Private Villas in Lamu
private-africa-villas - shela house lamu
shela lamu

quick facts
Population: approx. 100 000
Official languages: Swahili & English
Time zone: GMT + 3
Country dialling code: +254
Currency: Kenyan Shilling (KES)
Electricity: 220/240V



about lamu & shela

Lamu Island on the tropical Indian Ocean coast of Kenya, is unlike any other place. Lamu is for people who enjoy a destination steeped in the tradition of bygone times, spiced with the incredibly romantic Swahili style and with plenty of time which is best spent with family and good friends in one of the beautiful private villas in Shela.

Lamu Town is a small town on Lamu Island, which in turn is a part of the Lamu Archipelago in Kenya. Lamu, situated 341 kilometres by road northeast of Mombasa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is Kenya's oldest continually inhabited town, and was one of the original Swahili settlements along coastal East Africa, founded in 1370.

The Lamu 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 and Shela are narrow and the buildings have thick coral walls, which give the town its distinct colour and texture. 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 Town, despite its wealth of sights, smells and sounds is a really sleepy little port with a harbour front, one narrow main street and a shady Town Square... ideal for people watching!

Shela village is situated at the tip of Lamu Island, where the channel enters the open sea. The 4 kilometre trip from Shela to Lamu town is a pleasant walk, or a few minutes boat ride in one of the frequent taxi boats.

Shela village is a maze of narrow sandy lanes where the only oncoming traffic you are likely to meet is a donkey - and even bicycles are almost unheard of. There are only 3 or 4 cars on the island as there are only a few hundred meters of road. The road does not extend as far as Shela so there are no cars at all in this pristine little village.

Lamu is not your typical tropical beach holiday setting … it is all about tranquillity… enjoying the tropical sun, the shady squares, the local atmosphere and the Swahili cuisine.

There are miles and miles of deserted beach, a lovely ocean to swim in... but no sun loungers, umbrellas or any beach activities other than slowly cruising on one of the local Dhows and watching the sunset over a couple of drinks.

visa and entry requirements

Visas are generally obtainable on arrival at the main airports in Kenya for US$50 CASH per person.

NB: Please double check visa costs and requirements at your embassy before you travel.


The weather in Lamu is hot and sunny from mid-July through to mid-April, with the hottest months between November and April. However, there is usually a good breeze all year round. May and June are the monsoon months, when there are periods of good weather mixed with wild storms.

shela climate

getting there and away

There are a number of domestic airlines that operate daily flights to Lamu from Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi. On arrival at the Manda Airstrip, you will be met and escorted by boat to one of the private villas in Shela.


click here for a larger map

shela lamu

kids in lamu

town square in lamu

shela street

donkey racing in lamu

lamu waterfront

man and child in lamu

shela men

shela ladies

shela donkeys

shela dhows

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