Discover Baringo County
Brief Overview of Baringo County
Sightseers who prefer to travel in circuits, rather than retrace familiar routes, will find that Baringo County’s main roads makes this easy with little advance preparation. If, instead of heading west from Nakuru via A 104, they turn north onto B4 Nakuru-Kabarnet-Sigor Road, via Mogotio and Marigat, they will find themselves passing through a land of variety, that carries magnolious scenaries.
The southern region of Baringo County, before Marigat and Kabarnet, offers a quick detour to Mogotio Equator Station before arriving at Lake Bogoria. Lake Bogoria is particularly spectacular because it is one of few hot water lakes in the world. Lake Baringo, which is famous throughout the world for its hundreds of thousands of flamingos, lies 30 kms north of Bogoria. In addition, there’s Loboi Swamp which separates these two impressive lakes – Lake Bogoria a saline lake and Lake Baringo a freshwater lake. Nakegere Falls sits 70 kms of Lake Baringo.
From Lake Baringo the widely-popular circuit doubles back to Marigat and into Kabarnet. From Kabarnet there is the choice to take C54 Kabarnet-Iten-Eldoret Road, a stretch which offers the chance to absorb sights of Baringo County often romanticized in travel handbooks; like the Tugen Hills, Elgeyo Escarpment and Kerio Valley. There is also the alternative of taking the Kabarnet-Nyaru-Eldama Ravine Road which goes up and over the spectral Mektei Ridge near Nyaru. The less travelled circuit from Marigat to Sigor (174 kms) is a hard afternoon’s drive through the torrid and desolate arid patches of Baringo, whose rarely captured beauty is beguiling. From Sigor it’s a fascinating 170 kms drive to Eldoret Town.
Salient Features of Baringo County
- County Number 30
- Area – 11,015 km2
- Altitude – 700 to 3000 ms
- Major Towns – Kabarnet, Eldama Ravine, Mogotio
- Borders – Turkana, Samburu, Laikipia, Nakuru, West Pokot, Kericho, Uasin Gichu, Elgeyo Marakwet
Brief History of Baringo County
The 1950 Kolowa Affray was a small British War. It happened on April 24th, at Kolloa, where Alan Stevens (then District Commissioner) and a force of police confronted Lukas Pketch (leader of the local religious movement) and his 300 spear-wielding followers. Although the details of Kolloa Affray are still strangely muted, by sundown of that day, 3 British police officers and 1 African policeman had lost their lives and 100 Pketch followers shot dead and 172 arrested. The massacre is commemorated by a mass grave at Kolloa, memorialized by a cross.
Places of Interest in Baringo County
1. Mogotio Equator Crossing
The ceremonial stopover at Mogotio Equator Crossing has been a decades old tradition and norm by travellers to Baringo. Situated just 40 kms from Nakuru Town, it is for Baringo County what the Iten Viewpoint is to the neighbouring Elgeyo Marakwet County, its universal welcome. Here, the requisite photo at its metal-fabricated spherical model of earth and the Equator beacon are the main highlights. Almost always hot and dusty at the Mogotio Equator Crossing, it’s a poignant nudge that in the immediate north of the North Hemisphere lies one of the driest and arid blocks of land in Kenya – the adulated Northern Frontier District. At the modern Mogotio Equator Information Centre, which is the main development here, travellers can get reliable information about Baringo County and beyond. From Mogotio Crossing it is easy to make quick detours to nearby Hotel Lomanira, Olduka Valley, Sawaiti Wetland, Mogotio Sisal Farms and Maji Moto before proceeding north to Lakes Bogoria and Baringo National Reserves.
2. Hotel Lomanira
Located about 2 kms from Mogotio Equator Crossing is the recently established Hotel Lomanira Splendour, which offers both descent accommodation and an ideal base to explore Baringo. Its layout, furnishing, and craftsmanship are all-round impressive. The atmosphere is laid-back and peaceful. It is especially useful as a layover for trippers who wish to start their adventure of Baringo on fresh-feet. One of its outdoor highlights is the nearby Olduka Valley, which the guests can nimbly give a look-see on biking-tours. Hotel Lomanira Splendour is located along C54 Nakuru-Sigor Road; 2 kms before Mogotio Equator Crossing.
3. Olduka Valley
Much of Baringo’s beauty arises from its precipitous landscape typified by a patchwork of high cliffs, hillocks, gorges, and valleys. One of its memorable displays can be seen at the surprisingly little-known Olduka Valley, just 2 kms from Mogotio Equator Station. Here, the natural wonder of the steep-sided canyon curved by centuries of fast-flowing flush flood has left in its wake a picturesque scenery of moonscape like formation. Its unique combination of erosional configurations, geologic colour and shrubland forms a decorate valley of rare beauty. It is possible to scale down and walk some sections of the valley, preferably during the earlier parts of the day. The nearby Hotel Lomanira offers biking-tours of Olduka Valley. It’s located about 1 km from the Lomanira Hotel.
