celebrities, now it can become the dream destination for your holiday. A guest naps on a hammock above the bay; this exclusive resort right in the middle of the Kiunga Marine National Reserve and the Dodori Reserve and Boni Reserves where you can see cheetahs, giraffes, lions and elephants, this intimate accommodation is the hide-out for folks like Prince William and Mick Jagger, the trip by motorboat to Kiwayu Village takes about 15 minutes, lauded by, among others, Harpers and the Queen, Kiwayu takes its name from a nearby island, originally a private getaway, it has always been the preserve of the Pelizolli family, and grew from 6 tents and an ice bucket to the world renowned lodge it is today, with just Kiwayu village to the north, it is a remote, beautiful and wonderfully relaxed destination. Constructed from locally sourced materials, and using Bajuni build techniques to combat the light and heat, Kiwayu Safari Lodge is strung along the beach, and consists of a main shared area - which includes a restaurant, a bar, lounge and outside seating area - and 18 luxury bandas. Opening out onto the beach, and serving the most exquisite of cuisines - Italian, seafood, Swahili - the main lodge is a delight. The service at Kiwayu Lodge is first rate, and the decor - matted floors, whitewashed driftwood, shells and floor cushions, simple - is informal. The bandas themselves, discreetly located, bereft of television, tile or baths, are designed to maximize the natural - the sea, the breeze, the sound of water - and are some of the most beautiful sleeping rooms one could hope for. Each is en-suite, each contains a king-size bed, a solar heated shower, a seating area, and each is fronted by a thatched verandah - complete with hammock and Swahili lounger, as with the bar and dining area, the style is simple, African and just right. The feedback with regards to the standard of service at Kiwayu Hotel has been excellent. Please note that Kiwayu safari hotel also offers the Baobabs of Kitangani, which with a living area separate sleeping bandas and two lounging bandas, is a small beach house located across the bay, on Kiwayu Island, and comes with its own staff, boat and private beach, with its relaxed feel and spacious rooms, Kiwayu is definitely up there with the best beach lodges in Africa, this region is such an untouched paradise that the World Wildlife Fund has a post here to study the turtle that are to be frequently found flapping their way up the beaches at night (best season being April to September and December to February), the onus here is on utter relaxation and tranquility with long beach walks and sun set picnics the norm, ideal for a honeymoon holidays. The current owner is George Moorehead and his wife, the standards of food and service are excellent and attention to detail has really been applied throughout, from the standard, huge bandas, to the private, honeymoon island. The best times to visit are from September through to April although it can get very windy just before the turn of the trade winds in October/November. The only real drawback to Kiwayu Hotel Lamu Island is the difficulty to get here...but that is also part of the attraction. Kiwayu is a natural, simple but luxurious and secluded retreat. It is a place to disappear and restore your soul. Miles of deserted beaches with soft white sand and the soothing sound of waves will soon awaken the senses and lead you back to natures eternal rhythms. Kiwayu Hotel offers a retreat to those lucky discriminating travelers on beach trips who are tired of superficial sophistication, who wish for a return to a natural lifestyle and who desire contact with the best and simplest seafaring life that Kenya can offer. Come with your family or partner and experience this unique place, whether its for enjoying our extensive selection of water sports or just relaxing and switching off from the outside world.

     

