All inclusive beach holidays in Lamu, Kenya
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    Fatuma Tower Guest House Lamu Island, Kenya, Africa & Lamu Yoga retreats, holiday

    Even in Shela, itself a tiny village of a hundred or so houses, Fatuma's Tower seems to draw in on itself and nestle in the lee of the dunes that form the backdrop to the village, rising above the relative bustle. It is not possible to wend through the streets of Shela at midday and then to enter the Yoga House as Fatuma’s is known to Shela residents, without feeling a tangible peace descend on you. It is no accident that Fatuma's Tower is rated as one of the Top 150 Best places on earth by Harpers & Queen. The main Tower can be rented either as a whole unit with 4 doubles and 2 singles or as two self contained apartments The penthouse apartment rises to dune height and offering tantalizing sneak previews of the channel has private access and can be booked separately from the remainder of the house.

     

    It consists of 2 double rooms both of which are en-suite and private areas to relax and enjoy the breeze perfect for two couples or a small family. All the houses and rooms are furnished with bags of style and more than a passing nod to Gillies' years in the antique trade. His eye for interesting pieces lends Fatuma's Tower a timeless quality without clutter, enhancing the air of tranquility that permeates the house. Room rates, self-catering rates B&B, Half Board and Full Board packages allow for yoga-like flexibility in planning your holiday package. Meals are usually taken communally around the long dining table, and breakfast, a palette of fresh fruit and squeezed juices, home made bread and eggs is served before the first yoga class or when you rise. Lunch and dinner bring more wholesome healthy delights of fresh seafood, pastas, salads and traditional Swahili recipes fused with Fiammetta’s Italian flair by Fatuma’s excellent chefs. Good food coupled with fascinating company makes mealtimes a delight. Whatever type of holiday you are looking for Gillies will accommodate you with great hospitality and charm. Fatuma’s wonderful location at the foot of the dunes embracing Shela village will afford you a shady retreat in the heat of the day just a few minutes walk from the beach either through the village or over the top to the sand-dollar strewn surf line beyond. Fatuma Tower is an enchanting beach retreat in a secluded position in Shela village on the Kenyan Island of Lamu with its tangle of narrow sandy lanes and lovely beach; it was renovated from the ruins of an 18th-century Arab house by English yoga teacher Gilles Turle, who has lived in Kenya for over 40 years. Fatuma's Tower is a yoga and meditation retreat house set some 3km north of Lamu Town on the island of Lamu. You don't have to be in to yoga to stay here but you should be prepared for a simpler life, no alcohol, excellent communal meals, lots of rest and relaxation and time for thinking and reflecting. More like staying as a guest in someone's house than a hotel, the entrance gates welcome you to a secluded, peaceful world tucked away against the sand dunes at the back of Shela Village.

     

    The deep green foliage of flowering trees speckles shade over the raked sandy pathways and the tropical birds give colour and life to this peaceful haven and lush tropical environment. As you enter the Fatuma Tower premises, the bustling sounds of the village fade away to nothing but the calm sea breeze and gentle fountain cascading in the surrounding gardens. Fatuma's Tower is more than a guest house; it's a hidden corner of the world where you can find time for yourself. Gillies and Fiammetta welcome you personally to their home. With twelve attentive staff that’ll be glad to make you feel totally at home, The Tower is named after a Swahili noblewoman who lived in this sanctuary attended by five female slaves until the end of the 19th century. After her death and the abolition of slavery the house fell into ruins and the magnificent tamarind tree growing in the courtyard established itself in the ruins of the fallen masonry. Carefully restored by Gillies and Fiammetta who have been living in Kenya for many years and moved to Shela in 1998 where they set about carefully restoring the ruins of Fatuma's Tower. When they arrived in Shela, the Tower had been abandoned for almost 100 years. Gillies’ lifelong work with antiques led to a detailed restoration of the building, successfully retaining the original feel of this historic house. Now used as a yoga retreat / boutique hotel, Gillies and Fiammetta live on the first floor of the Sand castle and welcome you personally to their home. Also a qualified yoga teacher Gillies teaches daily yoga classes both for visitors and the local community. The twelve staff that are all from coastal Kenya have been working at Fatuma's Tower for many years and take pride in making you feel you are now in their home. They can also reliably tell you ‘who’s who’ in Shella. The delicious meals here are a mixture of a light combination of Italian and Swahili cooking, during your stay you'll enjoy an abundance of sweet tropical fruits, farm-fresh produce and home-cooked Italian, seafood and vegetarian dishes served in our spacious antique gardens. Our cooks are at your disposal for the duration of your stay, which makes food both affordable and delicious! For all meals, great care is taken by our cooks to purchase the freshest local ingredients and produce their excellent combinations of Swahili and Italian cucina. Everything is fresh from the ocean; fish and seafood are their specialty. You can take your meals in the shady courtyard dining area or on your terrace. At night lanterns are placed amongst the greenery surrounding the sandy garden and dinner is taken under the stars. The beach here is eight miles of soft white sand, called crowded by the locals if more than eight people are visible! Besides yoga and relaxation, you can sail, dive, fish and visit neighboring islands. We will help choose your boat captain and suggest where to go and what to do including looking for dolphins and visiting some of the other islands. The Peponi Hotel bar, not far from us, is where you'll get the news and find out who's in town. In the surrounding gardens, the Garden Cottage has two double rooms both with bathrooms.

