Brief Overview of Kericho County
About 61 kms from Nakuru, the busy procession on the A104 Mombasa-Uganda Road, which travels northwest from Mombasa to Kampala in the south western quarter of Kenya, is offloaded by the B1 Mau Summit-Kericho-Kisumu-Busia Road. This travels just north of west through Kericho Town and Kisumu before taking a northwest swing aiming for Busia. The drive from Mau Summit turnoff to Kericho (46 kms) advances just outside Mau Forest Reserve, in the southern part of Kericho, with the land rising eastwards towards the summit of the Mau Complex marked by deep gorges and valleys on one side and a belt of tea farms straddling the forest boundary, to form a most spectacular roadside panorama. Compared with the greater part of Kenya, much of Kericho County is particular for its strikingly verdant landscape reminiscent of Nyambene highland in Meru.
Analogously, much of Kericho’s beauty arises from its landscape that is neither rugged nor flat, but is gently rounded. The hill slopes are reasonably steep, but they do not form cliffs or slopes too steep for cultivation. Most of these hills are also of similar height. Although the eastern area of Kericho is much higher, as it rises towards the Mau Escarpment, the land is fairly smooth. Most of the area in the west, bounded easterly and southeast by Mau Complex is under true-blue cultivation – thanks to year-round pleasant weather, fertile soils and reliable rainfall. In the north-east area of Kericho, apart from Tinderet Forest, the land is also heavily utilized for farming, especially for tea. On the flanks of Tinderet there are coffee plantations and on the Kano Plains, where rain is less reliable.
Tea is one of the most important exports of East Africa and it is particularly important in Kenya, which produces and exports more tea than Tanzania and Uganda combined. Although there are a few areas within Kenya where tea is a major crop, for example, Nyeri, Nandi and Kiambu Counties, over half the land growing tea in Kenya, and utilizing modern methods, is found in Kericho. The County is bound on the north by Nyando fault-scarp, and on the east, straddling the boundary with Nandi County, by the volcanic complex of Tinderet. In the north-east Tinderet forms smaller independent peaks. In equal measure, the B1 Mau Summit-Kericho-Kisumu Road is offloaded by the C35 Londiani-Chemilil-Kisumu Road, which bypasses Kericho Town, travelling 10 kms north of the B1. The C35 generally follows the higher ridges of the Mau, past the volcanic pile of Tinderet near Kipkelion, before dropping into the Kipchoriet Gorge as a means of descend from 2,438 ms (8,000 ft) at Mau to 1,135 ms (3,726 ft) at L. Victoria.
Salient Features of Kericho County
- County Number 35
- Area – 2111 km2
- Altitude – 7165 ft
- Major Towns – Londiani, Kericho, Kipkelion
- Borders – Nandi, U. Gishu, Baringo, Homabay Nakuru, Bomet, Kisumu
Brief History of Kericho County
In 1907, the first sitting District Commissioner of Kericho, C.W. Haywood Esq., raised one plant of tea in the prison garden at Kericho, then called Fort Ternan and which is popularly cited as the first tea bush in Kericho, an area that would later become famous for tea growing. In 1925, tea planting picked-up steam as an important cash crop in Kericho and by 1965, 28,000 tonnes of tea were been produced in the County; of which 1,400 tonnes were sold in Kenya and the rest of the produce exported. By 1974, tea harvest was up to 45,000 tonnes. During the colonial era, the land in western area (west of Kericho Town, north of Sotik and east of Sondu) was alienated solely for “European settlement”. The natives (Kipsigis) were resettled in the northeast area, in the 2,071 km2 Belgut Reserve.
