A Quick Guide to Rusinga Island (With Travel Tips)

Travel, Travel Tips
Rusinga Island

 

Hi there my dear readers! 😀 And hello February! As we welcome this Month of Love, let us close out the Rusinga series with a Quick Travel Guide to this incredibly beautiful destination of Rusinga Island.

 

I put this guide together in response to some of your reader comments/questions to our last two posts… so keep them coming my friends! 😀 I will also throw in a few Tips and Travel hacks that I picked up during our visit!

Hopefully, you will find this guide helpful, as you plan your visit to this scenic island!

 

How To Get To Rusinga Island

Rusinga Island lies to the East of Lake Victoria, in Homa Bay County, with the most stunning views of the lake.

Rusinga_island_travel_guide

 

It is about an 8 hours drive from Nairobi, approximately 450Km, via the Kisumu to Homa Bay route. There is an alternative route, where you drive from Kisumu to Luanda Kotieno, then take a 45 minutes ferry ride across the Winam Gulf to Mbita.

Rusinga Island is connected to Mbita, via a Causeway that takes about 30 to 45 minutes to the island.

Rusinga

 

You can also take a 45minutes flight from Nairobi to Kisumu, then proceed to Rusinga by road.

I have always found that there’s a sort of ‘romantic’ feel to journeying at night, into the unknown… You doze off to the bumps and sounds of the bus, and wake up in a new place, ready for you to explore…

Rusinga_island_travel_guide

 

Our experience on the bus itself, though, was far from romantic…. We took a Transline bus, that happens to be the only bus that goes all the way to Mbita, as other companies stop at Homa Bay… (read monopoly)

Before the start of our trip, a fight ensued between some of the passengers for ‘no good reason’… We sat there, shrinking in our seats, hoping it would all blow over, and luckily it did… after the culprit was thrown out… On our return trip, we encountered a less-than-cordial bus attendant, who was literally man-handling passengers… 🙁 the drama!  😀

Hopefully, with the tips below, you will have a better experience… 😀

Travel Tips:
  • Consider hiring a car if you are traveling from Nairobi, for a much more pleasant experience.
  • The road from Mbita to Rusinga is quite rough, so ensure that your vehicle can hold up well
  • If you are traveling by bus, opt for a night trip. The day-bus makes numerous stops, meaning you encounter crazy delays on the road
  • The buses in Mbita, fill up pretty quickly. Make sure you book your return trip way in advance
  • Be sure to stock up on snacks for the day trip, as they make one short stop in Narok only
  • Ensure you get some cash in advance or have money on MPESA as most of the hotels and lodges are found on the outskirts.


Where to Stay

The best part about traveling to this part of the country is its proximity to Lake Victoria… You will have a better time if you choose a hotel or lodge that is conveniently located along the shores of Lake Victoria.

 

If you are looking for a luxurious beach getaway on the island, I would recommend a stay at Rusinga Island Lodge. You can read about our experience at Rusinga Island Lodge HERE.

Rusinga

Rusinga_Island_Lodge

 

There are more options of places to stay in Mbita, although they may not necessarily be along the Lake Victoria beaches.

If you are working with a modest budget, Lake Victoria Safari Village is a good option in Mbita. It marries a scenic Lake access, with a budget-friendly getaway, in Mbita.

You can read about our experience HERE.

Rusinga_island_travel_guide

Rusinga_island_travel_guide

 

You may also opt to visit Mfangano Island Camp, on Mfangano Island. It is accessible via a ferry from Mbita, twice a day at 10:30 and 17:00.

Tips
  • Choose a place that is close to Lake Victoria where you will be able to enjoy panoramic views of the lake and sunsets. Such places also have cooler temperatures.
  • Find out in advance whether they have working Air Conditioning systems in all the rooms, as the temperatures in Rusinga are quite high.
  • Always find out whether the waters are safe to swim. You may encounter Hippos in the Lake, and it’s better to be safe.
  • When going on any excursions, request the hotel to pack a snack for you as you may not find alternative places to eat.

 

Things To Do In Rusinga

Rusinga Island, like Mbita town, is primarily a rural area. This is the kind of place you want to visit when you want to get away from the city life, and simply unwind. 🙂

Connect with Nature

Rusinga is an excellent option when you are looking to unplug from the world and connect with nature. If you want your kids to put aside their phones and Ipads, for some quality time, then definitely head out here. 😉 😀

Rusinga

Rusinga_Island_Lodge

 

Time is well spent watching birds or riding bicycles through the rough terrain.

You may also opt to go on a day visit to Ruma National Park, a 40 minutes’ drive from Mbita.

Boat Rides and Fishing

Some of the hotels/lodges organize boat rides and fishing on request. We witnessed some fishermen on canoes, going about their business on the lake… It certainly sounds interesting enough to try, don’t you agree? 😀

 

Rusinga

 

Get a Taste of Local Delicacies

You have not truly been to the lakeside unless you have had a taste of their finger-licking treats… Most of the meals consist of freshly caught Tilapia or Nile Perch. It’s simply delectable!

