The forest lies on undulating terrain, mostly between 1500 and 1600 meters elevation. It is in the watershed of the Isiukhu and Yala rivers, which flow through the forest before emptying into Lake Victoria.
The forest including reserves encloses about 238 square kilometers, a little less than half of which currently remains as indigenous forest. In the north of the forest is the 4,468 hectares (45 km2; 17 sq mi) Kakamega National Reserve, given national forest reserve status in 1985. Just to the north is the Kisere Forest Reserve. Throughout the forest are a series of grassy glades, ranging in size from about 1 to 50, with a few larger clearings. The origins of the glades are uncertain. Some are certainly recent clearings, but others predate recent records. These may have originated from past human activity such as cattle grazing or may be the result of herbivory and movements by large mammals such as buffalo and elephants (both now extirpated from the region). The glades vary a great deal in structure, some being open grass and others having a considerable number of trees or shrubs. A number of streams and small creeks run through the reserve. The larger creeks are usually bordered by a few to tens of meters of forest on either side which divide the glades, while the smallest creeks flow through open grasslands, often forming small marshy patches.
The Kakamega Forest is very wet, with an average of 1200 mm – 1700 mm of rain per year. Rainfall is heaviest in April and May (“long rains”), with a slightly drier June and a second peak roughly in August to September (“short rains”). January and February are the driest months. Temperature is fairly constant throughout the year, ranging between 20c – 30c.
Blue monkey climbing in tree at Kakamega Rain Forest.
Flora found in the park include some of Africa’s greatest hard and soft woods: Elgon teak (Olea welwitschii), red stinkwood (Prunus africana), white stinkwood, several varieties of croton, and Pouteria altissima. There are 380 recorded species of plants. This includes 60 species of ferns, 150 species of trees and shrubs, and 170 species of flowering plants including 60 species of orchids with 9 species found only in this forest.
By road – The shortest route from Nairobi (418 km) is via Nakuru and Kapsabet. Take the A104 road as far as Timboroa and continue for another 4 km until you see left turn which takes you to the C36 road to Kapsabet from there take the C39 road until it joins the Kisumu – Kakamega road.From Eldoret the shortest route is via the C39 road to Kapsabet.
By air – There are now scheduled flights to Kakamega and visitors can also fly to Kisumu or Eldoret and travel by road to Kakamega.
Many local inhabitants rely on the forest to supply important resources, such as firewood, building poles and traditional medicines. Cattle grazing occurs in some of the glades. The region is said to be one of the most densely populated rural areas in the world, and pressure on the forest resources is considerable. The German funded project BIOTA East worked in the forest from 2001 until 2010, creating forest inventories for many life forms and aiming to find strategies for a sustainable use of the forest.
Tourism ( KAKAMEGA FOREST NATIONAL RESERVE)
The Southern part of Kakamega forest, Isecheno Forest station run by the Kenya Forest Service is the most accessible in Tourism. There is the well known Mama Mtere tree, a historic tree and the most photographed tree in Kakamega forest, there are also strangler fig trees.
There are hiking trails in the forest that allow for forest walking, camping, hiking, primate watching, bird and butterfly watching, game watching and village walks. The Kakamega Rainforest Tour Guides (KRFTG) can arrange tours to visit the weeping stone (Crying stone) at Ilesi, located along the Kakamega-Kisumu road, or Kisere Forest to see the De-brazes monkey in the north of Kakamega. Also bird watching, morning 6:30 am – 8:30 am is fantastic walk or evening 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm. Forest tours have attracted prominent personalities including outgoing US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec who paid a visit in April 2018 and marveled at its beauty.
In the reserve do not miss, the view point of Buyangu Hill with the wonderful overview of the surrounding forest especially impressive at sunrise.
Small but lovely Isiukhu fall.
The giant tree on Mukangu trails.
The nature trails with labeled trees of interest and pollinator garden near KEEP office.
The only remnant in Kenya of the once great tropical rainforest that stretched across central Africa.
Home to several hundreds of species of birds, snakes, monkeys, bushbucks, duikers, countless tree species and natural glades.
The species include: over 380 species of trees, 330 species of birds, 27 species of snakes, 7 primates, over 400 species of butterflies and several mammals.
Bush pig, Giant Forest Hedge Hog, Colobus Monkey, Debrazzar Monkey, Potto, Clawless Offer and many others.
Blue Headed Bee Eater, Black Billed Turaco, Turners Eremomela,Grey Parrot
Black Lipped Cobra, Rhinoceros Horned Viper, Gabon Viper,Forest Cobra among others
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