There is a classic joke in the North Rift region of Kenya specifically Eldoret and Iten, that if a stone is thrown randomly, it is most likely to hit a marathon champion or an Olympic medalist. I was reliably told that Iten;(A town in Elgeyo Marakwet County where most Marathon winners train), has the highest concentration of Olympic medals in the world.
Accessing the North Rift via Eldoret with Jambojet
That said, I recently flew to Eldoret with Jambojet to see some of the top places to visit in the area and I would like to happily report that, Eldoret being a gateway to western Kenya, will leave you spoilt for choice. One minute I was in Kabarnet, wallowing in the miasma of the expanse of the great rift valley and the next I was in Mt.Elgon National Park wondering why I know very little about the park. All this while, I was also struggling to contain my excitement that was purely driven by the indescribable beauty of the park.
Staying at Eka Hotel in Eldoret
Located inside Rupa’s Mall and conveniently out of the bustle of the heart of Eldoret city, Eka Hotel has strategically positioned itself as business and leisure hotel in the region. It has also handsomely warmed its way into the hearts of local residents who visit to enjoy meals or grab a drink as they enjoy the panoramic view of the city of champions and beyond.
So popular is Eka hotel in Eldoret, that on the day of arrival we had to leave our bags with the concierge and proceed for breakfast and other activities of the day. The hotel was fully booked and most of the clients had a late check-out. I loved this for them, considering how the hospitality industry had been had been hard hit by the pandemic.
Breakfast was buffet and I was impressed by the mix of a classic English Breakfast and Kenyan delicacies including nduma, matoke and porridge.
The hotel has a modern finish and feel, with a fantastic colour scheme and matching gigantic wall art. The grey walls with its different shades of grey was very easy to the eyes and to say the least gave a relaxing feel.
The rooms were so spacious, and the interior was minimalist. The wall to wall windows opened up to unbeaten view of Eldoret city.
The bathroom which was my absolute best part of the room was adequately huge, the hand wash basin sat elegantly on the black granite top with enough surface left son both sides of the sink to hold toiletries. The bathroom window was beautifully wide and created an illusion of space. The walls were tiled in grey and the harmony made my soul happy.
On Friday’s they have a live band at the the lobby, and on Sunday, they have an all you can eat barbecue at lunch going in all the way to late afternoon.
I wish I had enough time to experience their health club and finish off with a nice massage, but I guess that is enough reason to visit the hotel again.
Places to see and experience near Eldoret
Run with the Champions at their High Altitude Training Camps in Iten
Some 17 or so Kilometers from Eldoret town is Iten; popularly known as the Home of Champions. In the recent times, sports tourism has really picked up in Eldoret. The fact that one can visit a training camp, interact with the world champions and even train with them is mind blowing. We visited and Adidas training camp called Atlas Training Camp and got a first hand experience with some of the world’s finest athletes.
If you don’t live in the North Rift then there is a slim chance of meeting the champions
You see, for most Kenyans, just like the rest of the world, we only get to see them on TV! I was not going to miss this chance. We interacted, got to know their training schedule, the diet their on and the work they put in to be champions. I promise you, what we know and see, is just a tip of the iceberg! To book a spot and enjoy recreational athletics call the NOREB office and speak to Mr.Kimosop +254 720 317 760
Visit Iten View Point some 36km from Eldoret
The View Point as its popularly known by the locals is such an important tourist attraction for both residents and visitors. This is because it is the highest altitude on the escarpment that is the nearest to the escarpment with an unmatched views. The place is kept clean and beautiful, and has a restaurant on site. If you have ever wondered how the sky meets the earth then this is the perfect place to experience this magic. If you choose to go lower, into Tambach town, I promise you will experience the most beautiful meandering road in this country as you cascade into Elgeyo Marakwet other attraction called Chebloch Gorge.
Visit Kipngochoch Community Conservancy in Baringo
Historians have it that the second President of the republic of Kenya the late Daniel Moi loved to go to Kipngochoch Community Conservancy and rest there while putting together his government or firing some of his officials. This was also one of the designated destinations of the royal honeymoon safari of Queen Elizabeth, that never was. It has a lovely view of both the Eastern and Western Rift Valley with a captivating sunrise.
My recommendation would be to plan an overnight stay at the camp as you spend your day one and then use the next day to explore and hike the enchanting trails of Baringo county. You can get in touch with Trans rift trails to plan the excursions for you.
Visit Saiwa National Park
Saiwa National Park is the smallest national park in Kenya, with an area of about 3km2. It is located 29km from Eldoret town. It is a well known habitat for the endangered semi-aquatic Sitatunga antelope and the Grey Crowned Crane.
The most interesting bit about the park is that it is only accessible by foot. If you love camping, then you will love Saiwa Swamp’s camping grounds. I would gladly recommend camping at the site! It is well kept and clean, the kitchen place has sockets for charging phones, and next to the Swamp. Nothing beats sounds of crickets in the evening as the sunset paves way to a crackling bonfire and good times. In case camping is not your thing, then you can sleep in their tree top hut. It is a bit far from the campsite but has an unmatched view of the swamp where the sitatunga hide.
Take a walk into Mt.Elgon National Park’s Kitum Cave
Trying to summarize the striking beauty of Mt.Elgon National Park in a few lines is almost impossible. I would easily rank as one of the most beautiful national parks in this country.
I toured the Kenyan side of the park (It is shared by Kenya and Uganda) and I must say, hike and trekking was worth the hype. The park has lots elephants, and it is not a rare sighting to spot them during games drives or guided walks. Recently, a new waterfall was commissioned and named after one of the wardens who work at the park. I liked the fact that all the natural features in the parks have local names.
You can miss everything else in Mt.Elgon National Park, but do not miss a walk into Kitum cave. You know, this is one of the most unique elephant salt lick in Kenya. Kitum Cave was formed as a result of volcanic activity in Mt.Elgon. Volcanic tube(cave) is made up of soluble salts like Sodium, Magnesium and Calcium. Due to the high rainfall received in Mt.Elgon, there is massive leaching of minerals and the elephants must therefore look for supplementary minerals by mining the salts using their tusks. Inside the caves are some ponds from where the elephants drink after licking. To help with excretion, they eat some slippery leaves that bulk up the soil in the salt hence easy excretion.
Easy boat ride in Kesses Dam
Kesses Dam or Lessos Lake is a small made made lake in Kesses area of Eldoret that is used for domestic and irrigation amongst the locals and for recreational purposes too. It is also a great place to spot the Sitatunga antelope because of a nearby swamp. Recently, activities such as bird watching and fishing have been taken up by visitors.
This is just a tip of the iceberg, on some of the activities you can do in the North Rift.
I will be happy to update this list the more I visit because granted, I will visit again.