Tourism and Tourist Attractions in Homa bay County include; Ruma National Park, Tom Mboya Mausoleum, Winam Gulf of Lake Victoria, Rusinga and Mfangano Islands, Kanjera Archaeological site, Volcanic Lake Simbi Nyaima in Karachuonyo and Mt. Homa.
Tourism in the County Government of Homa Bay falls under the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports.
Homabay County Sites
Ruma National Park
Ruma National Park covering an area of 120km2 is the only Park in the entire Nyanza region. It lies on the flat floor of the Lambwe Valley, close to the shores of Africa’s largest inland lake, Lake Victoria and bordered by the Kanyamwa escarpment to the south-east, Gwassi Hills, Sumba hill and Ruri hills to the north.
It is situated 140km from Kisumu City, 10km east of Lake Victoria South West of Homa Bay and 425km west of Nairobi.
It was initially established as the Lambwe Valley Game Reserve in 1966 to protect its indigenous population of rare roan antelopes which exist nowhere else in Kenya.
In 1983 it was gazetted as Ruma National Park upon request by the local community. The area had been named “Ruma” by one of Kenya’s most powerful wizard, the much feared Gor Mahia who lived around the park. The park is made up of black cotton soil with the surrounding area settled with a mix of small scale cultivation and grassy pasture land.
Main access is from Kisumu via Homa Bay – 140 km, via Kisii – 65 km. The main gate (Kamato Gate) is 42 km from Homa Bay take Main C – 20 tarmac road in the direction of Rongo. After 10 km branch off to the right at Rodi kopany and proceed 20 km to Mirogi. At Morogi follow the signs to the Park a distance of 12 km on a Murrum road from Mirogi. OR 24 km from Homa Bay take main C – 20 tarmac road in the direction of Rongo. After 2 km branch off to the right at Mbita – Homa Bay Road junction. After 11km branch left at the park signage taking road D213 to Kamato Gate.
From Kisii via Rongo to Rodi kopany branching off to the left. One can also access the Park from Kisumu via Lwanda K’otieno from Lwanda K’otieno take ferry to Mbita then drive 20 km to Nyatoto Gate.
Three main circuits which are motorable all year round 4 wheel drive is necessary during the rainy seasons.
Two gates, the Main Gate (Kamato Gate) and Nyatoto Gate
Hot and humid, mean annual rainfall is 1200 – 1600mm. The park has a humid climate, the long rains falling April-June and the short rains falling October-December
Roan antelope which is found nowhere else in the country.
Wildlife – Roan antelope, black rhinos, leopard, buffalo, hyena, Rothschild’s giraffe, oribi, Jackson and lelwel hartebeest, impala, bohor reedbuck, serval cat, topi, baboons, vervet monkey, honey badgers, bush pig and many more.
Birds – Over 400 species of birds have been recorded in this park. It is renowned amongst ornithologists for its rare intra – African migrant, the blue swallow.
The Park provides an unspoiled world for game lovers, bird watchers, tranquility and peace for meditation, historians, campers, team building, picnic, sundowners and scenic beauty.
Two campsites, Nyati campsite which is a special campsite and Fig tree campsite which is a public campsite and a backpacker’s haven.
Korlang’o picnic site which is a historical site as Korlango was used as an escape route by the kalenjin during the colonial time when they were brought to Lambwe Valley to die during the resistance, as the place was inhabited due to tsetse fly and malaria.
Twiga picnic site which is in the middle of the Park allowing you to snack with the animals.
Oribi guest house
It is a unique self-catering guesthouse built on the Kanyamwa Escarpment where Gor Mahia used to frequent. For those who want to have an over night stay and appreciate the Park unique attributes of tranquility, wilderness, scenic beauty and watching the sunset. It has 3 bedrooms accommodating a maximum of 6 people with a fully equipped kitchen. Oribi is solar powered and DSTV available
Game viewing, bird watching, picnic, camping, team building, meditation, sight seeing, sundowner.