    Kiwayu Safari Resort is a more unique and exclusive alternative to Kenya hotels. Accommodation is in 18 cottages built in the traditional �Bajuni� style using mangrove poles, palm thatch and matting. The spacious suites are set apart, amongst the star palms along the beach, each enjoying complete privacy. Bedrooms are large and open to the sea, there is solar powered running water in showers and flushing toilets with a twin basin bathroom and bidet. Each banda has an extensive verandah for lounging (complete with hammock and Lamu beds) to enjoy the breeze where peace is total. A living room perched graciously under a baobab, leading a few steps away to a dazzling bedroom with en-suite facilities, is all that exists on the small hillside. As few more comfortable steps downwards lead to a pavilion on the edge of the water, perfect for daytime lounging, refreshments and shade. Each hammock-strung veranda offers privacy and a panoramic over the bay. And each one is within a few metres of the water's edge, clustered around the restaurant, the bar and the boats. Every room is furnished with a super king-size bed surrounded by a turquoise mosquito net. It is simple, spacious and well furnished with different sitting areas and tables - with many options for that all-important siesta. These bandas are designed to blend into the dunes - no concrete, no nails, nothing to jar the senses. The dining room and bar are also built in the local Bajuni tradition with palm-thatched roofs and woven matting floors, all open-sided to the beach. Kiwayu Lodge Lamu Island is very conservation orientated and strives to help the unique environment and the local communities where it is situated. Kiwayu Village Lamu Island is a member of the East African Wildlife Society, the African Billfish Foundation, The Kenya Sea Anglers Association and the Mkokoni Wildlife Conservation Trust. Kiwayu Safari Village has been strategic in creating a conservation programme designed through creation of the Mkokoni Wildlife Conservation Trust to empower the neighboring community, Mkokoni Village, its members and the environment. In a successful partnership between the two stake holders who look to protect the area directly adjacent to us, the community and inland to the boundary of the Dodori reserve. The Mkokoni Wildlife Conservation Trust area is approximately 36 square kilometers, a small but vital area defined by its unique dune system responsible for rain catchments, seasonal inland water holes, acacia woodland, dynamic tidal beaches and littoral mangrove forest and grass land. It sits between the Kiunga Marine Reserve on its Eastern side, the Dodori Reserve on its West and the Dodori River to its South. This vulnerable corridor is frequented by a variety of endangered species such as African Hunting Dog, Cheetah, Adders Dyker, Elephant, the Green, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill Turtles, amongst a wide variety of diverse birds, vegetation and smaller mammals. The Mkokoni Wildlife Conservation Trust aims, with support from other established conservation organizations such as the East African Wildlife Society and Kenya Wildlife Service, to protect the overall integrity of this area with proceeds generated by tourism, skills and capacity development, and community based projects used to enhance education, health, sanitation, environmental clean ups as well as the protection of wildlife and habitat. Kiwayu safari village is 35 air miles north of Lamu and 310 miles from Nairobi. Lamu can be reached by speed boat (1.50hr) or by

     

    air and Nairobi by Safari Link from Wilson airport � a 1hr 50 min flight. Aircraft lands on our airstrip with a 5 minute transfer by 4-wheel drive vehicle across the dunes. In November Safari Link flies on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. 8.5 hour international flight from London to Nairobi where guests will be transferred to Wilson domestic airport. A daily air service operates from Nairobis Wilson airport. (The flight may go via Lamu Island.) Private air charters can also be arranged. The flight is about 1 hour 50mins. On arrival you will be met and transferred by vehicle over the dunes to Kiwayu Safari Village.

     

    Kiwayu safari village Accommodation:

     

    The theme of Kiwayu is informality. A bikini, a kikoi (sarong) and a hat are all you need for a holiday there. You will find no concrete; only thatched bandas (ensuite cottages) which blend into the dunes and sway with the sea breeze. This is not a 5-star hotel: this is a 10-star hotel; Your banda (cottage) is one of 18 spread along one kilometer of the sandy shoreline, built with great imagination, in the local Swahili tradition of palm thatch and woven matting floors. The only sound you will hear is the lapping of the sea, the wind in the palms and bird song. Your banda consists of a suite containing a spacious bedroom, a dressing area with twin basins, a shower with solar heated hot water and bidet. Electrical lights are 24 hours. Each private thatched veranda offers you panoramic views across the lagoon from the comfort of your Swahili bed or hammock� and only a stones throw from the water. Every room is furnished with a super king-size bed surrounded by an ample mosquito net and decorated with local furniture for comfort and relaxation. Our bandas are designed to blend into the surrounding dunes � no concrete floors, no coral brick walls, nothing to jar the senses. They are within easy distance of the centrally located bar and dining room, also built in the same local tradition. For those who need to connect back home, mobile phone coverage arrived in 2007 and wifi internet connection is available near the lodge office. Kiwayu�s bandas do not have AC, television or a tiled bathroom or a bath, we have tried to keep the environment and your experience as natural as possible. In short, it doesnt get any better, in my view!

     

    The Baobabs of Kitangani

     

    On Kiwayu Island approximately three kilometers from the existing Kiwayuu Safari Village, �The Baobabs of Kitangani� has been developed. Nestling between the enormous ageless baobabs, almost invisible from the beach, this a dream of a couple or family expecting the perfect setting and total privacy, in the most aesthetically pleasing blend of architecture, comfort and scenery imaginable. A living room perched graciously under a giant baobab, leading a few steps away to a dazzling bedroom with spectacular panoramic views with ensuite facilities, is all that exists on the small hillside. A few more comfortable steeps downwards lead to two beach bandas on the waters edge of the water, perfect for daytime lounging, refreshments, shade and swimming. Staff and boatmen are at guests service and meals are served in the bedroom or on the beach under the shade of the bandas. The staffs are discreet and over a kilometer of beach are available to guests. Kiwayu Safari Village Lamu -Booking Reservations, We offer online hotel information and bookings for Kiwayu Safari Village Mombasa from this website. We offer discounted and competitive rates for the Kiwayu Safari Village and other Lamu hotels Kenya. Contact us today for professional suggestion and personalized attention to your Lamu Kiwayu Safari Village request!

