Peponi Hotel

“Dreamy and intimate beach side hotel on historic Lamu Island”
Budget level: Mid-Range
When to Go
Closed in May and June
Property Type
Kenyan Coast

Peponi Hotel is run by the Korschen family who stumbled upon the old building by chance in the 1960’s. The story begins on the family’s final holiday in Malindi, Aage and Wera Korschen had been farmers in upcountry Kenya until their land was acquired during independence. As Kenya had become home for them and their three children, Lars, Hanne and Nils, they tried to find a suitable replacement career. However after a few years and not much luck they solemnly come to the conclusion it was time to travel back to Denmark and continue their life there. During these last days Aage decided that, before leaving, he must visit a part of the coast he had always been drawn to, the Lamu Archipelago.

Early in 1966 the couple took a short flight up the coast for a day on Lamu Island ending in the small fishing village, Shella, where they happened upon an abandoned Arab style house, perched solitarily like the prow of a ship at the beginning of the long-secluded beach leading to the Indian Ocean. Within 10 days of seeing this building the young family had the keys and moved to the island to start a hotel and in 1967 they opened Peponi

Peponi Hotel is a small boutique hotel on the remote island of Lamu, situated in the Indian Ocean off the North Kenyan coast

The Lamu Archipelago lies two degrees south of the Equator along Kenya’s coast. The archipelago is a chain of islands separated from the mainland by a narrow channel bordered with dense mangrove forest and protected from the Indian Ocean by coral reefs and large sand dunes.

Lamu Island has been a port of call for travellers for centuries. The many historical sites are proof of the area’s long and rich history which, when combined with all the natural attraction of its tropical setting, make Lamu a wonderful place to visit.

The streets of Lamu town are narrow, cool and quiet. They are surprisingly intimate spaces enclosed by massive stone buildings whose thick coral rag walls give the town its distinct colour and texture. In December 2001 Lamu Town became a world heritage site in order to protect the oldest inhabited Swahili settlement south of the Sahara.

The hotel started small with only four rooms but over the years through Aage and Wera, then later their son Lars and his wife, Carol, Peponi has grown in size and popularity. Even having reached its 50th anniversary the hotel still retains much of the character and charm that it had from the beginning. Small and personal, it is the perfect rest after a safari.

The hotel has organically grown to 28 rooms, all the rooms have an ocean view and each are unique in decor and lay out. Guests have a choice of superior or standard rooms, superior rooms are differentiated by their location, size and private outside area with swing bed. All the rooms have en-suite bathrooms, overhead fans inside the mosquito net and personal safes.

When you arrive in Lamu you are traveling back in time and it is expected that you understand that you are entering a culture very different from your own. Lamu’s islands are steeped in a history of global cultures and religions, but the islanders predominantly follow the Islamic faith.

Eastern African Coast has two seasonal winds. The South-East Trade (Kusi) which blows from May to October, a strong gusty wind which brings the rains, rough water and silt from the Tana River. During this time most boat movement takes place along inshore channels and the snorkelling is not favourable, however there are many wonderful activities to experience on a visit during this season. The North-East Trade (Kas Kazi) blows from November to April. This summer wind brings calm, clear water, the best time for snorkelling and the fishing season. Occasionally there are strong winds, but storms are rare. The lives of the locals are ruled by the tide in the archipelago.

The archipelago’s history is one of the main draws to the island, for thousands of years the islands provided a welcomed rest for many travellers. Historically trading sailors from Oman, Yemen, Portugal, China and many of the Arab countries visited the port town of Lamu, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. A tour through the main town takes you through a 14 Century Arab port town, where not much has changed since then. To continue with the historical tours there is Takwa Ruins, very well kept, ancient ruins dating back to around 1500 A.D. Further north the other islands of the archipelago can also be explored, each more remote than the last.

Peponi sits at the beginning of a 14km stretch of wild beach, where a gentle walk can clear the mind, you can lie on the sand and soak up the sun or get adventurous and explore the dunes and then dive into the ocean break. Watch the sunrise over the expanse of the Indian Ocean or the sunset over the rolling dunes. There are endless possibilities as well as beaches though the archipelago.

The Turtle Project began in 1992 when Peponi’s, Carol Korschen, translocated a turtle nest to the hotel grounds for protection. Since then the project has been growing every year and has now become an established trust, the Lamu Marine Conservation Trust.

Guests can explore the archipelago under sail in a traditional Lamu or Mozambique style dhow. Visit the ruins at Takwa, raise a glass at sunset or sail under a full moon

Peponi’s deep sea fishing boat ‘Little Toot’ with its experienced crew and modern equipment offers some of the best sports fishing in East Africa. Ocean fishing with a hotel speedboat or hand line fishing from a local dhow is also available.

Lamu archipelago offers some of Kenya’s best snorkelling waters, with favourable conditions between October and April.

Peponi has water sports for all age groups and levels of experience. Competent instructors and a wide range of equipment to hire from windsurfers, body boards, wake boards and water skis. Kite surfing instructors are available by arrangement but bring your own equipment. The nearby mangrove creek is ideal for water skiing at high tide. For the less energetic float down the creek or rent a kayak.

There are regular flights from both Jomo Kenyatta and Wilson airports. Upon arrival the hotels representative will be at the airport to meet guests, assist with luggage and take you to the airport jetty. Transfers by motorised dhow are included at no extra charge and take just 20 minutes.

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