All inclusive beach holidays in Lamu, Kenya
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    Lamu Old Town Hotels & Accommodation Lamu Island Kenya

    Lamu Old Town gives the visitor a fascinating glimpse into a nearly-forgotten world, being the best-preserved and oldest Swahili settlement along coastal East Africa, this UNESCO World Heritage Site, about 250 kilometers north of Mombasa in Kenya, features architecture that clearly shows the mishmash of influences – Bantu, Arabic, Persian, Indian, and European – that influenced the creation of Swahili culture.


    In Lamu Old Town, you’ll find a warren of narrow streets, navigated only by the ubiquitous donkeys (there are no cars on Lamu Island) that fuel commerce and transportation, and leave their calling cards at every intersection. You’ll want to spend an afternoon, at least, wandering these vibrant, bustling streets (watching your step carefully, of course), poking your head into the countless small dark shops that sell everything from leather sandals and traditional carved wooden boxes to groceries and cigarettes. If you take the time to talk to shopkeepers and others, you’ll find a friendly, welcoming people who are as likely to invite you home to dinner as they are to sell you a trinket. The houses, many built of traditional coral stone and mangrove lumber, are characterized by beautifully carved wooden doors opening into airy inner courtyards that catch every ocean breeze. Although most of Lamu Old Town’s best sites are found just by walking the streets, there are several small museums, including Lamu Fort, an imposing structure built by Sultan Fumo Madi ibn Abi Bakr on the seafront in the early 1800s. Extend your visit to include a snorkeling expedition or do some deep sea fishing. Lamu features a range of accommodations in Swahili-influenced buildings, and you’ll find some of the freshest seafood in East Africa at Lamu’s restaurant, Visit Lamu Old Town, the oldest town in Kenya, and the nexus of many centuries of cultural interaction: where the Swahili and Arab culture met many centuries ago to produce a mixture of African and Muslim cultures that survives to this day.


    Visit Lamu Old Town, Lamu to experience a quaint culture mixed with the bestirring of ancient time long past but never forgotten. Lamu is essentially a romantic town edged with grandeur that breathes with living history, and also provides you with plenty to see and do. The town is surrounded by rolling dunes and pristine beaches. The narrow streets are filled with the voices of children playing in the streets, and often a rich aroma of coffee fills the delightful streets. There are several supreb restaurants and original Arab coffee shops. The culture is warm, friendly and laid-back, touched with more than a helping of easiness, giving Lamu smoothness experienced nowhere else on earth. Due to the narrowness of the streets, Lamu is devoid of cars. Many locals' preferred method of getting around is on the backs of donkeys. Several museums are found on the island, including the Lamu Museum where a rich heritage of ancient culture dating back to the 14th century can be enjoyed by visitors. Lamu Museum is also home to the island's ceremonial horn. There are also other museums dedicated to displaying Swahili relics and heritage. Visit Lamu Old Town, Lamu to see the Lamu Fort, Mnarani Mosque, Riyadha Mosque and other old buildings that are standing testimonies to Kenya's old history. Lamu Fort, built by Fumo Madi ibn Abi Bakr, Sultan of Pate, built in 1809, left incomplete, is a fascinating visit. The Riyadha Mosque was built by Habib Salih, a highly respected leader that gathered many students around him. The Maulidi Festival occurs here once a year. Pilgrims from Sudan, Congo, Uganda, Zanzibar and Tanzania journey here to suing their praises. Visit Lamu Old Town to snorkel, scuba dive and take long walks on the pristine, sandy white beaches that fringe the island, remembering to observe the local traditions of not drinking excessively in public or bathing nude on the beaches. Enjoy a delightful dhow cruise at sunset to see the sun melting into the horizon over this quaint, rustic town, knowing that you in the midst of an once-in-a-lifetime romantic experience.


    Lamu Old Town Accommodation


    Stone House Hotel

    Stone House HotelView Gallery


    Stone House Hotel


    Stone House Hotel is one of the best preserved of Lamu’s famous 18th century stone houses. Ideally situated a short walk from the main street and the Lamu Waterfront, Stone House Hotel combines the unique elegance of traditional Swahili architecture with modern comfort and friendly hospitality. The moment you pass through the main door of Stone House into the lush patio garden, you leave the bustle of the town behind and relax in an atmosphere of Read More


    Diamond Beach Village Lamu Island

    Amber HouseView Gallery


    Amber House


    Amber House is an oasis situated in the heart of the magnificent and captivating Lamu Old Town. Restored to its former glory with a contemporary edge Amber House comes fully staffed and easily accommodates 6 people in true Lamu comfort on a self catering basis. Whether you want to immerse yourself in the tranquility of the courtyard, plunge into the pool or laze on the rooftop terrace with its spectacular view over the Old Town to the water, you deserve this authentic Lamu experience. Read More


    Diamond Beach Village Lamu Island

    Petleys InnView Gallery


    Petleys Inn


    Petleys Inn is possibly the oldest hotel in East Africa, dating back some 170 years. Due to the rich history, the Inn has tried to preserve the original ancient feeling of the place. Petley's is situated at the main jetty on the seafront as you disembark from the dhows, with a good view of the sea within the Lamu pre-historic site. Petley’s Inn has 11 rooms which are self contained, air-conditioned with mosquito nets, en suite bathrooms and sea view. In addition, Petleys Inn is one of the few hotels in Lamu Town boasting a Read More


