Kisumu City

Kisumu City – This is the third-largest city in Kenya after the capital, Nairobi, and the coastal city of Mombasa. Kisumu is also the only lakeside city by the shores of the world’s largest freshwaters of Lake Victoria.  Being the economic hub of Western Kenya, Kisumu isn’t far from Kogelo, a village known for being the hometown of Barack Obama Sr., the father to the 44th president of the United States.

Culturally, Kisumu serves as the headquarters of the Luo-speaking people of East Africa. It was the most prominent urban center in the pre-colonial, post-colonial, and modern era for natives of the Kavirondo region.

The lakeside city has some of the most significant political events that have shaped the trajectory of Kenya have happened in Kisumu including the famous political spat between the founding president of Kenya Jomo Kenyatta and founding vice president Jaramogi Odinga during the opening of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in 1969.

Apart from being an important political city, it is one of the premier industrial and commercial centers in Kenya. The city is currently undergoing an urban rejuvenation of the downtown and lower town which includes modernizing the lakefront, decongesting main streets, and making the streets pedestrian-friendly.

Set on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya’s Western Tourism Circuit, Kisumu city is a destination not only for business travelers but also for tourists. It is easily accessible by road, the recently revived meter gauge railway and by air through Kisumu International Airport, which is about 10 minutes from Kisumu’s Central Business District.

For those who would like to do a combination of Kenya’s wildlife safari with Gorilla Tracking in Uganda, air travel is possible for your onward travel to Uganda from Masai Mara to Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport via Kisumu on a daily basis through Air Kenya. Connections to Tanzania, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo can be done by road through the Busia border point between Kenya and Uganda.

Kisumu is beautiful and you will get plenty of breath-taking shots especially if you know where to look. Spectacular photos of the sunset in Kisumu may not be enough to so you need to keep your eyes open for other reason to visit Kisumu.

Having graced some modernity, Kisumu still maintains the old town feel especially on its outskirts and the fusion of the Asian and Luo culture is still very ingrained.

Excursions and Safaris from Kisumu City – In Kenya, wildlife viewing remains the most popular activity for first time visitors and Kisumu isn’t an exception when it comes to showing what Kenya has to offer. Minutes away from the city, is the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, and as per its name, it hosts herds of impalas,, and over 200 species of birds. There are also other animals including lions, zebras, cheetahs, buffaloes, baboons, hyenas, leopards, jackals, Duikers and Bush Bucks.

Away from the city, Western Kenya’s only terrestrial park, Ruma hosts plenty of animals including Roan Antelope, Black and White Rhinos, Rothschild’s Giraffe, Cape Buffalo, Leopard and Oribi, Vervet Monkeys, Burchell’s Zebra, Topi, Impalas and over 300 bird species amongst others.

Ruma park is tucked away in valley with the rolling savannahs on the base of the towering Kanyamwa escarpment and the magnificent Gwassi Hills. Back to Kisumu, Ndere Island National Park is popular with nature lovers thanks to the good network of nature trails. On a guided nature walk, it’s possible to watch hippos, impalas, crocodiles, Burchell’s Zebra, Impalas, and plenty of birds both by boat and on foot.

  1. Hippo Point – This is a six-hundred-acre open viewing land on Lake Victoria. It is well known as a viewing area for its clear spectacular sunsets over the lake as alongside the occasional hippos.

While at Hippo point, you can enjoy a boat ride as you view the birds and hippos in their natural habitats. 

Hippo point is quite popular during the holidays and weekends, when foe, friends, and merry-makers from other parts of the country gather for the sunset or simply for the local delicacies. It is the ideal getaway in the outskirts of Kisumu.

  1. Ndere Island National Park – Located in the heart of Lake Victoria, the island is a haven for dozens of bird species. It is covered mainly by grassland and offers breathtaking scenic views of Rusinga, Mfangano, Oyamo, and Mageta Islands when the weather is clear. It’s also to catch a glimpses of Kampala, Uganda to the southwest.

The lakeshore supports hundreds of animals, including Nile Crocodiles, Monitor Lizards, snakes, hippos, impalas, baboons, waterbucks, zebras, warthogs, and the rare Sitatunga antelopes. 

