Attractions in Homa Bay County
13. Mbita Point
C19 Homa Bay to Mbita Road travels northeast from the turnoff until it reaches Mbita Point 32 kms away. This outmoded town is a favoured starting-point for most trips that aim for the 16 Islands of Homa Bay County. There’s a long route branching off at Mbita Point that takes wayfarers into the Ruma National Park up, over and through the Gwasi Hills. The best way to spend a day at Mbita is a visit to Lake Victoria Safari Village, then take walking trips to the fishing ports and villages where you may espy local anglers bringing in their huge catch and spirited fishmongers haggling over prices. Mbita is chiefly a fishing village. For the overnight guests, Lake Victoria Safari Village has attractive rondavels, each with its own bathroom and a private veranda overlooking the Lake Victoria. Its other highlights include: the gardens, beach front, lighthouse and boating tours. Reduced packages are offered to those visiting LVS Village and Takawiri Island Resort on consecutive terms. From Mbita, a motorable causeway connects it to Rusinga Island. Mbita Ferry connects it to more than ten other islands. For the more adventurous trippers, the Hiwegi Hills provide great prospects for hiking.
14. Mbita Ferry
Mbita Ferry, connecting Mbita Point to Mfangano Island, and Kisumu to Mbita from Luanda K’Otieno Beach, is a unique way to commute and revel in the both landscapes of Kisumu and Homa Bay Counties. The voyage on Mbita Ferry also offers an unfamiliar reverse-view of Kisumu City, Mageto Island, Ndere Island National Park, Mfangano Island and Gwasi Hills. Equally impressive while on transit are the traditional fishing canoes and fishing villages. At Mbita Point, first time travellers to the region can enjoy mingling with local anglers. The new ultra modern ferries (that include MV Uzinza) are capable of carrying 30 small cars and almost 150 passengers on a smooth ride. To get to Mbita Ferry from Kisumu take the B1 Busia Road for 11-12 kms to Kisian, turn left towards Bondo and drive up to Ndori Centre (about 36 kms away) then turn left at Ndori for Luanda K’Otieno. There are two modern ferries, MV Mbita and MV Uzinza, that operate in alternate cycles five times daily at 7 am, 10 am, noon, 2 pm and 5 pm.
15. Rusinga Island
Rusinga Island, connected to the mainland by the Rusinga Causeway, contrasts with Mfangano Island by its constitution of several comparatively low distinct hillscapes with a central summit on Lunene (4,790 feet). Both these islands are considerably densely populated, yet, owing to the rocky nature of their terrains, the island people are little more than self-supporting, even with steady supply of fish from the lake. Surprisingly, Mfangano Island has many small permanent rivulets. Except for the offshoot sprig arc in the east, the 16 kms wide Rusinga Island is easily accessible along a ring road that encircles it, along which, on the outer edges, are to be found several reasonable resorts and camps, that include: Holiday Inn Rusinga, White Stone Beach Resort, Wayando Beach Eco Lodge and Rusinga Homestay. Of its growing list of establishments, the most revered and popular is, of course, Rusinga Island Resort which is served by its private airstrip. Rusinga Island has many places of interest that are within reach of an afternoon’s wander-round to include Hiwegi Hills and Tom Mboya Mausoleum.
16. Rusinga Island Resort
Set in the northwest area of Rusinga Island and backdropped by tropical repose illustrated by a variegated exotic garden, Rusinga Island Lodge has, many times over, been christened the ‘romantic retreat of sweet tranquility’. Rusinga Lodge has 11-luxury cottages, all named after local birds, with high thatched roofs and spacious patios looking out over serene gardens to the sparkling lake beyond. Sunsets and dining catering are best enjoyed at the Fish Eagle House, along the candlelit jetty or around the floodlit pool. There’s a well-stocked bar too. Other amenities include a swimming pool and spa. Outdoor activities include boating to the islands, biking or walking to Tom Mboya Mausoleum and the Pre-historic site where the Proconsul Africanus was discovered in 1948, or a day trip to the Ruma National Park. Rusinga Island Resort is found 10 kms from Mbita Point.
