Kisumu offers so much to see that to experience it all in 24 hours is a challenge. However, you can still create an unforgettable experience through discovery over here. View the enchanting sunsets from the shores of Lake Victoria, shop at Kibuye (the biggest open air market in East and Central Africa) and also get to enjoy the Kisumu nightlife, culture and traditions.
You cannot even imagine the Western Kenya region without mentioning Kisumu, sorry the City of Kisumu. It is the regional headquarter of the Lake Victoria region counties, and is the most strategic and central in the whole of the great lakes region of East Africa. It also forms part of the Western Tourism Circuit with the most forgotten areas of Kenya with great geographic, cultural and natural diversity, offering tourists just as much, if not more, than many of Kenya’s better known tourist destinations. You’ll always find things to do, what to see and places to visit.
Traveling to or visiting this only city by the lake is thus very much always revitalizing and refreshing, as the hospitable nature of the locals will always massage your ego and make you love them. They are loving, friendly and always very supportive. Kisumu is the only place in Kenya that one can freely walk during the day and be assured that nobody would even dare attack you in the blinding hot sun in the streets. Here, nobody will watch a fellow being criminally attacked and keep quiet. The culprit will not see light of day again if he dares. This is one of the best things to ever happen here.
Thus, what would you do in this cleanest city by the lake, if you had only 24 hours?
Most travelers dream of finding a new and unknown destination, somewhere far from the beaten tourist path, where the thrill of real discovery and exploration reward the visitor with new and unexpected experiences, sights and sounds.
Below are 8 gems that you could immerse yourself in, in Kisumu if you had only 24 hours. They will awe you whenever you are in this city.
08:00hrs – 10:00hrs
Catch the wild-side of Kisumu at the Impala Park and Sanctuary – The Kisumu Impala Sanctuary spans about 38 ha. It was created to provide a home for threatened Impalas within Kisumu city and its environs. The sanctuary is one of Kenya’s smallest wildlife preserves. It also provides a safe grazing area for hippos from the lake. Located just a Kilometer from Kisumu CBD, it lies close to Hippo Point and features 3km of nature trails and a selection of picnic sites.
This walking sanctuary is a holding area for animals which require special protection in this densely populated area. The Sanctuary’s focus is herds of impalas and zebras which roam freely in the sanctuary.
This is where it derives its fitting slogan: A Lakeshore Walk with Impalas.
A shady and peaceful place, with its abundance of birdlife and picnic areas beside the lake, the Sanctuary provides an ideal refuge away from Kisumu’s busy town centre. The Sanctuary is open all year round. It offers excellent venues for weddings, corporate events and functions. The Sanctuary is open daily from 6.00 am to 6.00 pm. Entry on foot is allowed. Security is available for vehicles parked. Payment is by cash only.
The Kisumu Museum – This is the location of the history of this side of Kenya. It’s a small yet comprehensive exhibit gallery and displays of material culture of the peoples of the Western Rift valley and Nyanza Province.
This includes traditional clothing and adornment, basketry, fishing gear, agricultural tools and hunting weaponry. Also on display are several dioramas, including a lion, De Brazza monkey, and the largest Nile Perch ever caught in Kenya. The museum contains numerous pavilions with some of the pavilions containing:
- Live animals
- Numerous aquaria with a wide variety of fish from lake Victoria, along with explanatory posters
- Terrarium containing mambas, spitting cobras, puff adders and other venomous Kenyan snakes.
- Additionally, outdoors, the museum has a few additional exhibits, including a snake pit and a crocodile container.
- Other pavilions show weaponry, jewelry, farm tools and other artifacts made by various people from Nyanza province. Additionally, there are exhibits of stuffed animals, birds and fish.
- One pavilion houses the prehistoric TARA rock art, which was moved for its own protection to the museum after it was defaced by graffiti in its original location.
- Beyond the exhibit gallery and Snake Park is a life-size replica of a traditional Luo homestead. This is the museums most important and largest exhibition is the UNESCO-sponsored Ber-Gi-Dala. This is a full-scale recreation of a traditional Luo homestead. Clubbing
Check out Kondele – This is the melting pot of Kisumu City. It is the place where all the action that make and define Kisumu starts and stops! Kondele has been misrepresented every time. It sits at the crossroad of the major Kisumu estates of Kondele, Manyatta, Nyawita, Obunga, Migosi, and also connects Kisumu County to all the neighboring counties of Kisumu.
