Nairobi life can be an unending cycle. You spend an average of two hours in traffic every working day, the new boss isn’t your favorite person, the couple living above you have bought a new amphitheater and you have no idea what sleep is anymore. The day may have highs of 27 degrees but you don’t remember the last time you saw the sun. You may eat at fancy restaurants for business meetings but have no idea what the food tasted like, because the rat race is catching up and we’re all trying to make it.
Before you get into this unending cycle, add Ndere Island on your bucket list. Even if it’s just for a weekend. It’s in Kisumu county. If you need my advice don’t take a flight, don’t also travel at night. Book a bus or travel van and go during the day. See what your country looks like, I promise, it really is a beauty.
Ndere Island is slightly short of 5km on the Winam Gulf of Lake Victoria. It is gazetted thus uninhabited and managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service. Ndere means ‘meeting place’ in Luo and is believed to have been where early migrants chilled on their way to the Nile River valley.
Ndere Island is however not the camping site, camping happens on the mainland and you access the island via a boat. KWS provides basic amenities on the camp site such as bathrooms, toilets and a cooking area (but you do your own cooking). They also allow for bonfires in the evenings but the rest is on you. Be sure to have your camping gear, light clothes for the day and warm clothes for the night since it gets cold and there’s a possibility of rain. Don’t forget your toiletries! You also need to be wary of hippos, they come ashore to eat grass though this didn’t happen during my trip.
While you’re here, KWS facilitates the boat ride to the Island where you can hike from one end and they’ll pick you up on the other end. It’s a great experience to have with friends and allows you to bond so much. The cell service is terrible. The charging station is where the kitchen is allowing you to just sit back and enjoy without having to worry about who is calling when. Let your people know you’re going on a trip and they won’t be able to reach you. It really is a prime destination if you want to fall of the grid for a minute.
While you’re in Kisumu you can stop by the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary and see some of the animals there. You can watch the Impala’s roam freely, see how giraffe’s in Kisumu behave compared to those from Nairobi, and see the cutest monkeys. You should probably start with the sanctuary before you head to the Island.
While you’re also here you can pay a visit to the Kit Mikayi popularly known as the crying stone. There’s an entire religion behind the stone which was discovered back in the day. Kit Mikayi is drawn from luo meaning first wife’s stone(the stone being the wife) or woman of the first stone. (There’s no way a translation in English can do justice to it). It is interesting to learn the beliefs of the people especially since they still believe in offering animal sacrifices. You get to climb the stone (please wear appropriate shoes, it is a stretch) and through it you’re told stories about the rock. What blew my mind is the stone cries when there is no rainfall alerting the people they need to pray to God for the rains and share a meal and the rock.
Unlike other posts where I share a breakdown of how much money all this would cost, this was different since it was a group trip where about 50 of us just paid 6,500 for 3 nights and 4 days, a very big bargain for the experience we got. I highly recommend you make this a group trip for either church, work team buildings, squad trips you name it. It make it easier to hire tents, a travel van and also lower costs on food. The road network from the main road to Ndere Mainland is about 9km of murrum you’ll need nothing short of a 4WD in case it rains. As per some reviews on trip advisor it may cost up to Ksh. 20,000 to camp there without exploring all these additional places so get your friends and go enjoy while on a budget.
Be sure to add this amazing spot to your bucketlist!