     

    The ten double rooms are all furnished with local antiques and fabrics in a simple yet elegant style to recreate the atmosphere of a fine Swahili house. No two rooms are the same and the cool, airy spaces retain an informal feel while several shaded balconies provide comfortable areas for avoiding too much sun and generally enjoying the peace and fresh air. The peaceful gardens have been recently enlivened” by the refreshing sound of a fountain splashing over coral rocks into a small plunge pool. All rooms have solar powered hot water, fans and mosquito nets. Tucked away in the shade, the Garden Cottage combines simple living areas with quirky and imaginative architecture. The Cottage sleeps four in two double ensuite bedrooms, one up (Bamboo Room), one down (Heron Suite). The ground floor has its own kitchen, dining and living areas. External wooden steps lead to the first floor thatched bedroom. Here a terrace with an open sundeck and shaded pergola area catches the breeze and has a pleasant green vista. The Cottage can be taken altogether or as separate rooms. We have a therapy room in the gardens for massage and other treatments. Two sisters who live in the village give excellent body massages, pedicures, manicures and are trained in reflexology and other therapies. Appointments can also be arranged with several visiting therapists.

     

    Fatuma Tower is a place for retreating in all good senses of the word, Fatuma’s Tower is primarily a holiday destination for touring yoga teachers and their travel groups, this is also the inviting home of two very dedicated yogis who offer their own evening classes. These are taught by Gillies and his colleague Morris to all who are here, whether part of a booked retreat or not. It’s a little like being in the home of a yoga-loving relative, if that relative lived on an island that is among the most beautiful of the world’s tranquil and far-flung spots. Gillies took the Teacher’s Training course during one of his many trips to India and his quarter-century of yoga practice has brought him into contact with a myriad of teachers before and since. His colleague Morris shares the teaching of the in-house classes as well as freelancing by giving private lessons, and he is described by Gillies as being “a natural yogi who began practicing with me and was taken by one of our guests to an Ashtanga Teacher Training course in South Africa.” Despite the depth of all that training and experience, Gillie’s self-deprecating humor ensures that his guests’ focus is on the yoga rather than his teaching. “Huff and puff” is how he describes his sessions - a no-frills way of reminding us that yoga is all about the breath. Group bookings at Fatuma’s Tower are an erratic affair, Most of the retreat’s business comes from the UK, and if such a warning is put out (when the weather gets heavy or there is unrest in neighboring Somalia) then travel insurance is effectively negated. No insurance means no travelers, certainly not in groups tours, and so the exquisite peace and beauty of Fatuma’s Tower may lie fallow for months at a time. This is a crying shame for the UK’s yoga travelers, especially in light of the fact that this area is now the safest it has ever been. Such deterrents to UK groups are a boon for solo travelers though. It’s times like these that Fatuma Tower Shela village has vacant rooms, and as the property’s entire accommodation consists of just ten double rooms (the room numbers are kept deliberately low to avoid losing the intimacy of this tropical paradise), this situation is not a common occurrence. The double rooms within Fatuma’s Tower are a delicate balance between luxury and authenticity in keeping with the island’s culture and environment. Furnished with all the necessities like fans, solar hot water, mosquito nets and ensuite bathrooms - and some comfortable extras like banks for lounging - they are nonetheless a far cry from the mass produced identical rooms of your average beach hotel. Each has its own character and while some are sized perfectly for two, others are more like apartments and are ideal for groups and families on family holidays. Accommodations are dotted around the property: some are in the original Fatuma’s Tower - named for the Swahili woman who lived here more than a century ago - some are in the Sand Castle and still others are in the Garden Cottage. Families are welcome here, and there’s nothing like open airy spaces, beach access, and a relaxed atmosphere to have a ‘gearing down’ effect on children as they ease back into their natural rhythm, far from school bells and alarm clocks. Fatuma Tower Lamu Island is tucked between vegetation-covered sand dunes and a high coral wall.

