Gone are the days when traveling to Western Kenya for the holidays meant carrying your whole household, a few pieces of furniture and live chicken with you on the trip.
Getting there is also no longer a hassle, as its well served by four airlines and new road networks making it easier for you to get there, without haggling with the crowds by bus.
While visiting and spending time with family and friends, you hardly see every other day is great, you can take time and savour the exciting part of Western Kenya while you are at it.
If you are short of ideas on where to go, which places to stay, how to have a fun filled holiday in Western Kenya, ditch the guide book you have and let us introduce you to its wild side.
Western Kenya is a place of infinite beauty, offering the much needed break away from the hustle and bustle of city and work life that you have had since January, and an exciting East African style safari.
The region exudes serene tranquillity to help you calm your mind while rejuvenating your body as you enjoy great views of Lake Victoria, rich birdlife and rare animal species, to thrilling boat rides and scenic sunsets on the shores of the lake.
Here are just some of the fun things you can do in Western Kenya for a memorable holiday.
1. Visit the legendary Kit Mikayi
If you have been to the Western region or driven down the area, you have probably spotted a huge pile of rocks as you looked through the window.
One of these rocks is the legendary Kit Mikayi – an old stone displayed as a balancing rock formation found in Kisumu, Western Kenya.
It is a popular attraction whose rock is considered by the Seme Village locals as a sacred place where they hold prayers, especially when there is some trouble in the area.
2. Catch a whopper of a Nile Perch and enjoy spectacular island scenery
Ever heard of the Takawiri and Mfangano Islands? If you have not been there before, add it to your bucket list of things to do while you are in Western Kenya.
You can access these islands by going to the mainland town of Mbita, from where you will drive across a bridge to Rusinga, and go on a ferry or water boat to the islands.
If you prefer, you can go by flight to Homa Bay, which is just 40 minutes or so away.
The fish rich waters of the 6.5 million hectare lake, spanning a more than 3,000 kilometre stretch of shoreline shimmer with large Nile Perch and shoals of colourful cichlids.
You can look forward to great fishing, spectacular scenery of the picturesque island beaches, wildlife viewing, and even check out the largest island on the Lake – the Ukerewe Island.
Nile Perch is the most sought after fish species by fishermen around Lake Victoria, so get on a boat and let the captain show you how to catch and reel in some fish.
It is an unforgettable experience.
3. Experience the charm of Mount Elgon
Adventure awaits in Western Kenya too!
If you have never climbed a mountain, or the usual ones seemed impossible to scale, try climbing Mount Elgon and get to see the Kitum Cave, and reach its summit at the Koitobos Peak.
You will need a guide to get you there though, but be ready to get charmed by this mountain.
Unlike other mountains in East Africa, Mount Elgon is an extinct volcano formed as the earth spewed molten lava more than 20 million years ago.
You can approach it from Kitale, which is the Kenyan side to start your climb and enjoy a safari experience as you walk through the thick ancient forest rich in waterbucks, zebras, colobus monkeys, bushbucks and more.
The main attractions here are the huge caves, of which the Kitum Cave is the largest from Kenya’s side that looks like an entry into an opera house.
It also attracts animals like elephants that come there to lick off salt from the cave’s walls when it’s dark, plus some cats, and antelope species.
If you have a strong sense of smell, you won’t miss the lavender fields that cover the mountainside and emit a sweet floral aroma and the array of strange plants and other colourful flowers.
Koitobos peak is about six kilometres walk up the mountain, and is the second highest in Kenya.
Here you can see the massive caldera with views of the hot springs at the Suam and Simu gorges, as you lose yourself in the isolated natural world while you experience the beauty of mountain climbing.
4. Make an excursion to the caves and experience the rich rock art
Western Kenya is also home to Kakapel where some 3,000 years old rich rock art painted by two pygmy hunter gatherers back then.
Grab your camera and go on an excursion up steep paths through thorn bushes and scrubs to the caves with white and red whorls on their sides, which the pygmies painted to symbolise drought and rain respectively.
Like your usual washrooms, the caves are also divided into two: one for gents and another for ladies.
There is also a matriarchal seat in there, where it is said that the senior most woman in those days would oversee a group of young girls to make sure there is no indecency.
The nearest town to get to Kakapel is Bungoma, through Malaba road, which is well signposted so that you find every turn that will lead you to the caves.
You don’t want to miss out on the rich history lessons you can take back to your family and friends.
5. Birding and wildlife viewing
Love birds? Western Kenya is a haven for a ton of bird species living in exotic trees, and that are unique to the region.
By the shores of Lake Victoria also lies the port of Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya with fine colonial architecture, wide streets, and the famous Hippo Point where you can get great viewpoints.
Kisumu is also home to the Impala Sanctuary, a shelter for free roaming zebra and impala herds, but also an orphanage for hyena, lions, cheetahs, baboons, leopards and more.
The nearby Ruma National Park also lets you enjoy views of diverse wildlife including the only indigenous population of rare roan antelopes in the country and many bird species.
6. Relax at an island resort
If you just want a serene place to unwind without much activity, Western Kenya has beautiful resorts, some with attractive thatched cottages clustered around small bays.
In the morning, head down to the jetty and take breakfast in the still waters of the lake, while glistening in the beautiful morning sun.
By day, sway in hanging swings on piers stretching into Lake Victoria and relax under the sun, or head to the beach while the chefs rustle up some fish curry for lunch.
In the evening, enjoy dinner by candlelight while watching the twinkling lights over the horizon, or ponder over the fishermen still trying to catch some omena by the lake using their lamps.
When the day is done, refresh in a bath with walk in ‘soup plate’ showers or the usual bath basin, and sleep in your own cottage crafted with local materials.
Western Kenya is renowned for its hospitality, indulgent accommodation, and also the home grown and cooked food.
It’s an ideal place to enjoy and explore Kenya.
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