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Though not exactly boasting the chance to spot “the big five”, the smell of fresh grass, the view of flowers, butterflies and some interesting african avifauna combined with the sheer tranquility of walking makes Ndere island a great place to explore as part of a day trip.

Park ranger

You need a Kenya Wildlife Service Park Ranger to accompany you when visiting Ndere Island as one does in any national park in Kenya where walking amidst wild animals is allowed. Photo © Mikkel Alexander Grabowski

Ndere Island is a small island (4.2 km2) in Winam Gulf of Lake Victoria in Kenya, some 50 km from Kisumu. It was gazetted as the Ndere Island National Reserve in November 1986 and has since that time been uninhabited. Ndere means “meeting place” in Dholuo (Luo language).

View from Ndere Island

Ndere Island is a small island in lake Victorias Winam Gulf, that is now gazetted as one of the few national parks in Western Kenya. Photo © Mikkel Alexander Grabowski

According to Luo folklore, early tribal migrants rested up near Ndere after their long journey south up the Nile River Valley. They found the lush shoreline so pleasing that they stayed. The island consists of rolling hills with grass, inhabited by some fifty Impalas and other fauna includes African fish eagles, swifts, hippopotamus, and Nile crocodiles.

Baboon in Lake Victoria

Male baboon wading through the shallow waters of Lake Victoria, Ndere Island. Photo © Mikkel Alexander Grabowski

If you set out in a small boat from Kisumu it will take you a couple of hours to reach Ndere and so if you want to have a fair chance of spotting the crocodiles and hippos that are often found basking on the islands sand shores, you need to leave before sunrise. Exept from the aforementioned crocs and hippos there are no big predators on the island, yet It is only allowed to walk around the island if you are accompanied by a an armed park ranger. The reason for this is because it is a protected National Reserve and there are also flocks of baboons which can be quite dangerous if feeling threatened.

If you travel by boat from Kisumu it is a nice experience to be on the water but remember to bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and clothes/an umbrella in order to avoild getting a sun burn from sitting in the boat under the strong equatorial sun for hours. Also you should see to that the boat has safety jackets, as winds on the lake can take up during afternoon and waves can become high.

Red flowers

Red flowers and butterfly, Ndere Island. Photo © Mikkel Alexander Grabowski

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