All inclusive beach holidays in Lamu, Kenya
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    Samaki House Lamu Island, Kenya & Lamu Self Catering Beach Houses

    Imagine another world where people have time to greet you, imagine streets where cars don't exist, add to this image the Indian Ocean, Dhow sails, Palm fonds, and a unique Swahili cultural heritage and voila you have stepped from dream into achievable reality. Yes, it does really exist - this is Lamu Island one of the best kept secrets on the African Coast. Samaki House is a lovingly restored 300yr Arab Merchants Mansion - a beautiful and outstanding relic from when Lamu Town served as a wintering point for Arab trading Dhows. The Samaki House overlooks the waterfront with its coming and goings of Sailing Dhows, and other watercraft. And its multiple roof terraces make great vantage points offering a panoramic sea view and overlooking the daily pedestrian activity in the street below whilst catching the cooling breezes; the Samaki House is owned by a British Architect and a French writer and is furnished with interesting antiques and artifacts, offering a relaxing environment to the discerning traveler, The Samaki House is situated centrally in town just 3 mins walk from the main jetty landing stage, and to the west of the Old Fort. There is a small beach to the North of town, some 5 mins walk away and further extensive beaches are easily accessed by a regular boat service operating from the jetty.

     

    The Samaki House overlooks the waterfront with its coming and goings of Sailing Dhows, and other watercraft.Its multiple roof terraces make great vantage points offering a panoramic sea view and overlooking the daily pedestrian activity in the street below whilst catching the cooling breezes. The Samaki House is available subject to availability either as a whole house rental (Sleeps 8 standard quota), or as individual double suites. Whole house rental includes transfers and cook. All rooms have traditional ceiling fans and external lighting to associated terrace areas. Bathrooms are state of the art with glass bowl basins, and twin-headed shower jets to all rooms. The Samaki House is fully equipped offering a unique exotic experience in luxury and comfort to its privileged guests. House staff deal with the day to day running of events and will undertake you’re washing and ironing during your stay. There is a fully equipped kitchen with a full range of modern appliances to ensure your comfort. The roof top terrace has a bar area and fridge unit to keep those sundowners at the right temperature. Copious hot water is provided by solar panels and the house is equipped with an electrical invertor system to minimize power-outs. There are spacious living and entertaining areas which are all comfortably furnished and are spread over two levels. The dining room overlooks the sea-front and is fully equipped to seat 10. A Wide Flat screen TV is available together with a stereo system and DVD/Video player. The House is not wired for Satellite

     

    The accommodation is as follows; The Master bedroom Suite at first Floor level it offers extremely spacious accommodation with a large screened private terrace complete with Moorish style star bath perfect for honeymooners. There is a king sized carved Lamu style 4 poster bed complete with netting/drapes. It enjoys a separate dressing area and a sunken sitting area which overlooks the garden. There is a double shower area in the light and airly Bathroom which opens onto the terrace. The Twin Room furnished with two separate twin carved lamu style beds with its own sitting and dressing area overlooking the garden. This room is perfect for small children being on the same level as the master facilities. The Garden Retreat This accommodation enjoys its own large independant shaded terrace and has separate access stairs and overlooks the courtyard garden making it more of a private enclave. It has a double carved Lamu Bed which has drapes/netting, and has seperate ensuite facilities. The Garden suite a spacious Ground Floor Suite opening directly onto the garden which has a Queen sized carved Lamu bed with drapes/netting, and enjoys a seperate spacious dressing area and bathroom. As for dining services, Samaki House has a full-time chef who is specialised in seafood and other local meals. The presence of starfruit and guava trees provides ideal shaded chill-out areas where visitors enjoy their breakfast with mango and other fresh juices. We provide Lamu Boat transfer service from the Manda airstrip Jetty or Mokowe Jetty across the sea to Samaki House located in Lamu Shella on Lamu Island. Please indicate if you require this convenient pre-booked Lamu speed boat or Arabic Dhow transfer service when booking your accommodation at Samaki House Lamu Shella

     

    Lamu Island Information

     

