All inclusive beach holidays in Lamu, Kenya
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    Champali Camp, Kiwayu Island, Lamu Island, Kenya Africa

    Champali Camp is a beautiful eco-friendly Bush home on Kiwaiyu Island, in the heart of the Kiunga Marine National Reserve in northern Kenya. Situated on a tranquil mangrove creek Champali Camp offers a magical escape into one of the most pristine and little known corners of the East African coast. The Champali Camp is built from mangrove poles and palm-thatch using local skills wherever possible, and consists of one spacious mess-banda and three large bedroom bandas all nestled under acacia trees overlooking the creek and the mangroves beyond. It comfortably sleeps 6 adults and 4 children. Champali Camp is truly a luxury add-on to your stay in Lamu or as a magical escape from the 21st Century considers a trip to Champali Camp in the Kiwaiyu Archipelago north of Lamu. Robinson Crusoe never had it so good! Established with the permission of Kenya Wildlife Service and the local community in 1998, Champali Camp originated as a rustic base-tented camp for wildlife and ethnological film-makers Etienne Oliff and Lucy Bateman. Filming complete, the camp has been re-built to offer a higher level of comfort, and is today run and managed by Kiwaiyu community members. The Kiunga Marine National Reserve (KMNR) is situated on the northern limit of the Kenyan coast and incorporates 22 miles of pristine coastline, 51 islands and a total area of 2000km square. The waters and islands within its boundaries were gazetted in 1979 to primarily safeguard the nesting colonies of marine birds, the highly endangered Dugong and turtle nesting beaches. In 1980 the KMNR and the adjoining Boni and Dodori National Reserves were together designated as a United Nations Man and Biosphere Reserve, in recognition of rare ecological and cultural diversity. Today the Kiunga Marine Reserve stands as the last vestige of the disappearing wilderness of the East African coast. Not only unique for its ecological diversity, it also incorporates the ancestral land of the Bajun people of the Swahili Coast whose vibrant culture is deeply engrained in the area. Bordered to the east by wild mainland Africa and to the west by the rich Indian Ocean, it is an ecological jigsaw; a mosaic of tropical marine life, tidal creeks, flourishing mangrove forests, sand dunes, coral atolls and pristine beaches.


    The Champali Camp Lamu ethos is one committed to community-driven conservation of the Kiunga Marine Reserve and to the support of Kenya Wildlife Service, WWF, KIBODO Trust and the Kiwaiyu Island Welfare Association (KIWA). 15% of every Champali guest's payment goes directly to latter two of these community groups to support their projects which struggle for funding. The three bedroom bandas each have a wonderful view across the water and mangroves beyond, with plenty of space to sit and take it all in. Two of the rooms can easily sleep two children, and the bed configuration can be altered to suit your needs. Each has a dressing room area, and a practical bucket-shower with a long-drop toilet. The main mess is spacious, comfortable and friendly with a fully furnished kitchen with gas stove & oven, fridge and drinks cooler. There are ceiling fans for the hot mid-days, but in the evening nothing beats sitting under the fantastic starry skies, or eating out on the beach with a fire. Water on the island comes by donkey from one central well, a long walk away, so guests are asked to use water sparingly - though not at the cost of comfort! The camp is powered completely by wind and solar power, so providing light in all rooms, with sockets for stereos or charging in main mess and two of the bedrooms.


    The camp is self-catering, but well staffed with a good local cook. There are no hosts, so you are invited to treat the place as your own with the help and guidance of the Champali team. Getting to the remote Kiunga Marine Reserve is quite a safari …hence its allure. We recommend travelling via LAMU, which not only has its own attractions, but also means you can pick up your supplies there is basically no shopping in Kiwaiyu, so you will need to get the majority of your supplies in Lamu on your way up. Or we can help you arrange to pre-order your supplies from a shop in Lamu and have these ready to take up with you when you get there. There are daily flights with Kenya Airways, Air Kenya, Fly 540 or Safarilink. These flights, and places to stay in Lamu or Shela, can all be booked. Whilst there are a number of ways to make the trip, for reasons of simplicity and economy, we recommend and can assist in arranging the following options: If you are five adults or more you should, in true Swahili style, come up by Dhow, together with your luggage, and supplies. Comfortable and reliable dhows with engine & sail, providing shade, cushions and refreshments can be arranged and the voyage northwards to Kiwaiyu through the archipelago takes about 5 hours. As most commercial flights arrive in Lamu in the afternoon, we recommend that the first night is spent in Lamu or Shela, permitting enough time the next day to buy supplies and enjoy a leisurely trip northwards to Kiwaiyu, arriving mid-late afternoon.


