Integritour joins the very best of KATO-registered tour operators

Posted ago by jessbutcher

Integritour is proud to announce our recent inclusion within the Kenyan Association of Tour Operators.

About KATO (and visit
The Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO) is Kenya’s foremost tourism trade association, representing the interests of over 250 of the leading and most experienced professional tour operators in Kenya. Our members are amongst the finest safari operators in the world, and offer a wide range of services that can be broadly divided into the following categories: -

Air safaris
Incentive travel group safaris
Custom safaris for individual travellers
Camping safaris (luxury & budget)
Indian Ocean & Coast holidays
Cultural & Community Safaris
Golf Safaris
Agro Safaris
Special interest safaris (e.g. mountaineering, deep sea fishing, horse riding)

To be a leading Tourism Trade Association in the Region, offering world class services through its members to the traveling public.

To uphold the good reputation of Kenya as a tourist destination by ensuring that Kenyan Tour Operators maintain the highest possible standards of service and value.

Save the Sitatunga Antelope Boat Race – Kisumu

Posted ago by jessbutcher

Event organisation can be cumbersome!  I never knew that until I found myself in the organizing committee of the mighty Lake Victoria boat race. God decided to ‘bless’ us with rain the whole of Friday and we were all praying for the sun on Saturday the 26th day of the race.

The worst thing that can ever happen is having a chilly morning and you forgot your sweater at home, but that was not taking me back to the house because I had a lot of things to put in place before the event began… participants had to be registered, tents pitched, the lake marked, media members registered… there was a lot to do but the committee members had it all in hand and delivered on all:  big up guys, none of this would have happened without you.

The main agenda for the event was to raise awareness for the ‘Save the Sitatunga antelope’ cause – the special breed that is found in the impala sanctuary next to Lake Victoria. The turnout was impressive and I have never seen as big a social gathering in Kisumu!  The participants from all the beaches came prepared – and as the races commences, I came to the conclusion that only the chosen ones in this life are able to do the rowing!  If I do ever choose to go over to the participant side, I will chose Ndere women’s team because they scooped the first prize of 40,000/= and for the men Usenge took the trophy and the money home. For the second team the prize was a trophy and 25,000/= for both men and women and it was taken by Luanda Kotieno Men and the Ndere women, “GO Ndere women”.  The 3rd position was taken by men from Luanda Kotieno and women from Usenge both teams walked home with 15,000/= and a trophy.

There were many more activities to spice up the day like a dance performance from Yawa, a poem from Arya Primary school, a Skit from Joel Omino Primary school, a song from a local ladies singing group and not forgetting performance from the municipal choir.

We were honored to have the director of KWS Mr. Julius Kipng’etich in our midst, Honorable Shakeel Shabbir, Central Nyanza Regional Commissioner Mr. Arthur Osia, Kisumu Town East District Commissioner Mr Mabea Mogaka and Mr Daniel Okumu, the Lake Victoria Tourism Association chairman.
Others were investor Hon Jared Kangwana whose Monarch Investments’ 24-bed eco-lodge at the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary that will be ready for occupation as from December this year.

KWS have plans to raise money to construct a 3-km perimeter wall fence around the sanctuary at an estimated cost of Sh28 million as well as create public awareness about the plight of the shy sitatunga and the importance of conserving the wetlands.

Thanks go to KWS, Ministry of Tourism, Kenya Investment Authority, Equator Bottlers ltd, Municipal Council of Kisumu, The Star newspaper, Parkview Hotel and Apartments, Elsuco Tours and Travel, tour operators, Lake Victoria Tourism Association, Kenya Maritime Authority, Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), Lake Paddlers Association, Homa Lime Company, Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA), Kisumu Green Project and boat operators, as well as Integritour for making the event such a success.

Next year things will be big and better than this year and Integritour will be glad to package the event in one of our western Kenya packages and for you who did not attend. Contact us to find out more.

Gearing up for the Mighty Lake Victoria Boat Race

Posted ago by jessbutcher

Written by Customer Service Executive, Patricia Ouko.

“I know the women will not show up for the hits,” is what one of the committee members said when we were at the stakeholders meeting preparing for the boat race but the Kisumu women proved him wrong.

On the 1st October,  Kisumu city was celebrating World Habitat Day and the preliminaries were held at the picturesque lakeside venue of  Hippo Point.  If you happened to arrive at the venue at the allotted time, you would have been discouraged because there was only a tent and a few KWS staff –  not a sign of any participants.   But as of the ‘Kenyan clock’, the tables turned around by 11:00am and attendees started arrived in huge numbers.

The cheering boat squads took  to the lake and their paddling with might and gusto and I was very encouraged by the women who exceeded the required number until some were left out.   I ran up and down writing down the participant’s names and numbers who will participate in the main boat race event at the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary on the 26th of November until someone thought I was working for the press.

Lake Victoria Kisumu Boat Race Preparations

I am so excited about the boat race and am really looking forward the rest of the hits which will take place at Luanda Kotieno on the 19thOctober and on the 21st we are taking the hits to Usenge Beach.  I have always longed for  Kisumu city  to have a signature and our signature will be the boat race, am really looking forward the rest of the hits and the main event come the 26th November at the Impala Park.