Places of Interest in Kericho County
1. Mau Forest Reserve
On any given day, hundreds of people descend on the Mau Forest Reserve in search of its riches. In recent times, some have found themselves permanently attached to the forest, even living in it, in line for a salutory supply of its stocks. Off to one side, the Mau Forest Reserve supports the livelihoods of millions of people in Rift Valley and Western Kenya. In the tea sector alone, about 35,000 jobs and the livelihoods of 50,000 small farmers, along with 430,000 indirect beneficiaries from its ecological services. It also forms the upper catchments of 12 main rivers that drain into 5 major lakes (Baringo, Nakuru, Natron, Turkana and Victoria) and supplies the Masai Mara National Reserve. The landscape of the Mau Reserve – the largest closed‐canopy forest in Kenya and the largest of the country’s 5 watersheds – is eminently salubrious, yet, in reality, it is a pain to come within doors of the Mau Forest Reserve without putting nature on one side and civilization on the other side. A symbolic relationship that answer to the frantic deterioration of the Mau, where some 1077 km2 representing 25% of the forest has been depleted in the past 15 years. In 2001, 61 km2 was converted to settlements. One is capacity, another is increased pressure on land for tillage.
2. A.I.C Kericho
Unless there is some very good reason to visit, Churches often don’t sell well as reputable touring destinations, yet, among them are first-hand showrooms of illustrious history and architecture, and most protect their reputation by giving all sightseers access and informative tours. Apart from the basic fact that access is always free, Churches provide a unique lens to captures both the history and culture. This is why, a quick drop in at African Inland Church Kericho, along B1 Mau Summit-Kericho-Kisumu Road in Ainamoi Sub-County near Kericho, will prove to be a useful decision for travellers seeking unique experiences. On the sheer weight of size alone, brought to life by its wide fascade resembling stacked dominoes holding together the low-pitches roof, it warrants a visit. Its design is markedly contrasting with some of the other noteworthy Churches in Kericho including Sacred Heart Cathedral and A.C.K Kericho. Kericho, of course, has a long history with A.I.C, began in Kenya around 1902 led by W.R. Hotchkiss, with American Friends Society, who helped found its initial mission at Kaimosi.
3. Chemusot Estate
36 kms from Mau Summit turnoff, turning off at Taidy’s Kaisugu shortly before Chagaik Arboretum, brings you to the fascinating Chemusot Estate, established in 1974 principally as a tea farm specializing in producing green and purple tea. Beautiful scenery in the 1,000-acres farm, especially over the tea farm looking out to forest’s shoulder, encouraged its owner to open it up for visitors. The star here is their dam, engulfed by sweeping rows of tea, and in the foreground well kept lawns spruced up with a burst of colorful. Here, “two open rondavels, with electricity supplied by solar panels. These lead to a long wooden jetty, extending out to the middle of the dam. Those who don’t want to swim can take their pick of two canoes, or a rowing boat moored to the jetty” – John Fox. Trippers who wish to spend a night must bring their own camping equipment. Some popular activities at Chemusot Estate, host of Kericho Triathlon, are walking and biking.
4. Chagaik Arboretum
Established in 1940’s by settler farmer Tom Grumble within the Unilever Tea Estate (also known Kericho Tea Estates) as a sustainable project to break the mono-culture of tea estates, forests and farms, Chagaik Arboretum is the most established community leisure foxhole in Kericho. It is set up in a corner of the 87 km2 tea estate at the edge of the Mau Forest Reserve and conveniently close to the B1 Mau Summit-Kericho-Kisumu Road. Just 38 kms from Mau Summit (or 8 kms from Kericho), turn left and drive into the signposted road that takes appreciably close to the planned-with-all-details-considered picture-perfect tea farmlands through a staid gate that welcomes you to the picnic site. On arrival, it’s hard not to be impressed by the pretty lawns, unique floral interest bearing non-typical variations like bamboo, mature ancient trees, past the picturesque Chagaik Dam. In every direction appears to a be perfect patch to rest and relax, on shaded area, some of which are set under hundred year old trees. Even more gracious, is there are no charges. Among the highlights at Chagaik Arboretum include its plenitude of birds from the adjoining Mau Forest Reserve, its lovely indigenous forest patch, its radiant botanic gardens, riparian and Chagaik Dam.