4. Maji-Moto Hot Springs
Always at 38 Degrees C, with unprecedented seclusion and scenery, this is a bath-made-in-heaven. The fact that hot water oozes from the ground should be reason enough to visit the springs, yet, the site is extra-ordinarily beautiful. Its beauty is pieced together by the turquoise pools in an unspoiled landscape, the beauty of the valley which unfolds around every bend and, the tiered pools that are wedged between the huge outcrops – giving a sense of being in the world’s biggest bath-tub. It has a waterfalls too. With warm water. Maji-Moto Springs epitomizes the joy of exploring a little-known hidden gem. The 3-bandas Kudu Camp is the perfect jumping-off place to fully enjoy this wonder. “The camping site has magical nights under billions of enchanting stars. Looking up from the natural spa at night is just magical. Then, sit around a blazing born-fire as you unwind”. From here, you can drive to Lake Bogoria, which is only 8 kms away. For further inspiration read the Kenyan Camper’s “Bogoria’s Hot Little Secret”.
5. Lake Bogoria National Reserve
As is the disposition with flamingo, they are unpredictable in their comings and goings, and one cannot be certain of their presence, but, at the 107 km2 Lake Bogoria, their spectacle is open for inspection year-round. The lake’s claim to fame is as a veritable flamingo water. At times, the flamingos assemble here in hundreds of thousands. The unmistakable epic pink line made by its flamingos has honoured Lake Bogoria with endless praise as the ultimate ornithological destination in Kenya. Historically, the largest congregation of these flamingos assemble when the lake’s waters are lowest, between August and early October. Originally known as Hannington Lake, Lake Bogoria also lacks little in scenery. Set hard against the steep slopes of the Rift Valley’s eastern wall, with the cliffs and gradients descending about 4,000 ft into the emerald green to azure water, it provides one of the most fetching sweeps in Baringo. It is also home to varied wildlife, most notably of its Kudu that are easily seen on the eastern shores. The other key attraction at Lake Bogoria is its series of gushing furmaroles and hot-springs half way along the western shore. From here, trippers may wish to have a meal or stopover at Lake Bogoria Spa Resort. Lake Bogoria is located 45 kms from Mogotio, 20 kms from Marigat, and about 25 kms south of Lake Baringo. The two lakes – Bogoria and Baringo – are remnants of a once continuous lake, and are now separated by the Loboi Plain, a wide extent of silt laid down by the original lake. Lake Bogoria is saline, and is fed by springs from the escarpment above it: a couple of impermanent tributaries on the west including the Emsoss River fed by the hot springs; and the Wasagess River flowing in from the north. The salinity of Bogoria intensifies to the south, reflecting the greater recharge from the north end. There is a possibility of subsurface drainage northwards, to Lake Baringo, situated some fifty feet lower, but most of the loss from this Lake is undoubtedly due to its ‘pervasive evaporation’ that causes its routine salinity.
The Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley (UNESCO World Heritage Site) is a natural property of outstanding beauty comprising three shallow lakes (Bogoria, Nakuru and Elementaita) covering 320 km2. They are home to 13 globally threatened bird species and some of the highest bird diversities in the world. It is the single most important foraging site for the lesser flamingo, and a major nesting and breeding ground for great white pelicans. – UNESCO
6. Lake Bogoria Spa Resort
The 95-rooms Lake Bogoria Spa Resort is the anchor hotel at the Lake Bogoria National Reserve. Its accommodation is split into 6-executive rooms, 30-junior suites, 38-cottage rooms, 21-standard rooms and 20-camping tents. This time-honoured resort enjoys the best of the landforms: woodlands, riverine flora and velvety patches of Lake Bogoria’s biosphere. Likewise, Lake Bogoria Spa Resort enjoys stirring and stellar vistas of the countryside landscape, with glimpses of the beckoning lake. Then, there is the geological curiosity of its three naturally heated spa-pools, locally known as the healing place, liked for their therapeutic benefits. There are three ways of getting to Lake Bogoria Spa Resort: via Loboi, Maji-Moto, and Nakuru-Marigat Road. From Lake Bogoria the Resort is located towards the northern-end of the parkway which goes across the Lake’s eastern edges and about 11 kms from the water’s edge. It’s located 21 kms from Marigat.
7. Loboi Plains
Crossing the peripheral stretch of Loboi Plains between Lake Bogoria and Lake Baringo it’s canny to keep an eye on the Laikipia Escarpment, or eastern wall of Rift Valley, seen to the far east and which begins to stretch away further as you close in on Lake Baringo, as it marches north to Lake Logipi. The spellbinding Loboi Plains, which is a 22 kms long and 20 kms wide unvarying plain, on the floor of the Rift Valley, is the surface drainage for the two lakes. It was once part of the roomy Lake Kamasia which dwindled to form Lakes Baringo and Bogoria. Enchantingly, Lake Baringo has held as a freshwater lake for several centuries in so much as Lake Bogoria has been salty and alkali, covered by the lacustrine salt deposits. According to local traditions, the spirit of their traditional deities keep these ‘waters’ side-wise. In fact, the enthusiastic local guides can take you to the exact place these ‘waters’ separate. Some other places of interest include Loboi Swamp found at the northern fringes of Lake Bogoria, the warm springs seen at Lake Bogoria’s mid-west and Chelaba Springs found near Lake Baringo.