     

    Meals at Kiwayu Safari Village

     

    From the sea: charcoal-grilled lobster with tarragon sauce, giant mangrove crab kalaloo or crab with fresh basil from the fragrant garden, red snapper, rock cod, tuna, sushimi with wasabi, sweet rock oysters and other shell delicacies. Italian touch: pasta in infinite varieties, home made tagliatelle and lasagne, risotto, tonno tonnato - all simple but oh, so good. Fresh fruit salads filled with mango, papaya and passion fruit flavored with fresh orange, limejuice, and homemade fruit sorbet. All foods are selected from the best organic farms and markets of the country and vegetarian and other dietary preferences are met with gourmet professionalism. Excellent and selected wines from the well stocked cellar please any connoisseur. Special food or eating times for children can be arranged. The restaurant is waiter serviced and unlike most safari camps, Kiwayu is not communal dinning. The temperature is fairly constant but the months of August and September can be windy. The southern monsoon begins to change in early October and becomes a gentle and cooling breeze. The average temperature is 27 to 28 degrees in the shade. February and March are the hottest months and towards the end of March the northern monsoon veers to the south. The Village closes after Easter for the monsoon period.

     

    Kiwayu Safari Village Activities

     

    Go sailing in the camps Jahazi or dhow, to roam the Kiwayu archipelago of islands and sample some of the undisturbed Bajuni culture in this very sparsely populated area. Bird watching is particularly rewarding, not only for the great variety of seabirds to be seen, but also for the dry thorn country varieties seen in such abundance within few yards of the beach. So is the wild game, like Lesser Kudu, Buffalo and other species, which can be seen in the reserves. Deep sea fishing off Kiwayu is world famous. In a 28 ft fully equipped Bertram sport fisherman, ELUSIVE. The experienced Captain, Ubi Saragoni, knows the local waters intimately after fishing here for many years. Record size sailfish, marlin and tuna are just a few of the trophies to be captured. Kiwayu Safari Village's seafood cuisine has been highly praised by various gourmet magazines and connoisseurs. It includes an abundance of fresh crab, lobster and fish, though with prior warning Kiwayu Safari Village is able to cater to all special dietary requirements. Naturally the bar is stocked to international standards. The seafront environment provides for excellent sport. Fifty kilometres of wild, uninhabited coastline offer unlimited boat trips along the beaches and islands, through natural channels and inlets, through the mangrove forests or to visit the friends the dolphins. Snorkeling off the coral heads is at its best from November to March. Guests are taken to the reef by boat and the equipment is provided. Diving trips in the lagoon for beginners and offshore for certified divers can be arranged.

     

    Kiwayu Bay is perfect for windsurfing, kite-surfing or to skim the waves in one of the sailing boats (Laser), while the adjacent North-Bay with its open ocean waves invites and challenges the classical surfer. There is excellent creek fishing in the wide mangrove channels - rock cod, snapper, barracuda, the bone fish and many other species. The fringes of the lagoon pose a challenge to every marine fly-fisher. The inland mangrove channels are home to many different birds: listen to the cry of the fish eagle and the chatter of the hundreds of carmine bee-eaters as they swoop over the headlands.

     