The Park is a classic image of East Africa with a land of rolling golden savanna dotted with picturesque acacias backed by dramatic hills and magnificent escarpment.
It also has a unique mosaic of riverine woodland and balanties trees.
The Park is free of tsetse fly, thanks to a collaboration of KWS, PATTEC and Veterinary Department.
Rusinga and Mfangano Island
Mfangano and Rusinga islands, both set in Lake Victoria offer excellent sites for hiking, fishing, walking safaris and bird watching. Rusinga Island is the home and burial site of the late former cabinet minister Tom Mboya, who was assassinated in 1969.
Mfangano-Rusinga Island complex is located in Lake Victoria, Southwest Kenya. The area is classified as semi-arid to semi-humid type and has a bimodal rainfall pattern.
The vegetation is variable but dominated by a combination of thick forest trees and shrubs downslope, while the hilltop is dominated by patches of forest and grassland.
The inhabitants are the Abasuba people, a sub-tribe of the Bantu of East Africa who have been largely culturally influenced by the more dominant Luo through interaction and intermarriage.
Mfangano Island derived its name from the term ‘okuwangana’ which means to unite in Abasuba or a place where people united.
The name might have originated due to the fact that Mfangano Island provided refuge to groups that were conquered in the mainland by the more populous Luo peoples. Between four and eleven generations ago, the following groups lived in the island: the Wagimbe, Wisokolwa, Kakimba-Wiramba, Wasamo, Wagire, Wakula, Wakinga, Wakisori, Wakisasi, Waozi, Walundu, Wiyokia, Walowa, Waganda and Wakiaya. Mfangano Island is known for its ancient rock art sites, sacred sites whose description is provided below.
Rock paintings sites in Mfangano Island
Mfangano Island is known for its ancient rock art, possibly 2,000 years old and thought to have been created by early forager-hunters, the Twa people. The Twa people, also known as Batwa or pygmies, have been described as the forgotten tribe who live in the Great Lakes region of Africa.
Three sites on Mfangano Island have legends attached to them; one or even two of the sites are still in use. The art in the sites comprises almost solely of sets of concentric circles in two or all three of the colours red, white and black. The paintings are typical of what is sometimes termed “Twa” art that stretches from northern Kenya in a broadening trail southwards to spread across Africa from Northern Mozambique to Angola, and to cease north of the Zambezi River.
Kwitone rock art
The site is a concealed 40-metre long overhang just below a high shoulder on Itone Hill and in the custodianship of the Wagimbe clan (Abasuba). The art, almost entirely at one end of the shelter and painted over a ledge three metres above a cleared floor, consists of sets of alternating red and white concentric circles, some with “spokes” between the two outer circles and concentric ovals.
A depression on the ledge below the paintings can retain water (or hold a food offering), and two smooth areas beside it suggest extended human use. Because of the inclination of the ledge they were probably made neither because they were used as seats nor by passage. The rock must have been touched many times either with the hand or with a cloth or hide. The site is associated with supernatural powers and miraculous events by the local residents. The site was used for rainmaking.
Mawanga rock art
The site with an art on a panel covering about eight square metres, consists of sets of concentric circles, mainly in alternating white and black with visible images superimposed upon each other. A natural formation in the base rock resembling fingerprints, situated below a low overhang near the rear of the cave, is locally known as the “Hand of God”.
The wall and roof at the back of the cave are also covered with spectacular natural cupules. The Wasamo clan elders’ belief that the paintings were made by their distant ancestors to represent designs on their shields. To scare their enemies, their ancestors, used the cave and shields for defense during fights when they vanquished other Abasuba clans: the Walundu, Waozi and Wasasi.
Because the paintings represent the shields and because of their use in victories, they still retain special rainmaking powers. The paintings acquire additional power from the “Hand of God” which, to this day, has healing properties. When the sick place their hand in the natural formation they receive some benefit.
