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Expert tip: This is one of the most popular yoga retreats offered in Kenya.
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 in the back of the village, 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.
The Tower is named after Fatuma Abu Bakar, 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 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.
Situated on the fringes of the Indian Ocean, the Lamu Archipelago is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where life still retains the pace of traditional Swahili culture. Life here revolves around the sea. Lamu was an established Arab trading port as long ago as the 10th century and fishing, trading and seafaring remains its principal activity to this day. Arabic architecture and rich inlaid door carvings hint at an affluent past and the waterfront streets of Lamu and Shella ring with the five daily calls to prayer.
Lamu island is an area of stunning natural beauty with warm ocean waters and pristine beaches of golden sand. At dusk walking in the narrow alleys of Shella you will see Swahili women dressed in traditional black buibuis. Male residents sit on their doorsteps and greet you while donkies, the traffic of Lamu, shove past silently plodding home. The wooden counters of small shops, lit with gas lamps, are colored with local garden produce. Groups of men gather around awaiting the last call to prayer from the mosque.
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 cocina. 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 among the greenery surrounding the sandy garden and dinner is taken under the stars.
You have some choices to consider. This unspoiled, free of cars, and culturally fascinating island offers a wide variety of activities, from fishing, snorkeling and sunset trips in the wooden dhows for which the coast is renowned, to windsurfing, scattered scuba diving and visits to the ancient town of Lamu, its museums and the ruins on neighboring islands.
Also the Turtle Trust at Peponi Hotel runs visits to turtle nest hatchings along the oceanfront. Just minutes away from the village of Shella the eight mile white sand beach backed by unspoiled sand dunes stuns everyone with its expanse of pristine glory and long may it remain so.
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.
Please book your flight to arrive at Manda Airport (LAU). Transfer from and to the airport is included. James will pick you up from the airport and show you to the boat and Fatuma's Tower will meet you when you land at the jetty in Shela.