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Attractions at Kisumu, Kakamega and HomaBay in Kenya

This blog post will cover some of the areas to explore in Western Kenya and these include Kisumu, Kakamega and HomaBay. These areas are home to a wealth of attractions. Read on to find out some of the things you can do when you visit.

Kisumu and HomaBay are temperate towns on the shores of Lake Victoria. As you arrive Homabay, it appears as a sleepy town at first but on staying on for a few days, its character will win your heart.

Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria, that stretches out before Homabay and Kisumu towns is one of Africa’s Great Lakes and it holds the honour for being Africa’s largest lakes, the worlds’ largest tropical lake and the world’s second-largest freshwater lake.

Several islands lie within the lake. There are several things to do in Lake Victoria Islands. The Lake is also home to some Nile Crocodiles and several species of turtles including the African helmeted turtles, variable mud turtles, and William’s mud turtles.

Lake Victoria is also home to five hundred species of haplochromine cichlids- a fish species that is endemic to Lake Victoria. The lake is also home to catfish, crabs, eels, freshwater snails and the most popular fish – Tilapia and Nile Perch.

The locals here eat the Nile Perch and Tilapia in large quantities. Kisumu’s fish dishes are famed across Kenya.

Kiboko Bay and Dunga beach are other popular spots from which to enjoy the lake. The area offers boat trips, to visitors in the town, bird watching, hippo spotting and sunset views over the lake.

Not far from the lake is the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary. This is one of Kenya’s smallest wildlife reserves that is less than a kilometre. It is home to the Impala and a number of reptiles and birds, hippos also leave the lake at night to graze here.

Mbita Ferry
Mbita Ferry going across Lake Victoria

Kit Mikayi

Kit Mikayi is about 30km from Kisumu city is known as the weeping rock. The pile of rocks appears to be a woman bowed beneath a heavy load. Legends assert that she has been weeping since her husband took a second wife. The religious group of Legio Maria – Legion of Mary – to which many of the Luo people who live around Kit Mikayi, adhere to come often to the rock to pray.

Kit Mikayi is a Luo term that means Rock of the first wife. This is a picturesque formation of 12 rocks on a 5-acre piece of land. My visit here was relaxing on the rocks with birds chirping around me. There were monkeys jumping from tree to tree with chirping sounds.

In fact, the day I visited Kit Mikayi, there was a group of members of the Legion of Mary who had come over to pray and the guides here say that they would be praying continuously throughout the day.

Kit Mikayi rock formations
Seated on one of the rocks at Kit Mikayi

There is a picnic site called Rachilo Caves that is 5 minutes away from the rock site. There are beautiful views here. If you go in the late afternoon to the evening you see the beautiful sunset at the highest point of a rock called the Ngeso Rock. Kit Mikayi rock is a 27 km drive from Kisumu city.

To experience Kisumu like a local make a point of visiting Lwangni Beach where there are rows of beachfront stalls that grill fresh fish from the lake.

Kit Mikayi Rock Formation
Kit Mikayi Rock Formation

Ruma National Park

Another must-visit area is the Ruma National Park that lies in western Kenya and is close to the shores of Lake Victoria. It is characterized by a mosaic of landscapes, ranging from riverine woodland and rolling savannah to magnificent escarpments and towering cliffs. The park is Kenya’s last remaining sanctuary for the endangered Roan Antelope.

Initially, the park was known as Lambwe Valley Game Reserve created to protect its indigenous population of rare Roan Antelopes which do not exist anywhere else in Kenya but in the park.

Ruma lies on the watered Lambwe River Valley. The park is a long narrow corridor of land contained on a fist-shaped peninsula extending into Lake Victoria. The terrain is mainly rolling grassland, with tracts of open woodland thickets. Roans live in herds of up to 20 members that are led by a bull.

Ruma is also home to the Oribi Antelope which is a small and graceful antelope. It has a conspicuous bare black glandular patch below the ears, a short black-tipped tail and black knee tufts. They live in strongly bonded pairs or small groups, oribi inhabit grassland and dense undergrowth.

This is home to rare birdlife. It is the only area in Kenya where the globally threatened blue swallow, a scarce intra-African migrant. Blue Swallows depend on moist grassland for both feeding and roosting. They arrive in Kenya from their breeding grounds in Southern Tanzania around April and depart again in September.

At Ruma you will also find the leopard, monkey and Rothschild giraffe. There are also snake species which include the cobra, green mamba and puff adder.

Facts About Ruma National Park

  • It covers an area of 120 sq km
  • It is located in Suba District in Homabay County
  • Ruma is 425 km from Nairobi and 10km from Lake Victoria
  • It was first gazetted in 1966 as Lambwe Valley Game Reserve it later acquired National Park status in 1983
  • The park has a humid climate with savannah grassland vegetation with extensive acacia thickets
  • How To Get There

By Road

The main gate is 42 km from Homa Bay. From Homa Bay take the main road in the direction of Rongo. After 10km branch off to the right at Rodi Kopany and proceed 20km to Migori. At Migori follow the signs to the Park entering at Kamato Main Gate, a distance of 12km on a marram road from Migori

Ruma National Park is open from 6 am to 6 pm including public holidays

By Air

Fly from Nairobi to Kisumu. The flight is about 45 minutes. Once you arrive Kisumu then board a ferry and travel for  1-hour ferry ride to Luanda Kotieno in Homabay from here drive 42 km to Ruma National Park.

