The western Kenya region is a tourist destination hidden in the sands of time. It houses one of the oldest equatorial rain forest in the region and as analyst say, there are very few of the same left in the world. Talk of wonders of nature and you find them right here in western Kenya. Amazing reptiles and primates, the Kakamega forest is home to them.
Beaming with lush green fields and canopies of tall mighty giant trees and a savannah grass land, the forest is home to more than three hundred spices of birds, butterflies and snakes. It is ever-green and the freshness of the breeze brushes ones nostrils with a tender touch of nature. The cool shade provided naturally form perfect scenery for photograhy. The pride of the people of western Kenya, Kakamega forest lay on a three hundred kilometre square land surrounding the province and bordering the Mabera forest in Uganda.
To get to this rich treasure that has stood the test of time, you board a vehicle at Nyabugogo cutting across Uganda to the Uganda-Busia boarder where you will take a vehicle connecting Busia to Kakamega via the Mumias town. Mumias town named after the Wanga king called Nabongo Mumia and is still a kingdom similar to the one in Uganda of the Baganda, is a sugar belt zone. Mumias has the largest sugar company in the region and also generates electricity that is distributed in the region.
From Mumias, it is a thirty minutes drive to the Kakamega town. Kakamega County, as it recently came to be known, is the third largest county in Kenya with a population of 2.3 million people. There are three languages commonly used in the area namely; English, Swahili and Abaluhya a local language with eighteen dialects. On your way to the area, you will see the fields of tall sugarcane plants. As you get into the town, the architect of both traditional and modern structures blends in beauty to usher you into the town. There is one university in the area cut right in the middle by River Isikhu that drains its water to the second largest lake in the world; Lake Victoria.
As you drive out of the town off the Kisumu- Kakamega road you meet the first wonder of nature, the crying stone. Myths that surround this thirty meters tall stone that drains with water all year are interesting and vary in version depending on the narrator.
But the oldest and one that has numbers is that similar to the story of the Biblical Lot, whose wife turned to be a pillar of salt. A story is told of a man who was a king of the Abaluhya community and as he came from the Nandi hills, he was welcomed by the site of his wife fornicating and prayed that he be turned a stone and so he did! From that day, the stone came to be known Ikhongo Murui, which translates head and body. The stone has caves where cleansing ceremonies are carried out.
As you move the Kisumu-Kakamega highway right after Khayega market a junction on your left leads you to the Kakamega forest. It is home to the Kaimosi blind snake, velvet monkey and an amazing recreation centre where chameleons, butterflies, snakes, tortoise and crocodiles are kept. For mountain climbers, the Liranda hills will offer you a challenge.
For accommodation, The Golf Hotels at the heart of the town and Rondo Retreat right next to the forest will offer you that peace of the night and a delicacy of local food.
Because memories are the best pictures that time paints, buy yourself the Abaluhya traditional wear of beads, hut made of the skin of a black and white velvet monkey, a leather skirt to accompany the hurt and an isukuti drum made from the skin of a monitor lizard.