     

    Over that wall is Shela village, from which the Turles and their guests can smell the fragrant dishes being cooked, and hear the celebrations of weddings as well as the eerily beautiful call to prayer fives times a day. The local shops are wooden-countered affairs, lit with paraffin lamps at night, and nothing here is plastic-wrapped. Homegrown fruit and vegetables and freshly caught fish are popular items, with produce being brought in by donkey from the Lamu market. Donkey is the primary mode of transport on land here, with boat making up the water-transport quotient. In the true yogic spirit, this requires an understanding of the natural environment. Waiting for the tide is far removed from our normal daily habit of tapping our foot impatiently while we wait for a delayed train. Similarly, anyone who has dealt with donkeys knows that while they are mostly reliable, there comes a time when they simply refuse to move until they are good and ready. A common sentiment from guests here is that have “finally caught up with themselves.” And that, Gillies says, “is the best result we can have from a guest at Fatuma’s Tower.” Little wonder that so many return here. Those not into yoga are also made welcome; this is the kind of place where you could come for a few nights and end up staying for weeks.

     

    Fatuma Towers Guest House Accommodation

     

    Carefully restored and modified in 1998 the historic Tower has five double bedrooms and a large yoga hall. Included behind the same compound wall is the Sand Castle with its ground floor family apartment of three double rooms. In the surrounding gardens, the Garden Cottage has two double rooms both with bathrooms. The ten double rooms are all furnished with local antiques and fabrics in a simple yet elegant style to recreate the atmosphere of a fine Swahili house. No two rooms are the same and the cool, airy spaces retain an informal feel while several shaded balconies provide comfortable areas for avoiding too much sun and generally enjoying the peace and fresh air. The peaceful gardens have been recently “enlivened” by the refreshing sound of a fountain splashing over coral rocks into a small plunge pool. All rooms have solar powered hot water, fans and mosquito nets. The main Tower can be rented either as a whole unit with 4 doubles and 2 singles or as two self contained apartments The penthouse apartment rises to dune height and offering tantalizing sneak previews of the channel has private access and can be booked separately from the remainder of the house. It consists of 2 double rooms both of which are en-suite and private areas to relax and enjoy the breeze……perfect for two couples or a small family. The second part of the Tower consists of the first floor Balcony Room a double en suite with an extra single bed and on the ground floor the Garden Room with a double bed, single bed and an en-suite bathroom and having access directly to the main garden area. Also on this floor are 2 smaller single rooms which share a bathroom. The lower apartment can therefore sleep up to six adults plus a couple of kids quite comfortably making it ideal for a larger family or group of friends. Leading from the first floor of the Tower are two large open plan rooms, one the Yoga Hall and the second a reading room, lined with interesting books and comfortably furnished in the traditional manner. Below this is an elegant dining room opening onto a courtyard beneath the sheltering boughs of a lovely tamarind tree. Meals are often taken in the garden, another place to inspire contemplation or simply read yourself to sleep in the dappled shade.

     

     

    Fatuma Towers Guest House Meals

     

    We bring you to the jetty of the sleepy fishing village of Shella on the island of Lamu in an old slow wooden boat. Tucked away against the sand dunes, you reach the entrance gates to Fatuma’s Tower and passing through them enter a secluded, peaceful world. The deep green foliage of flowering trees speckles shade over the raked sandy pathways and there are many tropical birds whose songs you will hear at dawn. A light sea breeze carries in a salty scent off the Indian Ocean as the sounds of the village fade away. More than a guest house they refer to it as their house for guests - a hidden corner of the world where you can find time for yourself. During your stay you'll enjoy an abundance of sweet tropical fruits, farm-fresh produce and home-cooked italian, seafood and vegetarian dishes served in our spacious antique gardens. Our cooks are at your disposal for the duration of your stay which makes self-catering both affordable and delicious, for all meals, great care is taken by Fatuma's Tower cooks to purchase the freshest local ingredients and produce their excellent combinations of Swahili and Italian cucina. Everything is fresh from the ocean; fish and seafood are their specialty. You can take your meals in the shady courtyard dining area or on your terrace. At night lanterns are placed amongst the greenery surrounding the sandy garden and dinner is taken under the stars. Treat the kitchen as if you were at home! Fatuma's Tower kitchen staffs are fully trained and buy kitchen provisions on your account. A list of suggested menu items is provided, or just leaves it to the cook.

