Travel to Lake Victoria (Kenya) – Africa’s Largest Lake
At Kenya’s Western frontier lies the great expanse of Lake Victoria. This massive (67,493 sq. km) lake, commonly known as Lake Nyanza, is twice the size of Wales, and forms a natural boundary between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
This mighty body of water is rich in fish life, with shimmering shoals of colourful cichlids and large Nile Perch. Nyanza province is the heartland of the Luo, a tribe known as formidable fisherman. Fishing brings many visitors to this lake, mainly in search of the Nile Perch, considered a world class game fish. There are three separate fishing lodges on islands within Victoria.
Lake Victoria is an important centre for fishing, and remains an interesting and little explored region for the traveller. The Kisumu Museum is an excellent place to learn even more about the history and culture of this region.
Kisumu is a quiet port town on the lakeshore, with wide streets and fine colonial architecture. To the south fishing villages line the lake towards the broad waters of Homa Bay. This area is home to Ruma National Park, a small but attractive park with many unique species.
Ruma National Park, outside Homa Bay is a remote and seldom visited park. In the thick bush of Ruma, two very rare species of antelope are found, the large Roan and the tiny Oribi. There are also rare Rothschilds giraffe and Jackson’ hartebeest.
There are several excellent birding areas around Lake Victoria. The main areas of interest are the swamps at Kusa, Koguta and Dunga and within Ruma National Park. The Swamps are one of the last refuges of the endangered Papyrus Gonolek and Papyrus Yellow Warbler, while Ruma is the only place in Kenya where the migratory Blue Swallow has been sighted.
The three islands of Mfangano, Rusinga and Takawiri are all peaceful natural havens, with hippos wallowing offshore, Vervet monkeys and monitor lizards on the shore, and fish eagles soaring overhead. From Rusinga it is possible to visit Mbasa and Mholo Islands, both of which are breeding colonies for waterfowl. The sheer volume of birdlife on the islands is staggering.
A sunset boat trip through the channel is an unforgettable experience. The air is alive with thousands of birds on the wing as you drift under trees with branches sagging with perched birds. The sunset turns the sky to rich warm gold as more and more birds pour in across the lake to roost, and the first glow of the kapenta boats spread out across the lake.
Boats can be hired with local guides on the islands of Mfangano, Rusinga and Takawiri. This is a great way to explore the lake, bird watch, and visit local fishing villages. The islands all have specialist fishing lodges to help fisherman in the quest for the Lake’s famous Nile Perch.
This area is the heartland of the Luo. Local delicacies include fish and groundnut stews. There are a wide range of local handicrafts on sale in markets here, particularly the attractive basketwork of Luo communities.
Main road access to Lake Victoria is via Kisumu, directly from Nairobi by private transport. Kisumu is also accessible by rail from Nairobi. From Kisumu there is some road access to the lake south to Homa Bay. Ferries and private boats are used to access the islands.
- Visit Ruma National Park to spot rare large Roan antelope.
- Excellent bird spotting along the lake shores.
- Enjoy a boat ride to and around the islands of Mfangano, Ruinga and Takawiri.