Experience Kisumu and it’s best kept secret – Lovely Garden Guest Home

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A journey that took us an hour from Kakamega and landed us in Kisumu city, Kenya’s third largest city and the main urban center in Western Kenya. Kisumu has a lot to offer to business and leisure travelers. In recent years, Kisumu has transformed from a regional town to an attractive investment destination. Its location on the shores of Lake Victoria and its proximity to tourist attraction sites such as Kakamega Forest, Ndere Island, Rusinga Island and Ruma National Park, make it an increasingly popular base from which to explore.

We arrived to Kisumu city by road on a Friday. I was accompanied by three friends and I must say I was impressed by how much the city has modernized but then again Our Luo brothers are known to have a FIIINE taste… they say Luo is not a tribe but a lifestyle… I COMPLETELY AGREE!!!

Our first stop was Dunga beach, best known for serving delicious fresh fish, kukula SAMAAK (eat fish) fresh from the lake as we agree on the itinerary for this getaway. The ambience was great, the breeze was something else and the fish didn’t disappoint either, this is a MUST visit guys coz wueeeh!!! We stayed for 2 hours, enjoying the lake with a calmness from its core to the ripples that danced in harmony with the cool breeze.

We hanged around Dunga beach until around 6pm. Kawaida ya Wakenya, We agreed to sample a few popular hotels, clubs & joints in town as we look for accommodation na kuona vile Kisumu inakaa usiku.. I was too full to continue driving and so my friend Sebastian offered to chuffer us around. We got into the car and were ready to take off then Seba grimed, the vehicle is not starting (My VILLAGE people!! I see you!). I knew then, this trip was about to take a new turn, guys I was a bit worried. What might have gone wrong…? We wondered. Since we did not know any mechanics around, Seba and I decided to try out a few mechanical tricks but they all FAILED hahaha. It was almost half past 7 and so we had to make a decision since we had not secured accommodation. We tasked the ladies, Angie & Molly to find accommodation as we tried to fix the car issue.

Fast forward, we manage to tow the vehicle to a nearby homestead. The guy charged us for space & security, clearly… nothing is free in the city. Angie and Molly overdid their assignment (you know ladies when it comes to making a decision hmm.), they had a very long list of hotels and resorts but one caught our eyes, Lovely Garden Guest Home (LGGH). This place was a one stop shop for what we had in mind; great ambience, located in outskirts of the city, garden restaurants and the best part was, they offered Van services (Me, moonwalking in my head, MJ got nothing on me).

Well it was a no brainer… Killing 2 birds with one stone. Molly calls the reception to make a reservation and request for van services to the hotel. The receptionist was quite friendly, she asked a few questions and requested us to pin them our location, you can actually chat them up on Whatsapp and they respond IMMEDIATELY.  The driver comes, picks us up and on our way to the hotel, we strike a conversation about hotels and their services and some of their packages.  We are intrigued. We can’t wait to get to the hotel. 15mins later we arrive at the hotel which is located 300 meters off the Kisumu – Kakamega highway in an area called Riat.

We are welcomed by a great ambience. The flowers, the grass, the decorations were carefully and immaculately done. The front office lady received us well, she was so courteous. We were taken around the facility by the manager in charge. He showed us the garden area, the various rooms that were categorized into standard rooms, deluxe rooms & super deluxe rooms (it has a JACUZZI GUYS!!), the garden bar and the hotel’s lounge. It was quite a breathtaking scenery.  After the tour, we booked two deluxe rooms and proceeded to the garden area to unwind amidst nature. We agreed to spend the evening at the garden area, the lights were well placed giving it a lovely romantic ambience, the music was soothing and we could actually experience some cool breeze or should I say a slow nice wind haha, in short, I cannot describe the nice feeling enough!!  The waiter came, well dressed by the way and she offered us drinks and food menu, T – borne is always my favorite, everyone else placed an order, Chicken kienyeji for Seba & Molly, Angie is a pork die hard.

Dinner was served at around 9:45 pm and I dare say, Lovely Garden Kisumu offers the most delicious steak, we can bet on it…  My friends were also full of praise, Angie being a critic that she is, couldn’t help lick her fingers. After dinner, the ladies ordered a bottle of wine as Seba and I knew it was time for some Johnny Walker – black. You have truly set the bar high for Leisure in Kisumu city.

Well after an overnight in Lovely garden, we reluctantly woke up to continue with our getaway but first find a mechanic to fix the car. We proceeded for breakfast at around 9am. The breakfast was continental. Eggs, Sausages, Fruits, beckon, juice name it… Later the manager joined us, welcomed us to the hotel and introduced one of their packages to us called the ‘Rafiki Package’ that was on offer at a discounted rate, where the hotel takes you to parks and sanctuaries of choice around Kisumu and its environs. We were intrigued since the offer literally fit into our gateway plan and covered all our needs.  We agreed without much hesitation. We then told him about the car issue, He promised to take care of it … at our own cost lol…

Too bad we couldn’t trace the magical sunset and sunrises with rays reflecting over Lake Victoria as the Hyacinth had really covered some parts of the lake and it looked like one green lake. We started by visiting the Impala Animal Orphanage. Set on the shore of Lake Victoria, the largest freshwater lake in Africa, the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary is a peaceful, relaxing place to enjoy the natural beauty that abounds here. The sanctuary hosts impalas, the rare Sitatunga antelope as well as big cats, buffalos, giraffes, cheetahs and several primate species. The sanctuary is also home to five campsites all with spectacular views of Lake Victoria. Bird watching, nature walks and glass bottomed boat rides compliment the activities availed at the sanctuary.

There after we headed to Ndere Island and on the way we stopped at Kiti mikayi. According to the Luo folklore, Kit Mikayi, mother of the tribe, rested up near Ndere Island, The smallest game reserve in Kenya after her long journey south down the Nile valley. She found the shore lines so pleasing that she and her people stayed. Folklore also exists about the cause of the rock weeping. It’s believed that Mikayi, “the first wife” went up the hill to the stones when her husband took a second wife, and has been weeping ever since. Another legend about the weeping rock exists of a man who was in love with the stone. He could wake up in the morning and walk into the cave inside the stone and stay there the whole day forcing his wife to bring him breakfast and lunch every day. The old man become passionately in love with this stone to the extent that if somebody asked his wife the of his whereabouts, the wife would answer that he has gone to visit his first wife-Mikayi hence the stone of the first wife is Kit Mikayi.

After Kiti Mikayi we headed to Ndere Island. The rocky features full of kopjes as we descended to board our boat was kind of interesting to the eyes and photographers alike. Located on Lake Victoria, this island is a haven for birds. Covered mostly in grassland, Ndere Island provides beautiful scenic views of the Homa hills to the south, Mageta Island to the east and the glimpses of Kampala in Uganda beyond the south west horizon. The lake shore supports a wide variety of animals including hippos, monitor lizards, Nile crocodiles, several fish species, snakes, baboons, impalas, the rare sitatunga antelopes, water bucks, zebras and warthogs. Over 100 different species of birds can be seen here including African fish eagles, black headed gonoleks and grey headed kingfishers. The community around Ndere island were very hospitable and we learnt quite of interesting things at-least I learnt how to mend fishing nets lol..

Long story short, we ended having an unforgettable experience, an insightful adventure and which was very pocket friendly, yani within our budget… Lovely garden guest home is a hidden gem, you guys should try it out, it’s a home away from home. I know you’re wondering what happened to our car. It was fixed and we returned to Kakamega happy, fulfilled and safe.

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Experience Kisumu & Western Kenya Symposium 2024

5th July 2024 at Lovely Garden Guest Home, Kisumu

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