Oct/2015: I wasn’t sure what to think about Kisumu. Here I was, a kuyo, taking the over night bus to the one destination that has been stereotyped by my people for generations. The trip, whichever way it went, was bound to be an experience. We pulled up at the bus station in the early morning and had to chill a while for dawn to break before heading to Park View Hotel in Milimani. I didn’t sleep a wink that night! I could hear roars all night long and I wondered whether the hotel kept lions for pets! It turned out Park View is located next to the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary so of course I had to go see the lions and find out what all the ruckus the previous night was all about :). The following day we drove to Mbita in order to take the ferry to Rusinga Island. Kisumu’s beauty came alive on this drive. The countryside was lush and green with sisal plantations on either side of the road which was carpeted all the way to pier. That ferry ride was packed with people and vehicles; the members of this one big boisterous family were all dressed in mushaino and looked like they were on the way to/from a wedding! I had cold juice at the famous Rusinga Island Lodge and spent the night at the ICIPE, Mbita Point Campus before taking the bus back to Nairobi the following day. This was back in three years. I didn’t have a decent camera and the pics I took of this first trip were from my not-so-great camera phone. Not so for this second trip! I was so ready for this one!
20/Sept/2018: I checked into Wilson Airport for the 17:45 Safarilink flight an hour before the departure and of course took photos of the Safarilink luggage tags because how else are people going to know I flew to KSM? 🙂 Safarilink launched the Wilson-Kisumu service only in August and at Ksh 3,500 it is the most affordable flight option to Dala!
The flight took off on time and before long we were flying over Nairobi and away. The one regret I had about the flight was not taking those cool cloud, aeroplane pics! I really wanted to but my seat mate was like “Madam we’ve been warned against use of mobile phones in the plane!” The descent into Kisumu International Airport is something I’ll never forget; the views of Lake Victoria from above during sunset was nothing short of breathtaking. At exactly 18:35 we touched down and within minutes we were in a cab en route to the Acacia Premier Hotel.
Staying at Acacia was something I was really looking forward to because this hotel’s reputation precedes it! I had seen photos and read blogs and was really hoping that the images matched the real. Acacia Premier Hotel is located on Achieng Oneko Road next to the West End Mall. From the hotel you can also access the mall. The check in process was swift and before long we were getting settled into the room. After a quick dinner (a delicious meal of cylindrical pieces of ugali and a well-done fish) at the poolside restaurant that overlooks Kisumu CBD, we retired to bed eager for what the next day holds.
21/Sept/2018: During breakfast, I notice a lot of NTV crew at the restaurant. Chairman Wilfred Kiboro, news presenter Trevor Ombinja and others were seated next to our table. It turns out The Trend was being filmed from the hotel that evening. At a corner table, Mrs Dorothy Nyongo was being interviewed by a journalist who kept fiddling with his phone. While I’m not proud I did, I’m happy I eavesdropped on that interview. In Mrs Nyongo I saw a woman passionate about cancer – its early detection and devolved care not only in her county but in neighbouring ones as well. She excused herself to go check on her husband who had an injured and was hosting a number of governors and politicians. Acacia was busy that Friday. As we left the restaurant, I notice the board rooms were hosting several seminars too. Busy? Bustling is more like it!
After a short walk about town, in which I noticed over 5 Bata shoe shops on Oginga Odinga Street (eish, jangos and shoes!!), we headed to the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary. I wasn’t keen about the return, after all, didn’t I see it all last time? It turns out I didn’t. While I was pleased to see the animals, I was most excited about the walking trails. There are several walking trails and picnic sites all around the sanctuary. We took the Railway trail that takes you to the now defunct Uganda Railway built by Indians in the early 90s. Apparently this railway line was reserved as a possible escape route for Kenya’s founding president Jomo Kenyatta. In the event of any trouble while in Kisumu, the president could be whisked and put on a train to neighbouring Uganda in a matter of minutes. I fell in love with the tree canopies over that railway line! So picturesque! On the railway trail, you can also head to the sundowner view point which is an awesome site to catch the sunset as you sip on your favourite drink.
I was super hyped to get on the Hippo Rider for a ride on the lake. We took the boat to Hippo Point which is the one place where you spot hippos on that part of the lake. We passed by the Kisumu Yacht Club which looked like such a cool place to hang out and watched as the fishermen who had gone out to fish at dawn rowed their way back to shore.
After a day spent exploring the sanctuary on foot and water we went back to Acacia Premier. Dinner was a treat that was made more special by the Unique Clique band. The two male vocalists had such a wide vocal range! Their Zosi by Sauti Sol took me way back. At about 9pm, the band had to stop playing for sound checks in preparation for The Trend.
22/Sept/2018: Sovereign Hotel Kisumu located on Lolwe Drive, off Aput Lane was such a contrast to Acacia Premier. While the latter is new, has 94 rooms spread over four floors, Sovereign Hotel is a one storey hotel, sitting among indigenous trees with a history spanning decades. I fell in love with the hallway, I absolutely did! So charming and elegant!
The Kisumu Museum was an interesting tour with life like human beings and animals. There is a boma where visitors can learn about the Luo community. Also on the museum grounds is a snake park.
I cannot end this post without commenting just how absolutely clean Kisumu town is. As a Nairobian, this was the most pleasant thing about my weekend in Dala. The night life too rivals Nairobi any day! We went to Signature and found the music good but had lots of uni students. Barcadia is more of Tribeka in Nairobi with seating space spreading out on the streets. Saw several politicians from the area at the club.
I sat next to Ted Kwaka popularly referred to as Big Ted, Director of Brand Strategy and Events at State House on the flight back to Nairobi. He shared his plan to relocate to Kisumu because of the immense opportunities in the county that he wants to tap into. Kisumu is the next frontier – in business, leisure tourism and so much more!
Look out for another Kisumu post soon!
That’s all folks. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Kindly leave a comment below. I love hearing from you!