All inclusive beach holidays in Lamu, Kenya
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    Fish Trap House Lamu Island Kenya & Lamu Cheap Budget Accommodations Beach hotels

    Fishtrap House is a beach house is located on the seafront in Shela Village, Lamu, a place like no other, a peaceful tropical island in Kenya where life is lived at it’s own relaxed rhythm, but a place whose history is as mysterious and fascinating as the winding streets of it’s medieval stone town. Approaching the village of Shela one cannot miss Fish trap House sitting at the water's edge between Bahari Beach Hotel and the Stopover Hotel. The dhows lay at anchor beneath the coral walls and the tides lap at the foundations. From the verandas you will hear happy voices and the clink of glasses. Stay with us and the short walk from the jetty will end at the door to Fishtrap house and the cool haven within. Owned by Anna Casagrande, a well loved Shela resident seen most mornings striding miles down the beach in the company of her dogs, the house is a Shela landmark. You can't get any closer to the water without being in it and you can't get any closer to the living in Swahili style without being born to it.

     

    Fishtrap House occupies a ground floor with a charming garden and veranda for cool shady breakfasts. The kitchen, an en suite twin bedroom and separate WC are also on this level. Ascend to the first floor and another gracious veranda embraces 180 degrees of sea views looking across the channel to Manda Beach. At your feet the life of this sleepy little village unfolds as boat builders repair their dhows and fishermen offload their catches. Devotees hurry towards the mosque and the ever present Lamu cats squabble over flotsam as the donkeys are loaded with building materials for portage up the winding lanes of Shela. There are two en suite double bedrooms and a splendid sitting and dining area on the first floor. A staircase leads to the penthouse suite which has its own private sitting room and veranda with baraza beds to lounge away the day watching the world go by. Anna's chef is well known to be one of the finest in Shela and will delight you with his seafood recipes and his wonderful fusion of Swahili and Italian recipes. The house is Anna's home and as such is a rich tapestry diary of her travels and life with many beautiful artefacts and beach-combed treasures.

     

    Uzio House or fish trap house boasts one of the most beautiful views on the island. Refurbished to retain its Swahili character, it is full of traditional features like carved wooden doors and vidaka plasterworks. The house is laid out on three floors, with a small guest cottage behind the main house. On the top floor of the main house is the master bedroom which continues onto a large veranda with great views of Manda Island and the Shela waterfront. Below are two more large bedrooms, with an extensive dining room, lounge and veranda area. The ground floor has another large bedroom which leads on to an outside dining area with a small garden full of vibrant bourganvillias and boasting its very own coconut tree, so that you can wake up to a chilled glass of fresh coconut water. Behind the main house is a self contained, one double-bed cottage, with its own kitchen and veranda area on the top floor. The chef Gabriel is very experienced and will help you plan your holiday menu with all the delicious fresh seafood, fruit and vegetables that can be brought to the house every morning. He will also do all the house shopping you may require during your stay. Please be aware that Lamu is remote and therefore availability of foodstuffs and alcohol can be very limited. If you require anything special please bring it with you. The staff is extremely helpful and friendly and will look after your every need, wait on you for meals, clean the house and wash laundry.

     

    Lamu Island Information

     

    Perhaps best left until the end of your stay in Kenya, Lamu may otherwise precipitate a change in your plans as you’re lulled into a slow rhythm in which days and weeks pass by unheeded and objectives get forgotten. The deliciously lazy atmosphere is, for many people, the best worst-kept secret on the coast. All the senses get a full work-out here, so that actually doing anything is sometimes a problem. You can spend hours on a roof or veranda just watching the town go by, feeling its mood swing effortlessly through its well-worn cycles – from prayer call to prayer call, from tide to tide, and from dawn to dusk. If this doesn’t hit the right note for you, you might actually rather hate Lamu: hot, dirty and boring are adjectives that have been applied by sane and pleasant people. You can certainly improve your chances of liking Lamu by not coming here at the tail end of the dry season, when the town’s gutters are blocked with refuse, the courtyard gardens wilt under the sun and the heat is sapping. Lamu is something of a myth factory. Conventionally labelled an “Arab trading town”, it is actually one of the last viable remnants of the Swahili civilization that was the dominant cultural force along the coast until the arrival of the British. In the 1960s, Lamu’s unique blend of beaches, gentle Islamic ambience, funky old town and a host population well used to strangers was a recipe which took over where Marrakesh left off, and it acquired a reputation as Kenya’s Kathmandu; the end of the African hippie trail and a stopover on the way to India. Shaggy foreigners were only allowed to visit on condition they stayed in lodgings and didn’t camp on the beach. Not many people want to camp out these days. The proliferation of guesthouses in the heart of Lamu town encourages an ethos that is more interactive than hippie-escapist. Happily, visitors and locals cross paths enough to avoid any tedium – though for women travelling without men, this can itself become tedious (see Information). Having said that, there can hardly be another town in the world as utterly unthreatening as Lamu. Leave your room at midnight for a breath of air and you can stroll up a hushed Harambee Avenue, or tread up the darkest of alleys, and fear absolutely nothing. It’s an exhilarating experience. If you want to spend all your time on the beach, then staying in Shela is the obvious solution, and there’s an ever-growing range of quite stylish possibilities there, though hardly anywhere really inexpensive.

