Vihiga County

Attractions in Vihiga County

18. Kaimosi Mission Conservancy

Established in 2011, the 80 km2 Kaimosi Mission Conservancy managed by the Kaimosi Friends Mission was set-up to take the edge off wanton destruction of Kaimosi Forest in favour of farms. Kaimosi’s healthful altitude and population, on the border between Tiriki and Nandi, with fertile soils, spurs deforestation. Kaimosi Mission (Quakers or the Friends Mission) is well-synonymous with this region having arrived here in 1902 when Kaimosi was virtually unpeopled. “The British District Commissioner helped them identify a 1000-acres plot at Kaimosi, still a key focus for Kenyan Friends today, and an ideal location for the mission. At 5500 feet, the climate was comfortable, and the land was fertile and well forested, with ample water” – Mission in Kenya. As a premier, credible and mission capable force deeply set in professionalism, the Mission took up a lead role in the conservation of this fragile biosphere. Found nearby are the Kaimosi Guest House, Mago Guest House, Kakamega Reserve, and Mudete Tea Factory.

19. Kibiri Forest

Kibiri Forest found along C39 Chavakali to Kapsabet Road near Musasa Market was gazetted in 1932 along with Kakamega Forest Reserve, from which it was hived-off. The 37 km2 Kibiri Forest is typified by sharp slopes, deeps and steep valleys and it habours a motley collection and impressive profiles of flora and fauna all but self-same with those seen at Kakamega Forest Reserve. There is no accommodation at Kibiri Forest at the moment but it is envisioned to have a public campsite. A 25-beds eco-lodge is under planning near Yala River Nature Reserve and a 30-beds eco-lodge within Malava Forest; both to encourage and extend more visitation to these forests. Additionally, a swinging bridge will be constructed across Yala River to link Yala Nature Reserve with the Kibiri Forest.

View of a section of the Kibiri Forest.  Photo Courtesy of Nation Media Group
View of a section of Kibiri Forest. Image Courtesy of Nation Media Group

20. Kakamega Forest Reserve

About one-fifth of the 238 km2 Kakamega Forest Reserve lies along the eastern quarter of Vihiga County, seen along the Stendi-Kapsabet-Eldoret Road. There is genuine serenity and tranquil solitude about this tropical forest. Here, nature takes center stage. It is about the wide-band bird melodies of the rain forest? or the sunlight piercing through the forest canopy? or the amazeballs of its pretty waterfalls? or, even perhaps, the viewing deck at Bunyangu Hill that overlooks the roof of the forest? There is plenty to enjoy here. Kakamega Forest Reserve is both a scenic and exploratory park, and which adventure-makers can choose to discover by trekking, riding or driving. There are three accommodation options within Kakamega Forest – at Isikuti and Udo Guest Houses and Rondo Retreat.

Kenya – Aerial – Kakamega Forest, Lake Baringo, Mara, Naivasha, Kericho

21. River Yala

River Yala forms the natural border between Kibiri and Kakamega Forests as it streams from Nandi Escarpment, where it originates. It flows almost across the entire north border of Vihiga. River Yala and its tributaries in Kibiri Forest, that include Itsava Mwala, Lujesii (the Yordan), Malovi, Sirwa, Lurungula, Ishianda, Lunyu, Ishirongo, Malungu, Musanyi and Ijivir, is the major life-line in Vihiga, and its water is utilized for watering livestocks, domestic use, and small scale irrigation. For perpetuity, the Yala River Nature Reserve within the southern section of the Kakamega Forest, covering an area of 535-hectares, was begun in 2001 with the primary aim of conserving it. The southern part of the Yala River Nature Reserve falls under Vihiga County (under Kibiri Forest Station) whose boundary runs along the Yala River, while the northern part of this little-known nature reserve lies inside Kakamega County (under Kakamega Reserve Station).

Map of Kakamega-Forest and Associated Forests with Gazetted Boundaries
Map of Kakamega-Forest and Associated Forests with Gazetted Boundaries

22. Kichutu Gold Mine

Gold mining is Vihiga is practiced at low-scale in Luanda and Shaviringa areas. This is mainly due to a lack of technology and equipment to mine the available gold minerals, and that minimal prospecting has been done. Most of these ‘gold bearing rocks’ in Vihiga and Sabatia sub-counties are mined by using old world technologies, which yield low outputs. In the recent past, superior prospecting for gold and other minerals has kicked-off both at Kichutu and Kaimosi Forests.

23. Quail Farming

There are few things as beautifully Luhya as their uncommon cuisines. It is an increasingly rare experience to enjoy regional foods in their simple, authentic and unadulterated form. When in Vihiga County, it comes highly recommended to sample some of these signature cuisines, especially the Obusuma (ugali made with millet, maize, or cassava flour) served with greens, and, of course, quail; a small ground game bird and member of pheasant family. If you have the time, ask for local assistance into a quail farm to see how the natives fulfill the high demand for quails through simple and ingenious contractions. There are many farmers (and private sellers, too) who will make light and entertaining sessions on the knacks of quail farming, which makes for an interesting cultural passage.