    At the end of your stay, the dhow can return to collect you, or you could return by speed-boat, which, without supplies, can take up to 6 adults and 4 children plus personal luggage. If you are less than five adults you could if preferred, travel with all your luggage and supplies in a speed-boat, which takes about 1.5 hours. ‘Flopsam’- the camp’s 25 ft speed-boat can be chartered to collect you from Lamu or the airstrip. For those of you wishing to fly in by private aircraft, there is a small, un-registered bush strip on the island, right next to the Chapali Camp Lamu, which can be tricky depending on winds and not suitable for anything bigger than a Cessna 210. Be sure to let us know ahead of time, and buzz a couple of times to make sure all is clear of wildlife and children. Depending on your interests, you need to bring beach toys, snorkelling gear, fishing gear, surfboards, boogie boards, windsurfers, kites etc. No First Aid is available in camp, so this is an essential item for you to assemble and bring. Emergency evacuation: Given the remoteness of Kiwaiyu, you would also be advised to get Flying Doctor’s emergency evacuation membership) or your own Medevac Insurance, as there is no adequate medical facility nearby. Faza, on Pate Island, and Lamu are the nearest hospitals, and very basic. There is Safaricom mobile reception on Kiwaiyu. Purchasing a Safaricom broadband dongle at the airport in Nairobi on arrival will allow you internet access and email if you take your own laptop. Radio link to other camps in the archipelago is available in camp. Champali camp Kenya is ideally situated to explore the mangrove creeks, the many sandy beaches and the greater Marine Reserve beyond. From simply spending days reading in the shade of the trees, to adventuring in unchartered territory, there is something for everyone, children and adults alike.


    The 5 mile long ‘Big Beach’ on the eastern side of the island is fantastic for kite flying, long walks, and early morning sunrise yoga …whilst the small beach in-front of the camp from mid-tide onwards is your very own pool of contentment. Snorkelling is fantastic from Nov-March, on both sides of the island. The Champali team can show you when and where is best. There are two kayaks available; ideal vessels to quietly explore the mangrove creeks, do a little fishing from, or even to brave out in the open waters. Endless fun for kids too. For windsurfers, kite-surfers and sailors, enthusiasts have both creek and ocean to choose from with fantastic conditions and reliable wind. Bring your own gear! A well-powered 25ft boat, ‘Flopsam’, complete with life-jackets, 2 snorkelling sets and a knowledgeable captain is available for hire and is perfect for family explorations - day trips and picnics to other islands, bays or mangrove channels, as well for snorkelling, creek fishing and…. Sun-downer


    Kiunga Marine National Reserve


    Kiunga Marine National Reserve is a reserve located at the northern part of the coast and covers an area of 250 km2 and is adjacent to Dodori National Reserve and Boni National Reserves on the mainland. In addition to the reefs, and the coast, the reserve has 50 calcareous islands. These off-shore islands provide important nesting colonies of migratory sea birds. The reserve is also a refuge for sea turtles and dugongs. Marine parks and reserves, the white sandy beaches, historical monuments, contemporary culture and the warm climate give the Kenya Coast a unique tourist product. Almost 47% of Kenya's tourism occurs here. Nationally about 52% of the total hotel beds are at the coast, and 95% of the visitors to Kenya use the coast as a base for inland Kenya safaris. The marine and coastal environments include Indian Ocean territorial waters and the immediate hinterland areas that border the ocean. Another feature of the coastline is the fringing coral reef which runs between 0.5 km and 2 km off-shore with occasional gaps at the mouths of rivers and the isolated areas facing the creeks. The shoreline is dominated in most areas by beaches, cliffs or mangrove forests.