     

     

    Fatuma Towers Self catering Option

     

    Treat the kitchen as if you were at home! Our kitchen staff are fully trained and buys kitchen provisions on your account. A list of suggested menus is provided, or just leaves it to the cook. Your cook will keep a book of all kitchen purchases made on your behalf and will ask you for funds periodically. He/she will produce at the times you request and left to him/her will make a variety of exellent meals without any further supervision. If you want some suggestions, these are favorite dishes all done beautifully at Fatuma's Tower: Breakfast: Fruits, fresh juices, eggs, pancakes, fish cakes, tea, coffee. Lunch: Pizza's, potato salad, mixed & green salads, hot and cold soups, gazpacho, onion, avocado, tomato, vegetable, etc.), fish. Dinner: Many different fish (whole, grilled, fried, fillet): crabs, prawns, calamari (squid) - curries (prawn, fish, vegetable), beans, dhal, lentils, etc... Pasta forno, and short of long pastas with sauces. Cauliflower cheese, cheese souffle, roasted potatoes and vegetable. Puddings: fruit crumble, fruit fritters, fruit salad, creme caramel, tarts, flans, cakes, birthday cakes. Fatuma's Tower makes their own bread, they brew a delicious lemon and ginger tea from the garden, and purchase local honey. The fruit and vegetables are bought in the local shops and sea food is served fresh everyday. Oysters are available at low tides and lobster are still being caught but are mostly immature.

     

     

    How to get there

     

    You need a flight to Nairobi or Mombassa and an onward flight to Lamu Island. If you cannot get an overnight flight to Nairobi to link up with midday flight to Lamu then a pleasant medium range hotel for an overnight stay in Nairobi can be arranged, we advice to is to get an overnight flight if coming from Europe, which will link you up with a midday flight to Lamu. It is better to book the tickets with one airline all the way through. Fly540 connects best with all flights from Europe on-going to Lamu. From London, Kenya Airways who are partners with KLM, fly direct and are from experience reliable. Virgin also fly there too. Air Kenya and Safari link, which both operate from Wilson Airport, don't leave until 3.15pm in the afternoon which is too long to hang around after an all night flight. So best to use Fly540 from Nairobi to Lamu. Nairobi to Lamu Flights: there are two daily flights from Nairobi International Airport to Lamu. Kenya Airways: Fly 540: we can arrange for you to be met at the Lamu Island airstrip, (or, if you are arriving by bus/ferry, at the port) and transferred to Fatumas Tower. Be certain Free spirit Travel ahs your flight details so they can arrange this for you, Flights to Lamu island, transfers (minimal), treatments and massages, yoga classes and meals other than those pre-booked.

     

    Yoga Hall

     

    Come join us on the secluded island of Lamu for an unforgettable retreat, Yoga is an effective method of yoga practice, which is designed to restore the body to a radiant state of health and awaken insight into the true nature of reality. The Ashtanga practice includes postures as well as vinyasa (specific movements initiated by the breath, linking the postures,). The practice develops heat in the body, which purifies the muscles, organs and nadies (the energy channels underlying the physical form). Through a continuous refinement and deepening awareness of the breath, the mind is returned to a balanced, meditative state. The retreat will take place at the majestic Fatuma Fatuma's Tower offers daily afternoon practice at 5pm all year round with Gillies and Morris. Private Sessions can also be arranged. The cost for one hour of yoga is €10 for visitors and €5 for guests. On the first floor, this lovely room has notable slitted windows to prevent direct sunlight creating contrasting shafts of light and shadow on the floor. The tangible feeling of peace in this room greatly encourages the practice of yoga and the warm/hot climate makes stretching noticeably easier. The hall takes 15 mats. We specifically encourage Overseas Yoga Teachers to bring their own groups, remembering that we have a total of ten double rooms and one for the teacher. More information about the Fatuma's Tower, location, therapies, and other yoga retreats can be read on organizer website. You can also ask your questions directly to Fatuma's Tower who would be glad to assist you. Simply click on the Contact Organizer button to send a message. Perfect for a summer getaway. The best time to go is between July and September, out of the rainy season and before peak season when prices rocket around Christmas.

     

    Lamu Island Information

     