5. Kimugu River Lodge
Kimugu River Lodge is one of four satisfactory lodges in Ainamoi region, just 4 kms before the main town. Its well-chosen location near Kimugu River is ideal for those who enjoy the outdoor life. Many will say this is the best way to enjoy Kericho, in the warm Kenyan sun with splendid views of the tea-country and forest. Inexpensive and delightful, with rooms fitted with hot-water showers, a sitting area and an obligatory television; a stocked bar, wide-spaced garden lawns with a play area, and plenty of trails to enjoy some lazy frolic walks to the calming River Kimugu, this offers great value for money, especially for families and groups. From Mau Summit, take a left turnoff across from Shell Petrol Station near Moi University Kericho, onto a dirt road passing Sahara Gardens (another specialty lodge). If you get to Oryx Petrol Station or Kobil, along the B1 Road, you’ve gone too far and need to redouble back to the Shell Petrol Station.
6. James Finlays Tea Factory
Finlays Tea Estate is one of many factories within Kericho Township that runs informative tours that engage trippers through the process involved in making Kenya’s high-minded brands of tea. As one of the big-wheel tea trade names in Kenya, and operational since 1750, “James Finlays plants, plucks and prepares millions of kilograms of fine high-grown black, green and organic teas, to the great benefit of the 9,500 people it employs, and the communities it supports, producing 23 million kgs of tea in their Kericho estate”. During the tour of the Finlays Tea Factory, trippers learn about fermentation, dying, cutting, sieving and tea-grading, and, of course, a taste of their “perfect cuppa”, with biscuits. Excepting business meetings, trippers to the farm are required to make prior arrangement. Finlays Tea Factory is located about 2.8 from Kericho Town, off the B1 Kericho-Kisumu Road and near Kericho School of Professional Studies.
7. Dimbolil Dam
The dainty Dimbolil Dam, which is found within the restful gardens and lovely wooded landscape of the Finlays Tea Estate, is a really nice spot to spend a day in nature. Dimbolil Dam is much-liked for the trout fishing, exploration of the nearby forest and educational tours of the “tea making process” at Finlays Tea Factory, and at the close by Unilever’s Tea Factory. Dimbolil Dam is located within the James Finlay’s Tea Estate – just a short distance from Chomogondy.
8. Sacred Heart Cathedral
Completed in November 2015, and shortlisted for the 2017 Civil Trust Award and the Landscape Institute Awards, the Sacred Heart Cathedral is a beautiful and timeless edifice. It was one of three John McAslan and Partners projects shortlisted for the Landscape Institute Awards in 2017 along with the Friends House in London and Mshereb Mosque in Doha. The Sacred Heart Cathedral won both these desirable awards – the Lansdcape Award and the first prize of Civic Trust National Panel Special Award. Both these major awards are given to projects that make an outstanding contribution to the quality and appearances of the built environment. The sharp angular block holding of the Sacred Heart Cathedral borrows both from the medieval designs and of the modern designs, which culminates in the awe-inspiring timeless building. It is located along the B1 Mau Summit-Kericho-Kisumu Road about 500 ms before Kericho Golf Club.
Its design (Sacred Heart Cathedral) creates a unique and sacred place for a congregation of 1,500 seated celebrants participating in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Mass under one giant unifying roof. The striking inclined roof and its ascending interior volume is the key organising concept behind the design. The aspiration was to create a structure that integrated seamlessly, in both aesthetic and functional terms, with its landscape setting. Its inclined roof is now a distinctive form in the rolling panorama.
9. A.C.K Kericho
Equally impressive in Kericho’s line-up of ecclesiastical shrines is the Anglican Church of Kenya Kericho Diocese, located 1 km southwest of the Sacred Heart Cathedral and just 100 ms before the Kericho Golf Club. In so many ways, this classic English-Gothic edifice is a blown up version of the A.C.K Remembrance Church in Mau Narok and the All Saint Limuru, all constructed during colonial Kenya. It also bears all the signature traits of the Churches of Rural England to include its 60-foot-tall square tower, its high-pitched roof, arched windows and the roughcast weather-beaten appearance of its sombre grey stones on its sharp angular walls. It offers a very different experience from Sacred Heart Cathedral and insights on the traditional and conscientious disposition of early’ Churches.
10. Kericho Golf Club
Started in 1927 by settler farmers, Kericho Golf Club has retained an admirable reputation for exemplary greens to date. Besides their good, well kept, nine hole course, callers to the Kericho Golf Club may also enjoy other club facilities like snooker, gym, squash and darts. Although it is essentially a members-only club, they accept guests and non-reciprocating members to play for a modest ‘green-fee’ charge of Kshs. 1,500. It is found off Kericho-Kisumu Road, within Kericho.