You can also view over 180 bird species here, including the Pied Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kite, Hammerkop, Grey Headed Kingfishers, African Fish Eagles,  Black Headed Gonoleks, Little Egret and the unmistakable African Fish Eagle.

  1. Dunga Beach and Wetlands – The famous village is an exclusive eco-cultural attraction due to its culturally rich biodiversity and diverse papyrus wetland ecosystem and community.

Dunga Beach and Wetlands aim to empower the local community and improve the security of this region through bird watching and other tourism-related income-generating activities.

You can undertake many activities from boating, birdwatching, kayaking, village tour and even fishing.

Dunga offers some of the best fish-eating experiences around Kisumu as you enjoy the cool lake breeze.

  1. Kisumu Impala Sanctuary – Situated on the shore of Lake Victoria, the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary is a beautiful, relaxing place to experience the city’s natural tranquility. The sanctuary is home to amazing birds including some of the Lake Victoria biome restricted bird species, the rare Sitatunga, impalas, Big Cats, buffalos, several primate species, and some free roaming zebras and impalas. Imapala Park is ideal for nature walks, birdwatching, boat rides or you can just relax and enjoy yourself while surrounded by the beautiful nature.
  1. Boat Trips on Lake Victoria – Exploring the lake by a boat or canoe early in the morning or late in the evening is the best way to experience its beauty. Lake Victoria is among the few lakes in Kenya that doesn’t attract any entry fees!

With Spot-necked Otters, bold Monitor Lizards, the energetic pods and over 200 bird species along it shore the lake offers some of the best outdoor alternatives while you are in Kisumu.

The best way to explore to enjoy Lake Victoria on a motorized boat. Your itinerary can be designed in a manner that you could explore the lakeshore or hip-hop on various island while trying your luck with fishing. The calmness of the lake is best at dawn time till mid-morning before the strong winds pick up for the rest of the day.

  1. Kit Mikayi – This is an integral Luo cultural shrine with three gigantic boulders pile on top of each other. The site is located about 1 km off the Kisumu-Bondo road and about 29 km west of Kisumu city.

It the tallest rock structure in the Kangeso locality standing at about 80 feet while resembling a lady with a load on her back.

The cultural shrine has lots of myths and stories surrounding, and you will be amazed to hear these folklores and even get a chance to visit the caves. They area often used as worshiping sites of the Legio Maria and other denominations.

  1. Fishing Expeditions – Lake Victoria makes an ideal destination for novice and experienced kayakers and anglers. Perhaps you would fancy a weekend or a long expedition on the wilderness of Mfangano Island and spend time sport-fishing for Nile Perch.

You can also accompany the fishermen for the authentic sight of night-fishing off the easily accessible Rusinga Island. The fishing expedition is best under the darkness among thousands of paraffin lanterns creating a mythical floating city in the night as fisher cast and pull their nets of Omena fish attracted to Lake Victoria’s flies.

What to Do in Kisumu

Kisumu City Excursions and Safaris

Kisumu, Kenya’s only lakeside has many popular attractions. Set on the sloping shore of Lake Victoria’s Winam Gulf, Kisumu is the third-largest city in Kenya, but with relaxed atmosphere compared to Nairobi and Mombasa.

Kisumu is a thriving city, and though it was declared a city during its centenary celebrations in 2001, it remains a pleasantly laid-back place with a number of interesting sights and activities nearby.

  1. Town Clock – On the Oginga Odinga street, a tall clock stands on the roundabout of the road. It was unveiled in 1938 by the then Commander-in-chief and governor of Kenya, HE Chief Marshall Sir Robert Brooke Popham.

The Town Clock was erected in memory of Kassim Lakha, who came to East Africa in 1871 and died in Uganda in 1910. It was built by his sons Rahimtulla, Hassan, Alibhai, and Mohamed Kassim, as the writing on the clock reads.

  1. Lake Victoria – Africa’s largest lake and it will be a sacrilege if you don’t visit the lake while you are around. Visiting Lake Victoria isn’t just for anything else, remember the fact that Lake Victoria ranks highly in plenty of Lake Statistics even on a global scale. Amongst others, it is the world’s largest tropical water body and the largest lake by surface area in Africa. With these mentions, visiting Lake Victoria should come with some prestige and appreciation to geography and history.

