It’s always mind-boggling to explore some of the most outstanding and spectacular Parks during Kenya safaris. Situated within the extensive Lambwe Valley in Suba district, Nyanza Province (western Kenya) is Ruma National Park, thus making it the only terrestrial Park within this particular Province. Did you know why this Protected Area is christened the Last Retreat of the Roan Antelopes? It is because the site offers Sanctuary to the only native population of the extraordinary Roan antelopes within the country.
Ruma National park is found at approximately 425 kilometers (264 miles) west of Nairobi City, 30 kilometers from Rusinga Island, 23 kilometers south-west of Homabay and only 10 kilometers East of Lake Victoria-Africa’s largest inland Lake. It was established in 1966 as Lambwe Valley Game Reserve but was later renamed Ruma National Park in 1983 after one of the country’s most powerful and feared sorcerers (known as Gor Mahia) who stayed around the Park.
This beautiful destination is endowed with stunning landscapes ranging from riverine woodland, gentle savannah to sumptuous escarpments as well as towering cliffs but most importantly offers undiscovered wildlife species and pristine environments. It stretches for 120 square kilometers (46 square miles) and bordered by Kanyamwa Escarpment to the South-east, Ruri Hills and Volcanic plugs to the North. It lies at an elevation of 1200 to 1600 meters (3937-5249 feet) above sea level.
Climate and Vegetation of Ruma National Park
The climate within and around this Park is generally humid with two rainy seasons-the long season starting from March to June while the short one is from October to early December and the average annual rainfall is 1200 to 1600 millimeters. The dry season starts from end of June to September and mid-December to February and the vegetation is majorly characterized by savannah woodland and grassland with sweeping acacia thickets. The landscape of this Park is characterized by mainly black cotton clay soils that support the growth of fresh and verdant pastures, savannah grasslands, acacia woodlands and most importantly, some regions are important for cultivation by the surrounding local communities.
Attractions within Ruma National Park
Ruma National Park is a haven to exceptional wildlife species that range from the large mammals to the smaller ones. Notable ones to look out for include African elephants, eastern black rhinos, roan antelopes, gazelles, Cape buffaloes, Lelwel hartebeests, Rothschild’s giraffes, Hyenas, Oribis, Bohor reedbucks, Impalas, Serval cats, Jackson’s Hartebeests, primates such as vervet monkeys, olive baboons and bush pigs, Honey Badgers, Topis, Mountain reedbucks, leopards and many others.
There are also more than 400 species of birds that call Ruma National Park home thus making it one of the country’s Important Bird Areas. Notably, this Park is a haven to the rare blue swallows-one of intra-Africa’s extraordinary migrants in addition to the Ostriches, sunbirds, kingfishers, the African fish eagles and Pelicans among others.
Activities Conducted within Ruma National Park
With the well-developed and maintained game tracks, wildlife viewing is definitely one of the most exciting tourist activities you can enjoy within Ruma National Park. This Activity rewards tourists with the views of the Park’s spectacular landscape as well as exceptional wildlife species especially the eastern black rhinos, roan antelopes, Rothschild’s giraffes, elephants, buffaloes and bush pigs among others. The best time to engaging in game drives is the dry season.
Safari walks are also a must-do within Ruma National Park and offer up-close opportunity of interacting with nature. While on this relaxing activity, you will be able to sight a number of wildlife, tress and other interesting information about this wonderful destination.
As earlier mentioned, this Park is a haven to over 400 species of birds including the migrant Blue swallows, kingfishers, sunbirds and African fish eagles among others. The best time for this activity is the rainy season (from March to June and from October to early December) because there are higher chances of sighting the migrant species.
Boat cruises on Lake Victoria
Boat rides allow tourists to explore some of the wildlife on the shores of Lake Victoria such as Hippos and Crocodiles as well as aquatic bird species such as kingfishers, African fish eagles and Pelicans. However, you can also enjoy a sun-downer boat cruise on Lake Victoria as you watch the sun-set while enjoying a glass of wine or juice and can also have a barbeque on request.
Camping is another worthwhile activity within the wilderness of Ruma National Park and is conducted within the two campsites. Other activities to enjoy within this destination include picnics (with some of the picnic sites being Twiga and Korlang’o sites) and sight-seeing among others.
What to carry or pack when visiting Ruma National Park
Don’t forget to carry or pack bottled drinking water, camping gear/equipments especially of you are planning on staying overnight, picnic items, long trousers and shorts, both short and long sleeved shirts, hat, sunscreen and sunglasses, a backpack, guidebooks, gadgets such as cameras and binoculars.
Where to stay while exploring Ruma National Park
There are few but exquisite accommodation facilities within Ruma National Park and these include Oribi Guesthouse (offering self-catering services) rewarding guests with the phenomenal views of the Escarpment and the magnificent rolling hills of western Kenya as well as a fully equipped and functional kitchen facility. Additionally, there are two Campsites within this destination and they are Fig tree and Nyati Campsites thus allowing tourists to have an up-close experience of the wilderness.
How to Access Ruma National Park
Ruma National Park is mainly accessed by road, especially from Kisumu which is approximately 140 kilometers/86 miles to the destination but if you choose to use water transport, you will take a ferry on Lake Victoria because the Park is only 10 kilometers east of this water body and south of Homabay.
You can also connect from Nairobi City and drive to Kisumu Port Town that is about 425 kilometers away. There are two gates to the destination with the main gate (Kamato) being at 42 kilometers from Homabay and the other being Nyatoto.
However, air transport can also be used to reach Ruma National Park whereby both chartered and scheduled flights are organized from Nairobi to Kisumu International Airport or the different airstrips within the Park that include Makatau, Kamboyo, Kasigau, Ziwani, Kilaguni Finch Hattons and Jipe.
In addition to Ruma, Magical Kenya is a home to more than 20 National Parks that include Nairobi, Hell’s Gate, Tsavo East and Tsavo west, Sibiloi, Lake Nakuru, Meru, Kisite-Mpunguti, Saiwa Swamp, Mount Longonot, Mount Kenya, Central Island, Mount Elgon, Chyulu Hills, Arabuko-Sokoke, Aberdare, Amboseli and Ol Donyo Sabuk National Parks among others.