Escape from the ordinary into the extra ordinary. There are so many exciting things to see and to do in experiencing and exploring the wonderful world of the tropical rain forest!
The Western Safari Circuit region is Kenya's least visited in terms of tourism. This is a region of numbers. The western Kenya region consists of rich forests, swamps and some of Kenya's rarest animal species.
Kakamega Forest National Reserve is the only tropical rainforest in Kenya. The forest has been a protected area of Kenya since its vital role in the eco-system was first recognized in 1933.
Trees and Flowers: The Rain Forest trees of tremendous height, great girth some over 100 years old, and massive buttresses, hanging with lianas is impressive. A mix of lowland and highland species giving Kakamega Forest a unique variety of flora and fauna. The forest includes some of Africa’s greatest hard and soft woods: Elgon teak, red and white stink woods and several varieties of croton and Aniageria Altisima. Hiking beneath the lush forest canopy and deep shade is pierced by flashes of colour, exotic birdcalls, the scents of wood, flower and moss. Flowers including 60 species of orchids and 9 are endemic (found only in Kakamega Forest). There are many species of herbs and ferns.
Birds: The forest is best known for its sheer abundance and diversity of birdlife, including rare snake-eating birds. Some 367 species have been recorded. 36 of the species that occur in and around Kakamega Forest are found nowhere else in Kenya. Kakamega Forest is a "must" for any serious bird watcher.
Butterflies and Insects: There are representatives of every African family of butterflies. Some of these include the Regal and Broad Green-banded Swallowtails, the Black-tipped Diadem, the Forest Mother of Pearl, and Hobart’s Red Glider, the only scarlet butterfly in the Forest. Plus the genus Charaxes which contains the fastest flying butterflies in Africa. Other interesting insects are the Goliath Beetle, Stick Insects and Fire Flies.
Animals: Monkeys, Giant Forest and Flying Squirrels, mongooses, civets, servals, and genets, smaller antelope such as duikers, and numerous species of bats. The Hammer-headed Fruit Bat is endemic to Kakamega Forest, and is the largest bat on the African continent with a wing span of almost one meter and a huge head. Forest mammals include bushpig, grey duiker, civet, Sunni, clawless otters and some fascinating nocturnal game: Ground Pangolin, porcupines and the occasional leopard. Kakamega offers excellent primate viewing: Black and white Colobus, De Brazza Monkeys, Blue Monkey, Olive Baboon and the Red Tailed Monkey.
Guides: Well qualified local guides are available.
Saiwa Swamp National Park is the smallest national park in Kenya. It is 385 km from Nairobi, 27 km from Kitale, 97 km from Eldoret, close to the Ugandan border, and quite remote. The park covers just 2.9km2 and was created specifically to protect the habitat and preservation of the rare Sitatunga, an aquatic antelope.
The vegetation is a mixture of forest and swamp habitat with tall bushes and reeds along its marshy edge, with an altitude of 1,820-1880 meters above sea level. It is close to Mount Elgon National Park, which is also worth visiting.
Saiwa Swamp National Park has no roads within its perimeter, but 18km (11 miles) of walking trails and bridges meander around this delightful national park. It is an ideal park to visit if you enjoy walking, bird watching or camping. There are boardwalks and four strategically placed observation towers to watch the wildlife and 372 species of birds including the Ross' turaco and the blue-headed coucal.
The park also inhabits black-and-white colobus monkey, giant forest squirrel, grey duiker, and the endangered De Brazza's monkey, otter, genet cat, serval cat, mongoose, bushbuck and ratel.
Mount Elgon is Kenya's second highest mountain after Mount Kenya and covers 196 sqkm. It lies 140km North East of Lake Victoria and 420 kms from Nairobi on the western border of Kenya with Uganda, in Trans-Nzoia District of Rift Valley Province. The Ugandan side of the mountain is protected within Uganda's Mt Elgon National Park and covers a narrow transect up the North Eastern slopes of the mountain, from lower montane forest to the caldera edge, and on its summit, there is a spectacular flat topped basalt column known as Koitobos, measuring 13,852 ft (4,155 m), and is easily reached by hikers in about two hours from the road's end.
The remaining forest and moorland is part of the Mount Elgon Forest Reserve. Another unique feature of the mountain is the lava tube caves, some over 60m wide and frequented by elephants and buffaloes digging for natural salts. Other animals include leopard, giant forest hog, bushbuck, duiker, black and white colobus, blue monkeys and golden cat.
More than 240 bird species in the area, including the African crowned eagle, Ross’ turaco, and red-fronted parrot. Mount Elgon is an important water catchment for the Nzoia river which flows into Lake Victoria and for the Turkwel river which flows into Lake Turkana. The park is also endowed with variety and breathtaking scenery of cliffs, caves, waterfalls, gorges, mesas, hot springs, and the mountain peaks.
Lake Victoria is the largest body of fresh water in Africa, (and second largest in the world after Lake Superior). The lake occupies surface area of 68,800 sq.km and is shared by Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. This great lake has romantic associations as the source of the River Nile. A visit to Lake Victoria region provides a unique opportunity to see the colourful life on the lake, where enchanting Luo fishing villages have not changed in centuries. For those interested in fishing it is excellent, the bird life is unsurpassed and seeing the families of otters is an added bonus.
You can also enjoy walks through lush vegetation on top of the hills or along the lake shore. Nature lover and for those interested in culture, there is the possibility to visit a Luo family and experience their day to day life or visit the school in the next village, one of the community projects. There are a number of coastal towns such as Kisumu (Kenya), Entebe (Uganda), Bukoba, Muwanza and Musoma (Tanzania). The dam constructed in 1954 at Owen Falls on the Victoria Nile supplies electricity and water for various uses in Uganda and Kenya.