    Walking is an infinite pleasure along the sandy beaches stretching on each side of the oasis or on Kiwayu Island. Foot safaris over the dunes to watch the sun set over hundreds of miles of uninhabited game country with a chance to detect the elusive lesser kudu coming through the doum palms are as exciting as to see the wild animals coming to refresh themselves at the water holes below. An experienced tracker from a local tribe will point out the pugmarks and spoor of a lion or the prowl for baboon, and while he accompanies guests he will let them know what this great nature is all about. Kiwayu Safari Village beaches are frequented by two species of turtle: the green and the hawksbill turtle. They lay their eggs in the dry sand above the tide line throughout the year although the most important nesting season is usually September and October. In 1998 the number of recorded nests numbered 74. Guests can take short or longer dhow trips to the island or adjacent coves and beaches with an elegant lunch of soup, pizza, crab, lobsters, fresh bread and mangoes. Boat trips can be arranged to visit the old town of Lamu (a World Heritage Site). That is a two-hour trip by speedboat, which takes guests past the historic islands of Manda and Pate. Enjoy the colorful sunset, play games or read a book in the cushions, while enjoying a perfectly mixed cocktail and biting from the bar. Before dark or after dinner guests will have a chance to meet other pleasant Kiwayu guests and enjoy a nice conversation with people from all over the world. Wildlife ecologists, tribal anthropologists or specialists in deep-sea fishing are often the resident guests and might share some of their experiences and knowledge of the bush, the wildlife, the people and the Indian Ocean. African tales and songs fly high with the flames at a bonfire on the beach.

     

    Lamu Island Information

     

    Lamu Island is an exceptional place like no other that is situated in the Lamu Archipelago in a tranquil tropical island where life is appreciated at its own relaxed rhythm. Its history is as intriguing and enchanting as the winding streets of its marvelous old stone town. Lamu Island is a beautiful place of rolling dunes and endless beaches, where tiny villages nestle among coconut and mango plantations as lateen sailed dhows ply the quite waters. Lamu is an idyllic place to unwind and relax, where you can immerse yourself in medieval antiquity, only interrupted by the braying of donkeys and the devoted calls to prayer from the many mosques on the island. Some believe that the island has been settled since the 7th century, although the first written history of the island dates back to 1402. Folklore also speaks fondly of the lost city of Hadibu, an Arab settlement buried beneath the rolling dunes of Shela beach, when the islands of the Lamu Archipelago grew wealthy on fortunes brought in from the East over the ages. Now they offer visitors the luxury of expansive virgin beaches, a laid-back lifestyle and beautiful private villas. Governed by tides and seasons, nothing happens quickly around here at this UNESCO World Heritage site and Lamu looks much as it did in the drawings rendered 200 years ago.

     

    Lighthouse attraction

     

    Built in coral stone and mangrove timber, the town is the islands real attraction. It is characterized by the simplicity of its structural forms enriched by such features as inner courtyards, verandas, and intricately carved wooden doors. As the most populous part of the island, it is recognized as one of the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlements in East Africa. It is still acknowledged as Kenyas oldest continually inhabited town and was one of the original Swahili settlements along coastal East Africa. he town was first mentioned in writing by an Arab traveler, Abu-al-Mahasini, after his encounter with a judge from Lamu who was on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1441. There are however some other accounts that mention the Chinese ships of Zheng Hes fleet sinking near Lamu Island in Kenya in 1415. It is now confirmed that the survivors who settled on the island intermarried with the local women. This has been proven recently by archaeological discoveries on the island that has resulted in the finding of evidence which suggests this connection. According to credible sources further DNA testing done on some of its residents show that they indeed have Chinese ancestors! Lamu town flourished as an independent city-state until Portuguese traders, seeking to control the lucrative market with the Orient, invaded it in 1506. The Portuguese invasion was prompted by their successful mission to control trade along the coast of the Indian Ocean. For some considerable time, Portugal had a monopoly on shipping along the East African coast where they imposed export taxes on the established local channels of commerce. Over the course of the 16th century, the once prosperous Swahili town lost its middleman position and gradually declined to oblivion. In the 1580s, Lamu led an aggressive rebellion against the Portuguese that was precipitated by the Turkish raids on the island. In 1652, Oman joined the resistance with the help of the Turks until 1698, when the last Portuguese forces finally surrendered.

     

