Vihiga County

Attractions in Vihiga County

1. Nganyi Forest

Forests foster many forms of life, from plants to insects and a dazzling variety of animals. And humans too. A mysterious, but all wise, unparalleled richness and impressive display of nature. It stands true around the world that forests – big, small, dense, thin – are an inexplicable form of nature’s grandeur. We behold them – haunted, mythical, sacred, diverse – as an influence upon the destiny of humankind. They beckon and draw us within the cryptic sanctums of nature, in many respects, to explore their mystique. In Vihiga, the one acre Nganyi Forest at Esibilla, near Luanda, lacks little in engendering the mysterious power of our forests. Nganyi is home to the famous rainmakers with abilities to predict rain, at the same time control rain when floods occur. “Their legacy is so articulated that President Jomo Kenyatta pleaded with them to annul the drought of 1973”. Their rainmaking traditions are as old as people have lived in these neck of the woods. The father of the Banyore sub-tribe (Anyole) is credited with being the very first rainmaker. Their gift of provoking rain was passed down through the elders of the Abasiekwe Clan, and master rainmakers have predicted weather for many ages since. In a generally sense, it is conducted by observing budding, flowering and shedding of leaves of specific species, listening to croaking frogs, listening to chirping birds, as well as, observing behaviors of local insects and animals. Unadorned, but amazingly accurate. So much so, that the Government set-up a meteorological station near this tiny forest. And both forecasts almost always match! So revered is Nganyi Forest that the trees that fall over within it are at no time utilized for further merit but are left in it to decompose naturally.

The Rainmakers of Nganyi Forest. Image Courtesy of Life on Terra
The Rainmakers of Nganyi Forest. Image Courtesy of Life on Terra

2. Roddy’s Green Lounge

Established in 2010 along the B1 Kisumu-Busia Road at Mumias Junction, the 10-cottages eco friendly and welcoming Roddy’s Green Lounge offers a restful base for travellers touring the western area of Vihiga County. It offers a simple, rustic and well-thought layout to its cottages and of its well-kept and variegated outdoors for relaxation. Some of its other highlights include; its continental-cuisines, its theme nights, its gazebos, the children areas, its beautiful gardens, its tree nursery, and cultural tours to villages around Roddy’s. It is also within easy reach of Bunyore Hills and Ndanu Falls. It is located 42 kms from Kisumu.

Spatial Location of Roddy's Green Lounge in Vihiga County
Spatial Location of Roddy’s Green Lounge in Vihiga County

3. Bunyore Hills

These are situated at the southwest area of Vihiga along B1 Kisumu-Busia Road near Luanda. The 30 kms long line of Bunyore Hills, marked by piles of granite rocks and forested peaks, forming the unofficial boundary between Vihiga and Kisumu Counties, are a most spectacular landmark. Bunyore Hills also form the headwaters for River Nasibi, which runs westwards to join River Etsaaba; that’s a major tributary of River Yala. Lower down, River Yala streams across Bunyore Hills en-route Gem, in Siaya. Bunyore Hills at the last link with Maragoli Hills to the far east, both known for a great deal of oddities, not least as, the original residence for the Ankole Ancestors, a useful watchtower during tribal conflicts, a spine-chilling arena for ghost-casting rites, a stamping-ground for medicinal plants, and a hiking destination. Ebuhando Hill, the tallest, is the most popular trail. The Kima Rocks, Stone Hill Resort (built atop huge rocks) and the Church of God Headquarters are some headline places of interest within this landscape.

A Section of the Bunyore/Maragoli Hills in Vihiga County. Image Courtesy
A Section of the Bunyore/Maragoli Hills in Vihiga County. Image Courtesy

4. Kima Stone Mountain

Sometimes known as the Stone Mountain of Kima, this photogenic heap-tower of angular boulders, acutely resembling a skewed arrangement of varying cubes and blocks, outgrown with effervescent variegated flora, is one the most visited area within the Bunyore Hills landscape. The geological curiosity of these finely chiseled boulders, with almost perfect angles, has intrigued many a tripper who aim to ascend it via the twisty and mixed-stair formation. The surrounding area is typified by the unusually large spherical boulders with a look of giant cannon balls. The main activity here is scrambling up Kima, exploring the nearby Kima Facility Center with a small fish hatchery, and ranging over the Bunyore and Maragoli Hills (and Mungoma Cave). Despite its appeal, Kima suffers the cross-cutting stumbling-block of a lack of coordinated county strategy to facilitate the bringing to date of tourism around the Bunyore and Maragoli Hills. Kima Stone Mountain is found about 3 kms from Luanda, along the Kima-Ebusakami Road.

5. Kima Church of God

4 kms east of Luanda via Kisumu-Busia Road and Ebusakami-Kima Road, past the Stone Hill Resort, sits one of the landmark Churches of Vihiga, which has a key role in the region’s socio-cultural development. Unique to the Kima Church of God is its connection to the modern Christian movement as well as that of traditional belief system. The initial wave of missionary work in Vihiga and its environs was intent on suppressing local religious movements. But in the wake of the reforms and approaches, and a new mindset, visitors to this region began to accede to the locals and nowhere is the native countenance better illustrated. Established in 1905 by Robert Wilson, a South African Missionary who had a vision while in South Africa of spreading the word in Bunyore, the dashing-red Church, with a roughcast coat finish and 40 feet tall twin towers, is also dubbed as the Singing Church after its solid, orderly, seasoned and live musical repose, which is undeniably native. During service, Kima Church rings out with some of the most heavenly traditional choir melodies you’ll ever hear across Kenya. So impressive, that the Christians Broadcasting Hope maintains a broadcast point and studio run by the indigenous leaders at the Kima Church of God. Next door Bunyore Girls High School Choir has wowed judges and audiences year-in-year-out at the Kenya National Music Festivals, and at the National Drama Festivals.

The Kima Church of God Choir recording Yesu Wanje at the CBH Studio

The Luhya have a distinct socio-historical origin, with specific cultural, religious beliefs and practices which enables them to have a unique religious / cultural identity and sustainable, meaningful understanding of aspects of life including the past, the present and the future. Further, the confluence of Luhya traditional religion and modern Christianity resulted into the evolution of various unique denominations in Vihiga, and Western Region of Kenya.