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Trip Report

Island-Hopping in Lake Victoria (Kenya)

Exploring Kenya's side of Lake Victoria (Nam Lolwe locally) - prehistoric cave art, famous sons and sunsets and fish dishes to beat.

frameambition - julie
by frameambition - julieAbout Me:Frame Ambition is a travel and culture blog by Julie O - a Kenyan writer, dance lover and almost-architect. Come over for vibes at festivals, on trains, doing workstays and decolonizing travel at every opportunity. read more

AfricaKenya7 days / January - February - March - April - May - August - September - October - November - December 2019

Highs & Lows

The sunsets over the lake on all islands are a sight to behold!

Only a few accommodation options on each island.

Itinerary Overview

Lake Victoria, known as Nam Lolwe in Kenya, is Africa’s largest freshwater lake and the lifeline of several communities in the country as well as Uganda and Tanzania. It also is the source of the River Nile in Eastern Uganda.

There are several islands on the lake both inhabited and not, but the three most interesting are Rusinga, Takawiri and Mfangano in my opinion. Given the size of Nam Lolwe and the location of the islands away from the bays and shores of the mainland, there is a coastal feel on the beaches with sweeping views over the water and even some waves – not to mention Takawiri’s white sands.

This trip was peak ‘unspoiled and authentic’ village island life with fishing, churches and mosques, farming and more daily life going on alongside my hikes, beach days and strolls through museums.


  • 2 Nights: Rusinga Islands
    The home of one of Kenya's most respected leaders and the fantastical annual boat race festival
  • 2 Nights: Takawiri Island
    Private white sandy beaches on the lake
  • 3 Nights: Mfangano Island
    Historical cave paintings and black sand beaches

Q & A

  • Anything go wrong during the trip?

    We arranged an 'early morning boat trip' with one fisherman who didn't show up at the jetty at our agreed-upon time - best leave such arrangements to staff at your hotel or to your local hosts (including negotiating a price!).

  • What tips would you give a friend?

    Come with as much cash as you need unless you have access to M-Pesa or Airtel mobile money - no ATMs or card facilities on either Takawiri or Mfangano islands.

  • Packing tips?

    Double-check that you've got the insect repellent and remember to consult a doctor about anti-malarial medication.

  • Transportation Tips?

    Catch the yellow water bus between Mbita and Takawiri and Mfangano islands. Fares are paid in cash just before you get on board and reliable schedules are available at the ticket offices as well.

  • Any surprises?

    Being in the lake really does feel like the ocean in some points, particularly at Takawiri Island but Mfangano too - remember to ask your guide or hotel staff what spots are safest for swimming though.

  • Booking details?

    Best to make your accommodation arrangements over the phone than rely on online booking platforms.


  • Rusinga Island Lodge Wayando Eco Lodge You could also stay in Mbita on the mainland (40 minutes away via the bridge) which has many more accommodation options and take a day trip to Rusinga.

  • Takawiri Island Resort is the only available accommodation, unless you've got friends or family who live on the island. It is relatively high-end however camping can be arranged on the lawn by the lake in addition to their rooms and bandas.

  • Mfangano Island Camp by Governor's Collection was the first tourist accommodation on the island and is the more luxury offer. Siambi Lodge is a charming and airy guesthouse on the East side of the island with great food served at gazebos on the lawn overlooking the lake.