8. Laikipia Escarpment
The unbroken landscape of Loboi Plains, bathed in the warm glow of the sun, mirrors the beautiful golden savannas of Laikipia, which both results from the development of the East African Rift Valley. Best seen to the east of the Loboi Plains the Laikipia Escarpment which is conspicuous as the land surface sinks sharply in a chain of fault steps, marks the unofficial boundary between these contiguous landscapes and is the landmark boundary of Baringo with Laikipia.
9. Pekerra Irrigation Scheme
Rolled out in 1954, to harness water from the Perkerra River for irrigation, the 5850-acres Perkerra Irrigation Scheme nearby Marigat Centre was among the pioneer irrigation projects set up in Kenya. Still underutilized, only 2500-acres are seasonally put under cultivation. Pekerra River, which rises from the almost circular Lembus Forest north of Eldama Ravine and which is conjoined by the Chemususu River a few kilometres downstream, is one of two perennial rivers that flow on the eastern and southern areas of Baringo. It is a vital lifeline! All other rivers are seasonal and flow for only a few days or hours after rain, though in the largest, notably the Ainapno and Sabur, water can be obtained for most of the year by digging a few feet down into the river beds. Part of the early objectives of the early irrigation project – which also included Mwea, Bura and Kano – was to provide rehabilitation for Mau Mau detainees through Kenya’s struggle for independence. From Pekerra, the river flows in a steep-sided gorge until it debouches on to the Loboi Plains. It is located 62 kms north of Mogotio.
Near Marigat is the Perkerra Irrigation Scheme, where the waters of the Perkcrra River have been diverted to irrigate large areas of the fertile but barren flats of the ancient Lake Kamasia. Irrigation’s not new here, the local Njemp having practiced it long before European settlement although until the start of this scheme the craft had been almost forgotten.
10. Lake Baringo National Reserve
11. Soi Safari Lodge
At the western shore of Lake Baringo the visitor passes through Kampi Samaki, a modest fishing settlement which has a variety of reasonable hotels and camps. Here, visitors to Lake Baringo may stay at one these establishments that stand on a headland overlooking the Lake Baringo. Of these, the most-liked is the 86-rooms Soi Safari Lodge, which is surrounded by a bushy Acacia woodland and shrubland. To its east is the Lake and the Laikipia Escarpment and, to the west rises the dramatic Tugen Hills. At its back, sits an Olympic-size swimming pool. From Soi Safari Lodge some of the islands in Lake Baringo are easily-sighted notably of the Devil’s Island – which according to the native Njemps is deserted because it is resided by ‘unfriendly devils’. Other well-known hotels at Kampi ya Samaki village include: Tumbili Cliff Lodge, Sandai Resort, and Robert’s Camp.
12. Samatian Island Resort
The small but exclusive Samatian Island Resort, set on the edge of the 30-acres Samatian Island in Lake Baringo, is comprised of 4 open-plan cottages and 2-family cabins, all with views to Lake Baringo. Equal parts rustic and romantic, this compact resort on a private island with unprecedented privacy conjures up dreams of a ways-out paradise. Its highlights include the panoramas of Laikipia Escarpment and quixotic sights of Njemp anglers on their native canoes. In a captivating twist Samatian Resort looks out north, offering two disparate and enthralling experiences at sunrise and at sundown, especially from the dainty pool set right at tip of the island. Some of the activities here include, enjoying scenic boat-trips on the traditional canoes and walking safaris around Giraffe Island. Samatian Island is approached via Kipsang Jetty (at Kampi ya Samaki).
13. Ruko Conservancy
Hugging the eastern littoral of Lake Baringo, Ruko Conservancy that was once teemed with vast wildlife is slowly and steadily been rehabilitated to its former glory. This beautiful sanctuary now under the guidance of Northern Rangelands Trust is on the right course to become a top-rate touring site in Baringo County. Recently, several Rothschild’s giraffes were reintroduced to Ruko Conservancy. Given the success of these relocations’, it is hoped that motley species to include gazelles and zebras from multiple conservancies will be trans-located here, as a way of replenishing its wildlife. Travellers to Ruko Conservancy may also visit the nearby Ol kokwe, Lokoros and Samatian Islands found within Lake Baringo.
14. Kaptuya Conservancy
Located about 10 kms east of Ruko, along the boundary with Laikipia in Churo Ward of Tiaty, Kaptuya Conservancy is, despite the scorching sun, a beautiful and colourful boondocks. On the Laikipia side it is contiguous with the wildlife rich plain between Ol Donyo Ari Nyiro and Mugie Wildlife Conservancies. The 80 km2 Kaptuya Conservancy, on the upper slopes of the Laikipia Escarpment or the eastern edge of the Rift Valley is home to a plethora of wonderful vistas epitomized by the spectacular Mukutan Gorge. Similar to Ruko, Kaptuya is not well developed and both lack easy access routes and accommodation. They have abundant game but because of scanty parkways it is a spine-rattling excursion. Nevertheless, they offer adventures into very unusual flora. It is necessary to be self-sufficient specially at Kaptuya and is also prudent to liaise with the warden.
