WHY TRAVEL HERE?
Lake Victoria is the largest tropical lake in the world, the largest freshwater lake in Africa, and the second largest freshwater lake in the world (after Lake Superior in North America). Covering an area of 69,940 square kilometres it is 337 kilometres at its greatest length, and 240 kilometres at its greatest width - as large as the Republic of Ireland. It is situated in the East African Rift Valley, and is at an altitude of 1,130 meters above sea level with its deepest point measuring 82 metres. It is not surprising that this vast Lake dominates the area geographically. Bordering the three countries of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya it is in fact Kenya that has the smallest share of the lake at 3785 square kilometres.
The Uniqueness of Lake Victoria
Unlike Lakes Malawi, Manyara, Turkana and Tanganyika, Lake Victoria does not lie in a deep depression of the Rift Valley; instead it is situated in a shallow basin no deeper than 100 metres. Most of the lakes in the immediate area are in fact alkaline lakes since the streams that feed them pass through very mineralised lavas - in contrast Lake Victoria is a fresh water lake. Lake Victoria is surrounded by rolling green hills and is very scenic as compared to the surrounding dry and dust brown savanna plains. History
In 1858 John Hanning Speke was the first European to sight Lake Victoria, which he named for Britain's Queen Victoria. Speke and Burton were searching for the "source" of the White Nile, and Speke claimed the source was Lake Victoria. Burton disagreed and many debates were held at the time in the Geographic Societies of Europe, and then finally in 1875, Henry Morton Stanley proved Speke's theory to be correct.
The Kisumu Market is a fascinating bustling place to visit and a good venue to buy crafts from the locals. Within Kisumuthere is the Kisumu Museum, and just outside is an example of a Luo homestead. Hippo Point not only provides good hippo viewing but also good sunsets. One can experience the daily routine of the traditional fishermen going out in their dugout canoes at Ndunga Beach, which is a fishing village not far from Kisumu. Mt. Homa andRuma National Park are both situated near the town of Homa Bay.
Lake Victoria is renowned for its abundance of fish and there are over 200 species within the lake. The Luo people moved into this area of the lake from Sudan in the 15th century and are Kenya's 3rd largest ethnic group. Living in the areas surrounding the lake they make a living from catching and selling fish (predominantly the Nile perch, and tilapia). The fish are either sold to local markets, or to the processors for sale in Nairobi and for export.
On the islands of Rusinga, Mfangano and Takawiri there are fishing camps with boats and guides for hire for those interested in sport fishing. Most of their business comes from visitors that fly in from the Masai Mara for a day's fishing to return to their camp less than half an hours' flight away.
The ecological health of Lake Victoria has taken a downturn in recent years. A more recent but very real threat to the Lake is the water hyacinth that has spread like wildfire forming a dense mat and blocking the sunlight for the organisms below. It has become so dense that it blocks fishing boats and nets of all sizes. Radical measures are being taken to control it.
The best time to visit Lake Victoria is during the months of August and September. The average daytime temperatures throughout the year are between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius, and average evening temperatures are 8 - 11 degrees Celsius.
A daily service links Lake Victoria to the Masai Mara National Park - just a 40-minute flight. Air charters also connect Lake Victoria to Nairobi - a 1½-hour flight. Daily scheduled flights also connect Nairobi & Kisumu.
Express buses & minibuses regularly run between Nairobi & Homa Bay.
Several ferries run at least twice a week, between Mfangano Island & Homa Bay, Kisumu & Kendu Bay, & HomaBay & Kisumu.