Altitude: 4,000 to 7,000 feet above sea level.
Area: 240 square kilometers.
Airstrips: Kakamega Airstrip (15 Kilometers).
Opened: May 1985
Activities: Nature walks, bird viewing, butterfly watching.
Kakamega Forest is situated in Western Province of Kenya, north-west of the capital Nairobi, and near to the border with Uganda. It is said to be Kenya's last remnant of the ancient Guineo-Congolian rainforest that once spanned the continent. The forest has been a protected area of Kenya since it's vital role was first recognized in 1933.
The sheer size and grandeur of these rainforest trees, some over a hundred years old is impressive. The trees create a complete environment for the birds, insects, butterflies and other small wildlife.The forest includes some of Africa's greatest hard and softwoods; Elgon teak, red and white stinkwoods and several varieties of Croton and Aniageria Altisima. Splendid orchids sit amongst branches of the larger trees.
Walking beneath the forest canopy the deep shade is pierced by flashes of color, exotic birdcalls, the scents of wood, flower and moss. The best time to visit is during the rainy season when the flowers are at their most beautiful.
There are 7 kilometers of trails with a team of ranger / guides to escort visitors through the forest. The walk to Buyango Hill is a must for most visitors. The indigenous trees lining the trails are identified on signs with their local and Latin names.
The Reserve is twice the size of Nairobi National Park with 380 species of plants and 350 species of birds. Certain species of butterflies and snakes that are normally found only in West Africa can also be seen.
Forest mammals include; bushpig, Grey duiker, civet cat, Sunni, clawless otters, Black and White Colobus, De Brazza monkey, blue monkey, olive baboon and some fascinating nocturnal game such as ground pangolin, porcupines and the occasional leopard.
There are two campsites in the forest, but there is only one hotel / lodge worth mentioning, Rondo Retreat 35 rooms. In nearby Kakamega Town there is the Kakamega Golf Hotel, which claims to be of a tourist standard, but is not up to expectations. Kakamega can be done as a full day excursion from Eldoret or Kisumu. Also visited en route from one to the other.Another area that can be included in this western Kenya circuit is Ruma National Park.
Created as a reserve in 1966 to protect the only remaining natural habitat of the Roan Antelope, the park is in the Lambwe Valley in South Nyanza, 140 kilometers from Kisumu town. The 120 square kilometers park is a mix off rolling savannah, woodlands, rivers and hills. Its main attractions are game viewing, bird watching, hiking, walking and fishing in the rivers.
Game includes: Bohor's Reedbuck, Rothschild Giraffe, Jackson's Heartebeest, Roan Antelope, Buffalo, Leopard, Serval Cat and Hyena. There is no hotel or lodge in the park but it has two campsites.