Western Kenya

Western Kenya is the most fertile and populous part of the country, teeming with market towns and busy fishing villages. There are also a number of national parks and reserves in this region. Kakamega Forest National Reserve is the only tract of equatorial rainforest in Kenya that was once linked to the mighty forests of Central Africa. It contains many species of bird, tree and butterfly that are found nowhere else in the country and is a delightful and tranquil place for walking. Saiwa Swamp National Park, near Kitale, is worth a visit to see the rare sitatunga antelope. Mount Elgon National Park has good climbing and is accessed from Kitale and is home to the famous elephants that enter its caves in search of salt. To the south of this region is Kenya's share of Lake Victoria, Africa's largest lake, which provides a living for many of the Lou people on its shore who fish for tilapia and Nile perch from small picturesque dugout canoes, equipped with lateen sails. On Lake Kisumu is Kenya's third largest town. Unfortunately it is now pretty ravaged as it witnessed the worst of the ethnic violence over the 2007 disputed elections, and it will take many years to overcome this slice of tragic recent history.

For some reason the region is not that popular with the big tour operators and has few upmarket establishments, which is all to the benefit of the independent traveller. In fact, conditions for budget travellers are perfect; over half the population of the whole country lives here so public transport is excellent and the main road surfaces tend to be above average. There are numerous cheap hotels and restaurants, and there is plenty to see and do.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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