17. Tom Mboya Mausoleum
Also located in the northwest quarter of Rusinga Island near the Rusinga Island Resort and about 1 km beyond the junction to Kolunga Beach is the Tom Mboya Mausoleum, under the aegis of National Museums of Kenya. The bullet-shaped mausoleum, on his ancestral home at Kasawanga, is symbolic of Mboya’s unjust and ill timed death on July 5th, 1969, in Nairobi. Inside, there are exhibitions of Tom’s mementos, memorabilia and awards. As one of the most impeccable and charismatic leaders Kenya has yet been blessed with, Mboya was widely tipped to become Kenya’s second president, succeeding Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. Thomas Joseph Odhiambi ‘Tom’ Mboya was first monumentalized in Kenyan chronicles as the vanguard of the negotiations for the Independence of Kenya at Lancaster House Conferences. Right off the bat at Kenya’s independence, Mboya became Kenyatta’s maverick kingmaker, his first task of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s of the ‘new’ constitution, in company of Charles Njonjo, handled masterfully.
Henceforth, Mboya would bolster unwavering loyalty to Kenyatta, always top-scoring on pro-government agendas and tactfully thwarting untold attempts by opposition members to engender bootless policies. Indeed, Tom Mboya’s legal, political and diplomatic astuteness had, in equal parts, impressed and terrified. Furthermore, his age, many years younger than the high ranking government officials of the day, did not sit well with many, at a time when tribal politics was beginning to rear its ugly head. An eloquent statesman and enigmatic leader, he would also go down in history as the first Kenyan to be featured on the cover of Time Magazine – March 7th, 1960, as a second to none political colossus. News of Tom’s death send shock across the nation on a scale never witnessed before. What was not in doubt was that his elimination was a desperate move to silence a brilliant political maven whose abstruse ingenuity had remained unanswered.
Nyipir in Yvonne Owuor’s novel “Dust” (2013) reminds his daughter, Ajany, that 1969 was a very hard year. Mboya’s assassination from now onwards is transformed into permanent mourning – something like melancholia among his Luo people. It poisons political relations and some even observe, the economic fortunes of his kinsfolk. His death becomes an allegory of national trauma that had started with the ominous signs of authoritarianism, the shift from multiparty to a one-party state, the micro-management of national affairs by a small tribal gang and the cold-blood elimination of political opponents – The Elephant/A. Awour
18. Kasawanga Fishing Village
Fishing has always been key to Homa Bay’s economy and it’s fishing that drives growth of many of its island villages. A call in on one of Homa Bay’s buzzy-busy fishing villages is a great way to round a trip of the islands and discern the ways of life of these seafaring communities. Not far from the Tom Mboya Mausoleum and the Rusinga Island Resort at Kolunga Beach sits the ludicrously windswept Kasawanga fishing village, with a welcoming and friendly fork. For the intrepid, this vibrant fishing community, who own fleets of intricately built boats, offers rare experiences to engage and understand how these communities thrive here.
Fishing is the main economic activity in Homa Bay County, with the county controlling over 80% of the Lake Victoria Beach front in Kenya. Mbita Town is a leading fishing zone with over 80% of its inhabitants being fishermen – MSDP.
19. White Stone Beach Resort
In the northeast area of Rusinga Island, nestled between Kiumba and Lwanda Rombo, is a salubrious, sandy beach, utterly beautiful lakeshore called the coast of Western Kenya. Here, travellers can walk the length of a peaceful beach, one of the developed, if not the most developed, island in Lake Victoria, then retreat into the island for exploration or take a boating trip to explore several islands. At the modish White Stone Beach Resort you select one of three room-layouts (king room with lake view, superior room with lake view and deluxe double or twin room) all options with air-conditioning, private balconies, television with satellite channels and complimentary wireless internet access. Other amenities include; bar, shared lounge, garden and in-good-condition hop-on hop-off boat taxis. An early morning continental-style breakfast delectably ushers in a day of adventure around Rusinga Island. Then suitably fortified with one of a handful of comfortable and motorized boats sail around Ngodhe, Mfangano, Takawiri, Ringiti and Mbasa Island. An early morning start from the resort could bring you back in time for lunch. In the cooler part of afternoon guides are at hand to take guests into the island to some of its famous rock art sites and Tom Mboya Mausoleum, arriving back just in time to get their fix of the memorable island sunsets. The time to go is between November and March, which avoids the rain season, although generally-speaking weather is favourable throughout the year.