    They say that lamu is a place like no other, a peaceful tropical island 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. The island itself is a beautiful place of rolling dunes and endless beaches, where tiny villages nestle among coconut and mango plantations and lateen sailed dhows ply the waters. But Lamu’s real attraction is its Old town. Lamu Old Town has been in existence for nearly 1000 years, and is the oldest living town in Kenya. It was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2001, Its nomination as a World Heritage Site has led to a phenomenal increase in tourist numbers, as well as large numbers of investors wishing to own a piece of what is now considered to be one of the most desirable prime property on Kenya’s north coast. The Lamu Archipelago lies off the north Kenyan coast and is made up of three main islands - Lamu, Manda Island, and Pate Island and other smaller islands. Historically the archipelago formed part of the ‘Swahili’ corridor, stretching from southern Mozambique to Mogadishu in Somalia. This corridor functioned as a gateway between the African continent and lands that lay beyond the Western Indian Ocean, such as Arabia and India. East Africa’s coastal inhabitants are generally referred to as the ‘Swahili’, but this term is problematic because the language is spoken by more than its native speakers. Lamu is also Kenya's oldest living town. It dates back to at least the 12th century but trade between the East African coast and Arabia, Persia and India has been going on since the9th century.

     

    The port of Lamu has therefore existed for at least a thousand years. By the14th C, it was a rich trading centre exporting ivory, mangrove timber, amber, spices, turtle shells and rhino horn to the Middle East and India, and importing luxury porcelain and carpets from across the Indian Ocean. The earliest written record of Lamu was by an Arab traveler called Abu-al-Mahasiri who had met a Judge from Lamu visiting Mecca in 1441.The town's history is marked by the Portuguese invasion which began in 1506, and the Omani Arab domination around 1813, the year of the Battle of Sheathe Portuguese wanted to control trade along the East African coast and had had a trade monopoly for a long time, even imposing export taxes on existing trade. In the 1580s, there was a rebellion and in 1652, the Omani Arabs helped Lamu to shake off the Portuguese. In the 17th and early 18th centuries the authority of the Sultan of Oman increased in the region and Lamu prospered. It was during this time that most of the traditional stone houses and mosques were built or rebuilt. This was Lamu's golden age. It became a center of poetry, politics, arts and crafts and trade. The only blot in its history was its participation in the slave trade Lamu won the battle of Shela over Pate and Mombasa in 1813 and with the help of the Sultan of Oman, construction of Lamu Fort began. It was completed in 1821 and served asa garrison. It also marked the southern corner of the traditional stone town; thus encouraged by its presence, merchants went ahead to put up more buildings on the seafront. By 1900 the Fort had become a central feature of the town, a position it enjoys to date. Lamu’s economy began to decline with the development of Mombasa port at the end of the18th century, the beginning of the construction of the Uganda Railway in 1901 and the abolition of slavery in 1907. Until the end of the 19th century a large proportion of the population of Lamu consisted of slaves. When slavery was abolished, Lamu lost its sources of cheap labor Because of this, and loss of trade to the fast developing Port of Mombasa, Lamu Old Town fell into decline, and became only a minor local harbor. Its decline and remoteness have greatly contributed to the conservation of its remarkable architecture and traditional ways of life. However since the 1970’s growth in tourism has gradually refueled the economy of a center that seemed determined to continue living in the 16th century Lamu District occupies the northern-most part of the Kenya coast, extending northeastwards for approximately 130 kilometers. The topography of the district is characterized by low, almost level plain with the exception of the sand dunes and hills but they do not exceed 50 m above sea-level. The waters adjacent to Lamu are reported to be the most productive for shrimp, lobsters and oyster fishing of all Kenya’s coastline. Fishing, tourism, mangrove exports and farming provide the main economic livelihoods for the local communities on the island. Lamu District is located in Coast Province, one of those regions described as being the poorest in Kenya. Lamu Old Town being the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa retains many of its traditional functions. Built in coral stone and mangrove timber, the houses are simple in structure but with special features such as inner courtyards, verandas and elaborately carved wooden doors.