In Egypt, the talk about the Nile River is big yet Nile waters comes from Lake Victoria that seems to be our ordinary backyard. In Kenya’s former western province lies the beautiful Lake Victoria. This vast lake is twice the size of Wales and creates a natural boundary between Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. 

The lake is the engine of the African continent and the origin of the amazing Nile River. This considerable body of water is full of fish, with shimmering shoals of beautiful cichlids and large Nile Perch. 

Fishing brings many people to this lake, primarily to search for Nile Perch, a world-class game.

  1. Kisumu Museum – Is situated along the Kisumu – Kericho highway. Opened in 1980, the museum disseminates and stores information on scientific and cultural issues, emphasizing Kisumu County and the neighbouring western Kenya.

The primary features of the museum include a collection of fauna and flora species the western region.

The main notable animals include amphibians and reptiles collected from western Kenya. You also experience a traditional Luo homestead and other traditional artefacts from the Luo and other communities within the rgion.

Kisumu museum is also an excellent destination for local and international workshops and seminars. Attached to the museum are a few monuments and sites of historical importance, including the Kanjira, Rusinga Islands, Fort Tenan, Thimlich Ohinga, and Songhor.

  1. Rich History and Culture – Kisumu city has a rich history, with ‘Port Florence’ dating back to the start of the 1900. The communities living around the lake have maintained aspects of their culture and learning about it all is an interesting experience. Points of interest where you can learn about the culture include the Kisumu Museum where attributes of the people including dressing, housing, food and farming, fishing and hunting tools are exhibited. Further afield, a visit to Kit Mikayi, Luanda Magere Site and Grave and Kogelo Village (birthplace of President Barack Obama’s father) are also quite popular day excursions. The prehistoric sites at Fort Songhor and the Kanjira Prehistoric site and hot springs (Bala Rawi) where you can boil eggs might also be of interest to you if your time permits.
  1. Conference & Business Meetings in KisumuMICE tourism has grown in popularity for the fact that conferences and some business meetings are more effective away from their usual locations. Different environments inspire people to focus and be more productive, and Kisumu isn’t an exception when it comes to offering such environment. With plenty of hotels and affordable conference packages the lakeside city welcomes you not only for the business, but also on accommodation, excursions during and after your business, and finally on a well-planned lake Western Kenya Safari.
  1. Beaches, Swamps, and WaterKisumu being a lakeside city with Lake Victoria at it backyard offers many cool waterfront points, although most are undeveloped but this shouldn’t be used as an excuse for not enjoying what Kisumu city attractions. The tranquillity that you deserve will find you on most of the beaches whether in the city or in the outskirts. A cool refreshing breeze from Lake Victoria will help you rejuvenate and unwind and you enjoy some local activities around. While in Kisumu, Hippo Point has a great-open viewing area that is perfect for picnics and the awesome sundowners by the lake. In the same neighbourhood, Dunga Beach is another great spot from where you can go for bird watching, boat riding, view hippos, interact with the Luo fisher folk community and spend some time to learn more on bird species.
  1. Lakeside City Luo Cuisine – For your cuisine indulgence, you are at the right place. Kisumu gives you plenty of reasons to pack up and explore the culinary spectacle and it’s not just about fish… All the best food that you love and other food that you might not have tried or known from home will be on your menu too, but made with passion and a delightful lakeside twist. Remember, you can’t miss the lakeside city’s signature meal, the unusual fish, often accompanied by ugali (maize meal) alongside green vegetables. It is only natural that you will get plenty of fish and other seafood, made in different ways close to the Lake, but as a foodie, it will help to know where to go. While with limited time and you can’t go wrong with the Sarova Imperial Hotel Kisumu, Jalil’s Grill, Acacia Premier, Ciala Resort, Mill View Hotel, Sovereign Hotel, Vic Hotel, Wigot Gardens Hotel, The Grand Royal Swiss and the lakeside restaurant at Dunga beach. The choices are unlimited!
  1. Accentuate Your Nightlife – Kisumu has an active nightlife that starts as soon as the sun goes down. The well-equipped clubs and lounges are modern and hip and their décor, food and drinks selections are impressive. The big names in the clubbing business change over time, but some cool spots include Club Signature, Buccaneer, Samba Marina, Buddy’s and Latitude. Major hotels like the Sarova Imperial Hotel Kisumu, Acacia Premier, Ciala Resort also have an in-house lounge where you can have a drink with friends or colleagues after a long day.
  1. Special and Romantic Occasions – The lakeside city is first becoming an all-time wedding destination. For those who fancy every moment, weddings are the norm nowadays and thankfully, the lakeside city of Kisumu has some ideal spots where you can enjoy your special big day in the most trendiest manner. After your wedding, we can help you to be safely transferred privately for a private retreat at Rusinga Island Lodge or even to the most idyllic; Mfangano Island Lodge both nestled on the islands of Lake Victoria.
  1. Inland Holiday Getaways – Kenya’s only lakeside city of Kisumu is a great holiday destination to go with small groups, families or friends. Kisumu City pace of life is much slower and well paced down, and after weeks of work in the bustling cities, you will want to make the lakeside city to be your getaway for relaxation. With a very inviting tropical weather, that makes Kisumu city irresistible to any holiday goers. On the side, Kisumu City offers plenty of daytime activities for families these range from city excursions to learning a thing or two on the lake region’s ethnography, wildlife viewing and local lakeside cuisine.