15. Korosi Volcano
The Korosi shield volcano, at the northern end of Lake Baringo, is noteworthy because it does not contain a summit caldera. The latter-day eruption at Korosi – which consists of fissure lava veins – is surmised to be the same eruption that formed Ol Kokwe Island, to its south. Both these formations are thought to be only a few hundreds to a few thousands years old. The area around Korosi still has active fumaroles and hot steaming ponds, which occur around the summit cones and flanks, thought to covers a location of approximately 30 km2. “The Korosi-Silali Geothermal Project, under the aegis of Geothermal Development Company (GDC), covers three geothermal prospects (Silali, Paka and Korosi) from which the company is looking to produce a total of 3000 MW by 2030″ – Capital Business. The Korosi Station is almost complete. So far, the GDC has completed the 70 kms access road to open up the Korosi-Silali area for drilling.
16. Kabarion Conservancy
Established in 2011, the 800 km2 Kabarion Conservancy 50 kms northeast of Lake Baringo is part of thirteen wildlife sanctuaries and nature conservancies which Baringo County has taken huge steps-forward to rehabilitate and restore. Baringo County developed a community conservation bill, which was passed in 2015, directed to provide financial support to the conservancies. To date, it has spent close to Shs. 20 million in the development of the conservancies with an aim of broadening its touring products and boosting its competitive-edge. Other conservancies in this latest effort include Ruko, Kaptuiya, Morop, Nge, Irong and Kimngochoch. It was intended that Kabarion would be functional by 2018.
17. Paka Volcano
One of the more impressive formations in Baringo’s backwoods between Lake Baringo and Nakengere Falls (close to the northern boundary with Turkana) is Paka Volcano. This cone-like volcanic complex is interspersed by a number of smaller satellite volcanic conoids and dominated by a young central caldera at the summit, which is 1.5 km in diameter. Paka, which means ochre in the local Pokot, betokens the fine volcanic dust that typifies the locale. Paka Volcano, or Paka Mountain, is part of the nine axial volcanoes located within the northern sector of the Kenyan Rift along with Lake Turkana Islands, Andrew’s Cone and Barrier, Namarunu, Emuruangogolak, Silali, Chepchuk and Korosi. Mount Paka is located 25 kms north of Lake Baringo, and 15.5 kms east of Nginyang’ Village.
18. Nakegere Falls
Rather exceptional in that it is fed by warm water from the Kapedo geysers, the phenomenal 50 ms Nakegere Falls, more proper the Kapedo Falls, is also one of the most scenically-spectacular waterfalls in Kenya looking out to the stunning Silale Hills. Occurring along River Kapedo, Nakegere (which in the native lingo means crack) has also been a joint meeting site for the juxtaposed communities living around it and where peace has been maintained for decades despite the differences between the fierce tribes – Turkana and Kalenjin – who rarely see eye-to-eye. A trip to Nakegere Falls is well worth all the trouble of getting there.
19. Mount Silale
The hulking and rocky Mount Silale or Silale Volcano, within sight of Nakegere Falls, marks the unofficial gatepost of the infamous Suguta Valley. Silale and Nakengere, whose location according to maps is in Baringo County, is home to the Turkana Community. Sugata River originating from Silale Hills is the vital lifeline, for both man and beast. Its potential for geothermal power production has been earmarked for drilling. Silale is situated 70 kms north of Lake Baringo.
20. Daraja ya Mungu
At Sirwo, nearby Kampi ya Samaki between Lake Baringo and Marigat, drivers can make a quick drop-in at the Daraja la Mungu which is “a natural cave over which the road passes”. It is widely-popular in the rallying circles, having been a publicized check-point a few decades ago, when rally in Kenya was a religion.
21. Kimalel Goat Auction
Although this is essentially a festival not a destination, the annual Kimalel Goat Auction held in mid-December close to Marigat warrants a mention as one the best places to visit in Baringo. The annual goat auction, which brings together farmers, politicians and travel enthusiasts to enjoy a rich cultural passage and nyama choma, is also famous for mind-boggling transactions, in record time. In 2018, Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto, the chief guest, sold 2,590 goats in 15 minutes with each goat trading at Shs. 10,000; totaling to Sh 25,900,000. On his part Ruto bought 1000 goats worth Shs. 10,000,000. “Apart from goat sale, Kimalel is also awash with exhibits and dances that brings together over thirty groups from Tugen, Pokot and Ilchamus Tribes from Baringo” – The Star.
22. Tugen Hills
The traditional travel-loop from Lake Baringo doubles-back to Marigat, through Kabarnet Town, across Kerio Valley, over the heart-stopping accent of Elgeyo Escarpment which rises 1500 ms above the valley, to Iten. From Lake Baringo, the scenically-spectacular Tugen Hills dominate the western roadside lookout. Also known as the Kamasia Hills, this faulted, arched and wooded range which extends about 50 kms from Tenges, in the south, to Kipsaraman, in the north, is the most emblematic landmark of Baringo County – running in the middle of the county with a north to south strike and flanked by the walls of the Great Rift Valley – Elgeyo Escarpment (west) and Laikipia Escarpment (east). The 47 kms joyride from Marigat turnoff to Kabarnet offers the best opportunity to behold Tugen Hills. The route from Kabarnet to Eldama Ravine also offers fine views. The major tribe in the area, the Tugen, also known as the Kamasia Tribe, hold in high esteem the landscape of Tugen Hills and which are the most treasured cultural assets in Baringo. The lesser tribes – Njemps and Pokots – also show a kindred deference for Tugen Hills. One peculiarity of Kabarnet Town, which is located on the eastern flank of the Tugen Hills, are the steep gulleys that march down to meet the expansive Kerio Valley. These are best seen near the Ainamoj Village en-route Kerio and Iten. The isolated outcrop at Kimng’ochoch stands higher that most parts. Tugen Hills have a great many sites of gripping interest.