    Diamond Beach Village Lamu Island

    Dar El Eden HotelView Gallery


    Dar El Eden Hotel


    Traditional swahili character house from the 18th century carefully restored and expanded in 2009. The spacious Dar El Eden home is situated in the heart of the historic part of lamu town at 200m from the sea front. This coral stone house maintains all of its original architecture, using local traditional materials, plastering techniques and decoration. The Lamu Town house still has its original 3, 5 m ceilings and walls with carved niches, freezes and alcove decorations. The 4 level-home is the highest private Read More


    Diamond Beach Village Lamu Island

    Red Pepper HouseView Gallery


    Red Pepper House


    The Red Pepper House lies between an acacia forest and red pepper trees. Guests here are practically doted on from the moment they cross the threshold of this architecturally stunning beachfront property. After a warm greeting by manager David Morgan and his gracious staff, your personal valet escorts you to your exclusive nyumba (house). These superb accommodations are simply some of the most integrative spaces imaginable, uniting open-air splendor and private luxury under one makuti (thatched) roof. The living area Read More


    Makubwa House

    Makubwa HouseView Gallery


    Makubwa House


    Makubwa House dates from the late 19th Century and has been restored in great detail, with all new electricity wiring, a Yemeni-inspired tower that is home to the water storage and a plunge pool on the main floor. The Makubwa House is of palatial proportions and takes on a magical character at night. This Stately Patrician home features 2-bedrooms, 5 bathrooms and a large private studio rooftop terrace. The master bedroom has a king-size bed and its own air conditioning unit. The guestroom has a queen-size bed. All rooms Read More


    About Lamu Island


    In the 14th Century, Lamu was established as a Swahili trading out post and settlement. The town became an important landmark on the Northern sea trade route, and one of the great centers of Swahili culture. The Lamu islands history is long and colorful. Some believe that the island has been settled since the 7th century, although the first written history of the island begins in 1402. Local legend speaks of the lost city of Hadibu, an Arab settlement buried beneath the rolling dunes of Shela beach. Shela was the scene of a great battle and massacre in the mid 18th century, as Lamu battled its neighboring islands, Manda and Pate. While the civilizations on these islands faded, Lamu prospered. Both Lamu town and the village of Shela are home to many fine examples of Swahili architecture. Some of the original mansions have been restored and maintained. Lamu is one of the most historically important Swahili towns.


    On nearby Manda Island are found the ruins of Takwa, a civilization razed in the 17th Century. These ruins, now overgrown and overshadowed by baobab trees, show that Takwa was a holy city, where all doors faced Mecca. Some residents of Shela, who believe them selves to be descendants of Takwa, still visit the ruins to pray. Takwa can be reached by dhow from either Lamu or Shela. Lamu was also culturally influenced by the Bajun people. The Bajun are an indigenous tribal group, centred around the Lamu archipelago, whose origins and history have become blurred with the Swahili to the extent that one of their sub-clans, the Shiradhi claim to be direct descendants of Shirazi Arabs. The Bajun are traditionally a fishing people, who also cultivate coconuts and mangrove logs. Many of their traditions have melded into Lamu's cultural melting pot. Their traditional woodcarving played a major part in the development of the locally renowned Lamu carving industry, and their language was the genesis of Kiamu, a Swahili dialect that is the true language of Lamu.


    There is an excellent Museum in Lamu town with good exhibits on Swahili culture in general and Lamu culture in particular. The staff are very helpful and have a wealth of local information. The labyrinthine streets of Lamu town itself are a historical attraction in themselves. These narrow streets are all built upwards along a gentle slope, letting the rains wash the town clean. The Old Town was declared a World Heritage site, and exploring the town on foot is a wonderful way to soak up the atmosphere of the living, breathing history of Lamu. At the centre of town is the impressive Sultan's Fort, built by the Omanis in 1808. The Fort has been through various changes over the years, including conversion into a prison. It is now a museum and its forecourt is home to Lamu's largest open market. Lamu saw many visitors over its long history, including traders and explorers from Portugal, China, Turkey and much of the Middle East. Its culture was inevitably influenced by most of them, producing this truly unique society. Lamu is a very relaxed and relaxing place, and its easy going lifestyle has long attracted those seeking an alternative and exotic lifestyle. This started in 1894 with the arrival of the 'Freelanders", a group of idealistic British and European intellectuals who planned to use the island as base for a utopian commune to be finally located near Mount Kenya. Their plans fell apart almost immediately, and some never left Lamu.


    This was repeated in the 1970's, when Lamu became a popular haunt for easy going hippy travellers. It should be remembered though that while tolerant, Lamu is proud and protective of its Swahili cultural traditions. Visitors to the island should keep this in mind and dress and behave in a way appropriate to an Islamic community. We can be arranged to visit a home in Lamu to meet a local family, and spend some time in a traditional Swahili home. This is a wonderful opportunity to experience life as it is lived within the walls of the island's famous historical houses. The families you visit with will be happy to explain to you the traditions and daily routines of life in Lamu. You may help out the children with their school work, visit the mosque, or assist with the preparation of food. Often these visits involve taking a traditional Swahili meal with the family. This is the best way to sample this unique cuisine, and discover the best cooking on the coast. Ask our travel consultants for details of how such a visit can be arranged. Lamu is well known for its local Henna artists, who paint the hands of feet of local women with elaborate traditional designs for special ceremonies or just for decorative purposes. This is considered a fine art and attractively painted hands and feet are a great mark of beauty. The Henna used stains the skin, and washes away after several days. Women can have their hands and feet painted in a number of shops in old town. One of the best times to visit Lamu is during the Maulidi festival. This annual Islamic festival celebrates the birth of the prophet, and on Lamu is cause for great celebration indeed. A week long festival of music and dance is held, with traditional sword fights in public squares and Swahili feasts. Book well ahead to make sure you find a room during this festival.


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