Kisumu City - Included Tourism Highlights

Known for its spectacular photos of the sunrise and sunset, the lakeside city of Kisumu calls for more than a couple of days during your visitation. From its humid temperate climate to its laid-back city life where its community is well reputed for its warm hospitality, Kisumu offers more than just an urban city.

Having accepted some modernization over the years, Kisumu still maintains that the old town feels charmed especially on the outskirts and the culture is still very much ingrained. If you are looking beyond its intriguing city life, then you won’t be disappointed by the available options.

In Kisumu, tourists can access a variety of activities that are quite engaging. One can avail a classic bike ride offered by local canoe boat operators. You can also indulge in cycling around the city when you have time. Kisumu also offer walking tours along with different scenic sections. Moreover, for fitness enthusiasts, it is a smart way to exercise their legs. Travelers can even hire other modes of transport such as bodaboda bikes or tuk-tuk.
For all the nocturnal animals who wish to stomp the dance floor, there are several clubs and lounges in Kisumu city, which can be visited. The nightlife is very alluring that will allow the tourists and natives to acquire an excellent feel of the Luo Benga and Rhumba music alike. Live bands also perform at some of the locations creating a gripping feel of the lakeside city.

For those who have an eye for shopping, the city has several open-air markets and malls. These are as basic as the popular flea markets of Oile and Kibuye which are accessed by locals as well as tourists. Kibuye market is crowded with buyers mainly on Sundays; you can easily bargain for a good deal on a wide variety of items. This market is mainly known for its cheap second-hand clothing where you can try what is trending locally. If you have a taste for food, you can also explore the numerous green groceries section of the market and learn some lessons about the regions agricultural produce.

Activities from Kisumu City

Arts Market of Kisumu
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Art Markets of Kisumu 6 Hours

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Lake Simbi Nyaima, Kendu Bay, Kenya
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10 Hours Ruma Park and Lake Simbi Nyaima Safari

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Kenya Wildlife Impala Park, Harambee Road, Kisumu, Kenya
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Kisumu Impala Park 5 Hours

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Thimlich Ohinga Prehistoric site, C19, Macalder Mines, Kenya
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10 Hours Luo Cultural Roots

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Tours and Safaris from Kisumu City

5 Days Masai Mara Wildebeest Migration Kenya

Kenya

6 Days Masai Mara and Lake Victoria Safari

Kisumu, Kenya

4 Days Safari From Kisumu to Masai Mara

Kisumu, Kenya

8 Days Western Kenya Safari

Kakamega Forest National Reserve, Kakamega, Kenya

Kisumu City Map

Kisumu City Trip Ideas

Kisumu City

Destination Spotlight: Kisumu City

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