When turning from Lake Baringo to the west, you will go for a roller coaster that takes you through the hot Rift Valley floor to the chilly top of the Tugen Hills, back into Kerio Valley, and then up again to the Elgeyo Escarpment.
23. Kabarnet Museum
Established in 1996, the Kabarnet Museum was principally instituted to exhibit Kenya’s hard-and-fast cultural mix, specially on the communities of the Keiyo, Marakwet, Kipsigis, Samburu, Tugen, Pokot and Nandi who are indigenous to Baringo. Furthermore, it also exhibits the rich history of Baringo County’s pre-colonial, colonial and the post-independence periods. Just outside the central museum is a Snake House originally founded by Jonathan Leakey which houses some of the spellbinding snakes and reptiles found in the region. One of the surpassing functions of the Snake House is to collect venom used to produce antibodies to counteract the fatal effects of the toxins dispensed by the spine-tingling collection of creatures. Jonathan Leakey over many years trained snake handlers – including those at the National Museum of Nairobi – to work with the poisonous snakes. “He now operates a Nakuru-based company (Jonathan Leakey Ltd) which supplies East African snake venom and medicinal plants for antivenom manufacturers, medical researchers and pharmaceutical agencies. Kabarnet Museum is located in Kabarnet Town near Baringo County Assembly.
24. Kirandich Dam
Part of the reason Kirandich Dam does not ring-a-bell with many is because its completion was 30 years in the making, having stalled for the better part of 29 years. In 2017, Government of Kenya engendered the project to a tune of Kshs. 300 million. Its reservoir, with a catchment of 30 km2, is soused by the surface inflow of four major streams that confluence at Kipkolel Forest – Kinyo, Kaplel, Kong’met and Terambus. Today, Kirandich Dam supplies clean water to about 65,000 residents of Baringo North. The dam sits beautifully in a gaping valley within Kipkokel Forest, part of which was done away with for its construction. Its emerald-green water has forever transposed this landscape. The jaunt to the dam is avowedly strenuous but, it can be sighted from the Kirandich Treatment Site. It is located just 7 kms from Kabarnet Town, past the Kabarnet Post Office.
25. Morop Hill
Morop Hill, situated about 10 kms west of Kabarnet Town, is the second highest point of the Tugen Hills (after Saimo Hill) forming a grand hallmark of Tugen Hills, seen along Tarambas-Kipsaraman Road. Rising to 2,720 ms, Morop Hill also enshrines a robust history – as a Catholic Mission hotspot, its bizarre past with slave trade and as a time-honoured cultural shrine. Its cultural chronicles as a forcing-house for spellbinding myths are, perhaps, the most endearing. As it goes, the ‘rain-god’ of Tugen Community lived here, at Kikojo Falls on its foot slope. For adventure-makers, the hiking trails are abounding with lovely views of Lakes Baringo, Bogoria and Kamnarok, Kerio, and the shrouded Kikojo Falls.
26. Kikojo Falls
Especially worth the adventure by explorers who fancy the roads less travelled, Kikojo Falls is a hidden gem at end of an unbeaten trail, at the base of Morop Hill. It’s a rousing adventure. “The hill is surrounded by big tamarind trees and in between is a spring” – Nation Media. Kikojo Falls is agreeably a hauntingly beautiful site. Beneath the falls there is a 50 ms-long and dark cave, where the legendary Tugen ‘rain god’ used to dwell before it was evicted by an undaunted hero popularly known as Arap Tarno. “Since the infamous shooting of the rain god, trippers can now enter the cave which has seven compartments. The rain god succumbed to the wounds inflicted, along Kerio Valley in Keiyo. Balefully, it was pregnant by that time and its generation lives on” – Safari ya Baringo. To enter the cave of the mythical rain god, adventure-makers to Kikojo Falls have to brave penetrating the frigid cascading falls. It’s found nearby Koroto Village.
27. Kimng’ochoch Conservancy
This was begun in 1979 by Former-President Daniel T. Moi along with Morop-Tarambas Community to conserve indigenous trees, wildlife and the culturally important sites for the communities living round it. The Royal Campsite found at Kimng’ochoch, covering 5-acres not far from Kabarnet Town, is a top-rated spot for camping. Callers to the conservancy may also enjoy hiking and a look-see of the Kerio Valley. The site was traditionally used by the Kalenjin Elders to host unique gatherings and is still upheld as a ‘traditional-shrine’. The hilltop contains 3 rumpty sheds (thought to be used by the elders) and a decrepit cross.
