Download GPX file for this article
-0.134.75Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Kisumu is a port city in western Kenya; located on a bay on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria at an altitude of 1,131 m (3,711 ft). It is the headquarters of Kisumu County and after Kampala, the second largest city in the Lake Victoria basin.


The city was founded by the British as "Port Florence" in 1901 as a stop on the railway between Mombasa and Uganda. A year later, the city was renamed Kisumu, from a Luo word meaning "market, trading place".

In 2006, Kisumu was designated one of Africa's 11 'Millenium Cities' by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).


Kisumu enjoys a tropical savanna climate. The lowest temperatures (about 12°C at night and 17°C to 19°C by day) occur in August and September. The highest daytime temperatures can reach 37°C in the warm season (December to April).

The rain season is from March to May. A secondary rain season occurs in November and December. The dryest month is January.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Kisumu International Airportis served by daily flights from Nairobi.
  • Kenya Airways has five daily flights to the capital Nairobi,Kenya Airways. The flight lasts about 45 minutes and takes you above lakes Naivasha and Nakuru.
  • Jambojet is a low-cost airline that has flights from Kisumu to Nairobi.
  • Fly540 [formerly dead link] also operates direct flights from Nairobi.

The airport is about 3.5 km from the city. A few taxis and matatu minibuses do the journey between the airport and the city. In 2018, a matatu cost about Ksh 50 and a taxi cost Ksh 500-1000 KSH. Some hotels and car rental companies can arrange pickups. Jambojet has a bus to and from Kisumu airport.

By boat[edit]

There are no ferries linking Kisumu with other cities on Lake Victoria.

By train[edit]

As of 2018, all train service to Kisumu is suspended. In a few years time, the new standard gauge railway is expected to be operational.

By bus & minivan[edit]

  • Easy Coach: Buses arrive at United Mall and Bank Road Behide the KPLC office, the ticket office is also located there. Easy Coach has 7 trips per day from Nairobi (Ksh 1400, 8 hours). Easy Coach also has two buses a day from Jinja and Kampala (Ksh 1500, 5/7 hours). There are also three departures daily from Mbale.
  • Modern Coast Express (Gumbi Road Kisumu bus park) has buses six times a day from Nairobi (from Ksh 1000). Modern Coast also have three buses a day from Kampala (Ksh 1600) with a stop in Busia. Note that Modern Coach has more than one bus stop in town; travelers are encouraged to confirm the exact location in advance, and allow extra time in case of last-minute changes.
  • In Nairobi, some buses depart from the Country Bus Station near Wakulima Market, between Pumwani Road and Landheis Road. Easy Bus departs from their own bus station on Haile Selassie Avenue in Nairobi, near Nairobi Train Station.
  • Prestige Shuttle has 11-seat vans from Nairobi via Nakuru from 7AM-5PM (Ksh 1000, 6 hours).
  • The Guardian Coach has service from Nairobi.
  • There are also minivans from Kisii, Kericho, and Eldoret.

By car[edit]

Make sure to have an international driving licence. You can obtain one from the Road Transport Office in Nairobi. Travelling by day is recommended as the roads can be unsafe at night. You may encounter police stops.

  • From Nairobi, the distance is about 380 km. Take Chimoro Road towards Gitaru, then turn onto A104 (Waiyaki Way) past Naivasha and Nakuru. About 30 km past Nakuru, turn left onto B1 towards Kisumu. The trip can take from 5 to 12 hours depending on whether you want to stop and observe Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha and Kericho.
  • from Kisumu to the Uganda border at Busia is 119 km.
  • from Kisumu to Jinja Uganda is 237 km.
  • from Kisumu to Nakuru is 197 km.
  • from Kisumu to Kisii is 120 km.
  • from Kisumu to Kitale is 158 km.
  • from Kisuma to Kericho is 90 km.

Get around[edit]

Map of Kisumu

Kisumu is a small town with lots to see. You can use the notorious boda boda (bicycle taxi), pikipiki (motorcycle taxis), matatus, buses, or you can rent a car.


In Kisumu[edit]

  • 1 Kibuye Market. This is the second largest open air market in Kenya, and one of the oldest. It is on Jomo Kenyatta Highway, north-east of the city center, about 1.5 km from the long distance bus stop. The market is active day and night every day.
  • 2 [formerly dead link] Kisumu Museum, Nairobi Rd.
  • 3 Impala sanctuary (in the south-west, on the lake shore).
  • 4 Town Clock, Oginga Odinga Rd.
  • Dunga Beach, A simmering fishing village with welcoming residents. Ideal for boat cruise, hippo viewing, bird watching, and fresh tilapia in local restaurants.
  • Kiboko point (At the south end of the impala sanctuary).

