- A visit to Kisumu would be incomplete without a tour of the legendary Kit Mikayi (the stone of the first wife) located about 29 kilometres from Kisumu.
- Again, if you anticipate challenges with internet connections, you can download an offline map for the trip as there’s little signage on the way there.
- We meet Mzee Ngeso, a local tour guide who regales us with tales of how the rock earned its name.
I got lost the first time I tried to use a map. The irony is not lost on me. I was exploring Berlin in 2012 alone armed with a printed map and no more German in my system than "Guten Morgen" when I found myself in a train going through a forest.
Confused, I swung around frantically until I locked eyes with a friendly-looking woman who said "Hello" to me in English. She gently told me that I was, in fact, headed North and not South as I had intended.
"Just alight and take the next train back," she advised. Which I did, all the while thinking that this was payback for all the times in primary and secondary school when I read romance novels instead of paying attention during Geography lessons.
Anyway, I swore to myself that I would learn to read maps and ravenously embarked on this. Suffice it to say that I can now tell North from South.
Most of the time, at least.
I was reminded of this during a recent trip to Kisumu whose main agenda was to use Google Maps to explore the lakeside city . My map-reading skills, as you may have noticed by now, are rudimentary at best, but I get by. And before the trip, I had only used Google Maps’ most basic features-like moving from point A to B.
But Google is determined that we don't just get by with map-reading.
There are many features available even for those whose sense of direction mirrors mine. For example, you can download maps and use them offline; which is what we did on the visit to Impala Sanctuary, the home of impalas, zebras, baboons, cheetahs, leopards, lions and birds of different species.
Google Maps can also help people explore restaurants, clubs and places to stay and this exploration, and with a recommendation from one of our travel-mates, leads us to a snazzy joint called Dunga Hill Camp which distinctly reminds me of the Alchemist in Westlands, Nairobi.
With a brightly painted truck that doubles as a bar and recycled furniture, not-too-loud music and a creative menu with the catchy phrase: Cham Gi Wadu (Sharing is Caring), it’s the kind of place you can bring your children, mother and pets.
As it’s located right next to the lake, the sunsets there are to die for.
Dunga beach, said to be the only existing public beach in Kisumu, is a great place to sample fresh fish from the lake at affordable prices, watch fishermen fish, have a picnic, watch the sunset and try your hand at beading from the different work stations.