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Kisumu is a port city in western Kenya; located on a bay on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria at an altitude of 1,131 m (3,711 ft). It is the headquarters of Kisumu County and after Kampala, the second largest city in the Lake Victoria basin.


The city was founded by the British as "Port Florence" in 1901 as a stop on the railway between Mombasa and Uganda. A year later, the city was renamed Kisumu, from a Luo word meaning "market, trading place".

In 2006, Kisumu was designated one of Africa's 11 'Millenium Cities' by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).


Kisumu enjoys a tropical savanna climate. The lowest temperatures (about 12°C at night and 17°C to 19°C by day) occur in August and September. The highest daytime temperatures can reach 37°C in the warm season (December to April).

The rain season is from March to May. A secondary rain season occurs in November and December. The dryest month is January.

Get in

By plane

  • Kisumu International Airportis served by daily flights from Nairobi.
  • Kenya Airways has five daily flights to the capital Nairobi,Kenya Airways. The flight lasts about 45 minutes and takes you above lakes Naivasha and Nakuru.
  • Jambo Jet is a low-cost airline that has flights from Kisumu to Nairobi. Jambojet has fares for as low as Ksh 3499.
  • Fly540 also operates direct flights from Nairobi and seasonal flights to Eldoret.

The airport is about 3.5 km from the city. A few taxis and matatu minibuses do the journey between the airport and the city. In 2016, a matatu cost about Ksh 50 and a taxi cost Ksh 500-600 KSH. Some hotels and car rental companies can arrange pickups. Jambojet has a bus to and from Kisumu airport.

By boat

There are no ferries linking Kisumu with other cities on Lake Victoria.

By train

As of 2018, all train service to Kisumu is suspended. In a few years time, the new standard gauge railway is expected to be operational.

By bus & minivan

  • Easy Coach: Buses arrive at United Mall and Bank Road Behide the KPLC office, the ticket office is also located there. Easy Coach has 7 trips per day from Nairobi (Ksh 1400, 8 hours). Easy Coach also has two buses a day from Jinja and Kampala (Ksh 1500, 5/7 hours). There are also three departures daily from Mbale.
  • Modern Coast Express (Gumbi Road Kisumu bus park) has buses six times a day from Nairobi (from Ksh 1000). Modern Coast also have three buses a day from Kampala (Ksh 1600) with a stop in Busia. Note that Modern Coach has more than one bus stop in town; travelers are encouraged to confirm the exact location in advance, and allow extra time in case of last-minute changes.
  • In Nairobi, some buses depart from the Country Bus Station near Wakulima Market, between Pumwani Road and Landheis Road. Easy Bus departs from their own bus station on Haile Selassie Avenue in Nairobi, near Nairobi Train Station.
  • Prestige Shuttle has 11-seat vans from Nairobi via Nakuru from 7AM-5PM (Ksh 1000, 6 hours).
  • The Guardian Coach has service from Nairobi.
  • There are also minivans from Kisii, Kericho, and Eldoret.

By car

Make sure to have an international driving licence. You can obtain one from the Road Transport Office in Nairobi. Travelling by day is recommended as the roads can be unsafe at night. You may encounter police stops.

  • From Nairobi, the distance is about 380 km. Take Chimoro Road towards Gitaru, then turn onto A104 (Waiyaki Way) past Naivasha and Nakuru. About 30 km past Nakuru, turn left onto B1 towards Kisumu. The trip can take from 5 to 12 hours depending on whether you want to stop and observe Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha and Kericho.
  • from Kisumu to the Uganda border at Busia is 119 km.
  • from Kisumu to Jinja Uganda is 237 km.
  • from Kisumu to Nakuru is 197 km.
  • from Kisumu to Kisii is 120 km.
  • from Kisumu to Kitale is 158 km.
  • from Kisuma to Kericho is 90 km.

Get around

Kisumu is a small town with lots to see. You can use the notorious boda boda (bicycle taxi), pikipiki (motorcycle taxis), matatus, buses, or you can rent a car.


In Kisumu

  • 1 Kibuye Market. This is the second largest open air market in Kenya, and one of the oldest. It is on Jomo Kenyatta Highway, north-east of the city center, about 1.5 km from the long distance bus stop. The market is active day and night every day.
  • 2 Kisumu Museum, Nairobi Rd.
  • 3 Impala sanctuary (in the south-west, on the lake shore).
  • 4 Town Clock, Oginga Odinga Rd.
  • Kiboko point (At the south end of the impala sanctuary).

Near Kisumu

  • The Equator. Kisumu is a few kilometers south of the Equator and you can easily reach the equator by car. Drive north on A1 towards Kakamega and you'll cross the Equator near the village of Mutet, or drive on B1 towards Busia to the small town Maseno.
  • 5 Kit Mikayi rocks (29km from Kisumu, near road C27 towards Bondo).