11. Gurdwara Sahib
Completed in 2000, and where its founder GNNSJ, S. Baba Puran Singh ji had his residence and workshop between 1927 and 1974, the voluminous Gurdwara Sahib complex is one of the largest Gurdwara establishment in Africa. Officially known as the ‘Gurdwara Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha’ with its twin 100 ft high domes visible from most parts of Kericho, this was gazetted as “A Place of Spiritual Significance” in 1998. The brightly coloured Gurdwara Sahib has also been dedicated to the memory of its founder, who was also affectionately known as ‘Kericho wala Bajaji’. It is found off Kenyatta Road near Car & General, 1 km off Kericho to Kisumu Road, making the turnoff across from Kericho Golf Club.
12. Kericho Wagon Works
Also gazetted as a place of importance and as a national monument, the Kericho Wagon Works was founded by the celebrated Sikh premier S. Baba Puran Singh Ji, in 1925, as both his abode and workshop. “The workshop opened its doors as a modest enterprise that fabricated timber wagons to transport green tea leaves to the factories for processing” – Nation Media. In spite of being a less-travelled museum, the small and well-kept Kericho Wagon Works, housed at the Kericho Gurdwara, exhibits some of the elaborately hand-built wagons he fabricated. S. Baba Puran Singh Ji had settled and lived most of his life in Kericho, all along going out of his way to uplift the lives of many people in his community. “He provided spiritual healing for the soul and heart through his love, benevolence and prayers in the 47 years he lived in Kericho. Babaji was 84 when he died”. He was immortalized among the outstanding Sikh Saints over the 20th Century.
13. Kericho Tea Hotel
This is found in Kericho Town, along the Mau Summit-Kerich0-Kisumu Road. Built in the 1950’s by Brook Bond Tea Ltd, now Unilever Kericho Tea Estates, the landmark Kericho Tea Hotel remains one of most iconic leisure and living establishments in Kericho County. Quite unmistakable, its trim quintessentially Victorian style angular brick holding, set up on 27 acres of mature gardens, first burst into fame when it hosted Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Edward in 1952. In the latter years, Kericho Tea Hotel became famous as a valued stopover for holiday-makers heading out to the Masai Mara National Reserve. Aside from its inviting and pleasant old-style designs that carries through out the property, it exudes an idyllic spot to enjoy a quiet romantic weekend. Callers to Kericho Tea Hotel can also enjoy tennis, swimming, golfing, fishing, and guided tours of the tea farms (notably of the adjacent Unilever Estate), or visit Chagaik Arboretum.
14. Chebown Sanctuary
If, instead of taking the short right before K.P.L.C Kericho Sub-station through Kericho Town, you continue to head west along the Kericho to Kapsuser Road – passing Unilever Arboretum and Unilever Tea Factory – for 10 kms, you arrive at the Chebown Tea Estate home to the Chebown Sanctuary. Established by the Kericho Chebown Estate (one of two tea estates operated by Unilever Kenya in Kericho) to protect and conserve the monkeys, Black and White Colobus, inside their forested section, Chebown Sanctuary has gained reputation as a pleasant leisure centre. It harbours more than fifty monkeys, each one with their distinct character and personality, in sum creating a world of circus and mischief as is the way with monkeys. It is found inside Chebown Estate, 10 kms from Kericho.
15. Chelimo Arboretum
Chelimo Arboretum situated near the junction of B1 Kericho-Kisumu Road and C23 Kericho-Kisii Road is one of two privately owned arboretums by Uniliver in Kericho alongside the more popular Chagaik Arboretum. Its key objectives and goals are: to provide a diverse, well maintained, and well-documented gallery of woody plants; to invite an outdoor learning environment that will invite use by the general public, visitors and educational institutions; to utilize existing and proposed facilities; and to establish “Green Linkages” between the community and arboretum. Here too, the flora profile is impressive and it is not at all rare to find groups of researchers studying the variegated plants. “In 2007, Unilever Kenya Tea Company started a programme to encourage visitors to its plantation to plant trees to offset the carbon associated with their travel. Participants are also issued with certificates. Using Internet-based Myclimate carbon calculator, it calculates the emitted carbon based on the travel distances and determines the number of trees a visitor can plant to offset the carbon emissions. Through the programme, 317 visitors to the company have planted 1,161 trees in Lipton corner, next to the Chelimo Arboretum at the junction of Kericho-Kisumu and Kericho-Kisii Roads. Unilever also has tree-planting exercises” Standard Media.
