A Guide To Mfangano Island
Mfangano Island is an oasis of tranquillity. The island is an ideal location to retreat to from the hustle and bustle of modern life. It is the largest island on Lake Victoria and home to the highest concentration of the Abasuba people, one of Kenyas smallest tribe.
Mfangano Island lies in the eastern part of Lake Victoria, at the mouth of the Winam Gulf. Part of Kenya, it lies west of Rusinga Island. The island is 65 km² in area and rises to 1,694 m at Mount Kwitutu. It had a population of 16,282 at the 1999 census. Administratively, Mfangano is part of Homa Bay County.
The island is home to the largest population of Olusuba or Suba people language speakers in Kenya. Olusuba is becoming rarer, in part because of intermarriage between Suba men and Luo women from the mainland, as it is traditional for children to learn the “mother tongue”, that is, the language of their mother. Other languages spoken on the island include Luo, Swahili, and English. Members of the Luo tribe are concentrated on the eastern side of the island, most of whom are fishermen and subsistence farmers. Some of the inhabitants of Mfangano are believed to be descendants of emigrants from the Buganda kingdom in Uganda who arrived after the controversial early nineteenth century killing of the kabaka juju.
Most inhabitants live near the water for ease in fishing and collecting the day’s water supply. The water’s edge of the island is quite rocky with a few black sandy shores. Transportation consists mostly walking and of boat travel in small wooden handmade boats that sometimes have a sail. There are a few bicycles now that the government cut a road that circles the island on which motorbikes can travel. The first car to be driven on the island’s soil was on February 2, 2007. Since then, several automobiles have been seen, and others now are used locally for transport. It was driven 500 m. In it was Road and Public Services Hon. Simeon Nyachae, MP. There is a small dirt landing strip for small planes which has been improved to support other bigger planes. This is used mostly for tourists and mission workers.
Apart from the above-mentioned, the government has also worked hard and ensured that there is constant electricity supply within the island by use of the generators hence this has seen growth within the region and improvement on the economic ability of the island as fishermen can now store their fish as they wait for the market.
Many more is still yet to be experienced in the region with the improving tourism rate boosted by the establishment of the Abasuba Community Peace Museum in October 2009.
Mfangano is also known for its ancient rock art, possibly 2,000 years old and thought to have been created by early forager-hunters, perhaps a Twa people.
Things to do at Mfangano Island
The fishing in Lake Victoria is exciting, and both Nile Perch and Tilapia can be caught. At Mfangano Island there are a number of fishing boats which are well equipped for trawling for Nile Perch. The Nile Perch is the king of the lake’s fish. It can grow to 1.8 metres (6 feet) long, and weigh 140 kilograms (300 pounds). Fish of 5 to 15 kilos are regularly caught, and are delicious to eat.
The bird life around Lake Victoria and Mfangano Island is spectacular, and over 350 different birds have been identified around Mfangano Island and Lake Victoria. Guests can join the resident ornithologist on bird watching trips both on foot and by boat around the island. It is possible to see the majestic Fish Eagles nesting in the giant fig trees along the lakeshore.
Rock Art at Mfangano Island Camp
You can join a trek to see the Ancient Rock Art on Mfangano Island. There are two ancient rock art sites with some historically important cave art.
The Luo culture and traditions are very different from those of other parts of Kenya, and by visiting Mfangano Island there is the possibility to sample this colourful culture. Villages dot the shores of Lake Victoria, and the main activities are fishing and trading in Nile Perch and Tilapia.
Mfangano Island Camp
Mfangano Island Camp is a luxury, island hideaway lodge, where you can enjoy relaxing break. It has six double-bedded cottages situated right on the lakeshore. Each room has been built in the Luo tribal style, with banana thatch and natural clay. It offers luxurious en suite rooms with private verandas and sun beds.
Meals at Mfangano Island Camp include fresh salads and the daily catch of Nile Perch are served overlooking the lake with freshly made crusty bread and chilled wine.
Other option is to stay on Rusinga Island or Mbita on mainland.
How to get to Mfangano Island
Mfangano Island can be reached by road, boat or by air.
By road: From Nairobi it takeS about 6 hours to drive to Mbita (Lake Victoria), after which you be will transferred by boat to the camp which takes about 45 minutes.
By air: Air charters are available directly to Mfangano from Nairobi, Kisumu and the Maasai Mara. It takes 45 minute flight from Nairobi to Kisumu and then take a 10 minute charter flight to the camp.
By boat: From Mbita, there is a regular motorboat ferry service to Mfangano, and boats can also be easily hired.
A Map to Mfangano Island
Mfangano Island Contacts
Attraction Type: Scenery & Landscapes, Culture
Category: Lake or River, Community Tourism
City / Town: Homabay
Telephone: 254 719 256207
254 722 788879
254 720 074965
Entrance Fee: No