  • Fishing. Kisumu is a very good starting spot for fishing expeditions on the lake.
  • Golf. There is a golf course in the Nyanza Club, near the lake, close to the airport. The club has a swimming pool and a tennis court.
  • Learn, Ochieng Ave. The national library has books in English, Swahili and Luo.


Many local crafts can make good souvenirs.

  • Musical instruments such as nyatiti and orutu, typical of the Luo's musical culture.
  • Soapstone objects. The historical center of soapstone crafts is in Kisii, about 100 km south of Kisumu.
  • Objects woven from sisal (such as kiondo handbags), papyrus or water hyacinth. Loincloths: vikoi (singular kikoi) for men, kanha for women.Batik (paintings on textile).
  • Household wood items.
  • Kibuye Market.
  • Kisumu Craft Stalls (in the Kisumu Municipal Market on Nairobi Road). Soapstone objects.
  • Kisumu Main Market (Jomo Kenyatta Highway). This market specializes in textile (kikoi, kanga, batik).
  • Pendeza Weaving (on Nairobi Road, 3km from the town center), ☎ +254 735 229904, +254 734 587253 (mobile). Another textile market.

Currency exchange

Most banks in town offer currency exchange between Kenyan Shillings and major international currencies. You may have a harder time buying or selling Ugandan shillings, despite the proximity to the border.

DTB's branch in the West End shopping center offers currency exchange and other banking services and is open 7 days a week. A passport is required.

Banks ATMs

  • Stanbic bank, Angao Rd. 24 hours. Has a Mastercard/Visa card ATM. no fee.
  • Ecobank, United Mall Joma Kenyatta Highway. 24 hours. Has a Mastercard/Visa card ATM. no fee.
  • Equity Bank. 24 hours. Has a Mastercard/Visa card ATM. no fee.

Malls & supermarkets

  • Naivas Supermarket, Jomo Kenyatta Rd. 8AM-9PM.
  • West End Shopping Mall, Got Huma Rd. 9AM-8PM.
  • United Mall, Jomo Kenyatta Highway. 9AM-8PM. Has a Tuskys Supermarket. Easy Coach departs from here going to Uganda and Nairobi.
  • Choppies Supermarkets, Oginga Odinga Road. 8AM-8PM. Five branches in Kisumu. Owned by Choppies supermarkets Botswana.
  • Khetias Supermarket. 8AM-9PM. lower prices.
  • Lake Basin Shopping Mall, Kisumu-Vihiga Road. 9AM-8PM. Biggest shopping mall in Kisumu. Five floors, 140 stores, and a car park for 335 cars.


Aside from the town centre there are a number of places to eat and drink in the evenings in the Kondele region on Kibos Road and on Jomo Kenyatta Highway with guest houses close by.


  • Florence Restaurant, Jomo Kenyatta Highway, ☎ +254 57 2022211. Local and international cuisine. One of the best classical restaurants.
  • Lakeside Meeting Point, Oginga Odinga Rd. Local and international cuisine from fresh produce.
  • Mon Ami, Mega Plaza on Oginga Odinga Rd. Italian and international cuisine.
  • Hussein Pan House, Accra St. Indian cuisine.
  • Oriental Restaurant, Al-Imran Plaza. Chinese cuisine.
  • Kimwa Cafe, Ogada St. Local cuisine from fresh ingredients.
  • Kisumu Yacht Club (in the Dunga neighborhood, between the impala sanctuary and Kiboko Bay Resort). Local and international cuisine. You must have a member card from the club (temporary cards are available).


Aside from the town centre there are a number of places to eat and drink in the evenings in the Kondele region on Kibos Road and on Jomo Kenyatta Highway with guest houses close by.


Kisumu has a number of guest houses, hotels, motels, hostels, all dependent on your needs and budget. It is common for hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation to be called a guest house in Kisumu Kenya. They are the most common and best value places to stay — hotels seem to ramp up their prices just because they are a hotel — beware.

