Kisumu has a lot of cultural and national history. It started out as a port in 1901 when it became the main inland terminal for the Kenya-Uganda Railway. It is situated on the shores of Lake Victoria, which is Africa’s largest inland lake. It was called Lake Victoria, then renamed Port Florence for one year before getting its current name which is Kisumu. Kisumu is derived from the word “Sumo” which means ‘a place to barter or trade’.
Kisumu forms part of the western tourism circuit. Kisumu has a lot to offer in terms of great geographic landscapes, cultural and natural diversity. Kisumu has lately become a favourite destination for conference tourism. So if you find yourself in Kisumu either by accident or design you will have a great time. Below are ten places you should visit once in Kisumu.
1. Kit Mikayi
Kit Mikayi stands tall in Kangeso village. From afar it looks like a lady with a wide load on her back. Kit Mikayi has stories and legends linked to it. The place has been adopted by the Lego Maria Sect as a place for prayer and fasting. There are caves in Kit Mikayi there that have been turned into shrines for the Legion Maria sect.
Climb the rocks at Kit Mikayi for a breathtaking view of the city of Kisumu and the massive water mass of Lake Victoria. When you are done climbing, rest and have snacks at the picnic reserved area just below the rocks. If you are feeling playful, you can play football with the locals.
2. Kisumu Impala Sanctuary
Located 1Km from the CBD, it covers 38 Ha. This is the home for the threatened impalas within the city of Kisumu and its environs. Its focus is mainly keeping herds of impalas and zebras, thus it has the slogan; ’A lakeshore walk with impalas’. It is also an animal orphanage for lions, cheetahs, baboons, buffaloes and even jackals. The Impala Sanctuary is also a good place for bird watching, so get your binoculars ready to watch the 115 bird species.
If you would like to have a sundowner and watch the sun go down and disappear into the lake There is a sundowner tower which faces the Railway trail. This is a romantic spot that would make an excellent choice for weddings, romantic getaways, and corporate events. Take a walk around the sanctuary and have lunch at one of the picnic sites at the sanctuary. Other fun activities are hiking, trekking, and boat rides around the Lake Victoria.
You can enter the sanctuary between 6 am to 6 pm. currently you can only pay by cash to enter.
3. Hippo point
Hippo point is a great place to watch the beautiful sunsets and is known more for its sunsets then the hippos that occasionally come out to be seen. It is near the village of Dunga. If you like camping then you are in luck as there is a camping site there and also a fishing port.
It is strategically placed so that you can enjoy a full day out at the picnic sight with family and friends. It is also a romantic spot where you can enjoy sundowners. There are no cover charges to access the Hippo point.
4. Dunga Hill Camp
It is right at the shores of Lake Victoria and is a great place to chill out. If you would like to try out fishing this is the best place to try it out, who knows you could be the one that catches the fish you eat for supper. This is also a great place to see hippos. If you are traveling on a budget this is a great place to stay and experience Kisumu.
This is a great place to try kayaking on the lake. You can also take boat rides, or wait to see the beautiful sunset. It has the perfect venue to have a picnic. Want to sleep over? Dunga Hill Camp has a serene camping spot where you can spend the night/s.
5. Kisumu Museum
The Museum is an interesting place where you can learn about the history of Kisumu and its environs. Despite its small size, it has a comprehensive exhibit gallery where the focus is on display of material and culture of the people of Western Nyanza. You will learn how people used to dress, how they would farm and also the tools that they used. There is a life size model of a traditional Luo homestead which is sponsored by the UNESCO.
Some of the artifacts that can be seen there include traditional clothing, jewelry, fishing gear, agricultural implements, and weapons for hunting. There are also some interesting displays like the one of the largest Nile Perch ever caught in Kenya.
The museum has different pavilions some of which have live animals, aquariums of fish etc. The Museum also has an outdoor snake park and tortoise pens.