16. Tagabi Monkey Sanctuary
This is found within Tagabi Tea Estate near Cheromit Shopping Centre, midway between Kericho and Changoi Tea Estate. Visitor interest centers on watching the happy-go-lucky primates go about their monkey business undeterred and rather uninterested in the spectators. The sanctuary was created to preserve the small number of monkeys within their forest sections. It is a walker’s haven too.
17. Changoi Tea Estate
Unique to the Changoi Tea Factory is that it is powered entirely by renewable energy, making it one of only few sustainable tea estates in Kenya. Changoi Tea Estate now has the largest solar field in East Africa and is setting the pace for a green future. Its ever stunning multi-layered sweeps of tea and verdant rolling hills have for decades warmed the hearts of travellers to Kericho County. With over 140 years of experience in the art of tea growing, selecting and blending, a trip to Changoi Tea Farm is an enriching experience for any tea-lover, who get to enjoy tours of the farm and factory. It is one of four tea estates operated by Williamson Tea, alongside Kaimosi, Kapchorua and Tinderet Estates. Changoi is found at the extreme edge of Kericho near the boundary with Bomet, 21 kms southwest of Kericho, 11 kms from Chebown, and 67 kms from Bomet via Sotik.
18. Chebulu Conservancy
The proposed Chebulu Conservancy is 100 acres of indigenous land situated on the western flank of Kericho. It is about 30 west of Kericho, along the Sosiot-Sondu Road in the Singowet area of Belgut Constituency. The idea to establish Chebulu Conservancy was mooted in 2013 to preserve the 21 acres Chebulu Forest, which is one of the last remaining indigenous forest patches in this fast-developing region. Likewise, residents living around the pocket-sized forest, in Chemiromben and Ainamoi villages, gave up some of their land to bolster this effort, with the County Government setting aside Kshs. 86 Million towards its revamp. Nevertheless, the idea failed to take off, and despite its beauty, with some wild animals like monkeys, baboons, snakes and plenty of birds, Chebulu Forest still faces a serious threat of being wiped-out, if nothing is done urgently.
19. Kapkatet Kipsigis Cultural Museum
This is perhaps the only place in Kericho County which can properly be called a museum. Kapkatet Kipsigis Cultural Museum, started in 2008 by Paul Tum – a lecturer at Moi University, contains a gripping display of traditional artefacts of the Kalenjin Community, specifically of Kipsigis group, aiming to preserve and assist travellers to this region understand the history of the Kipsigis indigenous way of life, philosophy and traditional religion. “It also has exhibits of the lost language, herbs and religious practices”. At present, there are over 800 unique items housed in a former farm house. Better still, a drive here goes through the less-travelled areas of Kericho’s pretty tea plantations, a much prized but too rare route. It is located in the extreme southwestern corner of Kericho County, within Kapkabet Shopping Centre, 38 kms southwest of Kericho Town through Tagabi, Changoi, and Litein. It is open daily – between 9:00 am and 5:30 pm.
The museum’s display includes tools for tilling, harvesting and serving food, herbs and charms for treating various ailments as well as weapons. It also houses traditional musical instruments of the Kipsigis like the one-stringed kimeng’eng, the five-stringed chepkesem, the six-stringed chemonge and the eight-stringed ketuba – Nation Media.
