Every time we think of a holiday, destinations such as Naivasha, Nanyuki, Nakuru, Mombasa and Maasai Mara come to mind. These are traditional touristic routes that we still behold. To travel is to live and to travel is to learn. There is need to travel to new destinations in order to learn. The urge to explore should be embraced. However, information is key. Before visiting a new place, a little research is imperative and what you find is information. When a destination has no information on it, either online, written or word of mouth, it is a dark place.
In our beautiful country Kenya, we have an alternative of the traditional destinations - The Kenyan West coast! From Kisumu City, along the Winam Gulf, Kit Mikaye, Ndere Island, Kamito Beach, Kogelo Village, Jaramogi Odinga Mausoleum, Got Ramogi, Usenge Beach and Osieko Beach, Uhanya Beach and Mageta Island and consequently to Mbita point, Mfangano Island, Rusinga Island, Mbasa and Mholo Islands, Ruma National Park and back through Homabay, Pala Hot Springs, Simbi Nyaima Crater lake, Kendu Bay and past the Odino Falls – Soundu Miriu Hydro Electric Power station and back to Kisumu through Kisii and Ahero Rice Irrigation Plantations, one will have fully explored the West Coast of Kenya. I was privileged to visit a few of these wonderful attractions and these are the highlights:
It was my second time to visit Kisumu City. With all honesty, there is a great improvement.
This is a city developed in a Valley. When on the outskirts, there is a nice view of the city. The road network in Kisumu has been developed. When entering the city from Kogelo, the roundabouts and flyovers reassure you that you are entering into one of the only three cities of the Kenyan republic.
Kisumu is a peaceful and quiet city and businesses here operate normally. Accommodation ranges from luxury to basic. I was honored to visit Acacia Premier Hotel built within the city and on a small hill. It is a business hotel with large conferencing facility and amenities such as swimming pool, gym and spa. The hotel offers magnificent views of Kisumu city and Lake Victoria.
Unfortunately, the part of the Lake viewed has since been covered by the annoying water hyacinth.
Sovereign Hotel is a short distance from Acacia Premier Hotel. It is a luxury boutique facility. It is best suited for visitors looking for a quiet, serene and peaceful environment as well as personalized service.
Parkview Hotel is a budget option and close to Impala Sanctuary. Kisumu city is scenic and when you get here and you don't know what to do, reach out to Amazing Kisumu. These guys will show you around and engage you in exciting activities.
Just like how Nairobi has a national park within the city, Kisumu has Impala Sanctuary. It is located on the shores of Lake Victoria. It was created with the sole purpose of providing a home for threatened Impalas within Kisumu City and its environs.
Consequently, it has become a safe grazing ground for hippos from the Lake. As you walk through the sanctuary, you notice herds of impalas and zebras roaming freely. This is where the sanctuary got its deserved slogan: A Lakeshore Walk With Impalas…
Within the sanctuary is an animal orphanage that contains a collection of caged lions, leopards, cheetahs, ostriches, baboons, hyenas, jackals, bush duikers, bush bucks, giraffes and buffaloes. The sanctuary has a vast bird life which is a delight for bird watchers.
State Lodge Campsite is situated within the campsite and has modern amenities. Also, within the sanctuary is a railway trail of the original Kenya - Uganda Railway Line before it was moved due to water levels.
After walking along the trail, you will come across a sundowner tower built purposely for viewing the sunset over Africa's largest fresh-water lake.
Sadly, this magic is no more because of the hyacinth. Impala Sanctuary is accessed through the main gate and the sunset gate. It is an amazing place to spend your afternoons.
29 Km West of Kisumu town is a 40 m high rock formation known as Kit-Mikayi. This is a cultural heritage for the Luo community and is believed to be a holy place.
There’s an old Mzee and lady on site to take care of visitors. They narrate the whole story about how the rock was named Kit-Mikayi (the stone of the first wife), how mysterious the stone is, how it answers prayers and how around it is a garden of medicinal herbs.
I will not be doing it justice if I narrate the tales on this blog. It is better if you to #tembeaKenya and listen for yourself as you #supportlocal
95 Km from Kisumu town, is Lwandak'Otieno in Nyanza. This is a car ferry port. The ferry serves to move people and vehicles from the main land to Mbita.
The ferry has timings as follows :7.00am, 10.00am, 2.00pm and 5.00pm. I managed to board the last one and I could bet it was past 5.00pm.
The 45 minutes ride offered me a majestic view of the sunset that made my heart skip a beat. It filled my soul in ways I never imagined existed.
On reaching Mbita, it was already dark and Rusinga Island Lodge was my hideout. On arrival, I freshened up, had dinner and retired for the night. I couldn't wait for the morning to explore the famous Rusinga Island Lodge.
Morning came and by 6.00 a.m. I was up. I went round the lodge and managed to catch the sunrise through the tree branches.
Rusinga Island Lodge is a beautiful facility with only 11 rooms. The rooms are built in form of cottages with some having connecting doors. There is a large recreational ground, a swimming pool and most excitingly, the lodge is lake-front. The guards warned me of hippos roaming at night.
Day trip - Lake Victoria excursion
This turned out to be the best experience of my travel life. Wasini Island and Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park excursion would come close. On boarding a speed boat at Rusinga Island lodge, the first stop was Litare Fishing Village.
This is a fishermen's hub. The houses at the Village are made of iron sheet and are rental. According to the guide, this is because they follow the fish and therefore live a nomadic life.
I witnessed a lot of small fish such as omena being sun-dried.
The village operates normally and there are other businesses going on.
We left Litare and headed to 'Birds Island'. This is an island covered with thousands of birds. It's a haven for bird watchers.
All the trees on this Island were covered with birds. Most of them having a keen eye on fish and others insects.