    The Omanis who had helped overcome the European invaders now became the dominant force in the region. Lamu later spent its years as an Omani protectorate under their domination from around 1813, after the Battle of Shela, marking the beginning of its golden age. During this period, Lamu became a center of poetry, politics, arts and crafts as well as the trade. After defeating Pate Island in the nineteenth century, Lamu advanced to become a local power. The island remained prosperous for over two hundred years until the late 19th century but declined after the British forced the closure of the slave markets in 1873, when the British began to take greater interest in East Africa. In 1890 the island was made part of Zanzibar after they forced concessions on the ruling Sultan leading to the established of the East Africa Protectorate in 1895. Lamu town then became the headquarters of Lamu District under the administration of a resident British official together with a Muslim official. The islands economy continued to be based on slave trade until abolition ending in Lamus obscurity until Kenya was granted independence from Great Britain in 1963. Each of its aspects give a graphic demonstration of its cultural impact infused with several hundred years of European, Arabian and Indian influences. Lamu Old Town is now recognized as a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, since 2001, based on these distinguishing features entailed its architecture and urban structure. They are essentially a utilization of traditional Swahili techniques to produce a very distinct ambiance and culture. The growth and decline of the seaports on the East African coast. In addition to interactions between the Bantu, Arabs, Persians, Indians and Europeans also represent a significant cultural and economic phase in the history of the region. Its paramount trading role and attraction for scholars and teachers also gave Lamu an important religious function in the region, which it still maintains to this day. In 2011, proposals were advanced to build a deep-water port which would have much greater capacity in terms of depth of water, number of berths and ability for vessels to maneuver simultaneously, eclipsing the countrys main port at Mombasa. Agriculture had been the most important economic activity for Lamu until its plantations withered after imperial proclamations made the procurement of slaves increasingly difficult and expensive. In addition to its abolition, construction of the Uganda Railroad in 1901, which started from the competing port of Mombasa, significantly hampered Lamus ailing economy. This introduction of the Uganda Railroad stretching from Mombasa to Lake Victoria in 1901, left Lamu somewhat isolated. As the railroads terminus Mombasa later became the main seaport of the East African coast, Lamu Island was relegated to a minor role as a small local harbor.

     

    With neither trade in traditional exports which were shipped via the Indian Ocean to the Middle East and India nor agriculture to support the economy. Lamu stagnated and was in a full-scale depression by the mid-1920s. Subsequently the population in Lamu fell by nearly half as it drifted into economic obscurity as a small, remote island town. Ironically, it was the towns isolation from 20th century modernization that preserved the rich architectural heritage that is still recognized to this day. The rapid population growth coupled with an increased awareness of our cultural heritage led government officials and residents to undertake an extensive conservation study of Lamu town in the early 1970's. Today the mangrove exports, commerce, and government jobs paired with traditional maritime occupations continue to provide a stable economic base for the growth of the town since the 1960s. Tourism has also continued to gradually refuel the local economy in recent times. This current increase in tourism has contributed an additional source of revenue for the popular island.

     

    Explore Lamu

     

    Swim in the turquoise waters, stroll the pristine deserted beaches, experience Lamus rich swahili culture, wander the charming streets of Lamu, Shela and Matondoni and indulge in exquisite fresh seafood or al fresco dining by the sea! The Lamu Old town contains many fine examples of Swahili architecture worth visiting though there are no roads on the island, just alleyways and footpaths. Lamu is also famous for its woodcarvers whose specialties include the famous carved Lamu doors, furniture, signboards and Swahili boxes, intricately carved and inlaid with brass, copper or marble work. This makes it an ideal place to shop for well priced coastal handicrafts and artful souvenirs. Lamu has a long history related to dhows and lots of stories about dhow sailing trips. You can go for a cruise on one of the traditional Arab sailing vessels with one or more lateen sails, which is a very sought after experience offered in Lamu. They are relatively inexpensive and you can explore the Lamu archipelago by dhow as you enjoy the romantic sunset cruises or day excursions. You can combine tours to historical ruins and snorkeling which will offer you a unique opportunity to sleep on a cruising dhow as you savor fresh caught fish on the beach. Dhows are primarily used along the coasts of the Arabian Peninsula, India and East Africa. Dhow safaris can take you beyond Lamu into the surrounding archipelago where isolated villages, ancient ruins plus a few luxurious and exclusive resorts lie hidden among the islands. You can go as far as Manda Island, Takwa Ruins or Matondoni, Siyu, Pate and Kiwayu. Dhow trips are also available at any hotel including Peponi in Shela and Lamu House. Today, several local captains have taken to Mozambique dhows which are wider and more comfortable than the traditional Lamu boats to enhance their services. Its best to rent dhows from the locals, especially in Lamu Town, where they are an essential part of the economy. Several companies specialize in trips to Kiwayu but you can also go directly to the local captains, who know the islands and the villages best not to mention the sea. One small company called African safaris and Adventures has made Kiwayu and ecotourism its specialty through its close relationship with the communities. The delightful people of Lamu are great believers in tradition and custom as this is a strong society built on a respect for the past. Once a center for the slave trade, the population of Lamu is ethnically diverse. Lamu was on the main Arabian trading routes, and as a result, the population is largely Muslim. The obvious culinary attraction in Lamu is seafood and there is plenty available with excellent fish, crabs, lobster, oysters and more. There is also an abundance of fresh tropical fruits and vegetables. There are several other museums, including the Lamu Museum home to the islands ceremonial horn known as the siwa. There are other museums that are also dedicated to Swahili Culture and to the local postal services. Some of these notable buildings in the old town include:

     

    Lamu Fort

     

    This is a massive two storey stone structured located 70m inland at the main jetty. Fumo Madiibn Abi Bakr, the Sultan of Pate, started to build the fort on the seafront to protect members of his unpopular regime. Its construction commenced in 1813 shortly after Lamus victory over Pate and Mombasa in the battle of Shela and completed in the early 1820s. The major building task was reputedly undertaken with the cooperation of Seyyid Said, the Sultan of Oman who was cultivating a promising new alliance with the rulers in Lamu. Upon its completion in about 1821 the fort marked the southern corner of the traditional stone town and served as a garrison for Baluchi soldiers sent by the Sultan of Oman. Its protective presence encouraged new development around it. By 1900 the Fort had become a central to the community, a role which it still plays today. It served as a prison from 1910 to 1984 to both the British colonial regime and the Kenya government, before it was handed over to the National Museums of Kenya in 1984. Efforts to turn the Fort into a museum were started with technical and financial assistance from Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). With its inception as a museum with environmental conservation as its general theme; Lamu Fort is basically a community center for the people of Lamu old town. The courtyard is available for weddings, meetings and theater productions. At the ground floor there is a large exhibition space, which most recently hosted the first Environmental Museum in Africa. Upstairs there are administrative offices, laboratories, a workshop and a rooftop with impressive views over the town. There is also an excellent conference facility that is available for hire.

     

    Mnarani Mosque

     

    These ruins were first gazetted in March 1929 as Ruins of Mnarani. It is a scenic, serene site that was first occupied in the early 14th century before the Great Mosque was built in AD 1425. Close to the first Mosque is a smaller mosque which was constructed after a similar one in the same location. The foundation of its Mihab may still be seen east of the present Miharb. The original mosque was built around 1475, while the later mosque in about 1500.

     

    Riyadha Mosque

     

    Lamu has hosted major Muslim religious festivals since the 19th century, and has become a significant center for the study of Islamic and Swahili cultures. Habib Salih, a Sharif with family connections to the Hadramaut. Also spelled Hadhramaut, was an ancient South Arabian Kingdom that occupied what are now the southern and southeastern Yemen and the present day Sultanate of Oman in Yemen. He settled on Lamu in the 1880s, and became a highly respected religious teacher. Habib Salih had great success gathering students around him and in 1900 the Riyadha Mosque was built. He introduced Habshi Maulidi, where his students sang verse passages accompanied by tambourines. After his death in 1935 his sons continued the Madrassa, which became one of the most prestigious centers for Islamic Studies in East Africa. The Mosque is the center for the Maulidi Festival which is held every year during the last week of the month of the Prophets birth. During this festival pilgrims from Sudan, Congo, Uganda, Zanzibar and Tanzania join the locals to sing the praise of Mohammad.

     

    Donkey Sanctuary

     

    Since the island has no motorised vehicles, transportation and other heavy work is done with the help of donkeys. There are currently close to 3000 working donkeys on the island. Dr. Elisabeth Svendsen of the Donkey Sanctuary in England first visited Lamu in 1985. Worried by the conditions for the donkeys, the Sanctuary was opened in 1987. The Sanctuary provides treatment to all donkeys free of charge.

     

    Lamu German post office

     

    This building is located in Lamu old town. was the first German Post Office ever established along the East African coast. The Post office was established on November 22nd 1888 by the Germans led by Clement Denhardt. The communications and trade contacts for the German Protectorate in Witu could at the time be served through Lamu, as a well-established town with links to the outside world. The Post office operated for more than two years before its closure on March 3rd 1891 after the withdrawal of the German settlement in Witu.

     

    Lamu Museum

     

    The Lamu museum was the former residence of the British Governors during the colonial era. Visitors here can enjoy the experience of learning about the rich Swahili culture that is embodied in Lamu Town.

     

    Other attractions around Lamu Island

     

    In addition to Lamu Town, there are other fascinating villages on Lamu Island. Some of which are favored getaways and retreats for famous celebrities like Sir Richard Branson, Songstress Sade and Rolling Stones Mick Jagger.