20. Londiani-Koru-Awasi Route
If the object of your journey aims for Kisumu, and beyond, the Londiani-Koru-Awasi route provides a great alternative away from the busy B1 Mau Summit-Kericho-Kisumu Road. At Londiani, 9 kms from Mau Summit turnoff, taking a right turn, a splendid tarred highway meandering up and down as it navigates from the highlands to the lower-lying lake region also cuts back the journey by 10 kms. Londiani stands astride the verge of the two rift valleys – Kavirondo Rift Valley (a fault trough extending westwards to the shores of Lake Victoria) with the Gregory Rift Valley. And the 82 kms stretch of road passing Tinderet Mountain, Nandi Hills and the conical hills near Koru offers stupefying views of a primitive undulating landscape. Then, there’s the beauty of old colonial towns marked by antiquated colonial houses which tell the stories of a bygone era as does the old colonial railway. There is also the scenic Bonjoge National Reserve.
21. Londiani Dam
Aside from their indispensable roles of preventing floods and providing water to millions of people, man-made dams are engineering marvels and tokens of beauty in the lands they modify, and concomitantly double as popular tourist attractions. Ongoing construction of Londiani Dam near Londiani Town and Itare Dam in Kuresoi – two of the four dams the Government is constructing in the South Rift at a cost of more than Sh80 billion – has stalled as debate over one of the projects bedeviled by corruption and assumed political dimensions. Even so, the completion of Londiani Dam will go a long way to resolve the water shortage in this area (which sits on the rain-shadow side of Mau Highland) and add much to the beauty of the scenery. Zonally, the overall slope of the land and drainage in Kericho County is towards the west, away from Londiani, which sits on a hilly shelf between the Mau Highland and the lowlands of Kisumu County.
22. Tulwap-Kipsigis Hill
Kericho has its fair share of impressive rolling hills set with open country and patches of woodland and the intrepid should be on the lookout. One of its more impressive hillock, towering along the B1 Mau Summit-Kericho-Nakuru Road, near Londiani, is the 2600 ms Tulwap-Kipsigis Hill, an extension of the Mau Complex. Simply known as the Tulwap, its call to fame is this was the point of dispersal for the native Kipsigis Tribe. Still and all, it has retained its unbridled cultural sway since time immemorial and was traditionally used as a shrine for rituals like circumcision and ritual sacrifices. As a quirky saga goes, the British colonial authorities liked to call it Mount Blackett, while the local community preferred it simply as Tulwap-Kipsigis Hill. Eventually, it retained its original name. The isolated Tulwap, clad in thick tropical forest, is more impressive for its cultural significance than a hiking destination. “Foremost, the Tulwap was the gateway of the community to their present home counties of Kericho and in Bomet, just as Mount Elgon was the gateway of the Kalenjin Group as a whole into modern day Kenya, during their migration down the Nile Valley – The Star.
So important was the Tulwap-Kipsigis Hill in the Kipsigis social and religious life, that the colonial government opted in 1905 to ban all the ceremonies conducted on the hill. The reason was that the ceremonies and worship of Asiis were interfering with the “efficient” operations of the colonial administration, as the people were negatively influenced.
23. Masaita Forest Station
At Masaita, 4 kms from the B1 Kericho-Kisumu Road en route Londiani, stand in the rural monastic setting enclosed by pretty hills the Masaita Forest Station, and home to the Kenya Forestry College. The place is conducive for study and research, and with the beautiful mountainous scenery rather pleasant for site-seeing, camping, mountaineering, bird-watching and other game and general recreation in a cool forest biome. Masaita Forest Station is part of West Mau Forest Complex with an area of 41 km2, and its forest block was formally part of the Londiani Forest which was gazetted as Forest Reserves in 1962. In 1972, the Masaita Forest Block was handed over to the Kenya Forest College (KFC) so as to be under one administration. Today, it’s used for technical training of Forest Managers and for testing of new forest practices for the benefit of Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Kenya Forestry College (KFC) itself. The stocked sections of the Masaita Forest comprises substantially of Cypress, Pine and Eucalyptus as major commercial planting tree species that constitute 82%. It is a major source of Kipchorian River and its tributaries. Masaita Forest also is home to fine flora and fauna. It harbours Colobus monkeys, rare moths, wild hare, some species of antelope, wild pigs, porcupine, ant-bears, squirrel and bushbucks, among more.
