Heading to Lake Victoria? Then check out these places to stay in and around Kisumu, and on the lake itself.
Photographs: Brian Siambi
About a 90-minute drive east of Kisumu is this simple, rustic homestead, built on a hill with tremendous views over the surrounding countryside. The original house is a Harrods flatpack, shipped from England in 1912. With three rooms – two doubles and a twin – it makes for a cosy family stay. Over the years, the owners have added four more double rooms, a little separate from the house, allowing it to accommodate up to 14 at one time. There is good walking in the area, tennis and horse-riding on request, and trips to nearby dams on the large farm for a spot of fishing for tilapia. Small pool on the property.
Ksh 7,500 pp full-board, Ksh 3,000 pp self-catering. Ksh 2,000 for under 12s.
A perennial favourite in Kisumu, and indeed, it hardly feels like you’re in Kisumu at all. About a 3 km drive from the centre, this camp has a prime spot overlooking Lake Victoria, whether you’re here for a sundowner on the pontoon or have come to stay. Accommodation is in spacious, nicely-furnished, wooden-floored safari tents, and come with hairdryers and coffee-making facilities. There’s a one-bedroom cottage available for those looking for more privacy, with its own jacuzzi and a bedroom. It’s not possible to self-cater, however. Although possible to swim in the lake itself, why would you want to when there’s a lovely pool and baby pool overlooking the lake?
Starts from Ksh 13,000 for a double, B&B.
A beautifully-designed lodge on Rusinga – accessible by bridge from the mainland – that has changed hands more than a few times in recent years. Nevertheless, it retains much of its charm – beautiful rooms with private verandas, a gorgeous lakeside setting with various resting spots scattered over the well-kept lawn and swimming pool and small spa. It is such an oasis in this part of Rusinga, and indeed around Lake Victoria, that it has become a very popular day trip spot for those looking for a lakeside lunch spot, or a day at the pool. Those paying top-dollar prices to stay here, however, may fi nd it not
quite exclusive enough.
Starts from Ksh 16,000 pp, sharing, full-board.
A gem of a camp on Mfangano, the most attractive of Kenya’s Lake Victoria islands. Encircling an attractive bay, the camp, part of the Governor’s hotel group, consists of a huddle of cottages perched overlooking the lake. There’s a large romantic honeymoon suite out at the furthest point and a huge family cottage at the other end. When you’re not out catching Nile perch or visiting the rock art, the deck on the lake itself is a lovely relaxation spot with its swinging chairs, and there’s a pool for those who prefer not to swim in the lake. Breakfast is served on lakeside decking, and dinner by candlelight in the gardens.
Starts from $163 pp (approx Ksh 16,000), sharing, full-board.
On the mainland just outside Mbita, the main jumping-off point for the islands, is this low-key, affordable camp. The bandas are fairly basic, with some considerably more spacious and appealing than others, but the main draw is its excellent lakeside spot with a small beach, and lake-facing restaurant. An unusual attraction is the lighthouse, built by the Norwegian owner in 2005, and a romantic spot with a bath overlooking the lake and its own private veranda. The Eagle’s Nest, a second room with windows all the way round to offer 360 degree views, is being built on top, likely to be completed in the next few months.
Bandas start from Ksh 7,100 B&B for a double; Tents cost Ksh 4,800 for two.
Unusually for Lake Victoria, Takawiri is situated on its own white beach. Owners Manmeet and Kati, who for a time ran a restaurant in Kisumu, do most of the cooking, ensuring exceptionally tasty fare. Solar-powered rooms are pretty simple, but comfortable enough, and anyway, you’re unlikely to be spending much time in them, what with a bay to swim in, boating trips and time spent chatting around the fire or the bar. For those on a budget, there’s a campsite with ablutions. The resort can arrange a mainland pick-up, or the water bus and ferry both stop at the island.
Accommodation starts from Ksh 12,000 pp, sharing, full-board, drinks extra. Camping Ksh 2,000 pp.