    The coral-reef system and mangrove swamps serve the most important ecological role and the former is a major tourist attraction next to the sun, sea and sand. Marine parks are fully protected. In marine reserves specified traditional methods of fishing are allowed under controlled conditions, but commercial methods of fishing are prohibited. The reserves are buffer zones between parks and the unprotected surrounding waters. In the far northern part of the Kenyan coast, stretching from Boteler Islands to 20 km north of Kiunga, this marine national reserve, opened in 1979, has a reputation for having some of the best coral reefs interspersed with limestone islands in Kenya, but it suffers from being impossibly remote. It is 250 sq km from the northeast coastal border of mainland Kenya to the Pate Island.


    The park has a chain of about 50 calcareous offshore islands and coral reefs running for some 60 km parallel to the coastline off the northern most coast of Kenya and adjacent to Dodori and Boni National Reserves on the mainland. Composed of old, eroded coral, the islands mainly lie inland around 2 km offshore and inshore of the fringing reef. They vary in size from a few hundred square metres to 100 ha or more. Leatherback turtles, dugongs and nesting migratory sea birds are to be found here. Dugongs resemble large sea lions and have been almost hunted to extinction, making them one of the rarest sea mammals. They give birth to live pups that suckle on teats situated high on the female's chest wall. They are believed to be the origin of sailor's mermaid sightings as it was thought that they had 'breasts'. The coastal area is made up of scrubland and mangroves surrounded by microscopic marine plants and dugong grass. The coral here is extensive. As you would expect, there is a good variety of marine birds with colonies of various gulls and terns. Kiwayu Island is located on the far northeast of the Lamu Archipelago and is part of the reserve. The Island itself is 19 km long and roughly 1.5 km wide. There are lots of caves and coves to explore, and there two villages on the island,


    Lamu Island Information


    For thousands of years, merchants from India, the Eastern Mediterranean, Arabia and the Persian Gulf set up trading posts along the East African Coast, shipping gold, animal skins, elephant tusks, rhino horn, ambergris, fruits, salt and human cargoes of slaves and concubines. Payment was usually made in the form of bartering cotton cloth, silks, axes, knives, wheat, rice, and glass. Fine porcelain from China was also exchanged.


    These merchant traders eventually began to settle along the coastal strip and widespread intermarriage took place with the African inhabitants who had created the original coastal settlements. The people of the coastal strip became known as the Swahili People, because although they lacked a common heritage, a Bantu based language known as Kiswahili evolved as the means of communication between people of African, Arab, Persian, Portuguese and English origin, who at various times colonised the East African coast. Swahili is derived from the word sahils-awahils, the Arabic word for edge or coast. Over time powerful dynasties evolved and became established along the coast from Lamu Island to Zanzibar. The Great Omani Dynasty and the Mazrui Clan were particularly prominent and played a major part in the formation of the Swahili culture The oldest known settlement on the Kenyan coast is at Shanga on Pate Island dates back to the 9th Century. By the 13th Century the Nabhani, a dispossessed group of Omani rulers had laid claim to Pate and were trading with Persia and visitors from even further afield. The presence of Chinese artifacts from wrecked exploration vessels and the occurrence of such oddities as noodle making presses in the Swahili culture puts the Chinese in the archipelago as early as the mid 1400's.