24. KFC Hospitality and Conference Centre
Kenya Forestry College (KFC) operates a guesthouse and conference centre at their premises in Masaita Forest near Londiani. KFC Guesthouse & Conference Centre is nested at the base of a lushly forested hill in Masaita Forest Block – 4 kms from the Nakuru-Kericho Road, 65 kms from Nakuru Town and about 222 kms from Nairobi. The guesthouse of a modern design has 12 spacious en-suite rooms each furnished with a queen size bed, study area, a dressing table with mirror and instant showers. Also, each room has an adjoining lounge area with tasteful couches, a fireplace, and tv. For large groups, KFC has an additional 44 single en-suite rooms within its compound in addition to 10 single rooms in 2 prefab units. Among the activities for guests include walking, jogging or cycling in the forest trails and ascending the hill for a panoramic view of Masaita Forest and the surrounding country. Guests can also tour Rusikebe Falls and Londiani.
25. Rusikebe Waterfalls
Kericho County is well drained with a good number of rivers to include Nyando, Kiptaret, Itare, Chemosit, Kipsonoi, Timbilil, Maramara, Kipchorian and the Malaget. Some of these rivers are characterized by rapids and falls which could be harnessed for hydro-electric power generation. Some of the rivers with little-known falls include Kipchorian, Maramara, Itare and Kiptaret. Along the River Kipchorian, which is one of the main tributary for River Nyando, are a handful of impressive rapids and waterfalls, to include Rusikebe Waterfalls in Londiani.
26. Kipkelion Monastery
Surprisingly little-travelled, the Cistercian Kipkelion Monastery built in 1956 by the Dutch Abbey of Tilburg is a reposeful and quiet place to unwind, reflect, or meditate. Although its resident Monks relocated to Uganda in 2008, following land disputes with the local authorities, the Kipkelion Monastery which sits on 2,500-acres deep in the backwoods is still a grand and majestic edifice. For the avid off-road adventurers, a drive to Our Lady of Victories Kipkelion Monastery is a worthwhile challenge, especially over the rainy season when the 11 kms all-weather road is almost impassible. “The monastery was located high up in the mountains, north of the landmark Mau Forest Reserve and south of the Nandi Hills. Kisumu City, which sits on the shores of Lake Victoria, is due east of the Kipkelion Monastery, about a two hours drive. Either way, the beauty of visiting the Monastery begins with the road trip, which is 11 kms from Kipkelion Town”.
27. Van Wicker’s Cave
Put together around 1956 by Major Douglas Van Wicker, a settler farmer, who used the underground hiding-place in the 1950’s during the country’s state of emergency and suppression of Mau-Mau insurgency. “The cave built by Wicker on his farm 53 years ago has one entrance branching into two chambers: the one to the left measures about 100 metres and the other one goes in nearly 80 metres. The entrance is almost half a metre high while the interior measures approximately two metres vertically” Timothy Kimeu. Rather interestingly, the cave which is contrived near a hill in the 540-acres Kapwicker Farm – recently renamed as the Sarout Farm, remained unknown until only a few year ago. Van Wicker’s Cave is set in Kipkelion West near Fort Ternan, 50 kms from Londiani.
28. Fort Ternan Pre-historic Site
Even with its popularity in multiple estimable scientific journals, there is little that separates Fort Ternan Pre-historic Site from its abutting rugged landscape, aside from the ‘mud thatched hut’ built on the site of a proposed museum. The site itself is not an easy to reach. There is no road-signage about it, other than a seldom used footpath to the former paleontologist’s base. Howbeit, it is one of the noteworthy pre-historic sites in Kenya. First excavated in 1961 by Dr Louis Leakey, Fort Ternan Pre-historic Site produced a partial maxilla (or lower jaw bone) of what was considered to be a 14 million year old hominid dubbed as “Kenyapithecus wickeri” – one of the big Miocene Era finds excavated in Kenya. In 1967, Dr. Louis Leakey named a second species “Kenyapithecus africanus”, which he based on fragmentary teeth and jaw material found at Maboko Island in Lake Victoria, which is found about 98 kilometers from the Fort Ternan Site.
