Technology-aided vacay

Saturday, October 19th, 2019 00:00 |
The tour group used Google Street View to check out some of the streets, which had not been mapped yet. The app is a virtual representation of one’s surroundings, enabling them have a 360-degree panoramic view from their position.

You’re finally at your dream destination or somewhere you’ve been longing to vacation at, though you don’t know much about the area and how to make the most of your trip.

The advent of technology has made life easier in many areas, including the travel world. However, not all travellers understand or use these technologies, myself included.

My recent travel with Google to Kisumu sought to address this challenge, in a bid to get me to have a great experience while travelling.

I also discovered many incredible attractions, which one can visit while in the county. We landed at Kisumu airport at about 10am and drove for 20 minutes to the Sovereign Suites Hotel, which would be our abode for the short while we were there.

My room, equipped with air conditioner, a seating area, a balcony and a flat-screen TV, was elegant.

After a short training on some of the Google products by Dorothy Ooko, the Nairobi-based head of communications and public affairs, it was time to put to action what we had learnt, and the first task was using Google Maps offline to direct us to the Kenya Wildlife Impala Sanctuary, which is some 700 metres from the hotel.

One can use Google Maps offline when for instance, they are in a foreign country and don’t have a local SIM to access data, or if they find it expensive to do so.

While at the sanctuary, we employed Google Street View to check out some of the streets there, which had not been mapped yet.

The app, which is also a feature of Google Maps, is a virtual representation of the surroundings one is at on Maps, enabling them to have a 360-degree panoramic view from their position.

The wildlife sanctuary is more or less like the animal orphanages we are used to, with wildlife caged. It has all the big five animals except the elephant and a magnificent view of Lake Victoria.

Also, though I never saw them, the sanctuary was once upon a time branded a lakeshore with impalas.

We went back to the hotel and after a sumptuous lunch, drove to Dunga Beach, where we learnt how to create beadwork.

It was a great learning experience, though quite frankly, it requires a lot of patience. Some of us quit from the word go, while others endured the task gracefully and finished making their necklaces and bracelets.

The Impala-Nanga-Dunga Road was being constructed at the time, and from what I heard, it will be completed in November, making access to the beach easier.

One can also catch a glorious glimpse of the sun as it sets at the far end of the lake, casting its soft golden rays over the waters. Should you be a fan of birdlife, this beach is one of the perfect spots in the area to bird-watch.

The following day, we headed over for a boat ride and learnt about Lake Victoria and how the decline in fish production has affected the fishermen.

We could see floating fish farms across the lake and the local guide told us these help bridge the gap in production.

We saw a family of hippos that coexists with the bold locals who were casting their nets for a catch. Sadly, our thrilling boat ride was cut short by the marine patrol, who were pursuing us.

It is a common thing at the lake and just like kanjos in the city, the guides and fishermen apparently face harassment by the patrol crews. We derailed them by opting to stop by the shore, and we took the chance to take photos and just chill.

Our next stop was Kit Mikayi, which was about an hour’s drive. The 120m unusual rock formation is also referred to as the stone of the first wife in Luo dialect.

Not only does this place have a cultural significance, it’s also a spiritual haven to worshippers who spend days upon days seeking answers from Nyasaye (God). Another place of interest is Kisumu Museum, which preserves the Luo cultures and traditions.

They also have a section where one can watch birds and animals. Here, Dorothy taught us about Google Lens and how it can be used to find the names of objects or plants.

The trip would not be complete without exploring Kisumu nightlife and, as I expected, the city has a pretty buzzing one.

However, beware of mosquito bites when in the clubs along the lake. It’s advisable to wear long-sleeved clothes and use mosquito repellants so you enjoy your night out in peace.

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