The City of Kisumu has a population of around 400,000 people. A further 150,000 live in the surrounding district. Pronounced as Ksoomoo, it is Kenya’s third largest city and the principal Lake Port of the country. Lying on the Equator, Kisumu’s climate is hot all year (83°F). There are rainy seasons between March and June and in November. Kisumu is a railway terminal and Lake Port.
Boat rides on Lake Victoria are fun and widely available, and you can either find one yourself or you can go through one of the hotels. There are also some bird sanctuaries in the area, which are worth visiting, including a heronry, a pelicanry, and a sacred ibis colony.
Kisumu city has a full range of educational, industrial, agricultural, medical and social facilities. Kisumu is multi-ethnic with the Luo tribe predominating. Although Dholuo is the local language mostly used here, Swahili is spoken throughout Kenya and English is also widely understood. Local industries in Kisumu include the Kenya Match Company and the Coke Bottling Factory. Fishing is a major industry. Tea, coffee, cotton and sugar cane are produced for export. Maize is also grown for local consumption.
Kisumu city is fast developing as a tourist industry with the attractions of Lake Victoria and nearby wildlife. Farmers in Nyanza Province also grow millet, cassava and bananas as basic foods. Cassava is a drought resistant root crop that comes in handy during the dry seasons.
The Kisumu museum
Kisumu has a museum that serves not only as an educational and recreational centre for visitors, but also as an educational channel on the maintenance and sustainability of the biodiversity of Lake Victoria. Its small yet comprehensive exhibited gallery focuses on displays of material culture of the peoples of the Western Rift Valley and Nyanza Province. This includes traditional clothing and adornment, basketry, fishing gear, agricultural tools and hunting weaponry. Also on display are several dioramas, including a lion, De Brazza monkey, and the largest Nile Perch ever caught in Kenya. Unique to the Kisumu Museum are its natural history exhibits in the form of a fresh-water aquarium, and outdoor snake park and tortoise pens. A visit to the museum is not complete without viewing the 300-year-old giant tortoise, imported to Kenya from the Seychelles in 1930.
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