29. Tinderet Mountain
Uniquely lying between the main Mau Massif (south) and Nandi Hills (north), Tinderet Mountain is widely sighted between Kipkelion and Fort Ternan to the north, and as you approach Muhoroni to the far east. Rising to 2,468 ms (8,100 ft) from the plain on the north and northeast area of Kericho County, the peaks of the Tinderet Mountain Complex are hidden away by its thick forested reserve that abounds with plenty of wildlife. On both sides of the volcanic complex (in Kericho and Nandi Counties) the 246 km2 Tinderet Forest Reserve is bordered by belts of tea plantations, annexed in 1986 as a means to conserve the forest by enclosing it with tea farms to acts as a buffer territory between the farmlands and the forest. Likewise, Tinderet Forest Reserve, which marches with Nyando Escarpment far south to Mau Summit and Londiani, is widely recognized as a vital faunal and floral biodiversity hotspot as well as an important water tower.
30. Caves in Kericho
Reresik Caves, located in Ainamoi, Chebulu Caves, in Belgut, Bagao Caves in Bagao and Sogo Caves, are among the prominent caves in Kericho County. All are exciting sites for an afternoon adventure. These undisturbed caves, which are all near-horizontal shafts found in the moderate relief of Kericho, are both bonny and scenic – with a cultural passage into the intriguing Kipsigis Culture. Almost all these caves still remain untapped, but, there are plans to put up site borders and to train community guides to assist trippers navigate these 4 caves.
Geography of Kericho County
Kericho County is characterized by an undulating topography and the overall slopes of the land is towards the west, consequently draining in that direction. Kericho County also forms a hilly shelf between the Mau Escarpment and the lowlands of Kisumu County. Surrounding Kericho are, Tinderet Complex to the north, and to the north east is the Mau Escarpment. Between them, is the gently rolling land which forms Londiani Hills. To the northwest are the hilly areas of Kipkelion, rolling down towards Koru. The central part of Kericho County rises eastward toward the 3,000 ms high Mau Forest Reserve. Kericho Plateau forms the central part of the County, sloping gently from 2,500 ms to about 1,800 ms.
Land Use in Kericho County
Land resources in most parts of Kericho County are utilized for farming, which comprises both food and cash crop farming and livestock rearing. Large tracks of land are mainly held by multinational companies, notably of tea and flower farms, which are mainly concentrated within Belgut, Kipkelion East areas and in Kericho East sub-county. A sizeable percentage of the land is held by private individuals, who use it mainly for the production of small scale cash crops and food crops. About 80% of the land in Kericho County is arable and under farms.
Highlights in Kericho County
While Kericho County does not have either a national park or a reserve, it is endowed with diverse tourist attraction sites such as Tulwap Kipsigis Hill – a cultural attraction site which has strong attachment to the Kipsigis Community. There are also caves, places of worship, tea plantations and indigenous forests. Other points of interest in Kericho include native culture, churches, and hotels.
Population in Kericho County
Bureti Sub-county is the most densely populated, with 563 people / km2 (in 2012), while Kipkelion East constituency has the least population density of 163 people / km2. Due to favourable climatic condition, Kericho County has a high population density, especially in the areas where rainfall is evenly distributed, with fertile soils leading to developed social amenities. According to the 2009 population and housing census, Kericho Town was the most populous urban centre, with an estimated population of 42,039. Kericho County’s population was 758,339 in 2009, with a projected annual population growth of about 2.5%.
Airports in Kericho County
Kericho County has one non-functional airstrip located at Kerenga.
Roads in Kericho County
Kericho County has a road network of 285.9 kms bitumen surface, 592.5 kms of gravel road and 1007.6 kms earth surface. The Mau-Summit-Kericho-Kisumu Road is the chief line of communication, traveling along the southern area mid way through from the east, to Kericho, then trending northeasterly to Kisumu.
Climate in Kericho County
Kericho County receives relief rainfall, with average temperatures of 17 C and low evaporation rates. The temperature ranges between 29 C and 10 C. The central part of the county, where tea is grown, receives the highest rainfall of about 2125 mm, while the lower parts of Soin, and parts of Kipkelion, receive the least amount of rainfall of 1400 mm. It has year round favourable weather.
National Monuments in Kericho County
- Fort Tenan Pre-historic Site
- Kericho Wagon Works