The lakeside city of Kisumu looks set to take its rightful mantle as the gateway to the western Kenya tourist circuit. With the mushrooming of some amazing mid-sized accommodation facilities in the last couple of years and now an international airport, Kisumu is rising.

The Kisumu International Airport now becomes the 4th international airport in Kenya after Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Mombasa’s Moi International Airport and the Eldoret International Airport in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret.

The airport has been undergoing a 3-year expansion project that saw its runway extended from 2 KM to 3.3 KM. This means now Kisumu International Airport will be able to handle big jumbos with ease.

The new terminal, completed at a cost of KES 3 billion, will now allow the airport to handle between 600 to 700 passengers per hour – which translates to about 2 million passengers every year.

The new facility has a modern control tower and terminal with several lounges for arrivals and departure, cargo handling facilities, the passengers’ cafeteria, VIP lounge and offices.

There are plans, later this month, to have new international departure and landing facilities. Most of the airline operators in Kisumu have already moved their operations to the new building.

This is good news not only for the fish and flower industry in Western Kenya that will now get a reprieve from the old days of costly road transport and huge losses due to on-transit spoilage, but also for the newly created western tourist circuit which will aptly be served by this new facility.

The circuit boasts some amazing attractions including the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, located about 3 KM from the city centre. The sanctuary is home to the impala, Vervet monkey, Olive baboon, hippo, the endangered Sitatunga antelope. A wide range of birds and reptiles can be spotted here as well.

There is of course Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest freshwater lake which is also the source of the Nile. Near the lake is the Hippo Point where one can spot a Hippo or 2 although the location is more famous for its breathtaking sunsets. There is also the weeping rock of Kit Mikayi and the Kisumu Museum that should never be missed.

Jomo Kenyatta airport still remains the largest and the busiest airport in the region with a runway spanning about 4.2 KM long and an annual passenger traffic of about 5 million which is projected to rise to 9 million with the doubling of its size from 6,341,219 to 13,645,655 acres.

JKIA is followed by Eldoret airport with a runway stretching 3.5 KM, knocking Mombasa airport (3.35 KM) to third place in terms of runway size although perhaps Mombasa might still be the second busiest airport in the country.

Kisumu International Airport was built as a domestic airport in the 1930s and widely used during the 2nd World war, with amphibian type of aircraft landing in the neighbouring Lake Victoria. Karibu Kisumu!