Venture out and sample Kisumu’s hidden treasures

Few visitors know the delights Kisumu offers.

This week was my local tourism week. I will therefore depart from the usual discourse on politics and the economy to sell one destination that is heavily undersold and grossly underrated. This is the city of Kisumu.

Those who know me are aware that Kisumu and the Nyanza environs generally have been my favourite destinations. Other than its scenic beauty, Nyanza draws me for several reasons. As a columnist, one of the most fulfilling experiences is to interact with people who read and analyse the stuff I write, even if they don’t agree with it.

Whether in Kisumu town or in Professor Wanyande’s village in rural Ugenya I will always find someone to discuss one or other of my articles when I am in Nyanza. I regret that the same cannot be said of my beloved home county of Murang’a. I also enjoy Nyanza because it has some of the most hospitable people in Kenya.

Have you ever noted that in Nyanza, people will generally use a language you can relate to in social gatherings? Dholuo will usually be interspersed with translations of English to ensure that the outsider feels at home, a tradition that we are yet to learn in my local.

Lately Kisumu has also transformed into a worthy tourist destination. The first notable change, other than the gleaming new airport, is the hospitality sector. Until about three years ago, Kisumu was without any high quality accommodation. If you made the mistake of just turning up in Kisumu without pre-reserving accommodation, you stood the risk of sleeping in some backstreet lodging. That season is no more.

Kisumu now boasts sparkling new hotels, including the lakeside Eco Lodge, the serene Sovereign and the Vic Hotel. In the last month, the Kempinski Group has opened an ultra-modern establishment; the Acacia Premier, one of only two hotels in Kenya with its own shopping arcade complete with restaurants, high end boutiques and supermarkets.

For fish lovers, Kisumu offers some of the best fish cuisine in the continent. It may not have French names, but nothing beats the “Ngege” offerings at Tilapia Beach and other seaside pop-ins on the busy Lwang’ni Beach. You will appreciate the fish more once you realise that it has been obtained from as far as the Tanzanian side of the lake. Of course if you want to choose your fish straight from the lake, visit Dunga Beach and intermingle with the local fishermen as you enjoy your choice offering.

With its large Asian community, you will also find many establishments that offer great Asian cuisine. Kisumu also boasts of numerous “things to do”. It has always been said that Nairobi is the only city in the world with a game park in its environs. Kisumu may not boast of similar offerings but the Impala sanctuary, five minutes from the city centre, is a worthy competitor. Along with the beautiful impala and several other herbivores, you will be guaranteed a leopard siting.

Another must-do when in Kisumu is a cruise around the lake. If you are lucky to get a good guide, you will be fascinated by the stories of the flora and fauna that adorns the lake and Nyanza’s general history.

For those that love golf, Nyanza Club is within the city and is better maintained than it has been in a long while. If you are energetic, Kisumu’s nightlife remains as vibrant as ever with several lounge bars and dancing places that cater to a wide range of clientele; whether their interest be Ohangla, Rhumba or Soul.

The adventurous who want to go out of the City can take a boat ride to Ndere Island National park, visit the enchanting Rusinga Island, the home of one of Kenya’s greatest sons, the late Tom Mboya, or even venture to K’ogelo, the home of another of Kenya’s great sons. Whatever you do, take a moment to engage the locals on the culture and traditions of the Luo. You will find it fascinating.

If you dare engage them in local and international politics, you will find a most informed, engaging and passionate people who also eat life with a big spoon.

Karibu Nyanza.

#VisitKisumu

This post was written by Kamotho Waiganjo and was first published at: standardmedia.co.ke

10 common travel mistakes and how to avoid them

Travelling to a new destination can be so exciting that in the rush of adrenaline, a few of us forget just the most important basics, or generally overlook important details. Here is a list of some aspects you need to note as gathered from travelers on Jovago.com

Going Bonkers on Deals and Discounts

Coupon CrazyDeals are great, but we all confess to getting too carried away in the hot-sale pitch. It’s important that you take time and scrutinize the offer lest you end up spending half your budget on places and services or passes which you actually could do without.

Remedy: Before you hit the PAY button for that irresistible deal, compare your travel expenses: flight, accommodation, trips and shopping, note down just how much you are saving without straying off the original plan of your trip.

Uncompromising on Dates, Inflexible Planning

Travel experts advise on Tuesday and Wednesday as the best days for travel, flight-wise. The variation in price can change from just a few dollars to hundreds of dollars that could mean one more day on your vacation.

Remedy: Instead of working on fixated dates, choose a suitable travel period and compare the flight prices, only settle for the best seat on the best price possible!

Ignoring Reviews and Not Doing Enough Research

While there are people who are plain malicious on travel review platforms, one should be wiser than to ignore three or more negative comments on a common facility, guide, attendant etc. Beware too of hotel managers who seem to lose their temper online or on phone, or those who do not tend to client comments, complaints and compliments.

