Kakamega town which serves as the headquarters of Kakamega county has always hit headlines for infamous stories. More often than not, any masthead with the name Kakamega could be the gateway of a dramatic story centred on the unimaginable things.
But Kakamega people have remained upbeat that their motherland is a ‘green jewel’ as it is popularly known. Within a decade, Kakamega has seen mixed fortunes and was at the verge of fading to whimpers until devolution resuscitated it back to life.
Kakamega is famed for its gold mines, network of good roads, farm fresh produce, booming businesses, wonderful tropical climate, bullfighting and rugby action are always left unreported.
Origin of Kakamega’s name
There are two main thoughts as to why this place was named Kakamega. First, it is said that the name comes from pinching ugali, or simply said ‘kumega’.
The second idea is that Kakamega derives its name from the Nandi phrase ‘kakome gaa’ which means damaged home.
Estates and Cost of Rental Houses
There are a number of estates mostly located within a radius of 3 kilometers from the Central Business District.
- Lurambi, Kefinco and Koromatangi estates lie on the Webuye – Kakamega road and is mostly the home to Masinde Muliro University students. Koromatangi has been described as an insecure place to reside.
- Joyland and Ikonyero estates are located on the Kakamega – Mumias road and is home to middle income earners working in Kakamega town.
- Milimani is an estate known for its tranquility and is deemed a reserve for the business class, and politicians.
- Amalemba and Shirere are located on the Kisumu highway and is home to a majority of civil servants and medics working at the Kakamega level 5 hospital.
- Other estates are Shitao, Murram, Shinyalu Bar, Sichirai, Rosterman and Ebambwa.
Cost of rental houses
The price of rental houses in Kakamega is quite expensive when compared to nearby towns like Bungoma. According to the 2019 census, Kakamega as a county led in the number of homeowners, meaning there are few rental houses vis-a-vis the ballooning demand for accommodation. Finding a small sized rental house in Kakamega is also an uphill task given most property owners have set up two bedroomed houses. A spot check on Kakamega rental and properties website reveals the following prices:-
- Single rooms – ksh 3500
- Bedsitters – ksh 6k – 7k
- One bedrooms – ksh 10k – 13k
- Two bedrooms – Ksh 12k – 21k
- Three bedrooms – Above 20k
Hotels and hangout destinations
- Kakamega Golf Hotel located 50 meters from the CBD is highly rated and has a swimming pool, conference rooms, a golf course and children’s playground. Charges are at least ksh 8600 a night.
- Western Star hotel is located in the CBD, directly opposite Kakamega Primary and charges at least ksh 2500 a night.
- Jamindas Paradise Hotel, located 600 metres from the CBD along Kakamega – Mumias road charges at least ksh 3275 a night.
- Sheywe hotel is located on the Kakamega- Kisumu highway and charges at least 2500 a night.
The Kakamega Forest
It is nicknamed the canopy of natural beauty and is managed jointly by the Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Services. The main gate is located approximately 7 kilometers from Kakamega CBD.
A visit to the Kakamega Forest is a breathtaking reconnection with nature. On your time here, ensure you visit during the dry seasons to minimize on the risk of being struck by lightning if it rains when you are in the middle of the forest. Having enough drinking water is a necessity because a walk from the main gate to Isiukhu waterfalls is more than 6 kilometres trek. Additionally, for your safety, you may consider putting on closed shoes.
An adult will charged at least ksh 250 ($2.5) while children pay ksh 100 ($1) at the main gate. You will pay more for a tour guide depending on the places you want to visit.
Major attraction sites of the Kakamega forest include the 300 year old ficus lutea fig tree that is anchored by multiple buttress roots. Beside the tree are numerous giant parasitic trees that engulf other smaller trees.
The Kakamega view point is the highest point of Kakamega forest. It gives one a spectacular view of the forest. Another amazing scenery is the Isiukhu waterfalls, a thunderous disruption to the forest’s silence that gushes into a beautiful pool of the the river.
For you to watch a majority of the rare species of birds located in the forest, you will need an early morning exploration which may force you to book a room at Rondo Retreat Centre located at the heart of the forest. It is charged upwards of ksh 10k a night.
Kakamega Crying Stone
It is located at Ilesi on the Kakamega – Kisumu road and can easily be accessed by use of a motorcycle ride charged at ksh 70 from town. However, the giant rock no longer sheds its magical teardrops, leaving only a streak of grey colour from the top to its feet.
Locals here may charge you a small fee to take you near the rock that has a multiple of caves beside it.
It is a park located behind the governor’s office and is suitable for photoshoots given its latest multi-million furnish by the county government of Kakamega.