Safari_Village

Rusinga_Island_Lodge

 

Rusinga Island Festival

To truly experience the culture of Rusinga, you may want to attend their cultural festival. It is held annually on the last Thursday and Friday, before Christmas, on the island. It’s aimed at preserving and celebrating their culture through Art, Music, Sports, and their Local Cuisine.

 

Chasing Sunsets

The sunsets in Rusinga are simply ethereal…  Take time to enjoy the sunsets and captivating lake views. There is an unquestionably relaxed feeling to ending the day with such a delicate sunset… 🙂

Rusinga_island_travel_guide

Rusinga

 

Travel Tips
  • Drive down to Rusinga, as this will allow you to be mobile and have a better time exploring the area
  • Find out what activities the hotels offer, in advance, and whether they are included in the prices. You should be able to negotiate a good package
  • The main mode of transport in the area is motorbikes. Find out whether your hotel can organize pick-ups and drop-offs at subsidized rates
  • Carry anti-malaria medication
  • It is exceptionally hot in these parts-carry sunscreen, sun glasses and sunhats… unless of course you want a sun-tan. 🙂
  • Carry a pair of good walking shoes for the excursions

 


 

Thank you my friends, for reading this Travel Guide to Rusinga Island! I hope you enjoyed it, and found it useful. 🙂 Have you been to Rusinga Island? What tips and fun things would you add to the list?

P.S. I value your feedback let me know what kinds of details you would like to read about in future posts! 🙂

P.S.s.  Look out for our Valentines’ Dates Ideas>> Coming Soon 😉 😀

 

<Much Love.~ Stay Inspired.>

 

 

Photography By:

Wanjiku Thuo

&

Marion Mithamo

 

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Rowney
    September 15, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Hello. Great blog.I am thinking of going there next week via the luanda-mbita ferry via a personal car. At what time does the ferry leave from luanda to mbita? (first ride) and when does it leave last (from mbita to luanda)?

    • Reply
      Scrapbook Journeys
      September 28, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      Hi Rowney, thank you for reading! Wow, I know by now I am too late in responding to your comment-my bad 🙁 Nevertheless, I hope you had a great trip to Rusinga island, how did it go…? 😀

      • Reply
        Rowney
        September 28, 2017 at 2:35 pm

        Hi. Yes i had a fantastic time. We actually got lost at some point in Rusinga at the rough road and ended in a river 🙂 all thanks to Google Maps for suggesting shorter routes. :-). DO NOT TAKE SHORTCUTS… 🙂 All in all, it was a great experience.

        PS: the last ferry from Rusinga leaves at 5 pm and the charges are Ksh 980/= for a small car (this covers the driver & the car only) and Ksh 150/= for each passenger. The first ferry leaves at around 10am

        • Reply
          Scrapbook Journeys
          October 11, 2017 at 12:19 pm

          Hey thanks for being a good sport and sharing the timings! Super appreciated! Yo, looks like you had quite the adventure-haha will be sure to remember: ‘NO SHORTCUTS’. I like! Keep reading, happy to have you as part of the #SJFam!

  • Reply
    Nancy chege
    February 9, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve enjoyed reading about Rising Island. I’ve been there twice, and I have fond memories of the island. Of all the many fish nd ugali meals I’ve ever had, the ones I enjoyed most were on rusinga. I also cherish the times I sat at the edge of the lake, on the quiet beach, taking in the beauty nd serenity.
    Let me add that the ferry keeps time. I missed it one time by less than 1 minute, nd it was agonizing to watch it make its way to the other side, knowing that we had to wait for many many hours for the next one, with little to do nd see.
    Great write up.

    • Reply
      Scrapbook Journeys
      February 10, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      Wow thanks Nancy for this lovely account! I always get excited reading stories from people who have been to the destinations! I can imagine, about the ferry, whoa! Thanks for that titbit And thanks for reading!

  • Reply
    Camila
    February 7, 2017 at 8:32 am

    What a wonderful place to be at, I couldn’t stop looking at the food. Hopefully you had an amazing time!!

    Have a fantastic day dear!
    Camila,
    My Vogue Style | http://www.myvoguestyle.com

    • Reply
      Scrapbook Journeys
      February 8, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      Thank you so much Camila!! I feel you! That food could have me hopping on another bus to Rusinga for sure! Have a beautiful time as well

  • Reply
    Eric
    February 3, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    This is your purpose. 🙂

  • Reply
    Martin Odote
    February 3, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    The place is beautiful! blog well authored, and pics well taken.

  • Reply
    dave
    February 2, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    wow!Great

  • Reply
    Nesh
    February 2, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Kenya is endowed with gems and treasures and Rusinga island is one of them and by this article brings this out very well. I felt as if am there already following this informative travel guide. Do the hotels offer camping facilities and what are their estimated costs if one wishes to camp? Looking forward to drive down there and enjoy camping, boat rides and cycling. That’s a must do for me.

    I look forward to camping blogs in the course of this year. Once again thanks for sharing another great Kenyan destination

    • Reply
      Scrapbook Journeys
      February 8, 2017 at 5:33 pm

      Thank you Nesh! Yes I totally read you on the camping blogs-will keep that in mind and hopefully get some options on the blog this year! Yes with regard to camping in this area, kindly refer to my post on Lake Victoria Safari Village
      Thanks for reading!

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