Kakamega Forest, surrounding the town of Kakamega, is like nowhere in Kenya. Indeed, beneath Kakamega's dense, dark canopy – when the monkeys caterwaul through the treetops and birdsong filters through the foliage like sunlight – you'll feel as if the last 200 years never happened. That's because not so long ago, much of western Kenya was hidden under a dark veil of jungle and formed part of the mighty Guineo-Congolian forest ecosystem. With customary colonial disregard for long-term environmental perils, the British turned much of that virgin forest into tea estates.
As Kenya's last stand of tropical rainforest, Kakamega Forest National Reserve is especially good for birders, with 330 species recorded, including turacos, African grey parrots and hornbills that sound like helicopters when flying overhead. Kakamega is also home to several primates, including de Brazza's, colobus, black-cheeked-white-nosed, and Sykes' monkeys. During darkness, hammer-headed fruit bats take to the air.