Ruma National Park is a park located in Lambwe Valley in South Nyanza, 140 km from Kisumu and 425 km west of Nairobi. The 120 km2 Park, established in 1966, is the only terrestrial park in Kenya’s Nyanza Province and is one of the country’s less well known Parks. It was renamed from Lambwe Valley Game Reserve to Ruma after one of Kenya’s most powerful wizard, Gor Mahia who lived around the Park.
Ruma lies on the flat floor of the Lambwe Valley and is bounded by the Kanyamwa escarpment to the south east, Gwassi Hills, Sumba Hill and Ruri Rills to the north. There is a mosaic of landscapes with the area largely undulating grassland, with expanses of open woodland coppices then riverine woodland and towering cliffs. The soils are mainly black cotton clay.
Hailed as the “Last Retreat of the Roan Antelope”, Ruma protects the only indigenous population of rare the Roan Antelope in Kenya and currently, the population is on the brink of extinction with numbers at about 40.
The Park is also home to game species that include the African Leopard, Rothschild’s Giraffe, the Eastern Black Rhinoceros, the Vervet Monkey, the Oribi, the Bush Pig, the Cape Buffalo, the Jackson’s Hartebeest, the Olive Baboon, Bohor Reedbuck, the Hyena, the Serval Cat, the Topi and the Honey Badger.
Ruma’s birdlife is outstanding with over 400 bird species recorded in the Park and these include the globally endangered rare intra-African migrant Blue Swallow. The Park also holds an exceptional snake population and included is the Eastern Green Mamba, the African Spitting Cobra, the Black-mouthed Mamba, the forest Cobra, Python and Puff Qdder. The Lizard, Skink and Gecko also call the Park home.
Ruma can be accessed by both road and air. From Nairobi, one can take a 19 minute taxi ride to Nairobi airport then fly from Nairobi to Kisumu for 45 minutes and then drive for 2 hours 57 minutes from Kisumu to Ruma National Park. Another option is to fly from Nairobi Wilson Airport to Maasai Mara Game Reserve for 40 minutes then drive from Maasai Mara to Ruma for 3 hours 37 minutes. One can also take a bus ride from Nairobi to Homa Bay for 6 hours then take a 55 minute taxi ride from Homa Bay to Ruma.
There are two campsites for visitors courtesy of Ruma. One is the Nyati special campsite located within the Park. The Campsite does not provide facilities like showers but water and firewood can be provided by the warden’s office upon request. The other Campsite is Fig Tree campsite which is a public campsite and a backpacker’s haven. There is also the Korlang’o Picnic site and the Twiga Picnic site located in the middle of the Park.
Another accommodation option is the Oribi guest house, an exceptional self catering guesthouse set on the Kanyamwa Escarpment. Oribi offers 3 bedrooms housing a maximum of 6 people as well as a fully equipped kitchen, solar power and DSTV services.
Best Time to Visit
Ruma can be visited all year round daily from 6.00 am to 7.00 pm including public holidays. However, for keen game watchers, the best time to visit is during the dry periods from June to October and January to February where vegetation is shorter and thinner allowing better game spotting.
Weather and Climate
The Park experiences a humid climate with two wet seasons, with the long one being from April to June and the short one from October to December.
Other Safety Considerations
Due to the collaboration of the Pan African Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Campaign, Kenya Wildlife Service and Veterinary Department, the Park is free of tsetse fly. However, visitors still need to take the necessary precautions against Malaria. These include taking malaria prophylactics, covering bare skin at dusk, sleeping under treated nets as well as using mosquito repellent creams and sprays.