What are some of the amazing places to Visit in Kisumu, one may be forced to ask?

Anyways, the Great County of Kisumu isn’t for the faint-hearted. I am writing this comfortably seated at my desk and I can see my weather meter reading 29 degrees Celsius. This heat is one of the initiation things that welcome you to Kisumu. Talk about the heat at night, it’s crazy, you’d think of sleeping in your birthday suit at times, let’s hope the much anticipated rains wash away our heat sins when it comes.

Anyway, Kisumu, like Mombasa is known for its heat. Actually, I prefer the heat to the wet season. But the heat has its own problems, it has made the mosquitoes to easily thrive and breed, making our lakeside city lead in malarial infections all year round. Health notwithstanding, lack of rains or the normal rains has made our agricultural fortunes dwindle, making us net importers of virtually every food product, albeit, the Ahero Rice Irrigation Scheme next door.

Kisumu experiences so much solar hours that can be tapped to power the city. We might just be the most environmentally friendly county in Kenya.

Enough already!

I remember with ease 7 years ago when I started staying here. The city was cold, a ghost town of sorts so to speak, so uninviting from the debacles of the PEV that broke out leading to torching of key business installations in the city. This is that bad story this city has written since it was founded in 1901.

Any ways, I didn’t want to bore you today about the heat, or the rains or the ghost town bit; but I wanted to let you know that despite the loose ends of this city, and any other city world over, there are very many magical places that you can enjoy when visiting.

The Magical Kisumu or how we call it: Amazing Kisumu 🙂

For a few years now, this lakeside city is making a name for itself as an entertainment, creativity, sports, investment and tourism hub for residents and visitors alike, making Kisumu one of the leading travel destinations and places in Kenya.

The beauty of this city is that there’s something for everyone. Talk of the friendly nature and demeanor of the people. In the streets, what affects you affects me; unlike Nairobi where “mind-you-own-business” B.S is the play.

With its diverse array of activities – nightlife spots to restaurants and good food (of course am talking about fish), you will have the fun and thrill of your life in this city.

By the Lakeside, you can watch the enchanting sunset, choose to fish, walk with the impalas, count the hippos, kayak or go on an adventure ride in a boat. Away from the shores, the town comes alive with modern malls, shopping centers, hotels, clubs and residential apartments. The city is adorning a modern fresh look each waking day!

To cut the long story short, here are our 10 magical places to check out in Kisumu. The numeracy doesn’t in any way indicate the popularly of one place over the other.

  1. Mega City Mall: The City within a City

I know you are wondering why we call it a city within a city. It is very homely and inviting. It’s out of town and has a nice and appealing environment within it. It is a one stop shop for all that you may need, not forgetting the Nakumatt “You Need it we got it “cliché.

An artistic impression of Lake Victoria at Mega City at the main entrance
An artistic impression of Lake Victoria at Mega City at the main entrance

Why Mega City Mall?

  • The only place in Kisumu where one can catch blockbuster movies, any time any day, at very fair costs. Planet Media Cinemas has a modern tech to beam the movies on big screens, it is the place for you if you are a movies maverick!
  • A children’s amusement arcade: even the little ones are catered for here. They will have a chance to play as much as your pocket can afford. There are unlimited games and thrilling bodily feel while at them. I remember one of the kids someday started throwing tantrums when the parents wanted to take her off one of the “copters”
  • Do you want to swim with the fishes? Yes, you can do that at The Vic’s hotel swimming pool.
  • Hungry, consider Mon Ami for their pizzas, drinks or caffeine
  • Sick, consider Acacia Medical Services within the mall for all your health care needs, as well as the numerous clinics and chemists for your drugs
  • Sleepy, why don’t you book a room or two at The Vic Hotel, even host a conference therein
  • Shopping, yes of course! This is Kisumu’s biggest shopping outlet out here! The supermarket, Millionaire Shop, City Walk, etc. you can shop everything for all we care (or as long as your plastic cards can allow), and yet you are still within the mall.
  • Study, let’s not even go there! Kisumu people or rather, the Luo Nation of Kisumu are known for their love for books. The University of Nairobi has its Kisumu Campus here, among other colleges.

So, you can stay at The Vic, Shop at Millionaires and Nakumatt, eat and drink at Mon Ami, get treated at Acacia Medical Services, school at UoN, swim at The Vic again, catch the newly released box-office movies at Planet Media Cinemas, and have it all, within getting out of the jurisdiction of the Mega City Mall.

  1. The WestEnd Shopping Mall

Strategically located at the intersection of the Achieng’ Oneko road and God Huma road, this is the latest and somewhat the hippest mall in town.