Near Kisumu[edit]

  • The Equator. Kisumu is a few kilometers south of the Equator and you can easily reach the equator by car. Drive north on A1 towards Kakamega and you'll cross the Equator near the village of Mutet, or drive on B1 towards Busia to the small town Maseno.
  • 5 Kit Mikayi rocks (29km from Kisumu, near road C27 towards Bondo).


  • Cruise on Lake Victoria with the MV Kipepeo luxury boat
    Fishing. Kisumu is a very good starting spot for fishing expeditions on the lake.Get to Dunga fishing village contact local guide +254 715604993
  • Golf. There is a golf course in the Nyanza Club, near the lake, close to the airport. The club has a swimming pool and a tennis court.
  • Learn, Ochieng Ave. The national library has books in English, Swahili and Luo.
  • Dunga Papyrus Boardwalk (Boardwalk), 3954 (3 kilometers), +254 715604993, . The papyrus boardwalk offers lake museum with luo cultural artifacts. the place is ideal for birding especially endemic species e.g. papyrus gonolek, carruthers cisticola

    It offers space for photo shoots, camping and parties/occasions.


Many local crafts can make good souvenirs.

  • Musical instruments such as nyatiti and orutu, typical of the Luo's musical culture.
  • Soapstone objects. The historical center of soapstone crafts is in Kisii, about 100 km south of Kisumu.
  • Objects woven from sisal (such as kiondo handbags), papyrus or water hyacinth. Loincloths: vikoi (singular kikoi) for men, kanha for women.Batik (paintings on textile).
  • Household wood items.
  • Kibuye Market.
  • Kisumu Craft Stalls (in the Kisumu Municipal Market on Nairobi Road). Soapstone objects.
  • Kisumu Main Market (Jomo Kenyatta Highway). This market specializes in textile (kikoi, kanga, batik).
  • Pendeza Weaving (on Nairobi Road, 3km from the town center), +254 735 229904, +254 734 587253 (mobile). Another textile market.

Currency exchange[edit]

Most banks in town offer currency exchange between Kenyan Shillings and major international currencies. You may have a harder time buying or selling Ugandan shillings, despite the proximity to the border.

DTB's branch in the West End shopping center [dead link] offers currency exchange and other banking services and is open 7 days a week. A passport is required.

Banks ATMs[edit]

  • Ecobank, United Mall Joma Kenyatta Highway. 24 hours. Has a Mastercard/Visa card ATM. no fee.
  • Equity Bank. 24 hours. Has a Mastercard/Visa card ATM. no fee.

Malls & supermarkets[edit]

  • Naivas Supermarket, Jomo Kenyatta Rd. 8AM-9PM.
  • West End Shopping Mall, Got Huma Rd. 9AM-8PM.
  • United Mall, Jomo Kenyatta Highway. 9AM-8PM. Has a Carrefour Supermarket. Easy Coach departs from here going to Uganda and Nairobi.
  • Khetias Supermarket. 8AM-9PM. lower prices.
  • Lake Basin Shopping Mall, Kisumu-Vihiga Road. 9AM-8PM. Biggest shopping mall in Kisumu. Five floors, 140 stores, and a car park for 335 cars.


Aside from the town centre there are a number of places to eat and drink in the evenings in the Kondele region on Kibos Road and on Jomo Kenyatta Highway with guest houses close by.


  • Florence Restaurant, Jomo Kenyatta Highway, +254 57 2022211. Local and international cuisine. One of the best classical restaurants.
  • Lakeside Meeting Point, Oginga Odinga Rd. Local and international cuisine from fresh produce.
  • Mon Ami, Mega Plaza on Oginga Odinga Rd. Italian and international cuisine.
  • Hussein Pan House, Accra St. Indian cuisine.
  • Oriental Restaurant, Al-Imran Plaza. Chinese cuisine.
  • Kimwa Cafe, Ogada St. Local cuisine from fresh ingredients.
  • Kisumu Yacht Club (in the Dunga neighborhood, between the impala sanctuary and Kiboko Bay Resort). Local and international cuisine. You must have a member card from the club (temporary cards are available).


Aside from the town centre there are a number of places to eat and drink in the evenings in the Kondele region on Kibos Road and on Jomo Kenyatta Highway with guest houses close by.


Kisumu has a number of guest houses, hotels, motels, hostels, all dependent on your needs and budget. It is common for hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation to be called a guest house in Kisumu Kenya. They are the most common and best value places to stay — hotels seem to ramp up their prices just because they are a hotel — beware.

