Lake Victoria worth it? (Kenya & Tanzania)
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Oct 14, 2012 1:06 AM Last Post By: mpatter1
Oct 6, 2012 5:58 PM
We're investigating doing a loop from Nairobi>Naivasha>Nakuru>Lake Victoria>dropping down into Tanzania>Serengeti>Ngorogoro>Arusha.
We can't decide if it's worth doing that loop to incorporate Lake Victoria or to skip it and just do Nairobi>Naivasha>Nakuru>Nairobi>dropping down to Tanzania>Arusha>Ngorogoro>Serengeti>Arusha. (of course this is what most tourists do - most seem to skip the Lake)
It seems Lake Victoria is quite difficult to get to and many tourists don't go there but there are some good reviews saying it's gorgeous. We're keen to go if it's a "don't miss" place. We're pretty flexible on time if it's worth it but of course time is always an issue no matter what. So basically, is it worth it or not considering that loop is pretty far out of the way? Is it that amazing or are we better off spending more time around Serengeti, Naivasha, etc. on the main tourist route?
If it's just for beaches, we'll be spending quite a bit of time at other beaches (Zanzibar, kenyan beaches, south africa, etc).
We do like going off the beaten track and less touristy places and are more interested in culture and overall experience than just safaris.
we don't have a limitless budget...going "flashpacking".
If it is worth it...what's better the Kenya side of Lake victoria or the Tanzanian side?
And which towns should be our base and are the islands worth it on a budget?
Recommendations for how to get there, exact route, etc? We are using public transport.
Thanks for any help. First time post.
Oct 7, 2012 12:08 AM
1In a word ... YES!
Firstly there are no 'beaches' on Lake Victoria and it's a good idea NOT to swim in it unless you want to contract Bilharzia.
Secondly, there are few tourists in the region so you get to see real life ... and not feel that everyone sees you as a cash cow.
Finally there are so many other things to see that you won't necessarily see in other parts of Kenya ... Kakamega rainforest, the birdlife of Lake Victoria, lots of information about the Luo tribe who are the majority tribe here (Kisumu museum), a safe and easily-accessible compact town centre so you can stroll at your leisure without hassle.
I would suggest breaking your trip in Kericho and visit a tea plantation.
My visit to the region was in January 2012, when I used the services of Integritour, a relatively-new responsible tour operator, operating from the Duke of Breeze hotel in Kisumu. I had a wonderful time - several day trips including a visit to a Luo village (not commercialised at all and well off the beaten track), seeing day break on Lake Victoria (unbelievably gorgeous) a trip to Rusinga and Bird Island, and also a visit to Kakamega. This company supports the communities they visit and in which they live, their prices are honest and great value for money and some of the places that you can go with them are not accessible ... or not easily accessible by public transport. We felt that we found a corner of Kenya where we were treated as ordinary people not simply a means to the end of removing as much money from us as possible, as we had discovered on a previous visit to Nairobi, Mombasa and Tsavo. You can find out more about Integritour at www.integritour.com and hope you have a great trip ... it sounds wonderful. However, just a small caveat, allow longer for travelling if you can. Public transport can be subject to delays and it takes far longer to travel any given distance in Africa than you might be used to back home.
Oct 7, 2012 12:30 AM
2I like Lake Victoria:
- Kisumu: the best Tilapia fish right at the shore
- Ndere Island: great views over the lake, very little wildlife; transport is easy: take a matatu and for the last part a piki piki (motorbike taxi)
- Homa Bay. relaxed town, climb one of the mountains close to the town (with a guide); easy to reach by bus or matatu from Kisumu (I prefer the bus coz matatus are much overloaded)
Oct 7, 2012 3:34 AM
3the Lake Victoria region is quite different from both coast and the Mara/Serengeti area, so yes, definitely worth going there to get a fully grasp of East Africa. I don´t know the Tanzanian area of Lake Victoria, so cannot give any advice about places to go around Mwanza, but even if you include the lake just into your Kenyan itinery there is a lot to see. It is easy to get a domestic flight from Nairobi to Kisumu and head on from there. If you like fishing or watching birds, it is definitely a good area for you - Rusinga island in particular is known for birdlife. Homa Bay is a place where you can watch the local fishermen, and don´t give the tinshack restaurant at the lakeside in Kisumu a miss - nice fresh tilapia with sukuma and ugali served there!