Integritour is proud to be one of the organizers of the boat race and are offering a 2-3 day package including the boat race in Western Kenya.  All are invited on the 26th of November at the impala for the boat race – won’t youy come and see which beach will take the trophy home?

Integritour visit Mama Sarah Obama

Posted ago by jessbutcher

Blog post from Patricia, Customer Service Executive, Integritour, who recently conducted an Integritour field trip to Kogelo, to meet with Obama’s grandmother, Mama Sara Obama,  at her home.

What a lovely lady! The moment I saw her I thought of my grandmother!

I live in Kisumu but I had never thought of going to Barack Obama’s grandmother’s place.  I has assumed Kogelo was a palace and that Sara Obama was living a queen’s life but I was surprised to meet a humble, loving and welcoming granny in a normal, typical rural homestead.

We welcome Integritour guests  to come with us to meet the great lady herself.   We have pre-arranged our protocol so as to respect the security of her compound and of course, Mama Sara’s privacy (she is an elderly lady, and can understandly tire of uninvited guests turning up on her doorstep!). As such, please let us know 24-48 hours in advance should you wish us to take you on a tour to Kogelo and Mama Sara.

A tour to Kogelo takes half a day, but can be combined with other Integritour tours including Rusinga Island and Kit Mikayi.  Stop offs at the equator road marker can also be arranged as part of this tour.

Celebrating the Kisumu Tourism Expo -2011

Posted ago by jessbutcher

Last week, Integritour was proud to take part in the ‘Kisumu Expo’ at the Simba Club in Kisumu.   The three day event was co-ordinated by the Lake Victoria Tourism Association in an effort to bring together all the local industry players to share experience and to celebrate and promote our beautiful corner of Kenya.  With the imminent opening of the Kisumu airport to International flights, the ongoing improvement of the roads and a surge in the quality of accommodation on offer (to say nothing of the arrival of exciting new professional tour operator on the scene), we have a huge task ahead of us to educate both the domestic audience and the international travelling community.  Herewith, our event report from our two on-site reporters, Chris & Patricia:

Western Kenya Highlights: Kakamega Rainforest

Posted ago by jessbutcher

Green. Tropical. Lush.Wet. Muddy. Not words that a Westerner would typically associate with Africa. Acacia trees, lions and a browny-reddish bush landscape better fit the tourist mind’s eye, but it’s simply not so with mighty lakes, impressive mountain ranges, sugar cane, rice, tea and flower plantations covering the landscape of Africa. But one of the greenest, lushest, wettest and muddiest parts of East Africa is found in our little corner of Western Kenya – Kakamega: the glorious last remaining pocket of the pristine Guineo-Congolian rainforest that once spanned the continent.

Kakamega Buttress

Coming over all ‘Nerdy’ in Western Kenya: Birding by Boat and Boda Boda

Posted ago by jessbutcher

Bird watchers or ‘twitchers’ as they’re commonly known are considered a fairly odd bunch by non-twitchers.  A little bit geeky, called ‘Colin’ or ‘Graham’ usually and never happier than when hidden in a bush, behind binoculars ticking off species whilst simultaneously ‘shhhh-ing’ anyone making non-bird noises around them.  Ok, so that’s a bit harsh (not least to my husband-to-be, Graham), but nonetheless, I was quite sure bird watching wasn’t for me,’ a fashionable urbanite’ (I prefer handbags). That is until Integritour showed me otherwise.

A Love Letter to Western Kenya

Posted ago by jessbutcher

(As appears in this month’s edition of Destination Magazine) Kisumu, Western Kenya: not the most obvious of tourist destinations.  It’s tatty around the edges, the roads are awful, the accommodation a bit tired and corporate, the cuisine underwhelming and the city unremarkable at first glance.  It has suffered from chronic under-investment for years and still bears the scars of the post-election violence of 2007-8.  For these reasons and many more, it remains under-marketed and under-visited and yet scratch beneath the surface and cast your eyes a little further than Tuskey’s mall and you’ll find Kisumu a character-full town and the gateway to a world of wonders in Western Kenya.  Take it from one who knows… a first time visitor to Kenya who followed her man here (in an oh-so-un-feminist fashion), made it her home for the last 6 months and her career for the foreseeable future.   Herewith, my love letter to poor, under-appreciated Western Kenya:

Integritour’s Blue-Sky Blog: The new home of Kisumu & Kenyan Adventures

Posted ago by jessbutcher

Welcome to the Integritour blog,   the new site to catch up on all our news, adventures, new products, opinions and team stories….  plus the trials and tribulations of setting up a tour business in Kisumu, Western Kenya.  (This week they include drunk office contractors, burning lorries being driven down main high street and roof-top strategy sessions). We promise not to spam, bore or sell to you, just enlighten you about daily-life and the many wonderful charms of this region, plus provide opinion, anecdotes and entertaining updates on the story of (we hope!) our growth.  There’s never a dull week at Integritour,  so  please sign up and enjoy the ride.