The West End Shopping Mall at night, with @acaciapremierhotel. By @gordorockguru
The West End Shopping Mall at night, with @acaciapremierhotel. By @gordorockguru

It houses the Java House, a favorite for the city’s yuppies, Uchumi Supermarket, boutiques and the regions first 4-star hospitality property – the Acacia Premier Hotel. The hotel, is actually the biggest attraction here, it now hosts most of the leading conferences that come to town. It’s modern and automated services makes it the events planners favorite venue since it eliminates the headache of fixing stuff here and there, as the peripherals you may need to use are all inbuilt.

The mall also has lots of numerous shops for all your household needs.

From the poolside of Acacia Hotel, you will have one of the perfect views of planes landing and taking off at the Kisumu International Airport, or even watch some picturesque glimpse of the sunset in the lakes yonder.

  1. Dunga Hill Camp/DHC/The Hill

This one here needs no introduction. If you are in Kisumu, and you haven’t paid this place a call, then you are a “Chi Ong’ong’o” – ask a Luo for a translation if you aren’t one!

Camping at DHC by the lake
Camping at DHC by the lake

Sitting pretty at the shores of Lake Victoria at Dunga, way past Hippo Point, past Yacht Club, past Kiboko Bay, will you find it.

It is Kisumu’s campers’ paradise by the lake. It has hosted many camper trucks that have been looking to experience Kisumu at the lake. Don’t fear the hippos will walk on your tent, that’s just part of the thrill, isn’t it not the reason why you are camping in the first place?

The Hill, as it is also called in some quarters also boasts the best and freshest view of the lake and its attractive sunset in the evenings. Sights to behold! The managers actually take shots of the sunsets most evenings and document them in their Facebook page.

The DHC also hosts a number of arts and music festivals almost every single weekend. One of the leading music bands in the city – Uzima Vibes tunes their trade here.

It is also the only place you can do kayaks in this lakeside city. You can also have an opportunity to fish and or even partake in a boat ride if you aren’t aqua phobic like me.

  1. Impala Sanctuary

Kisumu City has plenty in store for wildlife lovers. While you can spot hippos during boat rides on some sections of the lake, you will have better luck visiting a Park or Reserve.

Impalas at the animal sanctuary
Impalas at the animal sanctuary

Kisumu Impala Sanctuary is known for its herds of Impalas, picnic sites and nature trails. The Sanctuary houses other animals as well including hippos, buffaloes, leopards, monkeys, lions and hyenas.

These above just tell you the more reasons why Kisumu’s time is now!

  1. Kisumu Museum

Kisumu Museum was opened to the public in 1980. The museum stores and disseminates information on cultural and scientific issues with emphasis on Western Kenya.

Exhibits include cultural history, and also provides educational services to schools in its neighborhood.

It’s a great spot to learn about the culture and history of the communities living around the Lake. The collection ranges from live animals to tools and weaponry. There are taped programs on the migration and settling of the Luo and an exhibition of a traditional Luo homestead as well.

School children at the Kisumu Museum
School children at the Kisumu Museum

A visit to the museum is insightful, instructive and fun.

Research activities also feature prominently. In recent years, the Kisumu museum has participated in multinational investigation on limnology (a scientific characteristic of fresh water lakes) of Lake Victoria conducted from the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) at Mbita in Kisumu.

Kisumu museum is also a gravity point for seminars and workshops both international and local. Attached to Kisumu museum are a number of sites and monuments of historical significance including Fort Tenan, Songhor, Thimlich Ohinga and Rusinga Islands.

  1. Kit Mikayi

Kit Mikayi is a tor/rock formation off Kisumu-Bondo road, which is popular as a pilgrimage site.

Kit Mikayi - Image credit Thoroughbred Films
Kit Mikayi – Image credit Thoroughbred Films

In Dholuo language, which is spoken in the area, Kit Mikayi means ‘‘stone of the first wife’’.

Members of the Legio Maria sect use it as their place of worship (pilgrimage), you will most of the time find the sect members holed up inside the caves/crevices praying with colored candles and religious paraphernalia.

One can also get a very rich historical story from some of the tour guides in the site explaining how the rock came into being.

Myth has it that there was an old man by the name Ngeso who adored and cherished the rocks.

Every day when he woke up, he would walk into the cave under the stone and rest the whole day.

The wife was thus forced to bring him his meals there every day.

The old man became passionately in love with this stone and every time residents asked her where her husband was, she would say he had gone to be with his first wife (Mikayi).

The stone was thus called the first wife (Kit Mikayi).

