I recently flew to Kisumu for the weekend to explore all the hidden treasures in this port city. With my brother in tow, we chose to stay at Acacia Premier Hotel because it suited our needs on this particular trip just fine.
I had a brief chat with the concierge who after finding out what our interests were, came up with a fantastic itinerary to ensure we didn’t miss out on any wonders the lakeside had to offer. We opted for hotel transfer complete with a chauffeur so as not to worry about getting around town.
We were booked into the Bay Suite in all its simple yet spectacular opulence from the fourth level of the grand hotel. It had a bedroom, dining area and living room along with the usual trappings of five-star hotels.
Walking out onto the balcony, we were treated to an unmarred view of a slice of the city as well as the magnificent Lake Victoria further beyond, all from the hotel’s location along Achieng’ Oneko Road.
Curiosity had me wandering about the premises and I soon discovered two- disabled friendly rooms, standard and superior rooms as well as a grand presidential suite that goes for about Sh55,000 per night and was booked out for the duration of our stay.
After a short workout at the gym followed by a one-hour massage, I was ready to take on the city.
First up on our itinerary was to have fish by the lake and while we did consider the popular Lwang’ni area, our chosen location was Kiboko Bay Resort, which turned out to be one of my favourite spots in the city.
Our lunch of ugali, sukuma wiki and fresh wet-fry tilapia (which according to the menu happens to be the house favourite—with good reason) was served up with a stunning view of the flora and fauna brought on by the lake.
The resort also offers guests the chance to go on a boat ride by either getting on the more modern speed boats which are actually a recent addition, or hopping on a traditional, wooden, motor-powered fishing boat for a more authentic experience.
We made a stopover at Hippo Point which struck me as yet to be fully exploited for the amazing potential it has to help bring in even more tourism to Kisumu.
I spotted a group haggling with two boat-owners over the price of a short ride across the lake and a lady selling fish to the few people milling about.
Our itinerary also included a few hours at Kisumu Yacht Club which is known to set up fishing competitions, water skiing, boat racing as well as sailing excursions every other day.
We also got to go around the Impala Park Sanctuary and the Kisumu museum, which showcases the natural and cultural history of Western Kenya.
To wrap up our activities around town, we also got to drive to Dunga Beach just in time to catch the fishermen pulling up their boats in the wake of the sunrise as they brought in their catch, all while eager buyers lined up to be given first priority.
I have never seen such big Catfish or Nile Perch in my life! By around mid-day, fishmongers started setting up little makeshift barbecues to roast the fish, all while chatting heartily as the kids ran up and down the jetty while the men tended to their boats and nets; the energy of this spot made it another of my top places to explore in Kisumu.
Aqua Pool Bar & Grill
Food is always such an integral part of any hotel for both myself and the growing community of business or leisure travellers who will definitely be impressed by the menus at Acacia.
I chatted up the barista at the coffee lounge on the ground floor as he fixed me a cup while I marvelled at his latte art. We had daiquiris at Aqua Pool Bar & Grill and toasted to good health while watching the sun paint the sky in its bold vibrant hues as it set over the city- a sight to behold in itself.
For supper, we contentedly tucked into butter naan and lamb Rogan Josh- settling for Indian despite the Pan Asian, Italian and African options available.
We would then serve breakfast from the buffet at the all day dining Cafe Acacia, and finally, too stuffed to move a muscle, would be chauffeured back to the airport to catch our flight back to Nairobi.