With Easter coming up, l plan on chasing the sunset in the city of Kisumu perched on the shores of Lake Victoria — or if you prefer the local name — Nam Lolwe.
“There is so much to do in Kisumu County,” says Vivian Kobe from Lake Victoria Tourism Association, reeling off a string of activities like boat rides on the lake, bird watching, hippo viewing, kayaking, hiking in the hills or cycling tours in the beautifully laid out Kisumu city.
“Kisumu city is following the Amsterdam model to make the central business district a pedestrian-friendly metropolis, which is good for the environment,” says Philip Kirui of the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya.
“Kisumu and the western region is the unknown gem of Kenya,” states Jagpal Sandhu of Dunga Hill Camp, one of the featured sites to visit.
“Kenya’s Coast, Naivasha and Nakuru although spectacular have become all-too-familiar whereas Kisumu is easily accessible from Nairobi and Mombasa with several fights every day.”
Mr Sandhu, a local Kisumu lad, is a keen sailor and part of the Flipflopi Team that saw the world’s first life-size dhow made from 100 per cent recycled plastic by master dhow maker, Ali Skanda of Lamu set sail from the camp.
The Camp set on the shores of the Victoria boasts an unpretentious garden for sumptuous meals and cold beers. A revamped Combie serves as a bar.
And now, it is an unbeatable bonanza as he has got a luxury pontoon to sail the lake that features landmarks like Hippo Point, Impala Park, Kisumu port and the city’s spread with the Nyahera Hills overshadowed by the Maragoli hills to the north and a speck of land that is Ndere Island.
Friday nights are special with the Sol Afriq Band and others playing.
“It is a casual jam session performing Afro- jazz, reggae, contemporary and the unmistakable beats of Luo traditional music. This is a platform for young and upcoming local musicians,” Sandhu tells The EastAfrican.
Down the newly tarmacked road from Dunga Hill Camp is the busy fisher’s market. An enormous fish sculpture made from waste material collected from the beach graces the fishers’ town that boasts a fish market, fish eateries and fishers canoes docked on the beach.
A few feet from the sculpture is a raised walkway in a papyrus swamp, the very same lush reed that the pharaonic era made writing paper from 4,500 years ago that left an indelible mark on human civilisation.
The swamp is home to the shy sitatunga, an aquatic antelope, endemic species of birds and fish.
“Our focus is to conserve the swamp,” says Tom Mboya of Dunga Swamp Conservation Site Support Group. The 500-acre swamp is in prime condition thanks to the efforts of the group that lead bird walks in the area.
Created to protect the impala that until 1960s were common in town, it’s a few minutes’ drive from town en route to Dunga Hill.
It makes for a nice stroll along the lake shore with a few animals like a pair of lions and a leopard in enclosures.