Kisumu City is a quiet port town on the shores of Lake Victoria with wide streets and fine colonial architecture. It is the principal city of western Kenya, the capital of Nyanza Province and the headquarters of Kisumu District. It is the second most important city -after Kampala- in the greater Lake Victoria Basin. Kisumu is situated at an altitude of 1131m with direct access to the Winam Gulf, which leads to the vast expanses of the rest of Lake Victoria, covering a total area of 68.000 km2 – making it the largest freshwater lake in Africa and the second largest freshwater lake in the world.
Kisumu was formerly called Port Florence, named after Florence Preston, the wife of the senior railways engineer, and was a landing point on the British flying boat passenger and mail route from Southampton to Cape Town. The name “Kisumu” comes from the Luo word ‘kisuma’, a direct derivative of ‘sumo’ which means “barter trade”. Today, Kisumu has a population about a half million people making it the third largest town in Kenya. It has traditionally had one of the biggest Kenyan Asian communities, many of whom were direct descendants of the workers who built the railway line.
It was awarded “City” Status in 2001 and has since grown into an attractive urban centre, with an excellent museum, one of Kenya’s largest open markets and excellent facilities for visitors. Kisumu was also privileged to host the first air flight in East and Central Africa. An inaugural mail flight from Kisumu to England took place in 1931.
Located just a Kilometre from Kisumu’s central business district is the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary a walking sanctuary and holding area for animals which require special protection in this densely populated area. Herds of impalas and zebras roam freely in the sanctuary. Within the sanctuary is an animal orphanage that contains a collection of caged lions, leopard, cheetahs, baboons, hyena, jackals, bush duikers, bush buck and buffaloes.
The best way to appreciate the beauty of this region is on the lake itself. The sun shines brightly, and gentle breezes rise from the water. In trees along the shore, Fish Eagles call to each other with long haunting cries. Sunsets turn the water to gold, as the local fisherman in their canoes pull in their nets and slowly turn for home.