Kakamega Forest Reserve is the largest surviving stand of equatorial rainforest in Kenya and is home to over 300 species of birds, 45 per cent of Kenya’s butterflies, seven species of primate, a number of other mammals, snakes, reptiles and untold numbers of insects. Many are endemic, found nowhere else in Kenya, and the forest is a prime example of how an isolated environment can survive even when cut off from its larger body.

Kakamega’s unique habitat means that many of the mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and plants are more commonly found in the rainforests of central Africa and it is often one of the few places in Kenya where it is possible to see species such as de Brazza’s and red-tailed monkeys. 

The 24 sq km of Kakamega lies to the north of Kisumu, in Kenya’s Western Province, not far from the Ugandan border and forms the easternmost sector of the Congo West African equatorial rainforest. It is a relatively dense forest which is interspersed with grassy glades and features over 125 tree species. 

The abiding memories of a trip to Kakamega are the spectacle of acrobatic monkeys moving through the trees, a profusion of brightly coloured butterflies and the constant noise of birds, insects and frogs. Although there are some roads through the forest the reserve is best seen on foot and there are a number of walking trails cut through the dense vegetation. It is very easy to get lost in the forest and local guides are used to make sure this doesn’t happen. These guides are also extremely knowledgeable about the forest’s flora and fauna and will point out huge numbers of things you would otherwise walk past and miss. We can also arrange night walks to try and find some of the forest’s nocturnal animals such as the normally elusive potto. Although the reserve has 350 bird species recorded they can be incredibly difficult to spot and identify since they spend their time, either in the canopy, or hidden in the undergrowth. Here again the use of a local guide is invaluable

Accommodation in the reserve is at Udo Bandas and Campsite, set in a clearing, not far from the reserve’s headquarters, the six 2-bed bandas (cottages) share a kitchen area and ablution block with flush toilets and electric showers. Four, brand new, self-contained, double cottages have recently been added to the site which is often visited by baboon troops along with colobus and blue monkeys.

As one would expect from a rainforest Kakamega gets more than its fair share of rainfall and showers are possible at any time of the year although the wettest times tend to be April-June and November. It is quite common for the mornings to be fine before it clouds up in the afternoon to produce an evening shower. This means it is normally best to arrange to go walking first thing in the morning.

Game-Parks Aberdares-1 Amboseli Kakamega Laikipia Maasai-Mara Marsabit Meru Nairobi Ruma Saiwa-Swamp Samburu Shimba-Hills Tsavo-East Tsavo-West