Remedy: If a certain review in your hotel of choice causes curiosity or anxiety on your side, always make a step to have it verified by someone with authority.

Limiting your Flight Connection Time

Missing your flight has the potential to spoil your whole itinerary on top of causing you unnecessary budget constraints. Imagine a situation where the airport only runs a single flight to your destination in days; this will leave you no choice than to embrace and settle for that particular destination till the next scheduled flight.

Remedy: Be safe. At least leave an hour between your flight times to cover for any minutes lost on the previous flight, or any chances of unseen mishaps such as misplaced luggage, new security practices, baby feeding and rest times etc.

Being Irresponsible and Culturally Insensitive

LitterPart of the basics of responsible tourism is creating better places for the residents, as well as actuating positive interaction between tourists and the local community. Respecting the local culture dictates that you will listen and learn for that short time you’ll be staying. This goes beyond simple rules such as ‘do not litter the beach’ to complex niceties such as salutations, mealtime rituals, dressing and religious observations.

Remedy: Always research on your destination, talk to your hotel, travel consultant or even join or make friends with related social media groups where you can freely interact and learn the basic expectations.

Overstretching and Over-estimating Your Itinerary  

The whole point of a vacation is to enjoy, unwind, revitalize and make memories! For instance, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro will take anything between 4-6 days depending on the route, weather, and mostly-the climber’s state of health. It would be unwise to cram your trek into 4 days and spend the rest of your holiday time indoor nursing yourself from exhaustion and fatigue.

Remedy: Always seek advice and consult from those who have been there. Apart from bursting your travel plan and always missing on the nightlife or the sun rise activities, travelers also confess to at times underestimating a location and therefore not enjoying it to the maximum.

Fear of the Unknown

No travel quote explains it better than JRR Tolkien’s:

“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

It’s the ultimate reason why you need to veer off the touristic path and open your mind to exploration!

There is the remedy; travel with an open mind!

Choosing the Wrong Travel Partner

Whether couchsurfing or joining a luxurious safari caravan to Masai Mara, your travel partner can make or break your trip. This normally stems from people who imagine their partner should take responsibility over them, when ideas and expectations diverge and generally travelers with emotional baggage. You realize that you could actually be ending your trip earlier than planned when the fella you are cost-sharing with decides they cannot put up with one of the service staff anymore or that they just don’t feel like staying longer!

Remedy: run it like business. Make prior agreements on shared costs, length of vacation, use of shared resources and T&Cs within which decisions can change.

Entirely Trusting the State with your Security

Canon CameraNo travel advisory will give you a map of the perilous downtown rail station or the rate of petty robbery in the vegetable markets. As much as most governments strive to ensure security is at its best in respective countries, it’s upon both tourists and residents to watch where they step.

Remedy: do not tempt conmen and pickpockets with wads of new bank notes or gadgets loosely strapped on your neck. Walk like a native, negotiate like a local and ask for directions from different people before you take on the trail.

Failure to backup your Travel Records

From memory sticks, disks and internal memory –always make sure you have a backup system for all your videos, photos or any other recorded memories of your trip.

Jovago.com is an online hotel booking service with offices in Nairobi (Kenya), Lagos (Nigeria), Dakar (Senegal), Doula (Cameroon) and Abidjan (Ivory Coast). The company is founded by Africa Internet Holding and has MTN as one of the investors. Jovago.com, Africa’s No.1 booking portal, facilitates the booking process for its users to provide them with the best hotel booking experience with fast, transparent and easy-to-use services. Jovago.com has over 25,000 local hotel listings across Africa and over 200,000 hotels around the world.
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The Luo Festival – July 11, 2015

So everyone is FREE and Oops! Wait a minute, Luo Festival isn’t only for Luos! They say Luo is not a tribe; neither is it a community, Luo is a lifestyle, it’s a software that anyone can install.

WELCOME to attend Luo Festival. It’s just a celebration of Luo Culture after all!

Country’s top comedians, artists and celebs from the Luo community will share the same stage.

The lined-up entertainers will be;

  • Jalang’o
  • Erick Omondi
  • Dola Kabari
  • Wilbroda Nyaminde
  • Makadem
  • Akothee
  • Lady Maureen
  • Suzanna Owiyo etc

Come one come all!

Luo Festival

Top alternatives to capital city living

The cost of capital city living is soaring, even in less developed countries, as high demand outweighs supply. In fact, according to Mercer’s 2015 Cost of Living survey, Angola’s capital remains the most expensive city of expatriates in the world.

Global property portal Lamudi explores the less obvious, but equally vibrant alternatives to living in a capital city.

