Located just a few kilometers from one of the world’s leading tourist attractions, Lake Victoria, Lake Simbi National Sanctuary is a perfect getaway for anyone who wants to escape the city life.
Lake Simbi National Sanctuary derives its name from Simbi Nyaima, a legendary healing lake with a radius of about 1 km. It is situated near Kendu Bay town, an area that’s part of Rachuonyo North District in Homa Bay County. The sanctuary sits in an area of about 0.29sq km and straddles at an elevation of about 1.14km.
People from all over the world flock to Lake Simbi National Sanctuary to enjoy the scenic views and its diverse flora and fauna. Some are only keen to take a bath in the saline and sulphurous waters that are believed to have healing properties. And despite its proximity to Lake Victoria, the small volcanic lake has no known inlet or outlet. This explains why it’s strikingly smelly.
The sanctuary serves as a seasonal migration spot for flamingoes from Nakuru. Thus the name ‘for the birds. It is home to birds like little egrets, little grebe, Egyptian goose and vegetations like acacia, balanties, striga weed and combretum.
The Mystery Tale of the Sinking Village
The locals refer to the lake as Simbi Nyaima which means “The village that sank.”. Though this lake is a result of the volcano activities, Luo people believe there is more to it. It’s said that once the original inhabitants of this place were celebrating their success at the chief’s home. An old woman appears but the chief demands that she leaves or else face his wrath. Only one woman sympathizes with her and takes her home to her family.
At night, she warns the woman of an impending disaster. She gets the entire family to run from the village. As soon as they leave, there is a huge storm, and the entire village sinks. You’ll be fascinated at how locals share this story with passion despite the scientific explanation.
Activities at Lake Simbi National Sanctuary
Birding is the major activity in this sanctuary. While residents in Lake Nakuru national park think their birds have disappeared, they are partying at Simbi. It’s like a getaway destination for flamingoes. The experience of watching the pink birds is unforgettable. It’s also a sign of blessings to the Luo community. Also, you can spot other bird varieties in the sanctuary like the Egyptian goose, little egrets, and little grebe.
A Sacred Bath in the Lake
The crater lake is filled with algae and holds a sacred meaning( the sacred spa). Locals believe that a bath here can make skin problems disappear. The belief has attracted visitors from all over the world to experience this bath.
Lake Simbi is not suitable for swimming because its very deep and believed to have internal connection with Lake Victoria.
The Simbi National Sanctuary features amazing vegetation of acacia balanitis-combretum-Striga weed. That makes it perfect to walk around and discover more about this extraordinary plant. If you have a camera to capture the moment, even better.
Moreover, you’ll get to interact with the locals and they are the most friendly.
Although the crater lake is small, you can enjoy a boat ride. in the evening after a day of exploring the sanctuary is a great way to relax. The water is considered as a token from the old woman for the hospitality she received. So you can as well enjoy the gift from your boat ride.
How to Get There
Lake Simbi National Sanctuary is in Southern Nyanza, Homa bay district. It’s accessible via road from Nairobi via Mai Mahiu to Narok then to Bomet where you will connect to the T-Junction of Kaplong. From the T Junction, turn left to Sotik – Kisii route where you will drive along Oyugis road. Alternatively, you can board a bus to Kisumu and then a matatu to Homabay.
International tourists can also access Kisumu via a flight from the JKIA or the Wilson airport.
Where to Stay when Visiting Lake Simbi National Sanctuary
There’s no accommodation available inside the park.
But there are nearby hotels for visitors to stay in Lake Simbi National Sanctuary. These hotels include
- Hotel Pikadili – 1.6 mi from Lake Simbi
- Yrimu Hotel Restaurant – 12 mi from Lake Simbi and charges $30
- Oyugis Hill Breeze Hotel – 12mi From Lake Simbi and charges $38
- Le Grand Hotel Oyugis – 12mi From Lake Simbi and charges $34
- Impala Eco-Lodge
What to Carry
Always carry comfortable clothing for a better experience. For example T Shirts, dull pants and a warm sweater. In Kisumu, it’s also important to carry an insect repellent and take malaria medication before the trip.
The Best Time to Visit
Lake Simbi National Sanctuary is open to visitors all year. The dry season starts in June, July, August, September, and December. However, January and February are considered to be the best for anyone planning to visit this national sanctuary. March, April, May, and October, November are ideal months for flamingo watching.