     

    Fewer people see the interior of Lamu island itself, which is a pity, as it’s a pretty, if rather inhospitable area. Much of it is patched into shambas with the herds of cattle, coconut palms, mango and citrus trees that still provide the bulk of Lamu’s wealth. The two villages you might head for here are Matondoni, on the north shore of the island, by the creek, and Kipungani, on the western side. The undeniably Arab flavour of Lamu is not nearly as old as the town itself. It derives from the later nineteenth century when the Omanis, and to some extent the Hadhramis from what is now Yemen, held sway in the town. The first British representatives in Lamu found themselves among pale-skinned, slave-owning Arab rulers, and the cultural and racial stereotypes that were propagated have never completely disappeared. Lamu was established on its present site by the fourteenth century, but there have been people living on the island for much longer than that. The fresh-water supplies beneath Shela made the island attractive to refugees from the mainland and people have been escaping here for two thousand years or more. It was also one of the earliest places on the coast to attract settlers from the Persian Gulf and there were almost certainly people here from Arabia and southwest Asia even before the foundation of Islam. In 1505, Lamu was visited by a heavily armed Portuguese man-of-war and the king of the town quickly agreed to pay the first of many cash tributes as protection money. For the next 180 years Lamu was nominally under Portuguese rule, though the Portuguese favoured Pate as a place to live. In the 1580s, the Turkish fleet of Amir Ali Bey threatened Portuguese dominance, but superior firepower and relentless savagery kept them out, and Lamu, with little in the way of an arsenal, had no choice but to bend with the wind – losing a king now and then to the Portuguese executioners – until the Omanis arrived with fast ships and a serious bid for lasting control. By the end of the seventeenth century, Lamu’s Portuguese predators were vanquished and for nearly 150 years it had a revitalizing breathing space. This was its Golden Age, when Lamu became a republic, ruled over by the Yumbe, a council of elders who deliberated in the palace (now a ruined plot in the centre of town), with only the loosest control imposed by their Omani overlords.

     

    This was the period when most of the big houses were built and when Lamu’s classic architectural style found its greatest expression. Arts and crafts flourished and business along the waterfront made the town a magnet throughout the Indian Ocean. Huge ocean-going dhows rested half the year in the harbour, taking on ivory, rhino horn, mangrove poles and cereals. There was time to compose long poems and argue about language, the Koran and local politics. Lamu became the northern coast’s literary and scholastic focus, a distinction inherited from Pate. For a brief time, Lamu’s star was in the ascendant in all fields. There was even a famous victory at the Battle of Shela in 1812. A combined Pate-Mazrui force landed at Shela with the simple plan of capturing Lamu – not known for its resolve in battle – and finishing the construction of the fort which the Nabahanis from Pate had begun a few years earlier. To everyone’s surprise, particularly the Lamu defenders, the tide had gone out and the invaders were massacred as they tried to push their boats off the beach. Appalled at the overkill and expecting a swift response from the Mazruis in Mombasa, Lamu sent to Oman itself for Busaidi protection and threw away independence forever. Had the eventual outcome of this panicky request been foreseen, the Lamu Yumbe might have reconsidered. Seyyid Said, Sultan of Oman, was more than happy to send a garrison to complete and occupy Lamu’s fort – and from this toehold in Africa, he went on to smash the Mazrui rebels in Mombasa, taking the entire coast and moving his own sultanate to Zanzibar.

