advertisement

Orientation

Kenya's wedge of Lake Victoria -- shaped a bit like a fallen T -- stretches from its unmarked border with Uganda, which cuts through the water in the west, to the lakeside town of Kisumu (Kenya's third-largest city) on the far eastern shore of Winam Gulf. The principal points of interest -- Mfangano and Rusinga islands -- are to the west, close to the Ugandan border. These islands offer the best opportunity in Kenya to appreciate Victoria's mellow charms. By contrast, Kisumu (the main point of arrival for the region) is a strange mixture of heady market town and dull civility, and most of the villages around the lakeshore have little to recommend them -- most noticeably, a lack of decent accommodations.

Getting There

By Air -- Visitors destined for Mfangano Island Camp get priority on the private Governors' air charters from the Masai Mara direct to the eponymous island; from the airstrip, a waiting motorized boat transports you to the camp (owned by the well-established Governors' group). Alternatively, you can access either of the two lake lodges by private air charter, commencing in Nairobi (80 min.), the Masai Mara (35 min.), or Kisumu (20 min.); your lodge or tour operator will arrange all the details, since there's a good deal of logistical planning. Kenya Airways has daily flights between Nairobi and Kisumu, from where your lodge can organize your onward transfer (by either light aircraft, boat, road, or a combination of these).

By Train -- From Nairobi, you could catch a slow train to Kisumu, and while this is definitely not the most time-efficient option, it's an overnight trip (supposedly with three departures per week; 13 hr.) and is a great deal cheaper than flying. You'll still require an onward transfer to get to either of the islands, of course.

Getting Around

Your lodge will arrange any boat transfers you require in the immediate vicinity of Mfangano and Rusinga islands; they are unlikely to help with madcap attempts to explore vast stretches of the lake because weather conditions are highly changeable and there's every chance of being caught up in an unexpected, unpredictable storm while you're out on the water. A boat transfer from Mbita to Mfangano takes about 1 hour.

Day Trips

You can see the islands of Lake Victoria on a day-trip fishing package from the Masai Mara (inquire through your lodge or camp there, or visit www.governorscamp.com). These cost $473 to $496 per person and include air transfers from the Mara to Mfangano Island and boat transfers from the airstrip to Mfangano Island Camp, where, after you've been out fishing, a generous alfresco lunch is served (both tilapia and perch are usually part of the spread). This can be arranged through virtually any of the lodges, although guests staying at any of the Governors' camps have priority. While a good deal of the outing is devoted to traveling to and from the island, the flights are scenic enough to make the whole experience worthwhile, and the day makes a good break from the monotony of land-bound game drives. The same excursion without the fishing is $100 less.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.