Kisumu, Kenya

Situated on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria, Kisumu is the third biggest city in Kenya, and offers an attractive, calmer, alternative to the capital, Nairobi. Not only do you have the benefit of living by the seashore, Kisumu is home to the stunning Impala reserve, a bird park and wildlife sanctuaries. And if being surrounded by beautiful coastlines is not enough, Kisumu also boasts a number of top universities and educational institutes.

Well connected? Kisumu has a regional airport with five daily flights to Nairobi. As a port city, Kisumu is well connected by ferry to other cities on Lake Victoria. Trains and busses will also connect you to Kenya’s capital. The city is relatively small, which means it is possible to travel around easily by bike, taxi, bus or car.

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

According to Mercer’s report, Jeddah is the least expensive city for expatriates in the Middle East. As the Kingdom’s second largest city, Jeddah is an important commercial hub, making it an attractive choice for those looking to escape the capital, while retaining the comforts of urban living.  With an abundance of shopping districts, restaurants, traditional souqs and even beaches across the city, Jeddah offers the ultimate cultural experience.

Well connected? Jeddah is home to the biggest airport in the Kingdom – the King Abdulaziz International Airport – with regular flights to international destinations around the world. Taxis are affordable in Jeddah, with higher-end ‘Limousines’ available for those looking to travel around the city in comfort. While boats are not necessarily the best means of transport, you can enjoy stunning views of the Red Sea.

Tangerang, Indonesia

As the third largest urban center in the Jabotabek region, following Jakarta and Bekasi, Tangerang has a lot to offer its residents. Home to a number of international corporations, there are plenty of employment opportunities to be found. The city’s proximity to the capital makes it a haven for those looking to commute into Jakarta for work. Tangerang offers a number of mixed-use developments, including shopping malls,

Well connected? The Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is located in Tangerang, acting as the main airport serving Indonesia’s capital. Two highways connect Tangerang with Jakarta, with public and private shuttle busses regularly making the journey between the two cities.

Medellín, Colombia

Recently named as one of the best cities to live in South America, Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia and one of the country’s economic and cultural centers. The city has undergone a drastic urban transformation over the past 20 years, with the evolution of public amenities including schools, museums and over 30 universities, as well as the development of the city’s public transportation system.

Well connected? Medellín is surrounded by eight smaller towns; with frequent international and domestic flights available from Medellín’s domestic and international airports, there is plenty of opportunity for weekend trips to explore the surrounding areas. The city is also home to the Medellín Metro urban train – the only metro system currently in Colombia.

Fez, Morocco

Fez is Morocco’s capital of culture and a stunning alternative to the capital of Rabat. Bringing together traditional Moroccan style with modern urban living, the city is home to architectural masterpieces as well as the world’s oldest university. Rest assured there is something for everyone in Fez; from museums to music festivals, affordable properties to traditional yet luxurious riads.

Well connected? The city is served by Saïss Airport, located approximately 13 kilometers from the city center. For domestic travel, the ONCF train station connects Fez to Oujda, Tanger and Casablanca.

Wife for Hire? A dramatised performance in Kisumu City

Is it only happening in Nyeri? Are Kenyan men an endangered species?

Doctor Mzinga suffers the consequence of a decision, a decision made out of loneliness. How he portrays himself to the outside world is complete irony.

Amazon Theatrix Ensemble (A.T.E) brings you this hilarious drama dubbed “WIFE FOR HIRE’ on 25th July, 2015 at Jumuia Hotel.

Charges are very pocket friendly:

  • Ksh.300 (Advance Normal),
  • Ksh.500 (Advance VIP) and
  • Ksh.1000 (Advance VVIP).
  • First showing is from 6:00pm to 7:30pm followed by 8:00pm to 9:30pm.

Call +254 706 676 389 for advance bookings or inquiry.

Wife4Hire

Lake Victoria Grass Ultimate Frisbee Tournament in Kisumu City

Make a date on Saturday 11th at the Jomo Kenyatta Sportsground for the LAKE VICTORIA GRASS ULTIMATE TOURNAMENT Come enjoy and learn about the fastest growing game in the region – The ULTIMATE FRISBEE Game.

Participating teams include:

  • Kisumu Frisbee Club
  • Kenya Flying Disk
  • Nairobi Ultimate
  • Maseno Ultimate
  • 1 acre Fund
  • Chemelil Frisbee

Tell a friend to tell a friend

IMG_20150706_173040

Jovago teams up with UNICEF for Birth Registration in Africa

“Birth Registration in Africa: we All Have a Role to Play” – Jovago MD

More than 50% of children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa have no official recognition by their respective governments due to poor rate of birth registration. This indicates that two out of every three children are unregistered, thus unrecognized. To curb this disturbing statistics, UNICEF has launched a global program aimed at accelerating birth registration under the titlePassport to Protection”, Jovago.com signed an alliance with UNICEF in support of this initiative. Since October 2014, Jovago has been donating 5 USD from every booking (made under a specially designed code) with an aim to give 100,000 USD by the close of the first year of agreement.

