Kakamega Forest National Reserve
The Last Real Jungle
Stepping into the dense, dark jungle of the Kakamega Forest Reserve is like being transported to the Africa of ancient times. Moving through the thick canopy of this tropical rainforest you’ll be met with the sounds of birdsong, chattering monkeys and croaking frogs. Butterflies fill the air as does a feeling of intimate beauty in this hidden gem of Kenya.
The reserve, the last primeval rainforest in Kenya, is but a small part of a much larger forest system that once stretched across central and East Africa. Over the last centuries, much of that forest was felled and the land used for tea plantations.
But here in the Kakamega you can still experience the abundance of the rich jungle and how it felt to walk these trails hundreds of years ago with their immense trees, spectacular waterfalls, great mamba snakes and giant forest hedgehogs.
This isn’t your usual safari but an adventure into a dense and lush eco-system where you can easily be transported by over 300 species of birds, their songs a soundtrack to guide your discovery here.
In the rich forest canopy above, look for the blue-headed bee-eater, black-billed turaco, grey parrot and hornbill with its distinct chopping sound as it soars above you.
The thick groves of trees hold colobus, red-tailed and Sykes monkeys and their cousins the olive baboon. This is a place where you can spot Egyptian mongooses and giant squirrels.
And snakes! Over 40 species including cobras, vipers and black and green mambas.
Filling the air all about you…. 400 species of butterflies.
The Kakamega was created for the walking safari. The hiking trails here allow you to be intimate with the thick swath of close-up nature all about. Rangers of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) can guide you with their walks and activities such as birdwatching, night-time safaris and trips to the falls and lookout points.
Another special opportunity is the chance to meet with the people that have inhabited this last vestige of ancient Africa, the Luya tribe. A cultural evening can be arranged for you to visit and learn about the legends that have sprung from this magical Kakamega Forest.
About Kakamega Reserve
The forest reserve is comprised of 238 sq. km (91 sq. mi) of which about half is still indigenous forest. The reserve stands at an elevation of about 1600m (5250 ft) above sea level.
Located in the Kakamega and Nandi counties, northwest of Nairobi.
Being a rainforest, the climate here is very wet – an average of 1200-1700mm (47-67in) per year. Temperatures are constant at around 25oC (77oF).
Best time to visit:
This is a rainforest, so you get to decide how much rain you want to experience. December to February are the driest months with April, May and August being the wettest.
The reserve is open from 08:00hrs. to 18:00hrs.
You can book a tour with Pride Drive Tour Solutions from Nairobi, a distance of about 480 km (298mi). The best route is via Nakuru and Kapsabet.
By air: Scheduled flights will bring you to Kisumu or Eldoret.
Things to Do and See
The Kenya Forest Service offers birdwatching tours starting at 06:30hrs. and 16:30hrs. for a duration of 2 hours. Take this opportunity to enjoy the incredible array of avian life for which Kakamega is known.
An outstanding viewpoint with memorable views of the forest.
Also organized by the KWS. A 2-hour night-time safari will bring up close to the nocturnal creatures and sounds of the reserve.
And sunset viewing as well from Lirhanda Hill. This is an organized tour with the KWS that lasts 3 hours. At 05:00hrs. and 17:00hrs.
Trips to Isiukhu Falls and the Yala River
These are longer excursions of 5–7 hours. Contact the KWS for details.
Cultural Evening with the Luhyia Tribe
Meet and learn about these indigenous people. Enjoy their dance performances and their telling of traditional stories and legends.
Is the name given by the locals to this largest and oldest tree in Kakamega. It is 40m (131 ft.) high and about 250 years old. Its bark has been used in traditional medicine for stomach and other ailments.
Visit Kakamega National Reserve
A journey to the Kakamega isn’t what you would picture as a traditional safari but take the time to visit this extraordinary reserve. A journey here is like a portal into another time when the thick veil of this teeming jungle covered much of Africa.
A trip to this most unusual rainforest is like nothing else in Kenya. We have safaris departing from Nairobi to this and other special Kenya Parks for your Africa holiday.