It connects Vihiga/Kakamega/Siaya/Busia counties via the Kondele roundabout and the “flangover”, sorry flyover, via the Kisumu-kakamega road; it also connects Migori/Homabay/Kericho/Kisii/Nyamira via the flyover through to the Nairobi road. The Kondele boys are the most ardent supporters of the NASA leader Raila Odinga, and would always run battles with the police from the Kondele Police Station next door. If the action does not happen in Kondele then it is not anything! Ignore. Am waiting for the day a blockbuster movie will be short from this location (hint – anyone signal Lupita Nyong’o for me!!??). The Kondele Story is the real Kisumu story, and needs to be told, and documented for posterity. Don’t forget to mingle with the “boys” over lunch. And by the way, Kondele is being identified as an area with one of the highest concentrations of bars and drinking dens in East and Central Africa.
Grab some mementos and artefacts from East Africa’s largest open air market – Kisumu City is served with one major flea/open air market – Kibuye, touted as the biggest flea/open air market in East Africa is more popular on Sundays, and one is able to get a good deal on almost anything under the Kisumu sun. Cheap second hand clothing is prominent here.
Sunday is normally the best day too to shop for your groceries as the many green groceries suppliers from the surrounding regions visit the market. And now the market has expanded in the number of sellers and is a busy place from Sunday to Sunday. Actually, it gives a very good definition of the name Kisumu – from its original meaning of “the place to trade/barter”. You must pay this market a visit. A lass told me early this week that the best day to get best deals on clothing is now Saturday; not Sunday anymore. Saturday is the new black!
Tour the town with “chartered” bikes (bodaboda and tuk-tuks) – The best way to tour and get to enjoy the city is to hire a tuktuk or catch a motorbike ride provided by the many bicycle, motorbike and tuktuks which are in their hundreds in the city.
They will take you to each and every corner of the city at your speed and pace. You will take in the sweet smell of earth after the showers, or better yet, catch a glimpse of the sunset in the evening. Did you know that Kisumu is the only city in Kenya with sunsets to die for? Forget the Ubers and Taxis of this world, they will not give you a good discovery and experience of Kisumu.
Immerse yourself in the enchanting Kisumu Sunset – oh my will be an understatement. You must see this to experience it. The city of Kisumu now has very many vantage points of where to catch a glimpse of this golden beauty as she sets forth yonder the Lake Victoria waters.
If you are in town, a stroll down Lwang’ni will give you a nice glimpse away from the distractive architectural constructions in the city. Or else, you catch it at any of the beaches in the city – Kisumu Pier, Hippo Point, Kiboko Bay, Yacht Club, Dunga Hill Camp, or even at the newly created Dunga Board Walk. You must see this to experience its elegance, beauty and glory. The Sundowner tower which faces the Railway trail in the Impala Sanctuary is a perfect area for sundowners on the shores of the second largest fresh water lake in the world. Make sure you grab some fish delicacy as you take in the suns beauty as it goes to sleep beyond the Lake Victoria’s waters.
Watch some Movies in Kisumu – For the movie junkies and the indoor persons who enjoy big screens, the ANGA MEGA Cinema the state-of-the-art cinema house at Mega City will give you a whole new movies experience with latest blockbuster movie releases from both Hollywood and Bollywood.
The cinema hall prides itself as the premier movie theatre house in Kenya to adopt the new digital film-screening standard. With digital format, patrons at the ANGA IMAX Mega Cinemas enjoy better sound clarity, a smoother and more life-like picture as the eye sees twice the number of images per second.
22:00hrs – Onwards
Enjoy Kisumu’s Nightlife – If you are a night animal and love to groove and shake a bit, then the over 20 clubs and lounges in town will give you the very best of a Kisumu nightlife experience in terms of musical entertainment, dance shows, competitions, live bands pelting the evening away with oldies and rhumba hits, etc. You must experience this.
The crowds are always fun and a thrill to hang around with. From within the town, all the way to Mamboleo and even towards the airport; you will be able to find somewhere at night where you can get entertained at night.
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