The sweetest part of life is creating memories and the hardest part is saying goodbye to the people and places that were a part of those memories. A trip guaranteed to start with a smile and end with tearful memories is the trip to Kisumu; the lakeside city on Kenya’s western border.
Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya, generates tourist traffic with its wildlife, its proximity to Lake Victoria and it’s warm-tropical-equatorial climate. Kisumu literally means a place of barter trade or”sumo” as the natives call it.
There are two alternative routes to Kisumu and any of them will yield the same excitement. There is the Kigali- Kampala- Busia via the Busia Kisumu road and the Kigali- Mwanza route. You can decide to board a ship to Kisumu or go by bus via the Mwanza-Sirare route that cuts right across Serengeti and the Mara River. This route takes you right to the Kenya- Tanzania border where you will roll down to Kisii and then finally to Kisumu.
Kisumu is home to one of the oldest high school institutions in the country. The Maseno School established back in 1906 by the Church Missionary Society (CMS) offers high school education to students from all over the country. For higher education, you will be spoilt for choice as the lakeside city is turning itself into an academic town.
There are many places to visit and many more goodies to carry with you back home. Kisumu Museum is one of these interesting places; housing animals for display and outdoor pavilions that contain aquariums and cages. The aquariums contain fish varieties from Lake Victoria. They also have terrariums for snake pits, and crocodile containers too.
Kisumu Bird Sanctuary, 8km southeast of town, covers a large area of swampland and is an important breeding ground for herons, storks and cormorants. The best time to visit is April or May if you want that natural setting that nature offers with no boundaries.
To have an unobstructed, panoramic view of the sun setting in Victoria; Impala sanctuary is the place. Offering a bond with nature, a herd of impala roam grazing in the sanctuary. Injured leopards and baboons are caged and being taken care of as well. Many bird and reptile species are allowed to wander in the sanctuary. Southwest of the area is the “Hippo Point”, which is most visited, not because of the hippos but for its scenery and you, can be part of the long list of those who have visited the place.
To top dress your trip, Kit Mikayi, a large rock with three rocks on top, located off Kisumu Bondo Road towards Bondo will certainly work for you. It is a weeping rock; it is believed that Mikayi (which means, literally, “the first wife”) went up the hill to the stones when her husband took a second wife, and has been weeping ever since. It serves as an object for legends and religious pilgrimages.
You can get carvings and hand bags made from the water hyacinth that has rocked Lake Victoria for a while now. Beads and accessories are also available. You can also get the Luo cultural wear of a skin cloth made of velvet monkey skin.
After a day’s tour you’ll obviously need some rest and a collection of hotels are there to offer just that. For high spenders, Kiboko Bay Resort, Imperial Hotel and the Hotel Marina Kisumu are the first class hotels in the town. For modest spenders, Jumuia Hotel and Parkview Safari Hotel will do. If you are the type who likes to party, Signature and Club Octopus are your places.
The rich meal menu ranges from delicately stuffed fish to Indian selections such as chicken biryani, butter chicken and of course a taste of delicious Kenyan foods at Lwang`ni Beach of fresh fish from the lake and ugali, made the Kenyan way.
For sure you will leave this town with memories of the people, food, lots of bicycles that throng the city and the beautiful scenery.