#TembeaKenya Western: Rusinga and Mfangano Islands


I remember packing my bags one Wednesday night, ready to set out on another magical journey into another corner of Kenya. This time, the compass pointed west, and I wondered what this land would hold in store for us.

Kisumu Airport is spiffy!

With a 4:30am departure to the airport, I was groggy as I made my way to pick up @ArcherMishale. It was another cold morning and for once I was happy to get out of my warm bed. Soon enough, we made it to JKIA – minimal traffic on Mombasa at that hour, with sleepy Nairobi yet to wake up.

Thank God airlines accept e-tickets on screen, as most of us seemed to have printed the copies, and soon enough, with the blood red sun peeking out of the sky and bathing the land in a glow, we were en-route to our first destination – Kisumu.

Landing at Kisumu International Airport, I was suitably impressed at the upgrade on the facility. Clean hallways and waiting areas, we had quick service and recovered our luggage intact. I was quite delighted to see Makdunda, the driver we had on our previous Tembea Kenya trip to the coast, with the workhorse vehicle that was nicknamed Cruise Control.

Piling in, we were excited but hungry. First stop in Kisumu town was to find breakfast, and we did, at the Family Kitchen Restaurant, right opposite the Imperial Hotel. While the rest of us ordered chai na mandaazi, @TimNjiru felt that his first meal at the lakeside city had to be fish and ugali, and he was promptly handed a steaming hot plate!

Tim's breakfast...

Making our way down the main highways, we headed towards Bondo, past Kit Mikaye to catch the ferry to Mbita. While the ferry pilot was not so talkative – he must have been shy or something, we enjoyed the hour or so crossing from one point to the other. After disembarking, we made our way to Rusinga Lodge, which was another crossing point to our final stop for the night.

Deck at Rusinga Island

Rusinga Lodge was a glorious sight to sore eyes. Lush green grass with water lapping at the edge of the land and deck chairs inviting you to sit out and enjoy the cool breeze. Lunch was served on a table out under the trees as we enjoyed the view, with birds diving into the water to catch a fish. At this point, it was the best meal I had had! Traveling certainly makes me famished. After having a chat with the manager David, a very gracious fellow, we were sad to leave, wishing we had time to spend a night there to enjoy more of the area.

Stepping gingerly into the boats to take us to our next stop, we noticed that the lake water had become quite choppy. Our boatman Michael informed us that we chose a slightly wrong time to travel on that side of the lake – afternoons were not as calm as the mornings. Forget the African massage – this was the African air aerobics. I soon got the hang of it and managed to predict when we would hit the bigger waves, and rode them out. Half an hour or so later, we were safely deposited onto the shores of Mfangano Island at the splendid Governors Camp.

Sunset at Governor's Camp, Mfangano

I cannot fully describe the beauty of this island; you would have to make a trip there to enjoy it. the waters rush to the shore in an inviting call to swim, and you have an entire lake to view to the horizon, with a few more islands peppering it in the middle. The sight of lights bobbing in the water as fishermen go out to sea is enchanting, and you cannot help but admire the determination of these men, braving the lake and the cold waters each day.

Kemboi dance?

In the first three days that we stayed at Mfangano Island, I realized that there’s so much more to the island than just a big rock. From fishing to water sport activities, or taking an excursion to Mawanga beach where you can discover ancient rock art sites. Or you could take off in the other direction to the Abasuba Community Peace Museum and learn about the heritage of this community. There’s lots more to see on this side of Lake Victoria that remains a treasure to discover.

Coming up soon… our day in Kisumu town

Birdlife: Hammerkop

Info about Mfangano and Rusinga Islands

Rusinga Island

Getting There:

35 minutes charter flight from Maasai Mara direct to the island, 1 ½ hours charter from Nairobi, 20 minutes charter from Kisumu.


Fly/drive from Nairobi to Kisumu drive and take the ferry crossing, then drive on Rusinga island.


Places to Stay:

Rusinga Lodge

E-mail : info@rusinga.com
Tel: +254 20 2531314 / 5
Cell: +254 716 055924


Governor’s Camp, Mfangano Island

Tel: +254 (20) 273 4000 – 5

Cell: +254 (0) 733 268888
Email: info@governorscamp.com
Email: reservations@governorscamp.com



Fishing, birding, watersports, bikes and hikes, history and paleontology (ancient rock site) on Nzenze Island, fishing off Mawanga Beach, Kenyan history at the Tom Mboya Mausoleum, Abasuba history and cultural information at the Abasuba Community Peace Museum, game drive at Ruma National Park and much, much more.


Donkey catwalking...


More pictures on the Magical Kenya Facebook Page

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  • Kisumu is my Favorite city in Kenya, really looking forward to doing another trip real soon. Thanks for the pics!

    • Christie Murphy February 20, 2013Melanie . I am working on what seems like quite a smiilar project here in Ghana, though we focus on assessing and training the healthcare workers so that they can pass that information on to their surrounding communities. It seems as if you are loving you experience as much as I am! If you decide to try and explore Western Africa whilst you are on assignment, please feel free to reach out and visit Ghana! There are some amazing places here too!! I hope all is well and that you continue to have the passion and inspire others to progress forward!!

  • That’s the kind of image that i really thing is super image like.
    If more images very real
    like this were out there we’d be super full of graet images in the

  • This is usually a quite useful chemistry site.

  • Fra

    I don’t think we can talk anymore beasuce not only am I starting grad school which means I’ll have no life, but I’m essentially studying the American Political Process and how we can use it to our advantage. I think they might kick me out of the program if they know we’re friends 🙂