Sacred sites in Mfangano Island
A total of 36 different types of sacred sites exist in Mfangano Island of which 19 are still intact and can be located. Though the other 17 can be described as extinct, their history is still told today by elders. Most of the sites are linked to rain making traditions and represents the link between the people and God.
The local people believe that the sacred groves for example, warn the people of the impending danger, usually by producing a distinct noise or by having a fog overcast. The community would then acknowledge the warnings and appease the spirits through offerings of animal sacrifices. The sacred forests are also ancestral landmarks that instill discipline and unity among the local people, the Abasuba.
Rusinga Island, with an elongated shape approximately 10 miles (16km) from end to end and 3 miles (5km) at its widest point, lies in the eastern part of Lake Victoria at the mouth of the Winam Gulf.and is linked to Mbita Point on the mainland by a causeway.
The island is rich in fossils and the skull of ‘Proconsul Africanus’ was found here by anthropologist Mary Leakey. This anthropoid ape lived on the island three million years ago.
More than 100 species of bird have been recorded around the island, some of which are endangered. In the island are also the giant monitor lizards that are so huge in comparison to any other monitor lizards in the entire region.
The island complex has a large concentration of rock art sites confined to three areas within the Island and remains outstanding in terms of quality and diversity.
Kanjera Archeological Sites
The site of Kanjera occurs on the Homa Peninsula of western Kenya. It’s located in the beautiful rural countryside,
surrounded by eroded volcanic edifices, on the southern shore of the Winam Gulf of Lake Victoria.
Excavations by a Smithsonian – National Museums of Kenya team began in 1987, and have continued under the leadership of Dr. Tom Plummer, who is now chairman of the Anthropology Department at Queens.
Mount Homa is a mountain located in western Kenya. It forms a broad peninsula on the southern shore of Winam Gulf, an extension of Lake Victoria. This peninsula defines Homa Bay and the mountaintop is about 20 kilometres north of the town of that name.
In the Luo language Got Uma or God Marahuma means “famous mountain”
Simbi Nyaima is a volcanic crater lake in Kendu Bay, is believed to have been formed around 1680 as a result of an earthquake that was accompanied by volcanic eruption. The waters of the lake are said to have medicinal value and many people claim have been cured after bathing in the lake.
Tom Mboya Mausoleum
Tom Mboya’s mausoleum lies on family land at Kasawanga Village on the north side of the island, about 7km by the dirt road from Mbita, or roughly 5km directly across the island. The mausoleum (open most days to visitors) contains various mementoes and gifts Mboya received during his life.
The burial chamber, constructed in 1971, is the shape of the silver bullet believed to have ended the life of the former Cabinet minister.
The manicured mausoleum could pass as a pre-independence library with books and laminated newspaper cuttings on the struggles for independence and the role Mboya played being displayed at the entrance.
“Go and fight like this man who fought for mankind’s cause who died because he fought whose battles are still known,” reads an inscription on the marble grave.
Among the items in the mausoleum are:
- The briefcase Mboya had when he was shot.
- The black flywhisk the youngest minister in the first Cabinet of 27 after independence carried to political functions.
- The national flag that draped the casket
- A certificate that made Mboya an honorary citizen of the Kansas City in the US in 1966.
- The condolence book signed on the day Mboya was buried in his father’s compound.
- The black nameplate, a souvenir from the Chinese Government, that stood on the minister’s desk.
- Hoisted in the burial chamber are several flags of the countries he visited and whose leaders paid him a courtesy call.
- Bible with holy water on top, which Mboya was given as a souvenir when on honeymoon in Israel in 1962.
Travelling to Homa Bay County
Homa Bay County is accessible by road from Nairobi through Kisumu, a 420km journey, and from Kampala in Uganda through the 400km Kisumu-Jinja-Kampala road.
Homa Bay is also accessible by lake through Bukoba, Mbita Point, Jinja and Musoma.
An airstrip located 5km south-east of Homa Bay town mainly serves tourists travelling from Nairobi, Maasai Mara and other tourist attraction sites to Homa Bay.