  • London Guest House, 1 Kibos Rd, +254 736 531205. Said to be the best-value accommodation in the city. Mosquito nets are provided and a lovely outdoor but surrounded yard with tables and to sit and chat. They also provide breakfast. Single/double rooms. Has its own power generator. Has 25 rooms. Has Wi-Fi. from Ksh 1,100.
  • [formerly dead link] Mountain View Resorts (Mamboleo suburbs, 10 minutes' drive from the city centre), +254 772511527. Affordable single/double rooms with own bathroom. decent and rather pleasant accommodation. Stay 4 days and get one day free. from Ksh 1000 per person.
  • Sooper Guest House, Oginga Odinga Rd (At the intersection of Oginga Odinga Road with Kendu Lane.). Very clean, hot showers, mosquito nets and window screens, TV with satellite, a beautiful roof top terrace with lake view. Seems to be the only cheap place in town that has free Wi-Fi, even in the rooms. Has 34 single and double rooms. Breakfast costs Ksh 200 per person. Ksh 1200/1500.
  • Lakeside Guesthouse, Kendu Ln opposite lake view hotel short walk from minoki building (Opposite of Lake View Hotel, about 30m from corner with Oginga Odinga Rd.), +254 729553066. Check-out: 10:00. Single/double with own bathroom and dstv. Clean place with a Spectacular view of the lake. Total of 22 rooms. Good security and you can lock the room with your own padlock. Clean large mosquito nets, clean bathroom, hot water instant showers in all rooms. Breakfast costs Ksh 150 per person, free Wi-Fi in all rooms. Ksh 1200/1500.
  • Kisumu Backpacker Hostel, Winam Square 43 Milimani, +254-704316285. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Has a 5-bed dorm and two double rooms. Ksh 1200/3000.
  • Joy Guest house (3 km south of town near Hippo points turn off), +254-720-272037. Ksh 1000.
  • YWCA hostel, Angawa Avenue, +254 57-2024788. Five dorms with 8 beds per dorm. Has to be the most low cost place to stay in Kisumu. Dorm bed Ksh 450 per person.
  • Jumuia Guest house, Lumumba Rd. Single/double rooms
  • St Anna Guest House, Millimani Tom Mboya St, +254 57-2024792. Has 35 single and double rooms Double Ksh 1900.
  • New Razbi Guest house, Kendu Ln (next to Sooper Guest house), +254 721824349. Single/double rooms. Hot water bathrooms. Has a TV lounge. Some rooms out side bathrooms. Ksh 1200.
  • New East View hotel, Omolo Agar Rd, +254 722556721. Single room. Ksh 1200.
  • Phaldomar Guest house, Kenya re Rd, +254 723053026. Single/double rooms with own bathroom. from Ksh 1200/1600.
  • Lake View, Alego street, +254 721-778287. Single/double rooms with own hot water bathrooms and nets Ksh 1500.
  • New Victoria, Gar Mahia Road, +254 57-2021067. Single room with outside bathrooms Ksh 1100.
  • Mirukas Lodge, Apindi Street, +254 727233887. Single/double rooms with hot water bathrooms. Ksh 1200.
  • Hacienda Guest House (The Hacienda), Migosi, Kenya Re Road, Green View Stage (Route 44 Kondele - Kenya Re Road), +254 722965472, +254 721266716, . Check-out: 10:00. A small guest house of 5 rooms. Wall fence with 24 hours security. Very neat and quite. Ksh 1500-2000.

Stay safe[edit]

Kisumu is less stressful than Nairobi or Mombasa. However pickpockets are common, especially around Kibuye Market. If you are driving, you should lock the car doors.

All public buildings (airport, post office, banks, shopping centers, etc.) are watched by security guards wearing a blue uniform. Private estates are generally guarded as well.

Kisumu police [formerly dead link]:

  • Phone: (20 is the national prefix for police forces)
  • +254 20 465767 (provincial headquarters);
  • +254 20 333151 (Kisumu division)
  • There are police stations all over the city and policemen are clearly visible. The headquarters are located on Nairobi Road near the long distance bus terminal.




All cybercafes have phone booths. The rates to phone abroad are very high in Kenya. It is usually cheaper to buy a Kenyan SIM card in a cybercafe or from a phone vendor.

The main cellphone operators are Safaricom, Airtel and telkom . Safaricom has slightly higher prices but has faster Internet.

Go next[edit]

This city travel guide to Kisumu is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.