Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the second-largest freshwater lake by surface area in the world, giving you plenty to explore on this eight-day itinerary. Dive into lake life on Rusinga and Mfangano islands, stroll the streets of Kisumu city, and safari through the famous Maasai Mara reserve as you enjoy a spectrum of what Kenya has to offer.

Highlights

  • Sail atop Lake Victoria, Africa's largest lake
  • See ancient rock art on Mfangano Island
  • Take in the bustling trade in Kisumu city
  • Search for wildlife in Maasai Mara

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Nairobi Nairobi
Day 2 Explore Rusinga Island Rusinga Island
Day 3 Explore Mfangano Island Rusinga Island
Day 4 Travel to Kisumu City Kisumu
Day 5 Explore Kisumu City Kisumu
Day 6 Travel to Maasai Mara Masai Mara
Day 7 Game Drive in Maasai Mara Masai Mara
Day 8 Early Game Drive & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Nairobi

Vendors in Nairobi market
Vendors in Nairobi market

Welcome to Kenya! You'll land in Nairobi and meet your driver at the airport for a transfer to your hotel.

If you arrive early in the day, there are plenty of activities in the area for you to enjoy.

  • Visit David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphanage, where they care for orphaned baby elephants before releasing them back into the wild.
  • Stop in the Karen Blixen Museum in the Ngong Hills, dedicated to the famous Danish author of "Out of Africa."
  • Feed endangered Rothschild's giraffes at the Giraffe Centre.
  • Take in a  cultural dance performance at Bomas of Kenya.
  • Stroll through the National Museum and its nearby Snake Park to learn about Kenyan history and some of its wildlife residents.
  • Do some shopping in one of the local markets.

Day 2: Explore Rusinga Island

Boat off Rusinga Island
Boat off Rusinga Island

Leave your lodging in Nairobi and head to the airport this morning for a flight to Rusinga Island.

With an elongated shape about 10 miles (16 km)  long and 3 miles (5 km) wide, Rusinga Island sits in the eastern part of Lake Victoria in the mouth of the Winam Gulf.  The current residents number between 20,000–30,000 and are mostly descendants of the Suba people, who came to the island several hundred years ago from Uganda as refugees from a dynastic war. The Suba influence is still seen in many of the place names on the island, including the island itself and the central peak of Lunene.

You'll arrive in time for lunch, with a free afternoon to relax and enjoy the views or participate in aquatic activities such as fishing and sailing on Lake Victoria.

Day 3: Explore Mfangano Island

Mfangano Island in Lake Victoria
Mfangano Island in Lake Victoria

Take a morning walk out to Mbita Point after breakfast and board a 40-minute ferry out to Mfangano Island.

This mountainous island on Lake Victoria, south of Kisumu and Homa Bay, has fewer visitors than its neighbor but no less to offer. You'll spend your day exploring the geometric rock art paintings on the island, believed to have been created by Twa hunter-gatherers between 2,000 and 4,000 years ago. One of the sites, at the Mawanga cave, was used by the local Suba people for rainmaking rituals until the 1980s. Follow a local guide to the main rock art sites at Kwitone and the Mawanga cave, then break for lunch before you ferry back to Rusinga for the evening.

Day 4: Travel to Kisumu City

A musical performer in Kisumu
A musical performer in Kisumu

Catch a morning ferry off of the island and transfer to the town of Bondo, where you'll meet your driver to continue to Kisumu city.

Kisumu has been home to a diverse community long before Europeans arrived. People from the Nandi, Kalenjin, Kisii, Maasai, Luo, and Luhya communities all converged at the tip of Lake Victoria. They named the spot sumo, meaning a place of barter or trade. Each language had its own variations; for example, the Luo called it Kisumo, meaning "a place to look for food," while the Abagusii called it Egesumu, meaning "a structure for keeping/rearing chicken."

Today, the primary industries in the area revolve around agricultural processing, brewing, and textile manufacturing. You'll arrive just in time for a lunch of local fish and afternoon of exploring before you enjoy a night of local country music.

Day 5: Explore Kisumu City

Impala in the wild
Impala in the wild

Spend the day exploring Kisumu at your leisure. Some of your options include:

  • Take a boat ride with local people to the lake.
  • Drive to Kogelo village, roughly 37 miles (60 km) from Kisumu, sitting close to the equator. It's also the hometown of Barack Obama's father.
  • Learn about local history in the Kisumu Museum. There are three main exhibits. The first covers western Kenya's three main linguistic groups (Luo, Bantu, and Kalenjin), while the second is an example of a traditional Luo homestead. The third is a small aquarium housing some of the lake's aquatic residents and a reptile house.
  • Stroll the Kisumu main market, one of the largest of its kind in Kenya.
  • See some wildlife at the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, a holding area for animals that require special protection.

Day 6: Travel to Maasai Mara

Wandering wildebeest and zebras
Wandering wildebeest and zebras

Hop back in the car this morning for a drive to the Maasai Mara game reserve, with a break for lunch on the way.

This large game reserve in Kenya's Narok County borders Tanzania's Serengeti National Park. It's named in honor of the Maasai people, the area's ancestral and current inhabitants, and their description of the area—"mara" means "spotted" in the Maa language, due to the many trees dotting the landscape.

It's best known for its exceptional wildlife population, with lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, and more. Wildebeest, zebra, Thomson's gazelle, and various types of antelope pass through traveling to and from the Serengeti every year on the Great Migration.

Day 7: Game Drive in Maasai Mara

Elephants in the bush
Elephants in the bush

Make sure your camera batteries are fully charged to spend a full day in the park searching for wildlife today.

The Maasai Mara reserve covers nearly 600 square miles (965 km), bounded by the Serengeti Park on its southern side, Siria escarpment to the west, and pastoral ranches on the north and east.  It's mainly open grassland with seasonal rivers, and the flat, open spaces are ideal for animal-spotting.

Day 8: Early Game Drive & Depart

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Get up with the sun and head back out into the reserve for some early-morning wildlife watching. Watch the herbivores grazing for breakfast while the big cats hunt.

After your drive, you'll return to camp to retrieve your belongings and then get back on the road to Nairobi. Your driver will bring you back to the airport for your flight home or on to your next adventure.