6. Luanda Magere Site and Grave.
Luanda Magere was a legendary warrior, who could not be killed. When the Kipsigis went to war with the Luo they came up with a strategy to find out his secret, they gave him a woman from their community to marry. The woman learnt his secret when he fell ill and asked his wife to treat his shadow. Luanda Magere told her tribesmen the secret and when they went to war again, a warrior threw a spear into Luanda’s shadow. He dies and was turned into a stone, which is still in the same spot.
7. Kiboko Bay Resort
This bay has reinvented itself. Once known as a quarry for harvesting rocks and sandy soil it has now become a tourist destination. It is a very romantic getaway and is a great place for a honeymoon if you are thinking that Kisumu is a great place to get away.
It is quite close to the high street, the Dunga Fishing village, and the Impala Park so you can visit quite a few places while staying there. If you are a nature lover, then the wetlands and mangrove forests will amaze you. And there are many bird species to be spotted for bird lovers.
This resort has been consistently rated as the best Kisumu resorts. It has an African feel to it and is a lovely place to stay if you are looking for comfort. Its idyllic lakeside setting is perfect for those who need to relax and recharge. You should take a trip around the lake with a boat.
8. Lwang’ Ni Beach
Your visit to Kisumu is not complete if you do not visit this amazing beach, which happens to be a favourite spot fishing spot for the fishermen. Kisumu is famous for fresh tasty tilapia and this is where you will get this delicious fish. Make sure you order some fish and ugali and take in the scenery as you enjoy this fresh fish.
9. Kisumu market
If you are not from Kisumu, don’t leave Kisumu without getting one or two things for your family and friends back home. Take time and visit the market, get a variety of fresh foods and vegetables while at it, buy some handmade items such as bags, carvings, which you can keep or give away as souvenirs.
10. Ndere Island
Ndere Island has a nature trail where you can appreciate nature. It is home to the Nile crocodile, impalas and hippos. There are also beautiful birds for those who love bird watching.
11. Ruma National Park
You may know Gor Mahia to be a football team but the original Gor Mahia was a powerful wizard who lived near the park. It was established in 1966 to protect the declining population of the rare roan antelope. You can find Black Rhinos which were translocated here and the blue shallow.
There are many animals to be seen here including the Roan antelope, Leopards, Buffalos, Hyenas, Rothschild Giraffes, velvet monkeys, bush pigs, Impalas, honey badgers. There are also 400 species of birds to be seen.
You can go bird watching, have team building activities, go on game drives, bring your team for team building, and go sightseeing. There are also two campsites the Nyati and Fig Tree.
12. Alego Nyangoma
Kogelo village because famous because it is the birthplace of President Obama’s father and where his grandmother Sarah Obama lives. You have to get a clearance letter to visit her from either the Police or the District Officer in Siaya Town.
13. Got Ramogi Hill.
According to legends this is the first place where the Luo Community settled when they reached the shores of Lake Victoria. There is an ancient tree called the “omwonyo le.” The tree is said to have swallowed an axe when somebody tried to cut it down. The leaves of the tree are a prized commodity by witchdoctors from East Africa and Congo who use its leaves to treat illness.
14. Kanjera Prehistoric site and Kanjera hot springs (Bala Rawi)
These are hot salty springs ‘discovered” by Doctor Louis Leakey in 1932. You can boil eggs there. The local people use the salt collected from the evaporated salt water to cook.
15. Imperial Hotel, Kisumu
Imperial hotel is located in the centre of the city of Kisumu. It is a luxury hotel and has various options for conferencing, banqueting and events. It has stylish rooms and suites which are lavishly furnished.
Check out the Victoria Terrace, Florence restaurant. The hotel has a fitness centre and a swimming pool. The Imperial Hotel also has a spa, where you can relax, and get pampered.
Kisumu has 2 movie theaters where one can watch movies. Planet Media which is located at the Mega City Mall and also Starflix cinemas.
If you love to club and dance the night away then there are enough nightclubs to keep you busy.
There are amusement arcades at Mega City Mall First Floor and at United Mall.
There are some hotels where you can stay like Impala Ecolodge, Jumuia Hotel, Kisumu Hotel, Kisumu Beach Resort, and Soveign Hotel.