     

    Lamu Old town was listed as a World Heritage Site on 14th December 2001. Its inscription into the world heritage list was based on three criteria:- its architecture and urban structure that demonstrate the different cultural influences over several hundred years, its representation of the growth and decline of the seaports on the East African coast and interaction between the different peoples to represent asignificant cultural and economic phase in the history of the region, and its important trading role and attraction for scholars and teachers giving it unimportant religious function in the region Lamu has hosted major Muslim religious festivals since the 19th century, and has become significant centre for the study of Islamic and Swahili cultures. One of these annual festivals is Maulidi or Milad-un-Nabi celebrations to mark the birth of Prophet Muhammed and held during the third month of the Muslim calendar Rabil awal. The East African Maulidi is believed to have been started by Habib Swaleh Jamalely, an Arab fromthe Comoros who emigrated to Lamu and established himself as a scholar and doctor of traditional Arabic medicine (NMK, 2009).About 20,000 tourists come to the town to attend this festival, some from as far as the Comoros, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Attractions during thefestival include traditional Swahili dances from the neighbouring towns of Paté,Siyu, Ndau, Faza and Matondoni, traditional dhow races,

     

    Bao games, donkey races, henna painting and Islamic calligraphy competitions. The Lamu Cultural Festival is held later in the year during the month of August. This is a three-day Swahili cultural festival that combines traditional dances, indoor and outdoor cultural activities and an exhibition of Lamu's rich material culture. The Cultural Festival, just like the Maulidi before it, also draws large crowds of visitors. For such a small place, Lamu has a wide variety of attractions. There is the Lamu museum, the Lamu Fort, The German Post Office, 23 mosques and hundreds of carved doors to look at. One can also make a dhow trip to one of the neighboring islands to visit some of the archaeological sites where you can see the remains of towns that flourished in times past. You can get to Lamu by bus and ferry (eight hours from Mombasa, six and a half from Malindi), but the easiest way is to fly from Malindi, or straight from Nairobi, to the neiboring Manda island and take a boat across to Lamu itself Free of traffic and all the noise associated with it, Lamu has come to be known as the most relaxing destination on the Kenyan coast. Save for one Landover used by the District Commissioner, the main mode of transport on the island is the donkey. There are so many donkeys on this island, it even hosts one of the two donkey clinics in Kenya. Due to the very relaxing atmosphere, the heat and probably the food, there seems to be a lack of urgency on this island, and everything seems to move at a snail’s pace. Not much has changed here since the 1800s and this is possibly due to the fact that it is so disconnected from the mainland. There are two ways to get here- by bus from Malindi to Mukowe, or flyfrom Malindi to Manda Island. From either place only a boat ride will get you to the islanditself, because there is no road linking the island to the mainland. This boat trade employs alarge number of young men who would otherwise be idle. Lamu has a rich blend of African, Indian, Arab and Portuguese influences as can be seen in the rich cultural heritageof the island. This means there are lots of attractions ranging from the architecture, carveddoors, henna painting on women’s hands to the intricate designs on the men’s kofias. Onthe islands neighboring Lamu there is wildlife, as well as archaeological remains of severalother Swahili settlements. The most famous of these are ruins of the once prosperousTakwa settlement on Manda Island.The fact that Lamu still exists as a settlement is quite baffling in that so many other so-called urban settlements along the coast have come and gone and it is still a mystery whyonce flourishing towns were suddenly deserted and abandoned. Many theories have beenadvanced by archaeologists to explain the rise and fall of several Swahili towns, and theone that most people seem to agree with is the unavailability of fresh water (Kusimba(1999) Abungu (1996). Because Lamu has existed for about a thousand years, it is the only living monument that gives one a glimpse of what life was like on the now buried towns. Itis for this reason that a walk through the narrow streets of Lamu gives one a sense of living in the past, and it is this that makes Lamu such a perfect hideaway. It has recently become the place where the rich and famous buy property, such as Princess Caroline of Monacoand other Austrian Royal families.

     

