Paradise Lost-Mombasa Kenya.
Paradise Lost was given its name by a group of colonial mapmakers, who searched in vain for the villages and coastal estuaries they had been told about by local guides. One day they stumbled onto an area of such breathtaking beauty that they declared it a "lost paradise". This is how "Paradise Lost" got its name. Even today, the area remains little known and little visited, and is still as beautiful as the day it was "discovered".
Lying at the southernmost edge of the Coast of Kenya, within the protective shelter of Shirazi Bay, this haven of peace and tranquility is a world away from the busy resorts further north, but still easily accessible to visitors
History of Paradise Lost
The Shirazi region, and the entire South Coast was a route for shipping and dhow trade both from Swahili settlements in the north and southwards to Zanzibar. Dhows were drawn south by the monsoonal winds (the Kaskazi) from November to April, and then returned north by the winds (the Kusi) from June to September. This route became a major source of ivory, slaves, spices and shells, and by the 9th and 10th centuries Omani and Persian trading outposts began to appear along the coast.
In the 11th Century, Hassan Bin Ali, a trader from Persia settled in this region and named the area after his home in Shiraz. He established a trading post here, and built a small town.
Intermarriage with the indigenous coastal tribes began to create a new and unique culture blending Arab influence and African language and customs. Soon this culture had a name, derived from the plural of the Arab word Sahel (coast) - Swahili.
Use of decorative motifs display the refined Ottoman taste in mosque building. There are still a few pillars of the outer court yard of this ancient mosque.
Swahili towns grew and developed their own traditional structures, often located in forests and estuaries, with narrow streets between houses, markets, mosques and elaborate tombs and cemeteries.
After establishing Shirazi, Bin Ali eventually moved south to Kilwa, near Zanzibar, and his small Swahili settlement prospered.
Then, in 1498 the Portuguese explorer, Vasco de Gama, arrived in the area, and a battle for control of the coast between the Portuguese and Omanis began. This struggle lasted for 400 years, and the ongoing wars and changes in trade routes saw many small towns, such as Shirazi, fade and decline.
Today all that remains of the original settlement is the ruins of the mosque and some pillars and stone walls, nested among the trees at Paradise Lost.
To experience the history of this area firsthand, stay at Paradise Lost or join one of our day dhow excursions or Magharibi sunset cruises.
Kenya is regarded as one of the world's great destinations for bird watching, and Paradise Lost is located in one of the country’s most important bird areas.
Shirazi has three separate bird habitats - the dense palm forest, marine estuary and freshwater river wetlands, which means an extremely diverse range of bird species can be found here.
Bird found on the African coast
These include African Fish Eagles, the Palm Nut Vulture, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers, Fischer's Turaco, the Southern Banded Snake Eagle, East Coast Akalat and a variety of herons, waders and Pipits.
The palm forests are home to the Little Yellow Flycatcher, Uluguru Violet-backed Sunbird, Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Spotted Ground Thrush and Plain-backed Sunbird.
Not far offshore, the Kisite-Mpunguti Marine Park is known for a large colony of Roseate Terns.
Culture at Paradise Lost
A visit to Paradise Lost offers a rare opportunity to experience the cultures of the Southern Kenyan coast firsthand, and to be welcomed into the everyday life of a typical traditional Village.
The Shirazi region has a mixture of fishing villages and communities who farm rice, coconuts, sugar cane, cashew nuts, fresh fruits and subsistence crops.
The community that surrounds Paradise Lost is a world away from the fast-paced life of the South Coast resort towns, and the local people warmly welcome visitors to their homes.
This community is from the Mijikenda group of tribes, predominantly the Digo people. Digo traditions are centered around sacred areas called Kayas - forest glades, once used as store grounds for sacred objects known as fingos.
The forest at Paradise Lost is also home to the 11th Century ruins of a Persian mosque that played a significant role in the development of the Swahili Culture and the History of the Coast.
To experience the culture of this area firsthand, stay at Paradise Lost or join one of our Day Dhow Excursions orMagharibi Sunset Cruises
Visiting Paradise Lost
Paradise Lost is easily accessible from Mombasa Town and the Moi International Airport, and is a comfortable hour and a half drive, through beautiful coastal scenery.
There are several options for visitors: either a day dhow trip, the Magharibi Sunset Cruise, or staying at Paradise Lost.
Day Dhow Trip
Our full day programme for visitors blends culture, history, scenery, wildlife, adventure, relaxation and fine dining - all within a single day.
Magharibi Sunset Cruise
Our Magharibi 'sundowner' cruise sails into the Indian Ocean as the sun turns the sea into gold, and returns for a fantastic candlelit dinner under the stars.
Staying in Paradise
To truly lose yourself in paradise, we offer luxury accommodation for those seeking the ultimate getaway at Amani House, our stylish private villa, or for those who would like to be closer to nature, why not experience a night at our "Salama" tree house.