28. Morop-Tarambas Community Conservancy
Any skeptic in needs of affirmation that Kenya’s forests are being regenerated, or, any nature-lover in need of inspiration, ought to visit the 265 km2 Morop-Tarambas Conservancy where more than 100,000 trees have been replanted in the last two years. Officially founded in 2010 and encompassing 3,500 homes in the Morop, Tambrass and Kipkolel Forests of Tugen Hills, it is a working model of people harmoniously co-existing with nature. The main driving force of this noble initiative was to restore, regenerate, preserve and perpetuate the zestful forests of Tugen Hills; the most indispensable highland within Baringo County. Currently, there are over 20 active tree nurseries assigned to the four different quarters of the Morop-Tarambas Community Conservancy – Riwo Zone, Sessia Zone, Kasore Zone, and Kapkomoi Zone. What’s more, this is an all-permeating community project. And, one and all – from mothers, children, political leaders and youth – cheerfully take part in the tree planting venture. The local schools have also started outreach programs and tree-planting days. Some of the places not to be missed on a trip here include its tree nurseries, its bamboo project, the fine Kasore Valley, Morop Hill, Kikojo Falls and Kimng’ochoch Royal Campsite.
29. Sumot Falls
That Baringo County has breathtaking cliffs needs no introduction. One of its unsurpassed examples, earmarked to be the first Geo Park in Kenya, is the out-of-this-world Sumot Falls. Standing at the un-fenced edge of the cliff, where the 200 ms twin falls cantilevers over, it holds to ransom that “a strong man and a waterfall channel their own path”. Here, way off-the-beaten-paths, in the back country, its spectacular beauty is both a marvel and a riddle of nature. The falls, the cliff and the blissful pools at the bottom, with the sun rays glinting brightly in the clear waters, deep in the untouched country, captures every imagination. Sumot Falls is Baringo’s best-kept secret. Forbye, Sumot Music Festival held at Sumot Falls in early January has started to pick up steam. It brings together the locals to Sumot Falls to celebrate culture, musical talent, and nature of Baringo. Sumot Falls is found 15 kms north of Kabarnet Town, near Ossen Centre. From Ossen, the road to Sumot Falls is rough and ready and rudely rocky, yet, for all the difficulties of getting here, this sight is guaranteed to take your breath away.
30. Releng Hot Springs
Situated 10 kms north of Ossen Center, deep in the rural region of Bartolimo in Kitibei Village, the undeveloped Releng Hot Springs is a never to be forgotten escapade to enjoy a no-frills outdoor bath. A relished spot by the natives, who literally strip down to the state of nature, all to be amused by it, Releng Springs lack little in adventure. Traditionally, gender dictates how revelers take a bath. Men bath up-stream. Notwithstanding, it is a place of laughter, playfulness and sheer joy. Here, the friendly and welcoming folk let their guard down and ‘take in nature with a big-spoon’. It is also set within an easy-on-the-eye country that is inviting for hill climbing excursions, fly-fishing, camping, cultural tours and nature photography. On a lesser note, Releng is historically known for sighting of the African black and Martial eagles. Getting to Releng Springs is easier from Chambai Village from where it takes a 20-25 minutes walk down into the valley.
31. Kipsaraman Museum
Kipsaraman, sometimes spelt Kipsaramon, is one of the most significant fossil sites in Tugen Hills and in Rift Valley region of Kenya. Kipsaraman is located at the north edge of Tugen Hills and about 30 kms north of Kabarnet Town nearby Kapsomin. Kipsaraman Museum was gazetted as a national monument in 1990, following the discovery of a farrago of fossils related to primitive man. It gained global fame as a preeminent site in the study of evolution and climatic changes. Significantly, in 2000, the ‘Orrorin Tugenensis’, also known as the ‘Millennium Man‘ – named so because the fossilised remains were found at the turn of this millennium – was excavated here and dated back 5 million years ago. “The first remains were discovered in the Tugen Hills of Kenya’s Baringo on October 25, 2000, by a troupe from College de France in Paris and the Museums of Kenya”.
French and Kenyan scientists have unearthed fossilized remains of mankind’s earliest known ancestor that predate previous discoveries by more than 1.5 million years. The discovery of “Millennium Man,” as the creature has been nicknamed, could change the way scientists think about evolution and the origin of species. – Deseret News, Utah
32. Kolloa Monument
Kolloa Monument is a solemn aide-memoire of the 1950 massacre styled as the Kolloa Afray. The government of the day, unarguably antagonistic to all native movements, had confronted followers of Lukas Pketch, the lionized influential tribal master. Although Pketch’s motivations were not, or not exclusively, anti-European, he was thought as being so by the colonial coterie, and so he and his followers were as a rule suppressed. As a consequence, they became growingly associated with the idea of anti-European resistance. According to the locals, more than 100 Pokot’s lost their lives in the ill-fated events of Kolloa Afray. “It happened on April 24th, at Kolloa, where colonial forces confronted Pkech and 300 spear-carrying followers. Or maybe Pkech confronted them; the exact order of events is unclear. Whether Pkech’s men actually attacked the British force, or threatened to, or whether they cold-bloodedly ordered the men to fire, or whether someone panicked under the pressure, depends on whose account one believes”. What was clear by the end of the afternoon was the carnage. After this war broke-off, Dini ya Msambwa which was headed by Pkecth, in Baringo, wound down its pursuit at Kolloa. Kolloa is located 111 kms from Marigat Town.