     

    Shela beach

     

    It is on the North end of the Lamu Island set on a beautiful stretch of white sand and tiny broken sea shells. The walk from main Lamu town is only about a mile and a half and well worth it due to the welcoming locals you meet on the way. Watch for the young boys selling delicious homemade samosas on the beach.

     

    Kiunga Marine National Reserve

     

    The marine ecosystem incorporates a chain of about 50 calcareous offshore islands and coral reefs in the Lamu Archipelago, running for some 60km parallel to the coastline and adjacent to Dodori and Boni National Reserves on the mainland. The larger and more sheltered inner islands are covered with tangled thorny vegetation including grass, aloes and creepers. The small outer islands provide nesting sites for migratory seabirds. The reserve conserves valuable coral reefs, sea grass and extensive mangrove forests and is also a refuge for sea turtles and dugongs. Major wildlife attractions include reptiles such as Sea turtles, Olive ridley, and Reef fish. Lobsters, Sea urchins, Sea star and also frequent sightings in the reserve. It is an important site for wind surfing, diving and snorkelling, water skiing and sunbathing.

     

    Practical Travel information

     

    Lamus narrow streets remain unchanged, and the winding streets of the towns are best explored on foot or bicycle. Many locals also use donkeys in the markets and squares around the fort where life moves at the same pace as it always has. The island is still linked by boat to Mokowe on the mainland and to Manda Island, where there is an airport. Residents move about on foot or by boat, and donkeys are used to transport goods and materials since there are few motorized vehicles on the island. Due to the narrowness of the streets, automobiles are not allowed. Shela village and the beaches are also accessible by foot. Alternatively dhows regularly carry paying passengers back and forth from Lamu town to Shela. To access the surrounding islands of Manda, Pate or Siyu, either take an organized Dhow Safari or for the adventurous traveller, just hitch a ride on a passing dhow and explore. It is also possible to hire donkeys to ride around the island.

     

    Tour guides are licensed on Lamu and they will show you their license on request and they have a well-organized association and work together cooperatively. Recently, Lamu dhow operators joined hands and formed a dhow organization called Promise/Ahadi. Their aim is to offer standard prices and insure cheating of tourists does not occur on Lamu. These young men really made an effort to improve the tourist experience in Lamu, while also trying to empower themselves. They offer quality services and affordable, reasonable cost-ratio rates for their services. Lamu is still a popular destination for backpackers.

     

    How to get there

     

    Lamu is best accessed by air. There are scheduled flights daily from Nairobi, Mombasa, Diani Beach and Malindi. The island is serviced by an airstrip on neighboring Manda Island. The strip can also be used by private charters. A dhow ferries arriving passengers to either Lamu town or Shela. Many yachts also come to Lamu, often sheltering in the channel near Shela.

     

    Where to stay

     

    There are many unique luxury hotels, retreats and houses in Lamu and the surrounding islands of Manda and Kiwayu. Each hotel and house in Lamu has its own character and charm. Whether you are searching for a quiet weekend getaway from Nairobi at a boutique beach hotel or a luxury Lamu house rental for a romantic or family getaway from Europe, there is something for everyone. Accommodation in Lamu archipelago ranges from budget hotels and guesthouses to the luxury of the Peponi Hotel in the village of Shela and private houses in Kipungani at the islands far end. Nature + Culture offer a range of accommodations from backpacker guesthouses in Lamu to mid-range and luxury rentals in Shela village. Again, this company goes local whenever possible without compromising quality. There are some exclusive listings of private houses which are real finds. This place is known for its unusual mix of travelers reminiscent of the 60s Euro-voyage to India in search of enlightenment in spectacular natural beauty and ancient culture. In Lamu, that happens. See the ancient eco-houses of limestone and coral rock in this unique, natural, unspoiled place. Community values are comfort, safety and hospitality. Reaching out to people, between people, is a community practice. We trust that this feature has been informative to you.

     

    Boats and Equipment at Kiwayu Safari Village

     

    Deep Sea Fishing Elusive - a 28' Fly Bridge Bertram Cruiser with twin Volvo Penta TAMD40 engines. 6 Rods complete with Lures. Captained by Ubi Saragoni with a crew of 2. Max Pax 6. Lamu Excursions or any long distance excursion /Picnics 'Cobra' - a 30' Rigid Inflatable with 200HP inboard engines capable of 35 knots. Max Pax 8

     

    Water-skiing

     

    2 Fiberglas speed boats with 80HP outboard engines>

     

    Dhow Trips

     

    A motorized Traditional Local dhow 'Uwazalo', with inboard engine

     

    Sailing

     

    A Traditional Local Dhow with sail, 'Tusitiri'.

