Kisumu is a port city in Western Kenya, the third largest in the country. It is the capital city of the Nyanza province and the headquarters of the Kisumu district. It lies on a bay on the Eastern shore of Lake Victoria.


The city was founded by the British under the name Port Florence in 1901. It was originally a stop on the railway between Mombasa and Uganda. A year later, the city was renamed Kisumu, from a Luo word meaning "market, trading place".

In 2006, Kisumu was designated one of Africa's 11 'Millenium Cities' by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).


Kisumu enjoys a tropical savanna climate. The lowest temperatures (about 12°C at night and 17°C to 19°C by day) occur in August and September. The highest daytime temperatures can reach 37°C in the warm season (December to April).

The rain season is from March to May. A secondary rain season occurs in November and December. The dryest month is January.

Get in

By plane

The airport is about 3.5 km from the city. A few taxis and matatu minibuses do the journey between the airport and the city. In 2015, a matatu cost about 20 KSH and a taxi cost about 500 to 600 KSH. Some hotels and car rental companies can arrange pickups. Jambojet has a bus to and from Kisumu airport.

By boat

Several ferries used to link Kisumu with other cities on Lake Victoria. Ferry service on Lake Victoria was marred by a series of grave accidents in the 1990s and 2000s, with several ships sinking, and the service was discontinued. In 2011, EarthWise announced a new, safer service, with one ferry (the MV Amani) operating since October 2012 but no service out of Kisumu as of 2013.

By train

There use to be A thrice-weekly train, the Port Florence Express, operated by Kenyan Railways to and from Kisumu to Nairobi, but there have been no Trains for some years now and now the train station in Kisumu looks very run down.

By bus

Several companies operate buses between Nairobi and Kisumu. The trip lasts between 6 and 8 hours depending on the company.

Each company runs many trips a day, one departing early in the morning, the other late at night.

In Nairobi, some buses depart from the Country Bus Station near Wakulima Market, between Pumwani Road and Landheis Road.

By car

Make sure to have an international driving license. You can obtain one from the Road Transport Office in Nairobi. Traveling by day is recommended as the roads can be unsafe at night. You may encounter police stops.

From Nairobi, the distance is about 380km. Take Chimoro Road towards Gitaru, then turn onto A104 (Waiyaki Way) past Naivasha and Nakuru. About 30km past Nakuru, turn left onto B1 towards Kisumu. The trip can take from 5 to 12 hours depending on whether you want to stop and observe Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha and Kericho. from Kisumu to the Uganda border at Busia is 118.9 kms. from Kisumu to Jinja Uganda is 237 kms. from Kisumu to Nakuru is 197 Kms. from Kisumu to Kisii is 120 kms. from Kisumu to Kitale is 158 kms. from Kisuma to Kericho is 89.8 kms.

Get around

Kisumu is a small town with lots to see,you can use the notorious boda boda (bicycle taxi), pikipiki (motorcycle taxis), matatus, buses, or you can simply rent a car.


In Kisumu

Near Kisumu



Many local crafts can make good souvenirs.

Banks ATMS & shopping


Aside from the town centre there are a number of places to eat and drink in the evenings in the Kondele region on both Kibos Road and Jomo Kenyatta Highway with guest houses close by to sleep in too.



Aside from the town centre there are a number of places to eat and drink in the evenings in the Kondele region on both Kibos Road and Jomo Kenyatta Highway with guest houses close by to sleep in too.


Kisumu has a number of Guest Houses, hotels, motels, hostels, all dependent on your needs and budget. It is common for hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation to be called a Guest House in Kisumu Kenya. They are the most common and best value places to stay — hotels seem to ramp up their prices just because they are a hotel — beware.

Stay safe

Kisumu is less stressful than Nairobi or Mombasa. However pickpockets are common, especially around Kibuye Market. If you are driving, you should lock the car doors.

All public buildings (airport, post office, banks, shopping centers, etc.) are watched by security guards wearing a blue uniform. Private estates are generally guarded as well.

Kisumu police :

  • +254 20 465767 (provincial headquarters);
  • +254 20 333151 (Kisumu division)




All cybercafes have phone booths. Beware that the rates to phone abroad are very high in Kenya. It is usually cheaper to buy a Kenyan SIM card in a cybercafe or from a phone vendor.

The main operators are Safaricom and Kencell (also known as Zain Kenya). Safaricom is slightly cheaper but the quality is less good and the network is often overloaded.

Go next

Jinja Uganda

Mwanza Tanzania


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, April 01, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.