33. Lake Kamnarok
From Kabarnet Town on the way to Iten, the first views of the Kerio Valley are stupefying. In parched contrast to the verdant wooded and precipitous Tugen Hills, it unfolds as a flat, sun-scorched and in-hospitable valley, where even the birds plying its skies seem aware of its hardship. On the Kerio Valley, the 1 km2 Lake Kamnarok stands out, much like a mirror would in the meadow. This tiny fresh water oxbow lake was formed in 1961, as a consequence of the Kerio River remodeling and altering its course. Lake Kamnarok is part of the 66 km2 Kerio Valley National Reserve, also known as Kerio Valley Conservation Area, which was gazetted in 1984 to preserve the beauty of this scenic and ecological gamut. The tiny Lake Kamnarok is best-known for its history of tragedy and loss, and for its historic comeback and wake from the blink of extinction. During the late 1980’s Lake Kamnarok is said to been a momentous waterhole for an estimated population of 500 elephants that routinely watered here. As with varied lakes around the fast-growing Rift Valley region, its actuality had been jeopardized by impeding farming pursuits. Following its near disintegration in 2008, Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet Counties re-doubled their efforts to avert the calamity, successfully reviving Lake Kamnarok at a cost of Kshs. 11 million. Although not where it used, in diversity of flora and fauna, life is slowly returning to the Lake.
34. Chebloch Gorge
The 71 ms high and 3 ms wide Chebloch Gorge set along the boundary of Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo Counties is a deep taper gulch hewing the Kerio Valley floodplain. Chebloch Gorge is distinguishable by its bizarrely eroded and spiky rocks caused by the attrition of the rapidly streaming Kerio River. The obvious highlight at Chebloch is, of course, the team of daring local divers who plunge 70 ms through the narrowed gorge, into the Kerio River. While the thought of following suit would make most trippers literally jump-out-of-their-own-skins, considering how thin the gorge is, the divers make light work of this extremely dangerous leap, again and again. It doesn’t help either that the rocks at the top of Chebloch Gorge are quite slippery. It is located 15 kms from Kabarnet Town.
35. Kerio Valley
Kerio Valley, an appendage of the Great Rift Valley in north-western Kenya, is arguably the most distinguishable scenery in Elgeyo Marakwet. It stretches out northwards from Kimwarer, near the head of Kerio River, to Chesegon, at the base of Cherangani Hills and to the border between Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot. On the whole, it spans a total distance of 100 kms. Generally speaking, Kerio Valley is a vast platteland, set hard on a fairly flat resplendent lowland between Elgeyo Escarpment and Tugen Hills, on an elevation of about 1000 ms.
36. Mektei Ridge
Both ends of Elgeyo Marakwet County – top and bottom – are marked by steep upland ridges. To the north, the Cherangani Hills terminate its frontier along the boundary with West Pokot. To the south, the rutted Mektei Ridge marks its southern boundary with Baringo. Best seen along the Nyaru-Kabarnet Road or along C51 Eldama Ravine-Nyaru-Eldoret Road, the heavily wooded and deeply gullied Mektei Ridge leaps up to 3500 ms. The Metkei Forest is an inaccessible forest in the back of beyond, on top of a very steep escarpment, where the Kerio River has its source. From the Mektei Ridge, the land then falls in a series of steep slopes and flat plateaus that comprise the Elgeyo Escarpment, thereafter culminating in the splendorous Kerio Valley, which averages about 1000 ms asl.
37. Lembus Forest
One of the rhapsodized about brill drives in Baringo County is the short road from Emening (along Nakuru-Sigor Road), taking to the eastern side of Lembus Forest, en-route Tenges Town, which has been cut into the steep hillside. This narrow road with barely enough space for two vehicles, only had enough space for one car up until the late 1980’s. “It is only wide enough for one vehicle, often with no passing places for several miles, and a driver is well advised to ascertain before leaving Sigoro that there is no other car on the road ahead” – J.T. Walsh.
38. Eldama Ravine
For the discerning intrepid, Eldama Ravine Town, simply known as Ravine, is a treasure trove. What’s more, it is a start-off town to the scenic Ravine-Eldoret Road and Ravine-Kabarnet Road that are rare treats for travellers who would rather explore new circuits. The growth of Ravine was the result of it becoming a small railway halting point and the headquarters of a much larger district of the Uganda Protectorate. Amusing to note, is that Ravine area was once part of Nakuru County, an error resulting from many changes in its boundaries when it was the main town for the laying of Kenya to Uganda Railway; where it’s rooted. Ravine is named after the steep-sided gorge cut by the Eldama River, about 2 kms north of the town, and which, when joined by the Chemosusu River a few kilometres downstream, is nearly 1,000 feet deep, with precipitous sides. Rally enthusiasts and travellers alike best know Ravine for the legendary “Tugumoi Down” which is a 40 kms run down into the Kerio Valley through Tugumoi and Sigoro terminating near Tenges and the Kenya Flouspar Company at Kimwarer.
39. St. Swithin’s Church
Without a brief on its novel past, this ‘simple brick Church on a hill’ in Ravine Town commends little attention. At the time of its completion, in 1957, Eldama Ravine was an unpeopled village and the building of the Swithin Church was a momentous community (harambee) effort by both its locals and settler farmers. It was pioneered by Tusen Family, whose graves are within the premises. Close by this Church is a derelict house that was formerly used as the D.C’s residence that was also the birth place of Joseph Z. Murumbi, Kenya’s 2nd Vice President.