Others opine that due to its features, the structure represents the traditional Luo cultural polygamous family which had the first wife’s house (Mikayi) built further in between.

The house of the second wife was built on the right hand side (Nyachira) while the third wife’s house (Reru) was built on the left hand side of the homestead.

It is a great outdoors venue for hiking for you, friends or family.

Bring your climbing shoes since some of the rocks are pretty steep, and slippery, but the scenery is great for photography.

This is a sight that any nature lover should add to their places-to-visit bucket-list.

  1. Dunga Beach

Spending time by the beach never seems to get outdated, and Kisumu gives you just that.

MV Brazil for all cruises in the lake
MV Brazil for all cruises in the lake

It’s location in Dunga Village, Kisumu, gives you a spectacular and breath taking view of the large expanse of Lake Victoria, Ndere Island and a distant Homa Hills.

It serves as a fishing port with a spectacular sight of boats unloading their catch and buyers scrambling for the best price. A boat ride can complete one’s tour as an excellent experience.

The beach is especially popular for fishing and boat riding, both of which are thrilling adventures. Tranquil waters await you as you row farther from the shore, and the amazing views will make you wish you brought a camera along.  If you are very lucky, you can have the vendors by the beach cook the fish you caught.

  1. Hippo Point

I can’t emphasize enough how mesmerizing the sunsets in Kisumu are, but Hippo point offers you a chance to experience just that. Located a few kilometers away from the city, get a chance to experience amazing wildlife, spot hippos and sleep in the wild at one of the camping sites within the area.

Hippos in the Lake
Hippos in the Lake

Hippo point is a public meeting point just past the Yacht Club. It’s one of the best places to catch the awesome sunsets. Despite its name, it’s known more for its sunsets than the hippos that come out to the beach or lazy around in the rocky waters meters away from the shores of the beach.

Its strategic location allows revelers to come with own food, BYOB, or even picnic around with friends and foes. Most weekend afternoons, Hippo Point is jam packed by cars, families and friends reminiscing or just catching up, some even oblivious of the beautiful sunset that descends on the lake’s boundaries late evening. Actually, it’s a great place to hang out with friends.

With open car boots/doors/windows, emitting decibels of sounds to the ears, these seem to be the mashup entertainment that the site is currently known for.

You can do picnics better in the course of the week than during the weekends when the place is fully packed.

  1. Kibuye Flea Market

Kibuye is an open air market and one of the biggest not only in Kenya, but also in Africa. Numerous traders have put their shops in this place and you can get almost anything that you want from clothing, shoes, bags, grocery, a haircut, water, furniture and all that have you. It is a must stop shopping center for anyone visiting the town.

Second hand clothes being sold at the market
Second hand clothes being sold at the market

Come past the Market on any weekday you’ll find it as empty as a hyena’s heart, but visit on a Sunday and it transforms into a blossoming spring flower of color and scents. Kibuye is most famous for the second hand clothing that are always on sale throughout the week, from local business owners to traders who throng this market on Sunday’s from as far as Rwanda.

It is the best place for you to get fresh groceries in town which you can stock in your house till the next weekend shopping.

Despite it being an old marketplace, it has been earmarked for a major renovation, with stalls being provided in a closed environment, this means that the open-air nature it currently has will be no more in the future.

  1. Lwang’ni Beach

Every time one hears about Kisumu, and travels to this city, they will always ask one question: Where can I eat fish? And the answer every time will always be: Lwang’ni Beach, Hotel Lwang’ni, or Lwang’ni Restaurants at the shores of Lake Victoria. Everyone here knows about it.

Lwang'ni Restaurants
Lwang’ni Restaurants

All roads lead to Lwang’ni.

Just so you know Lwang’ni is Luo word for Housefly. This doesn’t in any way mean that these beach-side restaurants are infested with those damned flies. Actually, it’s a complete opposite. But I bet, the name came across because the shore was once a thriving fish-selling/mongering point, and because of the flurry of the mongers cleaning, cutting apart and throwing aimlessly the fish remains everywhere around, there were lots of flies in this territory. The flies are no more, but the name stuck. Call it law of attraction.

This is the real deal! This is the real initiation into the Kisumu lifestyle. You haven’t been to Kisumu till you eat fish. You haven’t eaten fish till you visit Lwang’ni beach. This place is the place to be. Their fish is the best and freshest in Kisumu.

If you are not at home here, you don’t belong anywhere.

Therefore, you cannot purport to have visited Kisumu without visiting this favorite fish spot. The fish is usually eaten in groups, because it’s so humongous. It will cost you at least US$ 10 for you to eat one (in Kisumu the only acceptable currency is the American standard, but do we say).

🙂

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