Western Kenya

Mountainous and fertile Western Kenya is blanketed in lush green plantations of famed Kenyan tea. At its western edge, the region meets Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile. Other highlights include Mt Elgon, Kakamega Forest National Reserve, Ruma National Park, Saiwa Swamp National Park, Cherangani Hills and Kerio Valley.


Overview

Western Kenya’s major towns are Eldoret, Kitale, Kakamega, Kisumu, Kisii and Kericho. Eldoret is a bustling hub at which roads linking the Rift Valley, Northern Kenya and Western Kenya meet. Kitale is the gateway to Mt Elgon, Saiwa Swamp, Cherangani Hills and Marich Pass. Kakamega has the tropical rainforest designated an Important Bird Area, IBA. Kisumu, the largest town in western Kenya and third largest in Kenya, stretches along the shores of Lake Victoria. Kisii is famed for soapstone and Kericho is renowned for producing tea. The region is home to the Luo, Luhya, Kalenjin and Gusii.

Eldoret has an international airport. Kitale and Kisumu have domestic airports. Airstrips suitable for charters are dotted around the region. The road network is well maintained and well signed. Inside the national parks, 4WD vehicles are required. Entry to national parks requires park fees be paid to Kenya Wildlife Service, KWS.

Lake Victoria lies between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The lake is the largest freshwater lake in Africa and the second largest in the world. After long and treacherous exploration, the explorers of the 19th century settled on the lake as the source of the Nile. Rusinga Island houses a prehistoric excavation site whose fossils are thought to be 18-million years old. Mt Elgon, straddling the Kenya Uganda border, is famous for elephants that dig salt from its caves. The mountain offers hot springs, great hiking and several peaks to climb. Rising 4,200 meters, the mountain is the fourth highest in Africa. It is known for botanical diversity and primate and game viewing; 240 species of birds have been recorded.

Kakamega Forest is the only remnant of the once great tropical rainforest that stretched across Central Africa. The forest is home to 330 bird species, several endemic to the area. Forest walking, bird watching and game viewing are on offer. The nearby Crying Stone of Ilesi, rich in folklore, is another attraction. Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, on the shores of Lake Victoria, is a holding area for animals needing special protection and incorporates an animal orphanage. The sanctuary has nature trails and picnic sites, and is known for an abundance of birdlife.

Ruma National Park, created to protect its indigenous population of rare roan antelopes, is home to 400 species of birds. Camping, picnicking, bird watching and game viewing are all available. Saiwa Swamp National Park was created to protect the sitatunga, a rare web-footed antelope. Other indigenous species of interest include otter, genet cat, serval cat, mongoose, bushbuck and monkeys; 370 species of bird have been recorded. The park has a nature boardwalk and campsite.

Cherangani Hills, Tugan Hills and Kerio Valley offer spectacular views and interesting hiking. Long and short hikes and camping are available. Marich Pass, further north, also has wonderful hiking and mountain climbing. The highlands are famed for being the home of Kenya’s marathon-winning athletes.


Listings In The Western Kenya Region

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Jane Barnley has lived in Kenya for over 75 years. Together with her son Richard and daughter Julia, she runs Sirikwa Safaris, welcoming guests into her farmhouse and tailor making their safaris. The Barnleys’ house, with its home cooking and comfortable atmosphere, makes an ideal base from which to explore the ...

Saiwa Swamp National Park, Kenya’s smallest national park, provides the setting for this unique house. Tree Top House is named for its location in a tree inside the park. The house is owned by Kenya Wildlife Service, KWS. The house is a single unit, with twin beds and an ...

Kapkuro Bandas are self-catering cottages located in Mt Elgon National Park, 1km from Chorlim Gate. They are owned and managed by Kenya Wildlife Service, KWS. There are 2 cottages, with 2 self-contained bandas in each cottage. Each banda has 1 bedroom furnished with double and single bed. There is also a bathroom, a ...

From this idyllic spot on the escarpment, Kerio View has panoramic views over the stunning Kerio Valley. Its glass-fronted restaurant and cottages ensure magnificent views on all sides. There are 28 en-suite rooms, including 16 rooms built in 2009, made up of singles, doubles and triples. The rooms are dotted about the gardens ...

Rondo was built by a saw miller at the base of a towering Elgon Olive in 1948, and left to the Christian Council of Kenya in 1961. In 1966, the Trinity Fellowship took over and ran it as a youth centre and orphanage. Now a hospitable homestead, it has become Rondo Retreat. The ...

Imperial Hotel offers luxury accommodation in the heart of Kisumu. The imposing white building surrounds a leafy central courtyard and swimming pool. There are 70 en-suite rooms. The standard rooms have twin beds, and are equipped with armchairs, coffee table, desk, electronic safe and telephone. The deluxe rooms have, in addition, ...

Named after the hippos that wallow in front of the resort, Kiboko Bay Resort is a tented camp on Lake Victoria. Manicured lawns, dotted with bougainvillea and palms and humming with birdsong, slope gently to the water’s edge. The 9 tents, raised on wooden platforms and shaded by thatched roofs, ...

Kweisos, meaning place of palms in the Kipsigis language, implies a useful place, as palms were traditionally used to clean out calabashes. First owned by Olga Watson, of Olga in Africa, Kweisos House started life in the early 1900s as a farmhouse. It is now owned by Homa Lime, a ...

Tea was first cultivated in the highlands around Kericho in the 1920s. Today more than 110,000 hectares are devoted to tea, producing 215 million kilos of tea per year and bringing in 17-20% of Kenya’s export revenue. The Tea Hotel started life as the guesthouse for Brooke Bond, in 1952. In the 197 ...

On the shores of Lake Victoria, Kisindi Lodge and Spa provides a holiday of complete relaxation. Guests at this peaceful sanctuary can choose between a day full of activities or a day of exquisite pampering. There are 6 traditional thatched cottages, made up of 5 double cottages and a family cottage that ...

Rusinga Island was catapulted into the news in 1948 when Louis and Mary Leakey announced the discovery of the Proconsul skull and other 18-million-year-old fossils. Rusinga regularly hosts a team from the American Museum of Natural History who continue this work and give personal guided tours of the sites. The two ...

In the late 19th century, explorers such as Speke and Burton trekked through treacherous and unmapped lands in search of the source of the Nile, and finally settled on Lake Victoria. The traditional villages and bright fishing boats on the lake have changed little since this time. On a secluded ...

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