UNICEF Jovago.comThis month saw the celebration of two important days in regard to children; the Day of the African Child commemorated in honor of the minors who took part in the 1976 Soweto Uprising and the World Day against Child Labour which focuses attention on eliminating the same.

Registering a child’s birth is a critical first step in ensuring that they are accorded justice and rights as well as lifelong protection from issues of global concern such as child trafficking and illegal immigration, recruitment into the armed forces and child labor. It also poses a major challenge to affected countries in budgetary planning especially in provision of social amenities and population data.

Although a global problem, sub-Saharan Africa seems to be the most affected with only 44% of the under-five population duly and officially registered. Moving to the countries in the east and southern Africa (ESA), the situation gets dire with only 38% representing the official birth registration index. However, this also varies depending on the economy and literacy levels; Somalia, for instance stands at 3% while Zambia stands at an average of 14%. It is also noteworthy that the problem gets more complex in rural settings where some families have no idea on the role of birth certificates, or how to obtain one.

UNICEF has adopted ICT to hasten the registration process, maximizing popular channels such as mobile devices which has gone a long way in bolstering the process. It is vital for governments to put in place laws and adapt systems that ensure every child gets their first right of identification and recognition.

 “Jovago is proud to be associated with this noble initiative,” said the Managing Director for Jovago East and Southern Africa, Estelle Verdier, “We are especially grateful to all our customers and staff members for making this partnership a success so far. We look forward to a lasting commitment to ensure that no child is denied their rights due to lack of recognition by its own government or state.”

The MD was addressing a Partners Workshop that brought together different corporates supporting different initiatives by UNICEF.

Jovago.com is an online hotel booking service with offices in Nairobi (Kenya), Lagos (Nigeria), Dakar (Senegal), Doula (Cameroon) and Abidjan (Ivory Coast). The company is founded by Africa Internet Holding and has MTN as one of the investors. Jovago.com, Africa’s No.1 booking portal, facilitates the booking process for its users to provide them with the best hotel booking experience with fast, transparent and easy-to-use services. Jovago.com has over 25,000 local hotel listings across Africa and over 200,000 hotels around the world.

Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JovagoTravel @jovagotravel
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Airtel unveils a new shop in Kisumu City

As part of the company’s ongoing retail expansion program, Airtel Kenya has today unveiled yet another new shop in Kisumu City along Oginga Odinga Street next to Mega Plaza.

Kisumu County ICT Minister Hon. MIchael Onyango registers for an Airtel Money VISA Card at the new Airtel Kisumu Shop
Kisumu County ICT Minister Hon. MIchael Onyango registers for an Airtel Money VISA Card at the new Airtel Kisumu Shop

The opening of the ultra-modern Kisumu shop brings to seven the number of such units already unveiled by the company in the last six months in an ambitious retail expansion project whose aim is to expand its retail footprint in the country and taking its products and services closer to customers.  Last week, Airtel opened a new shop in Embu town located at Njue Plaza as parts of its commitment to increase reach of its telecommunications products and services to all Kenyans.

The shop opening event was graced by Kisumu County Minister for ICT Hon. Michael Onyango who commended Airtel for its commitment to ensure that people from Kisumu County have access to superior products and services. He also lauded the great work that Airtel is doing through its Internet for Schools program that continue to allow students across the country to access educational content online, providing them with more clarity about different concepts, topics and facts.

Airtel Kenya CEO Adil El Youssefi noted that the retail space is a critical component of improving the quality of interaction with customers hence the deliberate investments on expansion and refurbishment plan of its shops.

“The company is continuously improving the quality of interaction at all points of contact with its customers. We believe that this store will help us better serve our customer in this region in an aesthetically appealing and ambient atmosphere. Backed by our trained shop staff, we are delighted to bring the full Airtel experience closer to our customers.”

The new shop will now allow Airtel to better serve its customers in the region by offering a wide range of products such as modems, latest handsets and data devices at attractive prices and all sold with warranty. The shop is also expected to offer end-to-end service support for Airtel Money, Post-paid & Prepaid services, Airtel data settings, bill payments and airtime.

The Kisumu shop has been built in a way that it allows customers visiting the shop to easily view the latest devices available at specially-designed “demo bars” and actually experience them in order to make informed choices about the devices on sale.

Just like other Airtel shops across the country, the Kisumu shop opens from 8am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday. However, Airtel shops found in malls are opened from 8 am to 9pm from Monday to Saturday and from 9am to 7pm on Sundays.

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