  • London Guest House, 1 Kibos Rd, ☎ +254 736 531205, e-mail: londonguesthouse@yahoo.com. Said to be the best-value accommodation in the city. Mosquito nets are provided and a lovely outdoor but surrounded yard with tables and to sit and chat. They also provide breakfast. Single/double rooms. Has its own power generator. Has 25 rooms. Has Wi-Fi. from Ksh 1,100.
  • Mountain View Resorts (Mamboleo suburbs, 10 minutes' drive from the city centre), ☎ +254 772511527. Affordable single/double rooms with own bathroom. decent and rather pleasant accommodation. Stay 4 days and get one day free. from Ksh 1000 per person.
  • Sooper Guest House, Oginga Odinga Rd (At the intersection of Oginga Odinga Road with Kendu Lane.). Very clean, hot showers, mosquito nets and window screens, TV with satellite, a beautiful roof top terrace with lake view. Seems to be the only cheap place in town that has free Wi-Fi, even in the rooms. Has 34 single and double rooms. Breakfast costs Ksh 200 per person. Ksh 1200/1500.
  • Lakeside Guesthouse, Kendu Ln opposite lake view hotel short walk from minoki building (Opposite of Lake View Hotel, about 30m from corner with Oginga Odinga Rd.), ☎ +254 729553066. Check-out: 10:00. Single/double with own bathroom and dstv. Clean place with a Spectacular view of the lake. Total of 22 rooms. Good security and you can lock the room with your own padlock. Clean large mosquito nets, clean bathroom, hot water instant showers in all rooms. Breakfast costs Ksh 150 per person, free Wi-Fi in all rooms. Ksh 1200/1500.
  • Kisumu Backpacker Hostel, Winam Square 43 Milimani, ☎ +254-704316285. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. Has a 5-bed dorm and two double rooms. Ksh 1200/3000.
  • Joy Guest house (3 km south of town near Hippo points turn off), ☎ +254-720-272037. Ksh 1000.
  • YWCA hostel, Angawa Avenue, ☎ +254 57-2024788. Five dorms with 8 beds per dorm. Has to be the most low cost place to stay in Kisumu. Dorm bed Ksh 450 per person.
  • Jumuia Guest house, Lumumba Rd. Single/double rooms
  • St Anna Guest House, Millimani Tom Mboya St, ☎ +254 57-2024792. Has 35 single and double rooms Double Ksh 1900.
  • New Razbi Guest house, Kendu Ln (next to Sooper Guest house), ☎ +254 721824349. Single/double rooms. Hot water bathrooms. Has a TV lounge. Some rooms out side bathrooms. Ksh 1200.
  • New East View hotel, Omolo Agar Rd, ☎ +254 722556721. Single room. Ksh 1200.
  • Phaldomar Guest house, Kenya re Rd, ☎ +254 723053026. Single/double rooms with own bathroom. from Ksh 1200/1600.
  • Lake View, Alego street, ☎ +254 721-778287. Single/double rooms with own hot water bathrooms and nets Ksh 1500.
  • New Victoria, Gar Mahia Road, ☎ +254 57-2021067. Single room with outside bathrooms Ksh 1100.
  • Mirukas Lodge, Apindi Street, ☎ +254 727233887. Single/double rooms with hot water bathrooms. Ksh 1200.
  • Hacienda Guest House (The Hacienda), Migosi, Kenya Re Road, Green View Stage (Route 44 Kondele - Kenya Re Road), ☎ +254 722965472, +254 721266716, e-mail: haciendagh@gmail.com. Check-out: 10:00. A small guest house of 5 rooms. Wall fence with 24 hours security. Very neat and quite. Ksh 1500-2000.

Stay safe

Kisumu is less stressful than Nairobi or Mombasa. However pickpockets are common, especially around Kibuye Market. If you are driving, you should lock the car doors.

All public buildings (airport, post office, banks, shopping centers, etc.) are watched by security guards wearing a blue uniform. Private estates are generally guarded as well.

Kisumu police [1] :

  • Phone: (20 is the national prefix for police forces)
  • +254 20 465767 (provincial headquarters);
  • +254 20 333151 (Kisumu division)
  • There are police stations all over the city and policemen are clearly visible. The headquarters are located on Nairobi Road near the long distance bus terminal.



  • Aguch Kisumo Public Information Resource Center (Jomo Kenyatta stadium), ☎ +254 57 2021060, +254 723 201779, e-mail: lakevictoriatrustfund@jomokenyattagrounds.co.ke. 07:00-21:00. Ksh 0.50 per minute.
  • Bhavniks Cyber, Mega Plaza, ground floor, ☎ +254 57 23395, e-mail: bhavniks@swiftkisumu.com. 08:30-20:30. Ksh 1 per minute.
  • Noble Service Enterprises, Mega Plaza, ground floor, ☎ +254 57 2022994, +254 722 370473, e-mail: noble@swiftkisumu.com. 08:00-19:00. Ksh 1 per minute (minimum Ksh 5).


All cybercafes have phone booths. The rates to phone abroad are very high in Kenya. It is usually cheaper to buy a Kenyan SIM card in a cybercafe or from a phone vendor.

The main operators are Safaricom and Airtel (formerly Kencell, Celtel and Zain Kenya). Safaricom is slightly cheaper but the quality is less good and the network is often overloaded.

