Rusinga Island has been one of the most overlooked destinations in Kenya. Many people only came to hear about it recently and it’s now attracting both local and international tourists. The Island is situated on the eastern side of Lake Victoria, while on the western side lies its sister, Mfangano Island. It is the ancestral land of a community known as the Abasuba or the Suba. The island has attracted scientists from all over the world to study fossil apes and conduct other fossil-dating studies. Miocene Ape fossils dating back as far as 18 million years ago have been collected on Rusinga by the famous palaeontologists including Louis and Mary Leakey, making the Island an important fossil site. The Rusinga and Mfangano Islands are on the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
You should definitely consider visiting.
Get away from city life
Whether you use the Bomet or the Kisumu route, travel by air, ferry or bus, you will arrive at Mbita. From this point, you will need a bodaboda to get to Rusinga. Unless you are travelling directly by air or by car, this is not an easy journey. However, the difficulty in accessibility is well compensated for by what awaits in the Island.
The sight of fishermen with their lamps in the night is not something you’d bump into in the city. Once you get into Rusinga, expect to experience nature in a very different way. Being in a rural setting, most of the landscape and culture is exotic and untouched.
Hop on a Romantic Adventure
If you walked into any street of Nairobi and asked any person where they’d like to go for their honeymoon, they’d tell you they want to go to the coast. But if you are looking for a different way to celebrate love, here’s why you should consider Rusinga Island. Both of you might have already visited the coast before and there are amazing adventures, unique to Rusinga only. In addition, there are amazing resorts and lounges including Rusinga Island Lodge in Rusinga and Lake Victoria Safari Village in Mbita (an awesome place I would recommend).
Interact with the waters
There are different fun activities you can participate in at Rusinga. Get into the water and experience the livelihoods of the local people by indulging in activities such as fishing. Next time you eat fish, you will remember this moment and feel elated. You will respect the process a little bit more. For people who are really adventurous, activities such boat-racing could be arranged. You could also get a good swim in the natural waters, in areas where swimming is allowed.
Get wild at the Ruma National Park
Only 30 km from Rusinga Island and 10km East of Lake Victoria in Mbita Island, lies the Ruma National Park. This park is unique for a couple of reasons; This is the only place in Kenya that you’ll find the endangered Roan antelope and the Blue Swallow, a rare intra-African migrant. Enjoy seeing other wildlife such as Vervet monkey, leopard, giraffe, hyena and the Mountain Reed Buck during your safari. It is also a birder’s paradise having recorded more than 400 bird species.
Go back in History
A great Kenyan legend, one of the most prominent politicians in the history of Kenya, sleeps in Rusinga Island. The late Tom Mboya rests in a beautiful Mausoleum, a must-visit for any person who values Kenyan history. Very close to the Mausoleum is William X. Scheinman’s grave, one of Tom Mboya’s best friends and one believed to be a friend of Kenya.
Experience the breath-taking sunsets
Due to our busy schedules, we get to miss sunrise and sunsets around us. Even if we had the time, the noise and the skyscrapers in Nairobi would not allow you to take it all in. Anyone who has been to Rusinga comes back singing about the sunsets and sunrises. And no, you will not make them shut up because it is as beautiful as they call it- the kind of beauty that is overwhelming. Sometimes people literally stop everything to wait for the sunset. You just need to see it, to understand.
Enjoy the panoramic view and visit the surrounding Islands
From Got Kiahera, a hill in the Island, there are sites you don’t want to miss. Just take some time off to hike.
Expect to see Bird Island, a stopover for migrant birds and home to over 300 bird species. You will also see Mfangano Island, another must-visit place for lovers of ancient rock-art. In the same Island, at Ramba village, you will find the Abasuba Community Peace Museum. It is a resourceful place to learn about the culture of the Abasuba including their ancient tools, traditional women accessories, artwork and unique cutlery.
Ever heard of Takawiri Island? If you still insist on the coastal feeling and pristine white sand beaches, cool breezes and dancing palm trees, then this place is just perfect for you.
Lose yourself at the Rusinga Cultural Festival
The Rusinga Cultural Festival is a festival created by Ann Eboso, to celebrate the Abasuba culture. Their language and culture have been threatened by the intermarriages between the Luo and the Abasuba. It is held yearly at Rusinga, on the Thursday and Friday before Christmas. People from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds converge here to experience the cultural dances from the villages to the shores of the Island, to enjoy the traditional cuisines of the Abasuba, engage in traditional sport, lose themselves to traditional music and dance and get a little crazy-dramatic with costumes. Travel: Roadtrip To Rusinga Island To Experience The Rusinga Cultural Festival
Dancing to the beat of a different drum. The versatile @AgesKenya perform for the crowd at #RusingaFest2017 #Culture #Dances cc @Rusingafesival @magicalKenya #Travel #TembeaKenya cc @EbosoAnne @eric_omenda pic.twitter.com/gIKjipLWEd
— Rayray (@potentash) December 31, 2017
This guy just looks fierce. Imagine if you met a witchdoctor or elder who looks like this in real life? You repent all your sins before the ancestors ???? #RusingaFest2017 #Culture #TembeaKenya cc @RusingaFestival pic.twitter.com/j2GT2brAwH
— Rayray (@potentash) December 29, 2017
On top of that, there are guided tours around Rusinga and Mfangano Islands, cultural performances, boat races, wrestling, tug of war, a fashion show and an exhibition. This includes food, art and book exhibits. In fact, the Rusinga Cultural Festival is a great entry point for seeing the beauty that is Rusinga. So make a date to go down during the festival because you get the best of what Rusinga has to offer. Follow @RusingaFest to get more information on the festival, and tips on things to do and try in Rusinga.