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Western Kenya – an overlooked Pearl

For good reasons the majority of tourists to Kenya seek the ultimate wildlife safari experience and head off to some of the exquisite Kenyan National Parks like Samburu, Lake Nakuru and Masai Mara – rounded up by a week at the coast for relaxation.

Students on their way home from school in Nandi Hills. Photo © Mikkel Alexander Grabowski

Yet the Western parts of Kenya have such an abundance of amazing sites to visit, that it will probably just be a matter of time before this region will be discovered by more visitors.

Merchants at the market in butere. Photo © Mikkel Alexander Grabowski

Lake Victoria islands
Boats on the beach of Rusinga island in Lake Victoria. Photo © Mikkel Alexander Grabowski

Kenyas Western region somehow has more of a resemblance with Uganda than the rest of kenya – its fertility allowing the majority of the Kenyan population to make a living here. This is why Western Kenya is also a great place to experience and learn more about African culture and there are quite few tourists in this part of the country giving a feel of being among the lucky ones to discover this overlooked Pearl of Kenya that maybe geographically has less resemblance with the rest of Kenya than with Uganda – a country that is often described as the Pearl of Africa.

A colony of cormorants dwells in a tree on Mbasha islands in Lake Victoria. Photo © Mikkel Alexander Grabowski

As an example of this, Mbasha Islands in lake Victoria – two small rocky islands with an amazing birdlife, are not even described in any tourist guides to Kenya and nearby Takawiri Island looks like a lost bounty isle with its white beaches and coconut palms. Setting out in a small boat from Mbita to explore this remote part of Lake Victoria is a real adventure and here you will discover the “real” Africa as people in this part of kenya are more or less unaffected by the outside world.

The mornings on Lake Victoria leaves nothing to wish for regarding painterly impressions. Photo © Mikkel Alexander Grabowski

Great attractions in Western kenya other than Lake Victoria and its myriad of exotc islands like the newly established Ndere Island National Park, Rusinga, Mfangano, Takawiri and Mbasha Islands would be Kakamega Forest, Mount Elgon, Lambwe Valley National Park and Saiwa Swamp as well of access to roads leading to both Lake Turkana to the North, Masai Mara to the south and Uganda to the West.

Kit Mikaye - a historic Holy place for the Luos
Kit Mikaye stands as a truly spectacular Landmark with its three or more gigantic rocks stabled onto eachother reaching the equivalent of three stories in height. The delicate formation of the rocks have naturally generated much thought and curiosity about the meaning of it and it has been a holy place for worshipping by the Luos for centuries. Photo © Mikkel Alexander Grabowski

Despite Western kenya being the most populated part of the country, there are still lots of wildlife to be seen here and it is quite fascinating to experience large mammals like hippos living in the vicinity of eg. Kisumu – the third largest town in Kenya.

A hippo displays its giant jaws in Lake Victoria just a few hundred meter outside Kisumu – the third biggest town in kenya. Photo © Mikkel Alexander Grabowski

Very few people in rural Kenya has the luxury of a shower inside their house, so for the people living along the shores of Lake Victoria there’s no choice of bathing in the lake – despite sharing the water with the occassional crocodile and hippos. Photo © Mikkel Alexander Grabowski

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