If only I had a way to describe Kisumu – Kenya’s third largest city, pleasant and laid back, with an indefinable air where time seems to stand still. Conveniently tucked on the eastern shores of Lake Victoria, Kisumu may not be a highly publicized travel destination as Nairobi or Mombasa, but it easily matches the depth and diversity of their charms. This small city offers picturesque vistas, stunning sunsets and an immersive culture.
Probably due to its location in the far western side of the country, Kisumu is hands down the best place to experience a sun-downer. Every evening the Lake is host to a magical display of splendor. The sky is dyed a pomegranate pink, the shimmering waves scattering the evening sun across its surface as the sun slowly sinks beneath the silhouetted landscape and vegetation lining the horizon.
This is the must go to joint as the scorching mid-day sun exerts its toll and the belly demands it’s due. Fish here is so big and delicious it will have you second guessing how you managed to down such a big portion. Proximity to the town center has made Lwang’ni beach one of the most popular fish eating outlets on the shores of Lake Victoria. It is a convenient spot for locals, who drop in for a quick lunch before heading back to their offices.
Don’t be in a hurry to leave, soak the charm of the beach in the evening as you wait for your meal. Marvel at the idyllic post card perfect sunset view of the lake whilst being only a stone throw away from the town center.
Kisumu Beach Resort
One of my favorite places in Kisumu is this long old resort that was once the ‘place to be’ especially on an idyllic Sunday afternoon. Separated from the town center by a stretch of water, this quiet and serene property still has lots of potential. The resort boasts stupendous views of the lake and a panoramic view of the city skyline, a superb though limited menu, swaying palm trees, prolific with birdlife and hippos coming ashore to graze in the night. The resort appears to have gone through a notable period of closure and neglect but with some investment it could be a top class holiday resort.
A lot of the city’s activities are centered on the Lake. It is commonplace to spot a lone fisherman whiling away into the evening. Those that major in large scale fishing can be spotted in their droves early dawn as they head to the deep water.
Kisumu is the one city that definitely has that cutting edge, offering travelers and visitors an endless menu of entertainment options, from trendy hotspots that cater to the hip hop crowd to the veteran clubs that cater to the rhumba/benga aesthetic. Nightlife in Kisumu is as bright and beautiful as the moments spent on the beach during the day.
I still can’t pinpoint exactly what it is about Kisumu that enthralls me so. Maybe it is the relaxed vibe, the cool calmness. Maybe it is the fact that it stirred up a latent creative ability by inspiring me to pick a camera and click away into my future. Kisumu has lodged itself firmly in my heart and is undeniably my favorite city in Kenya.
Getting to Kisumu
You can travel from Nairobi to Kisumu by plane, car or bus
Fly540, Kenya Airways and Jambojet Limited fly from Nairobi to Kisumu every 3 hours. Alternatively, there are several bus companies that operate regular trips from Nairobi.
Find out more about Kilai Kithome, his photography, travels, and adventures on Instagram @i_am_the_ovo.