There is also Ruma NP which is off the beaten track and a bit difficult to access, but I am fairly sure you can organise something in Kisumu. In recent years there has been an inflation of organised trips to Kogelo (the village of Mama Sarah, Obama´s grandmother) but apart from that travelling around the area gives you a good idea of rural Kenya without tourist traps. Kakamega forest is worth a visit too, though it´s a bit away from the lake area. Theoretically you can head from Kisumu via Ruma to the Mara, but you will need your own transport and I don´t know how the road conditions are - probably worse than on the Nariobi - Narok route to the Mara as infrastructure in Western and Nyanza has been neglected for years.
Oct 7, 2012 7:45 AM
4it's not at all difficult to get to Lake Victoria - once you've reached Kisumu you just walk out of the town for about 15 minutes and you're there! The Lakeside "Restaurants" that Askari mentioned may look awful (a friend of mine could not believe I had eaten there) but the fish is fantastic. There will also be lots of touts vying for your custom for boat trips on the Lake, you'll be able to see hippos and maybe crocodiles from the boat.
Oct 8, 2012 7:37 PM
5I am researching a trip to Africa for me and my sisters. We have never been and I feel a little out of my comfort zone in terms of researching everything and knowing what vendors/tours are legit, etc.. I am well traveled but feel that Africa is a whole other "beast" (no pun intended).
For the itinerary you just posted, how many days are you allocating and what is your rough budget? We are looking to do a backpacker-style trip. Not sure what a "flashpacker" trip is but would love to learn more!
We definitely want to do a combination of touristy & off-the-beaten-track things. ALL SUGGESTIONS WELCOME!
Thanks for your help.
Oct 14, 2012 12:29 AM
6Wow, thank you so much everyone for your very helpful, quick and thorough replies! You guys really helped and that is exactly the info I was looking for! I'm so impressed with all this and the helpful people on here. Thank you so much! Sorry I didn't want to reply to you all. I'll be looking now in the areas/places you all recommended though. Once I've done my homework a bit further if I have more questions I'll be hunting you down again! Thank you.
Oct 14, 2012 1:06 AM
7HI CZ, sorry the late reply. But i'm happy to share my trip planning with you and you can tell me what you find as well!
I completely know what you mean. We've been planning this thing for months now and have only cracked the surface...it's so complicated it seems if you're doing it independently like we are rather than using a tour company for everything. But i think the experience will be well worth the work. We've been doing tons of reading of books and online and at first, like you, just felt overwhelmed and had no idea where to start.
So....that itinerary is a bit different for us as it's only one leg of our 75 days in Africa. So we're a bit more flexible on time but in general this is the places and how many days we've budgeted.
Nairobi x 2-3 days
Naivasha x 2 days
include Hells Gate NP in there
Nakuru x 2 days
back to Nairobi 1 day
Arusha 1 night??
Lake Manyara 1 night
Serengeti 3 nights
Ngorongoro Crater 1 night
Arusha, Mt Killimanjaro or Moshi 1-2 days
However this doesn't include Lake Victoria as you see...we have yet to research that but it'll probably look like Nairobi > Naivasha > Nakuru > Lake Victoria (something like Kisumu/Homa Bay/Mbita - maybe a week in total) > then cross border to Tanzania > Mwanza 2 nights? > Serengeti > Ngorongoro> etc....same # of days as above.
Budget is really varied from what I've seen and heard....people say we're crazy but we're going to budget about US$100 each person per day. Now that includes safaris, occassional splurges, occassional hire car, but mostly public transport and average style accomodation (mostly backpackers but splurge on a double room ensuite usually, and every so often maybe something nicer or crappier). Cheap food. No adventure touristy things like water rafting and sky diving though. Now, i know that we won't spend that much really per day (it's about $40-50 per person per day usually they say) but if you budget $100/person/day then it kinda includes any extras like the safaris which are freakin expensive. And I like to be over budgeted than under so any savings towards the end of the trip we can blow on fun stuff! So i realy think for our style of travel $100 is right on. Ah, and that is what we consider "flashpacking"! it's just a step above backpacking which is the very bottom of the budget. If you go backpacking all the way then i guess you can really scrape by on nothing. but i think we'll be roughing it a fair bit anyhow. And serengeti or masai mara safaris can really swing your budget depending....they are looking to me like anything from $800-$3000 per person for a 4-5 day trip all inclusive. that covers camping with no conveniences to some lodges (but not even the flash ones).
So how does that sound? any questions/tips, etc? What are you planning and when?
Dar es SalaamBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$205.00 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$104.54 per night
Dar es SalaamBook now
(4 star Hotel)
From US$200.00 per night