By Allan Olingo
Kakamega is known more for being the home of Kakamega Forest – few among the last remnants of indigenous rain forests in the world, bull-fighting, cock-fighting and even a dog market-interesting piece of the cultural tourism that Kenya has to offer.
Located on the Kakamega-Eldoret, Kakamega Forest National Reserve is a remnant of rainforests that contains many species found nowhere else in the country.
The forest was first gazetted as a trust forest in 1933 and the terrain is undulating with often-steep sided river valleys. It gives a perfect nature trail work for nature lovers.
The Kakamega Forest National Reserve is, literally, a in the park. It has unique flora and fauna that will keep you glued to this beautiful haven. You could either be tour guided or discover on your own during nature walks, night walks for bird, butterfly and primate watching, as well as camping and picnicking.
The park offers unique wildlife and scenic beauty.
The falls along the Isiukhu River and the riverine atmosphere along this river make you feel relaxed on the trail. Buyangu Viewpoint gives a quick bird eye-view of the forest canopy. There is a picnic site where you can relax under the grass-thatched rest house while watching water birds at the water point.
For bird and butterfly watchers, this forest has all of them in abundance. The park supports more than 350 bird species, over 300 species of trees and more than 30 species of snakes. The forest is also home to over 400 species of butterflies, reptiles, molluscs and several primate species. There are large age-old trees, which are in plenty particularly in Kisere Forest.
Western Kenya is rich in culture and interacting with the villagers in these areas, you will get to listen to folklore, join them in some traditional dances and have a bite of their fare, a cultural experience never to be forgotten.
Kakamega is also famed for bull fighting that attracts thousands of locals and foreigners alike.
As a tourist, you need to visit to the Khayega and Malinya grounds to behold the popular bull-fighting spectacle practised among the Isukha and Idakho sub-tribes. Unlike the Spanish fights, where a man fights bull, the Kakamega bull-fighting involves two bulls locking horns in a ferocious fight.
This cultural sport has become quite popular lately.
Another key attraction is the dog market. A small centre called Lubao plays host the only dog market in Kenya and possibly the entire East African region every Thursday. It’s an attraction, especially for an outsider who has never seen so many dogs menacingly barking at each other as they await the negotiation and money to change hands.
There is also the cock-fighting, a new cultural phenomenon whereby villagers take their well-bred cocks for a fight at Butsotso Market in Lurambi. The cocks are cheered just as the bulls are during a fight.
Not far from Kakamega town is the “weeping” stone of Maragoli. This huge rock produces a constant stream of spring water, which flows on the sides, giving rise to many and varied local legends.
There are various hotels that give standard accommodation services within Kakamega. They include Rondo Retreat Centre, Kakamega Golf Hotel, Ambwere Alliance Hotel, Franka Hotel and their cost is about Sh4, 500 a night depending on the establishment.