Kenya // Western Kenya //

Eldoret and around

The direct journey from Kericho to Eldoret through the Nandi Hills is one of the most varied and spectacular in the west, through countryside that is often far wilder than you’d expect, including bleak mountainous scrublands and jungle-packed ravines. Midway, you cross the Kano Plains and you may have to change transport at Chemelil, a major crossroads in the Nyando valley, down in the flat sugar lands. Beyond, the road zigzags northwards into high tea country again, the homeland of the Nandi, the fiercest early opponents of the British, and the haunt of a crypto-zoological mystery known as the Nandi bear. The only town of any size before Eldoret is Kapsabet, which has a couple of banks, a market, and a trio of reasonable lodgings, but nothing to warrant a stopover unless, again, you need to change matatus. If you’re driving, you might pause at the Kingwal swamp, north of Kapsabet (the road passes right through it), where more than sixty sitatunga antelope hang on in an unprotected wetland area.

Although more bustling than Kericho, and somewhat healthier and pleasanter than Nakuru, ELDORET really has hardly anything to differentiate it from dozens of other highland centres, though as Kenya’s fifth-largest town, it’s a good deal bigger. The Uasin Gishu Plateau all around is reliably fertile cereal, vegetable and stock-raising country; wattle plantations provide the tannin for the town’s leather industry; the Raymond, Rivatex, Raiply and Ken-Knit textile factories provide employment; and Moi University has proved a shot in the arm for local schools. Eldoret’s prosperity is shown clearly enough by the windows of Eldoret Jewellers on the main road.

Though there are no sights as such to keep you here for very long, you may well find Eldoret a useful stopover, and it’s refreshingly unthreatening and friendly despite its size. The town’s affluence is reflected in a wide variety of places to stay, eat and drink, and enough nightlife to see you through an evening or two.

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