    Sienna Miller, Sting and Ewan McGregor have been known to rent houses on the southern tip of the island at Kizingoni beach. Lamu may be the jewel of the northern coast, Access by other means is itself not easy, as the bus journey from Mombasa takes eight hours, while it is rather expensive to fly from Mombasa or Malindi. Considering that most visitors are budget tourists, this alone is a major concern, but once there, the accommodation and food is manageable. The road from Mombasa via Malindi is not in very good state, and due to other security concerns, only day buses are available. It is not clear if this road is considered a priority by the Kenya government, and this situation is not likely to change in the near future. There are plans to up grade Manda air strip, The increase in the number of tourists means there should be an increase in bed capacity and accommodation establishments. Many investors have realized there is an opportunity, and have began buying houses to convert to commercial premises. The high demand for housing by foreign investors (this includes all non-Waswahili or Lamu natives, especially upcountry peoples commonly known as watu wa bara ) has pushed up prices so much that most owners are convinced to sell, and it is getting more and more difficult for locals to acquire property within Lamu town. Foreigners will now buy individual houses that they occupy during their vacations, and rent out to their friends when they are away. The more prosperous ones buy land on other parts of the island(s) and build their own palaces. Thishas also created problems of its own, as some people have acquired land on areas that should be protected, such as around the sand dunes at Shela, where Lamu gets its freshwater supply. It is not difficult to imagine what will happen of Lamu runs out of freshwater, and it is easy to see the role that availability of fresh water plays. There is also the danger that the construction of new hotels along the beaches will spoil the very thing that makes Lamu beaches so magical- long stretches of private and very relaxing beaches. Since there is no room to spare within the old town, the other open spaces need to be carefully controlled so as not to compromise certain features that the town’s survival depends on Apart from the loss of fresh water supplies; Lamu is facing many other serious problems. The problem of drug use has been existence for many years now, but it is getting worse with the increasing numbers of jobless youths hanging around the town centre. Clearly, most of the money spent on drugs comes from tourism, and this can be seen in other towns that rely on tourism as their main source of income, such as Malindi and Mombasa. Since Old town was declared a heritage site, this problem has grown to worrying proportions, and now instead of using them in hiding, the youth can be seen openly using drugs in open public spaces such as the square in front of Lamu fort. Because Lamu is predominantly Muslim, the women are covered from head to toe with very little showing in between. Visitors are therefore requested to be careful about the way they dress. It is generally accepted that when walking around, shorts or skirts should belong enough to cover the knees and that shoulders should not be left bare.

     

    Never mind the heat, one soon gets used to walking around with clothes stuck to their bodies, but it is safety strip once you get to the beach. The natural heat is intensified by open air charcoal, stoves where you get roasted bits of meat on skewers, commonly known as mshikaki, anytime of the day. This is very convenient especially one needs food on the go, as there is no McDonalds or KFC outlets anywhere on the island. In other places men can be seen sitting around another stove drinking hot strong black coffee known as kahawa tungu strong coffee. Like they say, dawa ya moto ni moto , their version of using heat to beat the heat. For non-Muslims, the absence of alcohol was a small inconvenience, as until several years ago, the only establishment that served alcohol of any king was on neighboring Manda Island. Now some hotels at Shela stock alcohol, but of course most of their customer’s are white and non Muslim. Due to an increase in the number of civil servants serving on the island, there is now a civil servants club just down the beach from Lamu town, where they stock several kinds of beer. Islam prohibits followers of this faith to drink alcohol in any form, but it is an open secret that customers at the club are more than just upcountry people. But they just buy the beer and drink it elsewhere, usually in the dark corners and spots just about everywhere on the island. The bartender has been heard to remark that sales are slightly less in the month of Ramadan, hinting that most of the beer is actually drank by Muslims living on the island.

     

    Booking Lamu Private Houses and Cottages

     

    Welcome to Lamu Island Holidays, the ultimate destination for Lamu self-catering holiday homes. We have a fantastic range of many luxurious self catering holiday homes, self catering holiday cottages and self catering holiday apartments to Lamu Island, Our holiday homes are ideal for family breaks and are situated in excellent locations across Lamu. Our high standard accommodation delivers the ultimate in holiday home comfort. The high number of repeat visitors we have each year reflects this commitment to quality! Lamu Holidays brings you a superb collection of self catering accommodation. Choose from beach cottages, apartments, beach houses or holiday lodges. We offer the largest selection of the best self catering holiday homes, apartments, cottages and holiday parks located all over Lamu Island. Our properties are all of an extremely high standard & most are close to local amenities. We pride ourselves in knowing all our locations personally & our reservations agents can answer any question you may have regarding your self-catering villa rental accommodation in Lamu Island. All our latest Special Offers can be found by clicking on the Special Offers icon, this is updated on a very regular basis & features all our current bargains! With us, you can be assured of finding just the right accommodation in Lamu Island to suit your needs. If you are looking for an affordable family holiday accommodation, or up-market, luxury accommodation with all the mod cons your heart desires, worry-free accommodation bookings, we are just a phone call or an e-mail away. Browse through our selection of properties by clicking on “Holiday Homes”.

     

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