Siaya County


Discover Siaya County

Spatial Location of Siaya County in Kenya
Spatial Location of Siaya County in Kenya

Brief Overview of Siaya County

Spread over a land area of 2530 km2 in Western Kenya, flanking Lake Victoria in the west, Siaya butts up against the rich counties of Busia (northwest), Vihiga and Kakamega (northeast) and Kisumu (southeast); its southern spike lining up with the bountiful Kavirondo Gulf, across from Homa Bay County, breaking-off the open waters of Lake Victoria that skirt its western frontier. Siaya County is split into six sub-counties – Gem, Ugunja, Ugenya, Bondo, Rarieda and Siaya – the latter, its largest, covering an area of 605 km2. Much of the landscape in Siaya is topographically homogeneous, the altitude only elevating slightly from 1140 ms along the shores of Lake Victoria to 1400 ms ASL in the highest areas to the north. In the same way, many of the hills seen around Siaya County are analogous, both in size and form. These include: Mbaga, Odiado, Akala, Regea, Nyambare, Usenge, Got Ramogi, Rambugu, Abiero, Sirafuongo, and Naya Hills.

About 40 kms west of Siaya Town via Nyandiwa-Yimbo Road and C27 Bondo-Usenge Road rises Got Ramogi, a hill of much exalt as Siaya’s cultural paragon and a centerpiece among its hillocks. The sacred Ramogi Hill rises grandly over a sparsely peopled lovely bucolic setting at the western edge of Siaya, just 2 kms outside the shores of Lake Victoria. It is festooned by the prolific sweeps of the Yala Swamp. At hand are the much-talked about but seldom travelled trinity of picturesque Lakes: Sare (1 km south), Namboyo (2 kms east) and, the largest, Kanyaboli (4 kms east). Ramogi Hill or Got Ramogi, its local epithet, illustrates the important role landforms have in shaping cultural dispositions. It is also a vouched for hiking destination. This combination of hills and lakes also support a stellar array of bird species, making it an outstanding area for ornithologists. Also notable among Siaya’s natural heritage are its two main rivers – Nzoia and Yala – which criss cross it before draining into Lake Victoria at the Yala Swamp.

The misnomer and rarely acknowledged tourism potential of Siaya County may arise from the fact that much of the county is rural and cut-off from the main trunk roads in Kenya. Its principal line of communication, the B1 Kisumu-Busia Road, only travels across a small section at the extreme northeast area between the towns of Yala and Bumala (48 kms). All the same, in the recent times, Siaya County has witnessed a dramatic improvement in the road network with several roads been tarmacked to include; Rang’ala-Siaya-Bondo Road, Ndori-Owimbi-Luanda Kotieno Road, Bondo-Mituri Road, Kisian-Bondo Road and the Ngiya-Ndori Road, making access easier. And from the obvious to the obscure there is plenty to explore around this neck-of-the-woods, famously dubbed “the land of heroes,” a sobriquet that answers to its long list of famed leaders and nationally celebrated heroes who in their own rights shaped the history of Kenya. Perhaps more than any other County of Kenya, Siaya has a florid catalog of mausoleums.

View of Lake Kanyaboli in Siaya County.  Photo Courtesy
View of Lake Kanyaboli in Siaya County.  Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

Salient Features of Siaya County

  • County Number 41
  • Area – 2530 km2
  • Altitude – 3937 ft
  • Major Towns – Ugunja, Siaya, Bondo
  • Borders – Busia, Vihiga, Kisumu, Homabay, Kakamega
Siaya County Map

Brief History of Siaya County

Originally occupied by Bantus, Siaya County would over time become the heart land of the Luo Community who first entered Nyanza from the eastern area of Uganda in tandem to the series of migrations of the Nilotic Tribes.  By the mid-18th Century several Luo groups expanded out of Siaya County and spread out over most of South Nyanza.  This divergence was only halted by the imposition of British colonial rule at the end of the 19th Century, when the areas occupied by various Luo subgroups at that moment in time were inscribed as the borders.

View of Got Ramogi or Ramogi Hill from a distance.  Photo Courtesy
Got Ramogi or Ramogi Hill from a distance.  Image Courtesy of WikiMedia