Located in the western part of Kenya, Kakamega County is a destination that often goes unnoticed by many travelers. However, this hidden treasure is filled with wonders waiting to be discovered. From its lush green landscapes to its vibrant culture and unique wildlife, Kakamega County offers many experiences for those willing to explore. Here is everything you need to know about this beautiful region.
Quick Facts About Makueni County
- County Number: 037
- Number of Sub-Counties: 12 (Butere, Mumias, Matungu, Likuyani, Mumias East, Khwisero, Shinyalu, Lurambi, Ikolomani, Lugari, Malava, and Navakholo.)
- County Headquarters: Kakamega town
- Current Governor: Fernendas Barasa
- Current Senator: Cleophas Wakhungu Malalah
- Woman Representative: Elsie Busihile Muhanda
- County Website: kakamega.go.ke
Natural Beauty and Biodiversity
Kakamega County is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty. At the region’s heart lies the Kakamega Forest, a remaining fragment of the ancient Guineo-Congolian rainforest that once covered the continent. Spanning approximately 200 square kilometers, this tropical rainforest is a sanctuary for a diverse array of plant and animal species found nowhere else in Kenya.
- The Kakamega Forest boasts towering trees, dense undergrowth, and a tranquil atmosphere that creates a haven for nature enthusiasts.
- It is home to over 380 species of birds, making it a paradise for birdwatching enthusiasts. Some of the colorful avian species include the Great Blue Turaco, African Grey Parrot, and Ross’s Turaco.
- Numerous primates, including the endangered De Brazza’s monkey, blue monkey, and colobus monkey, also inhabit the forest.
- Guided nature walks, and primate tracking expeditions provide an opportunity to observe these incredible creatures in their natural habitat.
Other Attractions in Kakamega County
Beyond the forest, Kakamega County offers other natural wonders. The Isiukhu Falls, cascading waters surrounded by lush vegetation, create a picturesque spot for relaxation and picnics. The Nzoia River, one of Kenya’s longest rivers, provides a thrilling playground for water sports enthusiasts, offering white-water rafting and kayaking activities.
Rich Cultural Heritage of Kakamega County
The people of Kakamega County, primarily belonging to the Luhya community, showcase a vibrant cultural heritage. Their traditions and customs are deeply ingrained in their daily lives, providing a unique insight into the region’s rich history.
- Music and dance play a central role in Luhya culture. Traditional instruments like the isukuti drum, litungu (a lyre-like stringed instrument), and tsinende (a thumb piano) create rhythmic melodies during celebrations and ceremonies.
- Engaging in traditional dances, such as the Luhya traditional circumcision dance known as ‘isukuti,’ offers an opportunity to immerse oneself in the local culture.
- Cultural festivals and events provide a platform for locals to showcase their heritage. The Khayega Cultural Festival, held annually in Kakamega County, is a colorful celebration of Luhya traditions. Visitors can witness traditional ceremonies, taste local cuisine, and witness captivating performances highlighting the region’s cultural diversity.
Local Cuisine and Hospitality
Kakamega County boasts a rich agricultural landscape, resulting in a cuisine that is both diverse and flavorful. Traditional Luhya meals often feature staple foods such as maize, millet, and potatoes, accompanied by various vegetables and meat.
- Indulge in dishes like obusuma, a maize meal served with vegetables or meat, and isisikoli, a traditional chicken stew prepared with local spices. Savoring these authentic flavors allows visitors to experience the local culinary traditions truly.
- The people of Kakamega County are hospitable and welcoming. Local homestays and community-based tourism initiatives provide an opportunity to interact closely with the residents, learn about their daily lives, and gain a deeper appreciation for their culture.
Practical Information About Kakamega County
- Kakamega town, the county’s administrative center, is a gateway to the region. It is well-connected to other parts of Kenya by road, making it easily accessible for travelers.
- Accommodation options in Kakamega County range from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxury lodges. Eco-lodges close to the Kakamega Forest offer a unique experience for nature lovers, while resorts and hotels in the town provide modern amenities and convenience.
- When planning a visit to Kakamega County, carrying appropriate gear for outdoor activities is advisable. These include hiking shoes, rain gear, and insect repellent. Engaging the services of local guides and tour operators ensures a safe and enriching experience. This is because they possess in-depth knowledge of the region and its attractions.
Final Thoughts About Kakamega County
In conclusion, Kakamega County presents an opportunity to explore Kenya beyond the well-trodden paths. Its natural beauty, cultural heritage, and warm hospitality make it a destination worth discovering. Whether you are an adventure seeker, a nature lover, or a cultural enthusiast, Kakamega offers a truly immersive experience that will leave a lasting impression. So, venture into this hidden treasure and uncover the wonders that await in the heart of western Kenya.