Go next

  • Kakamega Rainforest: the last remains of tropical rainforest in Kenya
  • Jinja, Uganda
  • Mwanza, Tanzania
  • Nairobi

City Maps Kisumu Kenya

James McFee

City Maps Kisumu Kenya is an easy to use small pocket book filled with all you need for your stay in the big city. Attractions, pubs, bars, restaurants, museums, convenience stores, clothing stores, shopping centers, marketplaces, police, emergency facilities are only some of the places you will find in this map. This collection of maps is up to date with the latest developments of the city as of 2017. We hope you let this map be part of yet another fun Kisumu adventure :)

Poverty and Promise: One Volunteer's Experience of Kenya

Cindi Brown

AWARD WINNER: BEST BOOKS 2009 AWARD, GOLD MEDAL IPPY AWARD, GOLD MEDAL INDIE WARD, FINALIST INDIE AWARD, 2 FINALIST GLYPH AWARDS (MULTICULTURAL & BEST FIRST BOOK BY NEW PUBLISHER). Author Cindi Brown shares the stories of Kenya's big-hearted, smart, creative, earnest and caring people, and she gives 100% of the book's proceeds to programs assisting Kenyans. Cindi was a volunteer at the Tropical Institute of Community Health (TICH) in Kisumu, Kenya, and reveals what life is like in rural villages and urban slums. She lived in Barack Obama's father's homeland, and worked with many people from the Luo community. The author reflects on Kenya: "Each day, I would walk to school on dirt roads, crossing paved streets and dodging cars and boda bodas (bikes for hire). I passed little herds of sheep and cows, school children in uniform shouting out, "Hey, white lady!" Young, handsome men from the slums walked to town for work. Cars passed, kicking up red dust. I would smile and say Hi to Maasai warriors guarding the fancy homes. Sometimes they would stand from their rock perch and shake hands, their lovely red plaid robes falling around their shoulders and covering their tiny, bony legs. Occasionally, I would pass coworkers, perhaps Mr. Henry Oyugi, perched on the back of a boda boda and calling good morning! Seeing his bearded face, tweed jacket and notebook stuffed with papers, as he bumped on the back of the bike, would make me smile. Henry's research office was next to mine. A student or intern, or both, were always in Henry's office, inputting research data or getting a lesson in research methodologies. Lots of loud accented talk in a mixture of Luo, Swahili, and English, punched with laughter here and there. I'd watch Henry and his prodigies with their heads bent over a data book, then I'd turn to look out our second floor window, across the tops of trees with red and yellow flowers in full stance. I looked toward Lake Victoria, into cloud puffs, and heard bird wings flapping, or Director Dan's rooster crowing next door. Henry's voice would rise and I'd look back to see someone else entering his office, bodies collecting in Henry's realm, voices mingling languages and hands clasping in greeting. The Tropical Institute of Community Health and Development in Africa. I worked at this college and assisted with communications and the Annual Scientific Conference and participation in the agricultural show. Passing through the gate each morning meant greeting Fred, John, and other guards and signing the logbook. Greetings are important and required stopping to inquire about each other's evening and night's sleep and morning meal, often while holding hands. Kenyans taught me about compassion and living in difficult situations. This book is my homage to their strength and intelligence." Learn about the issues faced by Kenyans as they struggle to improve their lives with farming and education, and as they work with limited resources to house, feed and clothe their children. Even within this cycle of poverty, there remains promise for change in the Kenyan middle-class and in rural villagers, especially the women who build homes, tend crops, sell their goods at market and collect water and firewood to be able to provide for their children. The reader will visit the slums and public hospitals, and see people fight to live; most struggling with HIV/AIDS-related complications, like TB or malaria. Journey to rural villages on bumpy dirt roads and enter villagers homes, made of mud and cow dung, that are exceedingly neat and comfortable. Attend frequent funerals held in the heart of people's homes where loved ones are buried in the yard amongst much wailing and choir song. See the small victories and the promise of the people.

Cairo to Kisumu;: Cairo--the Sudan--Kenya Colony, (Carpenter's world travels)

Frank George Caprenter

Cairo to Kisumu: Egypt-Sudan-Kenya Colony was the fifth in a series of books known as Carpenter's World Travels, written by Frank G. Carpenter (1855-1924) in the 1920s and published by the Garden City, New York, firm of Doubleday, Page & Company. Carpenter was an American author of books on travel and world geography whose geographical readers were popular in American schools in the early 20th century. Cairo to Kisumu is not an account of a single journey, but a composite based on the notes Carpenter made on several trips to Africa over many years. Included are chapters on Egypt, Sudan, the Suez Canal, transport on the Red Sea, Aden (in present-day Yemen), the port of Mombasa, the Uganda Railway, Nairobi, big-game hunting, the British role in East Africa, and the African peoples, including the Kikuyu and the Masai. Carpenter's books reflected the prejudices and preconceptions of his day, but they brought knowledge of the wider world to many Americans. With 115 illustrations from original photographs and two maps in color.

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