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.
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.
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…
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…
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… 😀
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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. 😉 😀
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? 😀
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!
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.
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… 🙂
- 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.>
Cynthia owinoNovember 26, 2021 at 3:47 pm
I’ve learnt a lot, I for sure will have to concider this place as my place of interest am motivated already
Scrapbook JourneysDecember 9, 2021 at 9:47 am
Glad to hear it Cynthia! Thanks for reading and Safe travels!
Alex OnyanngoApril 10, 2020 at 2:58 pm
Insightful piece, at first i saw it KBC Channel 1’s #MagicalKenya and i fell in love with it already. Planning on a honeymoon someday next year April 2020. This piece came in handy, am looking forward to explore. Thanks!
Scrapbook JourneysApril 11, 2020 at 11:54 pm
That’s fantastic Alex! I am glad you enjoyed this post! And all the best as you plan for your honeymoon! Rusinga is an excellent destination choice! Cheers! 😀
RowneySeptember 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)?
Scrapbook JourneysSeptember 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…? 😀
RowneySeptember 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
Scrapbook JourneysOctober 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!
CarolynNovember 7, 2022 at 8:53 am
thanks for this reply. 🙂
Nancy chegeFebruary 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.
Scrapbook JourneysFebruary 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!
CamilaFebruary 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!
My Vogue Style | http://www.myvoguestyle.com
Scrapbook JourneysFebruary 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
EricFebruary 3, 2017 at 9:17 pm
This is your purpose. 🙂
Scrapbook JourneysFebruary 8, 2017 at 5:34 pm
Wow, thank you Eric. His will, my purpose
Martin OdoteFebruary 3, 2017 at 6:26 pm
The place is beautiful! blog well authored, and pics well taken.
Scrapbook JourneysFebruary 8, 2017 at 5:34 pm
Thank you Martin! We keep on!
daveFebruary 2, 2017 at 5:50 pm
Scrapbook JourneysFebruary 8, 2017 at 5:33 pm
Thanks for reading Dave!
NeshFebruary 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
Scrapbook JourneysFebruary 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!