Think of the perfect holiday paradise and you will see Shela, Lamu.
Bougainvillea House in Lamu is a white house shrouded in lilac and white bougainvillea flowers, and situated in Shela Village only 200 meters from the Indian Ocean and Lamu Island's pristine beaches along the coast of Kenya. Leave all stress behind and let our very own cook, Eddie, cook and serve delicious meals for you during your stay. The rate starts at only 150 USD for the whole house per night.
The house contains three bedrooms, each with a large double bed (185 x 195 cm), a mosquito net and a ceiling fan. One of the bedrooms overlooks the small charming garden with a coconut palm. Each bedroom is connected via an outside terrace - look up once there to admire a ceiling of bougainvillea flowers! There is one bathroom with a shower and toilet. The living room is unpretentious and homey, furnished with a wooden dining table and chairs, wicker armchairs, a sofa and above all a beautifully preserved Lamu wall that is hundreds of years old and gives the room an historical feel.
The rooftop of the house offers relaxing days under the banana fibre ceiling, or on lounge chairs. Above all it offers stargazing at the wondrous Lamu night sky, unpolluted from surrounding light and with crystal clear views over the stars.
Eddie is the caretaker and cook of Bougainvillea House on Lamu and will prepare exquisite seafood including crab, prawns, lobster and fish, locally caught the very same morning. His coconut rice is the perfect complement. Some of the best mangoes and papayas in the world will be served as desert. He will of course accommodate to any dietary restrictions and requests by you.
You can write a list of things you want Eddie to buy, and inform him about what you would like to eat. He will prepare and serve the dishes unless you feel like doing so yourself.
Buying your own sea food, fresh off the hook is easily done at the fish market of the early morning
While on your vacation in Lamu why not take a fishing trip on a Dhow boat or just sail along the coast to discover the beautiful scenery. You can take long strolls on the beach and go for a swim in the Indian Ocean. The water is warm and clear, and the beach is inviting. For the more adventurous-minded you can scuba dive, surf, snorkel, deep sea fish or why not take a donkey ride along the beach?
Lamu Old Town is a recommended site to explore while on your vacation on Lamu. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and according to UNESCO “the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa”. It is similar to Shela with its labyrinth of narrow alleyways that invite for exploration. The architecture of Lamu Old Town is a unique mixture of Swahili, Arabic, Persian, Indian and European building styles.
The Lamu Fort is another interesting site to visit. Built in the 1800s it was initially a point from which control over the East African coast was held. During the British colonial era the fort was used as a prison. Today it contains a museum and a library.
If you want to try something new, we recommend that you visit the donkey sanctuary. Donkeys are until recently the only mode of transportation on Lamu, apart from walking of course. An estimated 2 200 donkeys reside on Lamu and are used for transporting heavy loads through the narrow alleyways. The sanctuary has a veterinarian that provides treatment to donkeys free of charge.
Fishing is an important part of life for Lamu islanders and there are many opportunities for you to take part in this lifestyle as well. You can for example catch bream along the channel, or go deep sea fishing further out to the ocean to catch bigger fish. Don’t forget your sunscreen, water and a hat!
Birgitta has 22 year’s professional experience from the African continent as a diplomat. She fell in love with Lamu Island while living and working in Kenya during the 1970s. The blue ocean, calm beaches and crystal clear night sky enticed her. She decided to buy the piece of land upon which Bougainvillea House stands today. It is built with respect for the history and preservation of an old ruin that today stands as the centerpiece in the living room, namely a beautiful wall with niches. Birgitta’s five children and herself have always returned to Lamu for vacation and relaxation and they are now looking forward to sharing this experience with you.
A number of airlines fly regularly to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. From there you need to take a flight to Lamu's neighbouring island, Manda with JamboJet , Fly540, Air Kenya or Safarilink. These flights leave either from Kenyatta or from Wilson Airport in Nairobi.
Upon arrival to Manda Airport, Eddie will meet you to help you with your luggage and assist you in taking a boat across the straight between Manda and Lamu, and all the way to Bougainvillea House. The boat ride takes about 20 minutes, and the walk from Lamu harbour to the house is about 4 minutes. Please make sure to bring some Kenyan shilling in cash for the boat ride.
The whole of Bougainvillea House is for rent starting at 150 USD per night. Seasonal pricing applies. If you are a party of five or more an extra cost of 25 USD per person per night will be added to the rate. This price includes accommodation in all of the three bedrooms, bed linens, your very own cook, and pick-up and baggage help from Manda Airport. Please note that this price is for renting the whole house and that individual rooms will not be rented out. This payment should be done before arrival.
Upon your arrival, Eddie will meet you at the airport on Manda island with a sign. He will have rented a boat from Lamu island to take you back. The cost of this boat is about 1200 KES which is to be paid by the guests.
There is no internet access in the house however Peponi hotell is around the corner and offers wifi access.
Should there be a power cut we have a backup generator.
There is no heated water in the house however water from shower and taps is warmed naturally by the sun in a tank on the roof.
No food is included in the pricing. Eddie can however purchase and cook your meals. You can choose to give him the money for this before or after he has done the shopping, in any case discuss with him about what suits you best. Alternatively you can buy food yourselves and Eddie can prepare them for you. My best tip is to communicate with him.
Before your arrival, Eddie will have bought food in preparation for lunch or dinner depending on what time you arrive. He will give the receipt to you and you will then have pay him the equivalent amount. Neither Eddie nor us charge any extra for this and he is trustworthy so please do not worry about this.
If you do not want Eddie to buy anything before your arrival I suggest Peponi hotel for your first meal. Please just inform me about this in beforehand so that I can inform Eddie not to buy anything.
Food costs between 1500 - 3000 KES for three meals, per person, per day. The price varies depending on the food you want. No drinks included in that estimation. Eddie is the best source of this information. Your first day is usually more expensive. Extra things need to be bought that last for the duration of your stay
Eddie lives far from our house. His trip home is dangerous if its too late in the evening. Therefore please be informed that dinner is served between 6 - 6:30 PM. Eddie will have to leave at the latest 7:30-7:45 PM to make it home with the regular transportation.
If you want him to stay later he can do so but then please communicate this with him in beforehand. It will also imply a cost of 1000 KES for you as he needs to go home with the alternative buses, taxis and boats that are more expensive. This money has to be given to him in cash. However if he leaves the regular time it will not cost you anything extra.
Eddie works hard and is at your service every day of your stay. He is without a doubt trustworthy and has worked for us for over fifteen years. As a token of your appreciation, he as well as the eventual second staff will be happy to receive any tips at your discretion.