    Despite boasting a coastline that stretches for 26,000km and, in most parts, reliably balmy temperatures, Africa isn’t known for beach breaks. With the honorable exceptions of Zanzibar and the Red Sea, the continent is regarded as a safari-only type place: a big mistake when beaches as beautiful as those found on the Kenyan island of Lamu are factored in. Taking a beach holiday is one of the best things a person can do for themselves. This gives one a chance to relax and rejuvenate always from life’s daily hassles. With the increase of personal health issues ad disease, there is a increase growth in spa treatment hotels and also yoga retreats where one can rest and exercise their way back to good health. In Kenya, there are hotels that specializes in yoga holidays is the beautiful and secluded island of Lamu. Lamu has the best and most beautiful warm beaches, in Kenya, and is one of the best places to go on a beach holiday while visiting Kenya’s coast. With its rich culture, tasty food and lovely accommodation options of all types, Lamu Island is a part of the Lamu Archipelago of Kenya. Lamu Old Town, the principal inhabited part of the island, is one of the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlements in East Africa. Built in coral stone and mangrove timber, the town is characterized by the simplicity of structural forms enriched by such features as inner courtyards, verandas, and elaborately carved wooden doors. 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. The island is linked by boat to Mokowe on the mainland and to Manda Island, where there is an airport. There are no roads on the island, just alleyways and footpaths, and therefore, there are few motorized vehicles on the island. Residents move about on foot or by boat, and donkeys are used to transport goods and materials. A port was founded on the island of Lamu by Arab traders at least as early as the fourteenth century, when the Pwani Mosque was built.

     

    The island prospered on the slave trade. After defeating Pate Island in the nineteenth century, the island became a local power, but it declined after the British forced the closure of the slave markets in 1873. In 1890 the island became part of Zanzibar and remained obscure until Kenya was granted independence from Great Britain in 1963. Tourism developed from the 1970s, mainly around the eighteenth century Swahili architecture and traditional culture. Lamu Old Town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001 based on 3 criteria: The architecture and urban structure of Lamu graphically demonstrate the cultural influences that have come together there over several hundred years from Europe, Arabia, and India, utilizing traditional Swahili techniques to produce a distinct culture. The growth and decline of the seaports on the East African coast and interaction between the Bantu, Arabs, Persians, Indians, and Europeans represents a significant cultural and economic phase in the history of the region which finds its most outstanding expression in Lamu Old Town. Its paramount trading role and its attraction for scholars and teachers gave Lamu an important religious function in the region, which it maintains to this day. Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia have launched a controversial development project to build a port, oil refinery and rail network near the island of Lamu. In addition to Lamu Town, there are three villages on Lamu Island:

     

    Lamu Yoga Holidays

     

    Close your eyes and imagine an idyllic Lamu beach vacation. Perhaps your mind’s eye sees a grand, old-fashioned inn set alone on an endless stretch of pristine sand.

     

    Welcome to the sun-blessed island of Lamu Island. Be inspired as you drink in the views from the epic sand dunes rolling down into the turquoise ocean, to the breathtaking white-sand beaches and the dramatic volcano sunsets. Take a walk along the sand, feel the warm breeze and sun on your skin – let nature revive your spirit. If you are looking for a yoga retreat in Lamu, here you will find an idyllic retreat experience with an exotic twist – Swahili food and culture with an African climate and beaches that look Caribbean. All just a short flight from Europe. It’s the perfect haven for your wellbeing journey. More than just a beach holiday, we are here to support you in your wellbeing journey, making you feel at home and supported to be the person you really want to be. Everyone has different needs, goals and passions, that’s why we have more than one location and an exceptionally diverse team who are dedicated to awakening the spark present in you. Whether you are interested in beach yoga vacation or beach retreat, a meditation or surf holiday, or a combination of enriching experiences, we will meet you with a smile and a dedication to helping you enjoy the ultimate wellbeing holiday. Lamu Island offers an amazing beach holidays experience. It is a unique combination of one of the world’s most beautiful islands, an all inclusive resort that provides a truly luxurious and personal service, a Wellness Centre that provides a range of treatments that will leave you feeling alive and a range of activities that could keep you busy from dawn until dusk. On top of this we cater for every taste in food and drink with three great restaurants and relaxing bars it is an experience that allows you to be as busy or as quiet as you want. It’s your holiday to Lamu; choose whatever you want to do. Yoga holidays in Lamu are a relaxing and healthy way to enjoy your beach vacation.

     

    And the Lamu Island wonderful climate and cooling winds provide ideal conditions for yoga classes and yoga exercises on the beach. Especially in the cooler hours of the day, while enjoying a beautiful sunrise or sunset, it is wonderful to do your Yoga exercises. Yoga is given in Lamu on the beach and other outdoor locations, sometimes followed by a relaxing walk on the beach. But there are also several yoga studios that offer yoga classes indoors with air conditioning. If you're yearning for a week of sand, sun, surf and blissful yoga taught by top-notch teachers, then it's hard to go past Lamu Island Fatuma Towers. This indulgent retreat has spread its wings as a world-class vacation destination at unbeatable value-for-money. Purist yogis will be pleased with the high standard of teachers, amateur surfers will be pleased with both the surf conditions and the instructors, and anyone who is partial to a beach vacation will be pleased as soon as they step out into the warm air.

     

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