Top Things To Do When Touring Western Kenya
Updated: Dec 5, 2021
The Western, North Rift and Northern Kenya regions are diverse with their attractions, mostly unexplored but still mind blowing. The Western Tourism circuit stretches from the rolling hills of Kisii land all the way to Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa, a lake that has quenched the thirst of the Egyptians for thousands of years. It then rises up Mt. Elgon embracing the Cherengani Hills as it stretches north meeting with Mt Mtelo in West Pokot before undulating over the expansive arid land of the Turkana.
Hiking and Sightseeing
If hiking is your passion, you are spoilt for choice. You will find hiking trails in Mt Elgon National Park, Saiwa Swamp National Park, The Cherengani Hills, Kiptogot Forest, Kakamega Forest, The Crying stone which is also in Kakamega, Mt Mtelo in West Pokot and at The Riat Hills, which give you a spectacular view of Kisumu City and Lake Victoria.
Hikers can experience the serene environment, the amazing attractions such as waterfalls and ancient caves and also participate in bird watching and game viewing all within the various parks and indigenous forests.
These are one of the least known attractions yet indigenous communities have lived in caves for thousands of years. Mt Elgon is a massive solitary volcanic mountain with an 80 kilometer diameter, towering 3,070 meters above sea level. There are the famous elephant maternity wards in Bungoma, the salt rich caves of Mt Elgon National Reserve and other caves such as; The Window to Uganda on Tabasong Farm and The Magical Waters Cave in Kiptogot forest. While some are just pockets into the mountain, others are unexplored tunnels that few know where they lead.
Picnics are a pleasant break from the monotony of urban life and a refreshing tonic, whether with family or with friends or with colleagues. From The Kakamega Forest, the country's last remaining natural rainforest; which has a fascinating diversity of wildlife and birdlife, to the inland man made lake, Turkwel Dam, to the white sandy shores of the Jade Sea (Lake Turukana), to Saiwa National Park with its riverine forest and habitat for the endangered Sitatunga Antelope. Other fascinating picnic sites include; Nabuyole Falls in Webuye.
Mountain climbing is in every way a physically, mentally and emotionally engaging activity and it doesn’t matter how low the peak is or how often you have done it. The experience of testing one’s courage, resourcefulness, strength, and stamina to the utmost is an absolute thrill.
Mt Elgon, much less famous than Mt Kilimanjaro or even the snowcapped Mt Kenya, is just as spectacular and unique. There are several waterfalls on the slopes, and hidden hot springs to soak in inside the crater! It has five peaks of which two are in Kenya, namely Sudek (4,302 meters) and Koitoboss (4,222 meters).
There are three commonly-used routes on the Kenya side. One through Mount Elgon National Park, another from Endebes through Kiptogot Forest. A third route is via Kimilili through the Mt Elgon Nature Reserve.
Another option is Mount Mtelo, the fifth-highest mountain in Kenya and is situated in the North West Highlands of West Pokot County. The mountain is considered sacred, as it is described as the cradle of the pastoral Pokot people.
The camping options in Western Kenya are multiple. Virtually all National Parks and game reserves are destinations for camping as well. Other destinations include Tabasong Farm in Saboti, Kitale Nature Conservancy, Kitale Museum, Kakamega Forest, Kiptogot Forest among others.
Lake Victoria, the largest lake on the continent and Lake Turkana the world’s largest alkaline lake, provide excellent conditions for boating, fishing and water sports. Turkwel Dam on River Turkwel situated in West Pokot was constructed mainly for power generation and is also a fantastic option.
Game Viewing & Bird Watching
Kenya is famous for its game drives and bird watching, the western region is not an exception. This can be done in all the Game Parks and conservancies. The Elephants of Mt Elgon feature prominently although other animals include the zebras, colobus and blue monkey, bushbucks and buffalo.
The region is home to the Sitatunga Antelope and is best seen roaming very early in the morning or at sunset in Saiwa National Park. Central Island in Lake Turkana is a breeding ground for a dozen species of birds and crocodiles. Other destinations include, Kitale Nature Conservancy and the islands in Lake Victoria.
Mount Elgon has a rich montane avifauna. The wooded grasslands on the north-eastern side hold a number of unusual birds, including the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome species that all have very restricted ranges. Visiting a park or a national wildlife refuge, or hiking on a trail bird watching is spectacular.
Cultural Visits & Farm Visits
Over the last decade cultural tourism in Africa has been taking prominence. People from all over the world have a desire to reconnect to their roots or are just eager to learn from and appreciate different kinds of cultures.
The western region offers great options for cultural tourism either through festivals, heritage sites or traditional villages. Kitale Museum offers plenty of opportunities to learn the history of Trans Nzoia people and the Sengwer Cultural Center is a great source of pride for the Sengwer community. The region is also home to the Mabanga Cultural Center in Bungoma and the Kit Mikayi cultural site among others.
Commercial farming in Western Kenya is the largest economic activity in the region. Selected farms will give you an incredible experience such as The ADC Semen Production Center (Bull Station), boasting state of the art laboratory equipment and some of the finest minds in artificial insemination. The farm is open for tours and they are happy to provide detailed information on their incredible work. If you have the time, visit the Suam Orchards and learn about growing different types of and the challenges involved in.