Well let’s see…in the last ten days I braved war-torn South Sudan, was hemmed up by crooked police in Burundi, got violently ill with food poisoning in Rwanda, and put in work on a mission trip in Uganda. It was finally time to chill, and that was my sole purpose in Kenya.
And chill is just what I did.
It was an overland journey from Tororo, Uganda, across the border into Kenya and over to the city of Kisumu, which sits on Lake Victoria. While the drive was long, it was very safe and scenic. We cruised through lots of little towns before arriving at the Kenyan border, where it took about 30 minutes to get us and our vehicle processed. We crossed in, entering the bustling border town of Busia, and then spent another couple hours driving before reaching our destination of Kisumu.
Sadly, I didn’t have a chance to explore the city of Kisumu, but from what I saw, I loved it! I got a great vibe from Kisumu: sunny, vibrant, clean. Lots going on. Unfortunately, time was not on my side. We arrived mid-afternoon, and would have to head back to Uganda pretty early the next day. Yep, this trip to Kenya was super short: I only have one night to pop in and pop out, just long enough to cross Kenya off the list. But I immediately surrendered the notion that this would be my last Kenya trip–I put Kenya on the list of countries I’d need to revisit and spend some real time in.
We cruised in and out of downtown Kisumu before leaving the center behind to take some side roads just a few minutes out of town before reaching the Jambo Impala EcoLodge. I wouldn’t have time to spend days inside Kenya on safari, so this was the next best thing!
The eco lodge exceeded all my expectations; really, because well, I didn’t have any expectations. I’d left this particular hotel booking completely up to my Ugandan driver Eric, who’d been taking care of me over the last three days while I was working on a mission trip in Uganda. I stayed in very simple, rudimentary hotels in Uganda, and had explained to Eric that I just had one day to drive across into Kenya and then head back. I pictured we’d stay somewhere pretty basic, as we did in Uganda, so I was blown away when I saw the eco lodge. It was awesome!
Nestled in the woods on the banks of Lake Victoria, the first thing I loved about the eco lodge was the lobby: it looked like a giant tree house, straight outta The Swiss Family Robinson; dark wood, tree trunk beams and pillars, thatched roofs, and an open, stunning view of Lake Victoria. I was instantly disappointed that I’d only have one night here.
Like the reception area, my room was absolutely surreal too. It reminded me of those cool bungalows in Tahiti that sit on stilts over the water, except this one was perched up on the bank of Lake Victoria. It was super cool, very authentic looking and with amazing views of the lake.
What was most amazing about my room, was that it was in the middle of the African wilderness; there must have been hundreds of monkeys just outside the door to my room, giant monitor lizards, and who knows what else?! These animals weren’t in cages or a separate area…they were right there, in front of my door, above my head in the trees, and even right in front of me on the path. It also looked like I was the only guest–not another soul in sight. This was just too cool!
Located a few hundred feet from the rooms (where the monkeys and lizards hung out), was the actual “park,” full of so many incredible animals. The dangerous ones were behind fenced enclosures, while the docile ones were free to roam. I was able to get really close to many amazing animals, that I’d only seen in books and TV. I wasn’t sure how close I could actually get–there were no signs–so I just used my good judgment and respect, and got as close I could without disrespecting the animals’ space.
I had a great dinner at the lodge with Eric, and then it was off to bed. I should note that the staff at the lodge were just incredible. We woke at the dawn the next morning to get an early start back to Uganda. The long journey home back home to the US was ahead. Kisumu was so cool, and Kenya was a fabulous last stop and a place that I definitely need to return to for a longer stay.
If you go:
Jambo Impala Eco Lodge
This entry was posted in Africa