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Western Kenya

Western Kenya is often overlooked by visitors to the country and therefore feels relatively unexplored.  This area is one of the most populated parts of the country, yet still offers the opportunity for great wildlife viewing.  Western Kenya borders Uganda and it is often said that this part of the country is actually far more like Uganda than Kenya.  It is a very fertile area and has a high population of people making a living off the land.  The Lyuhya people who are the main inhabitants of this area are very friendly and offer visitors a warm welcome - it's often said that it is here that you will get the best chance to really get to know the locals.

 

From the Kakamega Forest and Saiwa Swamp Forest, to the city of Kisumu and Mount Elgon, western Kenya has a wealth of attractions for those wanting to delve a little deeper into the country.

 

Mount Elgon National Park

Situated on the Kenyan Ugandan border, Mount Elgon is a volcanic mountain.  Visitors to the park can explore the four caves, Kitum, Makingeni, Chepnyalil and Ngwarisha.  The caves are frequent gathering spots for ‘the underground elephants’, elephants that make the nightly journey into the caves to feed off the rich salt deposits.  Walking and climbing are both popular activities within the park.  Guides are available and nature trails lead the way to the scenic spots.  

 

Over 240 bird species have been spotted within the park as well as buffalo, leopard, colobus monkey, waterbuck and many antelope species. The teak and cedar trees that make up the forest scenery are also beautiful.

Kerio Valley National Reserve|Saiwa Swamp National Park

Created as a national reserve due to the importance of its biodiversity, the Kerio Valley National Reserve is a beautiful scenic setting.  It is characterised by a deep valley of around 4,000m, with semi tropical vegetation on the slopes leading to dry thorn bush towards the bottom.  

 

Established to protect the semi-aquatic sitatunga, the Saiwa Swamp National Park is one of Kenya’s smallest parks covering an area of under 3km².  There is a nature boardwalk, walking trails and viewing platforms within the park.  

Kakamega Forest National Reserve

The only remaining tropical forest ecosystem in Kenya, Kakamega Forest National Reserve offers unique wildlife and scenery.  The rainforest flora (incorporating some 350 tree species) provides a great sanctuary for birds, insects, butterflies and wildlife.   Over 400 species of butterfly have been recorded here, along with around 350 bird species, 30 snake species and 7 primate species.  The endangered DeBrazza monkey, potto (the world's slowest mammal on earth), blue monkey, olive baboon and red tailed monkey may all be found in Kakamega Forest National Reserve.

 

During the months of April to July, the forest floor is paved with orchids and other blooming plants and flowers.  Walking under the forest canopy is breathtaking.  With many trails within the forest, it’s difficult to choose which to undertake!  Rangers are on hand to help guide your way and to tell you more about this amazing reserve.

Ruma National Park

Created to protect the only remaining habitat of the roan antelope, Ruma National Park covers an area of around 120km².  Whilst the roan antelope are the main attraction here, the park is also an Important Bird Area (IBA), with over 400 species recorded including the blue swallow.

Ndere Island National Park

A small island situated just off the northern shore of Lake Victoria, Ndere Island is home to a variety of birds including swifts and fish eagles.  Hippo and crocodile are also found in the waters.  Visitors to Ndere Island can partake in walking or boat safaris.  

Kisumu Impala Sanctuary

The Kisumu Impala Sanctuary was created to protect a herd of impala and provide safe grazing grounds for hippo from the lake.  The ecosystem hosts leopards, hyena, olive baboons, vervet monkeys and numerous small mammals, as well as supporting a variety of reptiles and birds species.

 

© ecoTravel Africa 2011