     

    Lamu gradually sank into economic collapse towards the end of the nineteenth century as Zanzibar and Mombasa grew in importance. In a sense, it has been stagnating ever since. The building of the Uganda railway from Mombasa and the abolition of slavery did nothing to improve matters for Lamu in economic terms, and its decline has kept up with the shrinking population. However, the resettlement programme on the nearby mainland and – in recent years – a much safer road from Malindi has led to a revived upcountry commercialism taking root around the market square. Lamu Island can only be reached by boat. There is an airstrip on Manda, opposite the harbour where regular daily flights arrive and depart to and from Malindi and Mombasa. The main form of transport between the other islands and along the coast is the traditional dhow. Boat trips can be arranged to Manda island (a short hop across the channel from Shela) or to Manda Toto on the other side of the mainland peninsula where there is good snorkeling, scuba diving and swimming. Peponi Hotel has wind surfers and sailing boats for hire and also offer water skiing (obviously hotel guests have priority on facilities and activities). In addition longer trips to Kiwayu or Pate can be organised or even a deep-sea fishing charter. A sundown sail in the mangrove channels is the perfect end to another lazy day. Lamu is of course a Muslim community but is welcoming to all visitors. If simple courtesy and respect are shown the people are never less than gracious, helpful and friendly. Keep your beachwear for the beach and cover it with a kikoy (Kenyan sarong) when walking in the village. Security in Lamu and Shela is very good and there is virtually no theft, but please keep valuables and cash out of temptation's way at your retreat or on your person. The lingua franca of East Africa is Swahili and covers Lamu too. Arabic is spoken by many as is English. Lamu has been a destination for European tourists for almost half a century and with many of the houses being owned by Europeans there are a surprisingly high number of people who can converse in Italian, French and Spanish!

     

    Lamu Budget Hotels

     

    Visitors to Lamu Island Beach will find no shortage of trendy, fun, comfortable and attractive hotels. Many of them are very expensive, but even if you are on a budget there are some great options for you. We will introduce you to some nice but inexpensive Lamu budget hotels. These hotels have style, fun activities, modern amenities, and locations near the beach and you can stay without breaking the bank. Kenyan beaches are among the top attractions in the country. Soft white sand and rich blue water awaits tourists at all the beaches along the country’s coast line. Beaches in Malindi, Lamu and Mombasa are ideal for relaxing and sunbathing. Tourists that are looking for a more interesting way to spend their time here can take a trip to the Gedi ruins, which are close to Watamu and Malindi. This Swahili settlement was founded in the 12th century and consists of a mosque, palace and houses. Tourists staying in Mombasa can also visit the attractions on the beach road that is to the north of the city. These include the Ngomongo Villages and Bamburi Quarry Nature Trail. he cheapest (but not comfortable) way to get to Lamu Island is by Coach/Bus from Mombasa. From Nairobi, various companies have frequent departures to Mombasa, I booked night bus with Modern Coast Express for 9.30 PM departure arrived Mombasa 6.30 AM next day. KS 1300 for Non Air conditioned Bus Business Class Tawakal and Tahmeed Coach are most frequent and take 8 hours min from Mombasa to Mokowe vise versa as the road (well there is dirt track and can not be called Road) is bumpy with big size pot holes for 3 and a half hour - 100 km long strip from Witu to Mokowe. On my way back from Lamu I have seen road construction machinery and workers so I hope it will be paved atleast if not built mettaled road.

     

    The Cost is KS 800 either way and it is advised to book a day or two advance for first departure and highly advised to get the seat in front to get less bumpy affects. Both companies have 3 departures daily each way. At Mombasa, Tawakal and Tahmeed Offices (some 50 meters apart ) are at Abdel Nasir Road which is couple of kilometers away from the Nairobi-Mombasa bus terminal at Myembi Tyari Road, a Tuk tuk charge fixed KS 100 to get there. Total Cost One Way Nairobi-Momsaba-Mokowe-Lamu was KS 1300 + 800 + 150 = 2250 including Bus/Coach and the Speed Boat. There is flights from Malindi to Manda Island (Lamu) online booking is nearly USD150.00 one way but I have been told it is KS 3000~3500 if booked locally with travel agents.

     

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