Local eco-tourism got a shot in the arm thanks to a tree planting initiative by the devolution Cabinet Secretary Hon. Eugene Wamalwa on 27th November 2020 that could significantly reduce human-wildlife conflict.
The Cabinet Secretary visited the Rawalo conservancy in the Sub County of Gem and planted 5,000 indigenous trees that in the long run will help reduce human-wildlife conflicts.
The flowering indigenous trees provided by the Kenya Forest Services, will be the nectar and pollen catchment areas for honeybees that the community is keeping. By making money from the honey there’ll be less tree felling and over foraging of the area with the whole ecosystem ending up as beneficiary.
The Cabinet Secretary praised Gem sub County as having stood out in the county as having the best forest cover. He was taken on a tour of the conservancy and given the history of the site by David Marenya, the Secretary general of the Yala ecosystem site support group.
The Rawalo Nature Conservancy Arts & Cultural Centre is one of the attraction sites under Gem Sauri Ecotourism CBO. The idea to have it included in the CBO circuit and marketed as a tourist destination was conceptualized in the year 2013. The community gave out 3.0 hectares of land for the proposed Centre.
It was believed that ancestral spirits within the hill provided strength and security for the community members. The sacred caves and rocks within the hill continue to be highly revered by community members and spiritual faiths that throng all year round. The water that comes out from crevice within one of the gigantic rocks Mumwe is believed to contain healing powers. This water never dries up regardless of the weather conditions and is ferried away in hundreds of containers by the faithfuls that visit the hill. The drum rock is revered and said to have been used to pass messages downhill, this is testified by the fact that the rock produces far- reaching sounds when hit.
As a tourism destination, Rawalo hills offers one of the best nature trails for hiking, rock climbing, beautiful sunset and sunrises that can be enjoyed while camping there. Tourists can also enjoy 360° of star-gazing at night. For bird watchers the site boasts of over 100 different species of birds that migrate between the conservancy and the Kakamega forest.
Rawalo hills is among the sites listed in the Siaya County Tourist guide book by the department of Tourism,Culture, Sports and Arts. Gem SubCounty also boasts of the majestic Ndanu falls. Siaya County has a bevy of sandy beaches along the shores of Lake Victoria that stretches from Usenge, through Sakwa, parts of Asembo and finally reaching Luanda Kotieno in Uyoma that has a maritime border with the County of Homa-Bay. Notable tourism sites include Got Ramogi, Mahira falls, the El Molo crocodile farm in Yimbo and Got On’gielo in Asembo.