Kakamega Forest, The Canopy of Natural Beauty.
Time has stood still for the Kakamega Forest flourishing on the tropical African climate regions for millions of years, a remnant of the rain forest that stretched all across Central Africa. An African forgotten park that’s great to visit for anyone. I have been there twice and there are different trails each time. You can do a nature walk and then climb up a fairly steep hill to get a view of the whole forest from all sides. Walking through the forest canopy is a refreshing experience. The spectacular views of the Columbus monkeys, Debrazzar monkeys and pottos will never get out of your memory. You will be able to spot monkeys although they are generally fairly high up on trees.
The diversity of flora and fauna in the forest is something to behold, with merits the hosting of flora that is native to the highlands and lower altitudes of Kenya. You will explore grasslands, climb hills, skirt the Yala River and view the gorgeous Isiukhu Falls. This beautiful forest is creates a natural habitat to various mammals including bush pigs, giant forest hedgehogs, Columbus monkeys, Debrazzar monkeys and pottos. Never mind the singing birds in the early morning hours as some of the birds to be seen here include the Blue Headed Bee Eater, Black Billed Turaco, Turner’s Eremomela and Grey Parrots. Bird watching has been added to Kenyan tourism in the recent past as many countries rush to create zoo keeping only the nature lovers on the skies visiting natural habitats.
Kakamega being a tropical rainforest has a temperate, warm climate and can be visited at any time during the year. Temperatures do not fluctuate much and the average day temperature remains around 30 degrees Celsius in the period between September and January. The average nightfall temperatures are nothing to worry about with cool 12 degrees Celsius all through August to February. For the rest of the months, there might be a daytime fluctuation between (28 C) and (33 C) degrees and a nighttime of around (10 C) a relatively perfect climate to venture into the wilderness. Whatever season you choose to visit, Kakamega will charm you with its pristine natural beauty of the unseen wilderness.
It rains more in Kakamega compared to other wilderness regions in Kenya. It also has two distinct wet seasons with minimal dry period. The long rains begin in March and last up to July dusting off by early August while the short rains begin in October and go on until December. The dry months with lesser showers are January, February, parts of August and September. This is when you see slightly more tourists exploring the forest because the greenery is less dense and it is easier to spot the smaller residents of Kakamega during the months of August to October when they are planning to spend time in the Masai Mara for the wildebeest migration or they might visit in the last week of December or Easter weekend to spend the festive holidays on a family vacation.
Kakamega forest gives one more, different perspective of Kenya. The rainforest is full of (about 330) different kinds of (unique) birds and more than thousand plants and trees. You can also spot different species of squarrels, not to forget the butterflies, bees and other insects. It’s an authentic rainforest wilderness that presents you with the opportunity to view innumerable birds, butterflies, flowers, reptiles and small mammals including primates in a habitat that towers 700-year old trees, rare plants and herbs. You will go on walks along the distinct trails that will lead through diverse kinds of terrain.
Kakamega Forest National Reserve has been designated an Important Bird Area and supports more than 360 species of birds. They are most active during the mornings or early evenings calling from their roosts on the treetops. You can choose walks that take you the top of the Lirhanda Hill. From here, you can watch the sunsets or the sunrises, both equally spectacular, from high above the umbrella of the trees. On your descent, stop at the caves on the hillsides to view the largest bats in Africa – hammer-headed fruit bats. At every step on your trail, you will encounter another of the 60 varieties of orchids (nine endemic to Kakamega) aside from the many other flowers.
If your tour is and educational one you will need a good guide, one who is also an expert naturalist will point out to you insects that are ingeniously camouflaged by their peculiar shapes like the stick insect that is almost indistinguishable from the twigs it rests on. Also, look for the chameleons and the colours they adopt so as to fade into their surroundings or the 27 species of snakes. Kakamega is the mecca for herpetology lovers! Your guide, also an avid botanist, will amaze you with his knowledge of the names and medicinal properties of the plants and trees you see. If you are an entomology aficionado, you can hike around the forest to spot over 400 butterfly species in its varied development stages.
Am sure by now that not all in these natural canopy can fit in my blog but a visit there can offer lifetime memories of a famous virgin forest with trees more than 100 years old creating a multitude of places and heights for animals to live in and thereby supporting an amazing biological diversity.