Kisumu is the third largest town in Kenya and boasts some interesting sites in addition to Lake Victoria. Hippo Point is famed as an exceptional vantage point for viewing hippo, not to mention Lake Victoria's spectacular sunsets. Also of interest is the Kisumu Musuem which features a display of local traditional customs and crafts. Outside there is a Luo homestead consisting of the husband's mud and thatch home and separate houses for each wife. The Kisumu market, one of the busiest and largest in Kenya, provides a fascinating glimpse into the day to day existence of the peoples of Western Kenya.
Kisumu Impala Wildlife Sanctuary opened to protect a herd of impala and provide safe grazing grounds for hippo from the lake is also used as a holding point and sanctuary for 'problem' animals, such as leopard, hyena and baboon. Dunga Beach, a fishing village near Kisumu, is a wonderful place to experience the traditional lifestyle of the lake fishermen. Local villagers can be hired to provide canoe tours through the papyrus reed beds to see hippos and birds.
Mfangano Island has some obscure rock paintings and a small fishing village, but it is now most popular as an up-scale fishing camp. Ndere Island National Park, 60 km from Kisumu and 435 km from Nairobi is a 4.2 km island game park featuring snakes, hippos, crocidiles, rare sitatunga and numerous species of water bird including fish eagles and a dense population of swifts. Near the small town of Homa Bay is the volcano shaped Mt. Homa and Ruma National Park. The 120 sq. kilometers Park was created to protect the only remaining habitat of Roan Antelope. The Park is 140 kilometers from Kisumu town and its main attractions are game viewing, birdwatching, hiking and walking, and fishing in the rivers. Game to view includes: Bohor's Reedbuck, Rothschild's Giraffe, Jackson's Hartebeest, Roan Antelope, buffalo, leopard, serval cat and hyena, as well as diverse birdlife.
Rusinga Island is home to an exclusive fishing camp and the tomb of Tom Mboya (1930-1969), the nationalist leader assassinated in Nairobi during the political unrest of the late 60's. Mary Leakey first put this tiny island on the map with her discovery of a 3 million year old skull belonging to Proconsul Africanus. Additional fossils were also found dating back 17 million years. Rusinga’s grounds are home to more than 369 species of local and migratory birds, many not found elsewhere in Kenya. For the active, Rusinga offers some exhilarating activities. As well as a variety of watersports – waterskiing, donutting, knee-boarding – there are also mountain bikes.
Nearby Mfangano Island is home to ancient rock art, untouched for centuries. A short boat ride across to the island is followed by a hike up to the caves housing the rock art where guides explain the history and significance. For those keen on jogging, as the island has no dangerous animals, it’s possible to take a jog on the airstrip or further afield.
Rondo Retreat is located within Kakamega Forest and belongs to the Trinity Fellowship, a Christian society committed to communication and conservation. They are not liscenced to sell alcohol but a hospitable homestead. This homestead is consists of the main house of clapboard and colonial era corrugated iron, and five cottages in the same old style, whose proximity to the forest makes for delightful accommodation.
There are fifteen en-suite double rooms, plus three more double rooms that share the large original bathroom in the main house. No two rooms are the same. The bedrooms, sitting rooms and dining room have all been decorated and furnished with flair using things "old and new" – antique prints and photographs, and local paintings, crafts and fabrics.
Hearty English breakfasts, midday lunches, and candlelit dinners are served in a brightly cozy dining room, in front of a crackling fire if the air is cool. Tea can be taken in the sitting room, on the main verandah or in your cottage or room. The chapel perched on the edge of the garden above a dramatic drop into the forest, and set apart from the other houses for solitude, is ideal for individual prayer and congregational services, meetings, seminars and small conferences.
Golf Hotel is situated in Kakamega town. There is an air strip 4 km outside of Kakamega town and a plane can be chartered from Nairobi. Kakamega town is 65 km from Kisumu Airport and 400 km West of Nairobi and it is just a short distance from Kakamega forest.
Accommodation is in sixty standard rooms and two suites. Each room of the Golf hotel Kakamega has its own bathroom with a shower, a mosquito net, a TV-set and a telephone extension line. There is also Restaurant offering a wide range of specialties from international, local and African dishes. There is a bar, Nine-hole Gold course nearby, swimming pool, conference facilities and a health club.
This newly opened 5-star boutique hotel is located in the heart of Kisumu City. The rooms are spacious, fully air-conditioned and designed with a balcony or a terrace that overlooks the beautiful surroundings. The rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, ornate Persian rugs and lampshades, comfortable beds and fresh bedding, polished executive tables and armchairs. Bathrooms are en-suite.
All the 32 rooms in 3 categories of deluxe, executive and superior are equipped with all modern amenities such as safes, hairdryers, coffee and tea making facilities, telephones, A/C, mini-fridges, free Wi-Fi and DSTV. Other features include a swimming pool, bar and restaurant.
Imperial Hotel Kisumu is located on the shores of the World's second largest fresh water lake, Lake Victoria. The first class accommodation combined with ultra modern conference facilities and choice of top of the range bars and restaurants makes any guest's business and leisure a pleasure. Accommodation is in 3 category of rooms:
Other facilities available at the hotel include: Boating and fishing at the lake side or golfing can be arranged, health club, massage and sauna, safe deposit, swimming pool and Wi-Fi.