Kakamega Forest

This is an extensive forest that covers the southern part and the northern part and you can read more about this vast forest on my Guide to Kakamega Forest

Guide To Kakamega Forest
Taking a walking tour at Kakamega Forest

The Crying Stone Of Kakamega

I write more about the crying stone of Kakamega here.

At Crying Stone of Kakamega
At The Crying Stone Of Kakamega

Places To Stay

I wrote detailed reviews of:

Rondo Retreat Lodge

Rondo Retreat Lodge    is located in Kakamega on the southern side of the forest. Read more about my stay at this lodge

5 bedroomed cottage at Rondo Retreat
Outside the 5 bedroomed cottage at Rondo Retreat

Mbita Tourist Hotel

Mbita Tourist Hotel is located in Homabay town and it is right next on the shores of Lake Victoria. Read more on my stay at this hotel.

Vittoria Suites

Vittoria Suites is located in the suburbs of Kisumu city. Read more on my experience staying at Vittoria Suites.

Vittoria Suites

Other hotels which I have not stayed at but are in this region include the following:

Oribi Guest House

This is a one-unit guest house located in Ruma National Park, so if you happen to tour the park there is accommodation nearby. The guest house has three bedrooms that have two doubles and one triple room.

The guest house has a dining area, that has a fully equipped kitchen and bathroom and beddings, kerosene lamps, mosquito nets, soap and toilet paper. Electricity here is solar with a caretaker available.

Shop for food which you will prepare later, in Kisumu or Kakamega, which you will use during your stay at the park as this is a self-catering guest house.

Oribi Guest House is very affordable at Ksh. 5,000 for citizens and residents while non-residents cost the US $ 100

Camping Options

At Ruma National park, there are two campsites known as Kamato and Nyati. These campsites are close to Kamato Gate. At either campsite, there are no facilities but water firewood can be provided by the warden’s office on request.

Acacia Premier

The hotel has several levels of rooms, conference facilities, spa, gym, pool and four food and beverage options. Acacia Premier offers the full hotel experience and it is a place to come for meetings, events and holidays

Imperial Hotel

Located in the middle of Kisumu city, it is one of the first hotels in Kisumu that offers luxury. It contains fully equipped suites, conference facilities, fine dining, pool, sauna and gym

Rusinga Island Lodge

On the lush island in Lake Victoria, the lodge has six thatched cottage, tropical gardens, wellness spa and floodlit pool.

Kiboko Bay Resort

Located on the shores of Lake Victoria, the resort has 9 tented suites and a deluxe self-catering cottage. A relaxing place for beach views, boat trips and delicious meals

Mfangano Island Camp

The camp has six rondavels on the lakefront with an open-sided lounge and dining room. A great place to do some bird watching, skiing and visiting the surrounding villages

Sovereign Hotel

The hotel has rooms and apartments with spacious gardens and beautiful architecture. It is best known for its range of cuisines, continental, Indian, African and Japanese

Have you toured Kisumu, Kakamega or Homabay? Share your experience with us on the comments below

 

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25 Comments

  1. What a beautiful place to visit, love the scenery 🙂

  2. Interesting to read that the religious tribe visit the rocks to pray. A lovely area to visit.

  3. With your posts you make me love Kenya so much. Probably I will visit it soon!

    1. Sharon Lumbasi says:

      Indeed, Kenya is a beautiful country to visit.

  4. This looks absolutely stunning. And so much good information! I was in Kenya many years ago and would love to go back.

  5. It’s always fun wandering around rock formations and letting your imagination go wild, to see what faces or animals you can see in the rocks. One of those looks like the nose of a dolphin.

    1. Sharon Lumbasi says:

      The rock looks like a person with the large rock looking like a body and the small rock looking like a head. Water used to flow in between the two rocks, hence the reason why it is called the ‘Crying Stone of Kakamega’

  6. After reading this I’m excited to visit this area. It’s a very informative post. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Sharon Lumbasi says:

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  7. Thanks for the memories, I spent a wonderful few days in Kisumu and Kakamega forest in 2004. It’s definitely time to return!

    1. Sharon Lumbasi says:

      I am sure you will enjoy the trip. Glad you loved your first visit to the forest.

  8. Sounds like a great place to visit, so much to do there! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. thanks so much for sharing this awesome post about Kenya, am now getting greater knowledge about Kenya, esp the RUMA national park. cheers, siennylovesdrawing

    1. Sharon Lumbasi says:

      Thanks 🙂

  10. Kenya is a country I know very little about and your post has made me want to visit to learn more.

    1. Sharon Lumbasi says:

      That is awesome, I hope to continue inspiring you with more options of places to visit.

  11. Jenn | By Land and Sea says:

    I love that there is so much outdoor stuff here! What a great way to spend time outside!

  12. So many great places in Kenya I´ve never heard of before your post! The Kit Mikayi rock formation looks particularly interesting, especially after learning about its legend!

    1. Sharon Lumbasi says:

      Yes it is the back stories to these places are very interesting

  13. This looks like a really lovely corner of Kenya. It is such a beautiful country, I’ll make sure these spots are on my agenda for my next visit.

  14. Ruma National Park sounds gorgeous! I’d love to see the wide range of wildlife you mentioned, especially the antelope and rare birds. Thanks for the tips on how to get there – hopefully I’ll be able to visit one day!

    1. Sharon Lumbasi says:

      It would be a great experience as they are only endemic to the park.

  15. Kenya is an amazing place! Great post, saved for future use 🙂

    1. Sharon Lumbasi says:

      Thanks! Glad I was of help

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