    In 1505 the King of Lamu agreed to pay the Portuguese for protection from the Nabhani and for the next 180 years the island was under Portuguese control until they were themselves driven out by the Omanis. Lamu then became a republic ruled over by an installed 'yumbe' council of elders. For the next 150 years, the island prospered in all respects, creating its own architectural style. The town is famous for its amazing architecture and stone houses with exquisite carved lintels and doors that still stand to this day, keeping the original town plan intact. Lamu became the leading centre for trade on the East African Coast, with a busy port, exporting ivory, tortoise, shell timber, mangrove logs and thousands of slaves, who were transported to the Persian Gulf and Arabia, as well as to countries in Europe and India. Lamu Fort was built for the Omanis in about 1812 but not completed until 1821. From 1910 until 1984, it was used as a prison. Such was the success of the rulers that they even defeated the ruler of the neighbouring island of Pate at the Battle of Shela in 1812, when he tried to take Lamu Island with help from the Mazrui family in Mombasa. The victory was short lived because the yumbe panicked and requested help from Seyyid Said, the Sultan of Oman who happily sent a garrison to occupy Lamu, then go on to defeat the Mazrui clan in Mombasa and take control of the East African Coast, moving his headquarters from Oman to Zanzibar. In 1873, the British forced Sultan Barghash of Zanzibar to close down all the slave markets and with the abolition of slavery, Lamu's economy went into decline. It only began to recover in the early 1960's when the gentler invasion of tourism first came to the island. Every year in November, to mark the birth of Muhammad, Lamu celebrates with a week long Festival that draws in pilgrims from all over East Africa and the Indian Ocean and where the entire town is involved in processions and dances. There is another major religious festival in the Swahili year called Maulidi which has been celebrated in Lamu since 1866.


    Besides the religious aspects of the celebration it is notable for traditional dance and music as well as the more contemporary carnival activities (Dhow and donkey races, competitions etc.) From a tourist perspective, a walk around Lamu Town is a truly memorable experience. There are so many traditional Swahili homes to be seen and over recent years there has been a massive revival in Lamu woodcarving. The town has a couple of the most interesting small museums in Kenya with a well documented nautical section. Lamu is also famous for its citrus and tropical fruit farms that produce the sweet juicy grapefruit and the giant aromatic mango. A rebuilt produce market in front of the fort has a huge array of fresh fruit, fish and shellfish. There is also a crab and lobster market close by. Lamu Town was designated a World Heritage Site in 2001 by UNESCO based on several criteria including architecture and multicultural Swahili pedigree of Indian, Arab, Chinese and European influences. Lamu Old Town is the oldest surviving Swahili settlement in East Africa.


    Champali Camp Booking Information


    If you love the Lamu beach during the day, why not try beach camping overnight? Lamu Island incredible beach offers luxury beachfront tented camps, ranging from primitive tent camps to hotel-quality cabins and sites. Follow this handy guide for the best beach camping, what could be better than spending the day at your favorite Lamu island tented camp? Spending the night, perhaps? Have you ever been lying out on your beach blanket watching the sun set and the first stars come out, and dreamed about spending the night right there on the beach? Abandon thoughts of damp canvas, cold nights and cramped spaces. Think king-size fig wood beds, soft cushions and wool rugs. Crisp white linen, en suite bathrooms and delicious, freshly cooked suppers served on an open-air candlelit table amidst beautiful scenery. This is a beach tented camp as you have never known it.


    We've selected many amazing Lamu tented camps, from wonderfully luxurious safari camps to canvas retreats by the ocean. You'll fall asleep close to the stars and a footstep from nature. After a Kenya safari filled with adventure and excitement, the island of Lamu off Africa's coast offer the perfect place to relax and reflect on a beach holiday.


    What better way to round off an incredible safari to Kenya adventure than with some relaxation on one of Africa's stunning white sand beaches? A safari and beach combination works extremely well as a honeymoon. If there was ever a good time to brush up on your Swahili, it's now. Jet off on a luxury getaway to East Africa, split between a three-night safari break in Kenya and a dream four-night beach holiday on the exotic island of Lamu. On arrival in Nairobi, you'll be driven to Kenya only coastal wildlife park which combines deserted beaches with a spectacular wildlife park. These stylish lodgings take glamping to a new level with rustic, chic tented accommodation on elevated wooden platforms made from local materials in keeping with the natural surroundings making it ultra-exclusive, yet close to nature. Gaze out at the Indian Ocean from your veranda and take a closer look at the big five on a game drive or witness the waterside wonders on a boat safari.


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