Many travellers’ first proper view of the Rift Valley is from the souvenir-draped B3 Escarpment Road, originally built by Italian prisoners-of-war during World War II. This flirts with the precipice before dropping steeply down to the Rift through candelabra euphorbia and spikey agave. The little chapel at the bottom, also Italian-built, and often used as a picnic site, seems fitting in this Mediterranean scene. From here the B3 continues north to Mai Mahiu, where it turns westwards to Narok, while the C88 continues to Naivasha.
The alternative route, the more northerly A104 Uplands Road, crosses a broad, bleak plateau, where roadside traders sell rhubarb, plums, carrots and potatoes, and where, in the wet season, you can find yourself driving over a thick carpet of hailstones between gloomy conifer plantations. All this contrasts dramatically with the dusty plains of the Rift Valley. When you start descending, get out your binoculars and you can pick out herds of gazelle, Maasai with their cattle and, bizarrely, a satellite-tracking station.
On the escarpment section of both roads, souvenir stands sell crafts and small sheepskins (the latter often excellent value, though they’re not always very well cured, so don’t last long).