     

    Snorkelling/creek fishing/bird watching

     

    4 Fibreglass canoes with 15 HP outboard engines.

     

    Scuba Diving

     

    Scuba prosuits, Aqualung regulators , Scuba pro and Mares BCs and steel 12lts diving cylinders . This activity is at certain times of the year and with set dates . Please enquire for further details.

     

    Swimming Pool

     

    Kiwayu does NOT have a swimming pool. There are sheltered areas for swimming in calm waters on the side of the bay near the lodge and in the mangrove channnels.

     

    Deep Sea Fishing

     

    In Detail - for truly committed. The 28-Foot Bertram Cruiser with twin Volvo Penta TAMD40 engines, is fully equipped with rods and lures for catching Marlin, Sailfish, Barracuda, Tuna and a beautiful local fish called a Felusi. There are outriggers, one fighting chair, Penn international reels, and light tackle. It is designed for 4 fishermen but can take up to 6. There is a toilet and fresh water shower on board and half-day trips are provided with a cool box with drinks and snacks and a full day includes a picnic lunch.

     

    Captain Ubi Saragoni has fished the local Kenyan Coastline for twelve years and has spent the last three years fishing the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica before returning to Kenya a few months ago. He speaks Italian, English, Spanish, French and Kiswahili and is assisted by an experienced crew of 2. The crews are also experienced in Fly Fishing though Kiwayu does not have tackle for fly fishing and the client will need to bring their own. The fishing season runs from late October through to April though January is often windy. Marlin and Sailfish are usually tagged and released in keeping with Kiwayu's preservation of the environment. Prices are available on request. Fishing can be booked either through this web site, or, directly with Mr Saragoni at Kiwayu Safari Village.

     

    Weddings at Kiwayu Safari Village

     

    Kiwayu Safari Village is a unique and special place when considering getting married on the beach. It is the perfect size for exclusivity and what could be more romantic than saying vows with the sun setting behind over a blue lagoon with soft warm water lapping at the feet and nobody else except family, friends and a few turtles to witness the ceremony. Kiwayu Safari Village can arrange every detail for the bride from flights, flowers and even a disco and fireworks, to little gifts for guests in each room. There are endless beach activities to keep the guests amused from picnics in hidden coves, dhow sailing and endless walks along miles of empty beach. For those who prefer something more adventurous there is Deep Sea Fishing and water-skiing available.

     

    In Detail - for truly committed. The 28-Foot Bertram Cruiser with twin Volvo Penta TAMD40 engines, is fully equipped with rods and lures for catching Marlin, Sailfish, Barracuda, Tuna and a beautiful local fish called a Felusi. There are outriggers, one fighting chair, Penn international reels, and light tackle. It is designed for 4 fishermen but can take up to 6. There is a toilet and fresh water shower on board and half-day trips are provided with a cool box with drinks and snacks and a full day includes a picnic lunch.

     

    Captain Ubi Saragoni has fished the local Kenyan Coastline for twelve years and has spent the last three years fishing the Pacific Ocean in Costa Rica before returning to Kenya a few months ago. He speaks Italian, English, Spanish, French and Kiswahili and is assisted by an experienced crew of 2. The crews are also experienced in Fly Fishing though Kiwayu does not have tackle for fly fishing and the client will need to bring their own. The fishing season runs from late October through to April though January is often windy. Marlin and Sailfish are usually tagged and released in keeping with Kiwayu's preservation of the environment. Prices are available on request. Fishing can be booked either through this web site, or, directly with Mr Saragoni at Kiwayu Safari Village.

     

    Weddings at Kiwayu Safari Village

     

    Kiwayu Safari Village is a unique and special place when considering getting married on the beach. It is the perfect size for exclusivity and what could be more romantic than saying vows with the sun setting behind over a blue lagoon with soft warm water lapping at the feet and nobody else except family, friends and a few turtles to witness the ceremony. Kiwayu Safari Village can arrange every detail for the bride from flights, flowers and even a disco and fireworks, to little gifts for guests in each room. There are endless beach activities to keep the guests amused from picnics in hidden coves, dhow sailing and endless walks along miles of empty beach. For those who prefer something more adventurous there is Deep Sea Fishing and water-skiing available.

     

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