Found just 30 miles north of Kisumu in the Lake Victoria region of western Kenya, the Kakamega Forest Reserve is fast becoming a popular Kenyan tourist attraction. This diverse rainforest is home to a range of animal and plant species, many of which are endemic just to this region. Unlike the renowned safari destinations in Kenya, the Kakamega Forest is not home to a big number of large animals, instead birds, insects, and reptiles are the most abundant. Nature photographers and birdwatchers will relish in a visit to the Kakamega Forest Reserve, and it's really an ideal destination for anyone who enjoys eco-tourism on the whole. The Kakamega Rainforest is Kenya's only surviving remnant of the Guineo-Congolian forest, which once stretched far across the African continent. Being a rainforest, you can expect quite a bit of rain here, with the rainy seasons being April-May, and August-September.
The primary inhabitants of the Kakamega Forest are the Luhya people, which is one of Kenya's largest ethnic groups. These people depend highly on the resources in the forest, and due to the strain on these resources, work is being done to help find ways to sustain them. The best, and pretty much only way to tour about the Kakamega Forest Reserve is by foot, and you can choose to venture out on your own both night and day, or can opt to hire a guide. The advantage to hiring in a guide at the reserve is that they are officially trained, and it can be somewhat easy to get lost here, though a pretty good system of signs does exist. The guides can also help you identify different animal and plant species, as well as tell you a little bit about them. There are over 300 species of birds at the Kakamega Forest, and the same goes for the species of trees. Indiana Jones, and other folks who are frightened by snakes, might not appreciate the fact that there are 27 species of those here, however, the park claims no history of snake bites, so that should help quell trepidation. Butterflies, monkeys, parrots, and even mollusks are just some of the other kinds of creatures you can expect to spot on a trip through the Kakamega Rainforest.
The Kakamega Forest Reserve offers accommodations of a somewhat basic level for those interesting in coming here. You can choose to camp if you want to enjoy as much of the outdoors as possible, and the camp sites here are guarded, so you can rest assured and focus on having a great time. Bandas, which are a step up from camping, offer a cottage-like experience, and there are some basic chalets here that you can rent. Supposedly, some rather luxurious bandas are slated to be built here, so you might look into that if you are interested. Kakamega Town, which is the largest settlement near the Kakamega Forest, is found just to the south of it, and they include a few decent hotels and guest houses. There is a fee of around $10 for students and kids and $20 for adults to enter the Kakamega Forest Reserve, and much of the proceeds go towards the preservation of the forest, so you can feel good knowing that your money is going towards a very congenial cause. Should you include a visit to the Kakamega Forest during your Kenya vacation, you will be treated to a landscape and environment very unique to the area, which is a great compliment to the other amazing regions of the country. Just remember to bring some waterproof gear if you have it, and you will also want to add insect repellent and binoculars to the list to maximize the experience.