40. Koibatek Forest
Koibatek Forest, marking the southern limits of Baringo along the border with Kericho and Nakuru Counties, is the headwaters for the Molo River which flows down and drains into Lake Baringo. The Kenya Forest Station at Sabatia – one of its seven forest stations – is a great jumping-off point to explore this 41 km2 floral rich forest. Also noteworthy is the “Maji Mazuri” settlement along Ravine-Makutano-Kampi ya Moto Road which has been inhabited by a curious mix of varied communities and who have coexisted peacefully for many a generation. It covers an area of approximately 41 km2. The larger part of Koibatek Forest is dominated by planted forests that cover an approximated area of 21 km2, while the remaining section of approximately 20 km2 is covered by indigenous forest.
41. Chemususu Dam
Surprisingly untravelled and scenically-pretty is the B53 Ravine-Eldoret Road, which travels past Chemususu Dam, Mektei Ridge (near Nyaru) and Kaptagat Forest (near Eldoret). Finished in 2014, about 15 kms northwest of Ravine, the 251-acres Chemususu Dam is the third largest in the Kenya, after Ndakaini and Sasumwa Dams. It is a 45-metres high dam with a capacity of 11 million cubic metres of water. Constructed within the indigenous Chemususu Forest, it is expected to cater for close to 600,000 residents of Ravine and its surrounding region. One way to comprehend the beauty of Chemususu Dam and Forest is to get involved in the annual Chemususu Dam Marathon whose invigorating 21 kms course loops around the dam. “This project marks the accomplishment of one of the Millenium Development Goals of increasing water supply in Kenya and it is the largest project undertaken within the Rift Valley region” – E.A.E.C.
42. Timboroa Railway Station
About 95 kms from Nakuru by way of the A104 Nakuru-Eldoret Road you reach Timboroa Town and the southeast gateway into Uasin Gishu County. The drive is arguably more enjoyable after Mau Summit (57 kms from Nakuru) as the B1 Londiani-Kericho-Kisumu offloads much of the traffic on the great procession to Western Kenya. At Timboroa there is a hidden gem often sold short at the old Timboroa Railway Station. Remarkably still in good shape, this modest wooden country-style railway station was installed in 1961, and at an altitude of 9001 ft stands as the 11th highest (non-cable) railway point in the world and the highest in the British Commonwealth. Timboroa also lies along the Equator that made crossing of this small rural hamlet historically of much interest for travellers on the defunct Lunatic Express. The Equator runs across the platform at Timboroa Railway Station. A small diamond sign used to be just visible at the end of the rail platform. In 1925, through an official public information gazette, an official postal office was established close to the station: once a heavily guarded facility.
Geography of Baringo County
Baringo County varies widely in altitude from 700 ms to 3000 ms. One of the prominent features in Baringo is the Kerio Valley, situated in the western and lowest region. The eastern part of Baringo, where Lakes Baringo and Bogoria are found, as well as, the Loboi Plains form its middle region of flatter ground. Tugen Hills and Cherangani Range on the western part form the highland zone.
Land Use in Baringo County
Baringo County can be split into two generalized ecological zones: the highlands and the lowlands. In the highlands, like Tugen Hills, agriculture in the main economic activity with coffee, cereals and fruits being cultivated in the fertile and well drained soils. In the low land arid areas, agriculture in lesser in scale and more subsistence with livestock and bee-keeping more prevalent. These areas include Kollowa and Marigat. Owing to the precipitous terrain in Baringo County, 45% of the land is too steep for tillage, and 35% of the land is semi arid.
Highlights of Baringo County
The bubbling water, hot-springs and gushing geysers, flamingos and ostriches are among the major attraction at Lake Bogoria and at Kapedo Springs. Some of its lesser known destinations include its beautiful forests such as Tugen Hills, Tenges, Kabarnet, Katimok and Saimo Forest, which present opportunities for those who like the roads less travelled. Lake Baringo which has 13 islands and many viewpoints is always a treat for visitors to Baringo and it has great resorts.
Population of Baringo County
The population density for Baringo County, based on the 2009 census, was 50 people / km2, estimated to rise to 60 people / km2 in 2017 – translating to a population of 723,411 up from 55,561 in 2009. East Pokot SC has the highest population while Mogotio has the least population. Many of the people living in Baringo are from the Tugen Tribe. The major towns are Ravine and Kabarnet.
Airports in Baringo County
Baringo County has 4 airstrips.
Roads in Baringo County
With the exception of its main roads connecting major towns, Baringo County does not have a good road network. It has a total of 2911 kms of roads with only 339 been bitumenized. 1,810 kms are gravel and the rest are earth type roads.
Climate in Baringo County
Due to its varied altitudes, the sub-counties in Baringo County receive different levels of rainfall, with Koibatek receiving the highest rainfall, while East Pokot, Mogotio and Baringo North receive the lowest rainfall. Equally, temperatures vary from region to region in Baringo County, ranging from 22 to 35 degrees C.
National Monuments in Baringo County
There are no designated national monuments in Baringo County.