Western Highlands Attractions
The Western Highlands are among the most spectacular mountains of Kenya. These hill ranges are known for the stunning scenery and astounding variety of wildlife and birds in all of Africa.Beautiful waterfalls, as well as amazing views from the escarpments across the valleys, lakes and lush plains below are highlights of the Western Highlands.Nature lovers and adventure seekers are attracted to the Western Highlands. High altitude athletic training is considered at its best among international athletes. The hills in Western Highlands are home to such a wide variety of birds and wildlife that it is truly a nature lover's paradise.Other attractions include the Mount Elgon, Saiwa Swamp National Park (near Kitale), the tea plantations surrounding Kericho, the Kakamega Forests, and the Cherangani Hills.
Kakamega Forest Reserve
The Kakamega Forest Reserve is home to over 300 species of birds, over 400 recorded butterflies, seven species of monkeys and other mammals, as well as snakes, other reptiles and various insects. The forest is also home to the endangered DeBrazza monkey.Kakamega Forest National Reserve is the only tropical rainforest left in Kenya. At one time dense rain forest stretched from West Africa, across Central Africa and into the highland areas on the west and eastern walls of the Great Rift Valley.A team of ranger guides will escort visitors through the Kakamega Forest Reserve along the many trails and to Buyango Hill, the highest point in the forest.
Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon is an extinct volcano located on the Kenyan-Ugandan border. The Maasai name means 'mountain shaped like a human breast'. The main attraction of Mount Elgon National Park are the saline caves in its slopes, the four main caverns are Kitum, Chepnyalli, Mackingeny and Rongai. The other big attraction of Mount Elgon are elephants which may be seen in the caves getting their daily dose of salt or in front of Kitum cave getting water from the pool.The flora and fauna on Mount Elgon are also worth the visit. As you ascend the slope you will pass through rainforest at the base, then bamboo jungle and finally alpine moorland. Common wildlife spotted on Mount Elgon includes the Black and White Colobus Monkey, Blue Monkey, and hundreds of bird species.Waterfalls, scenic peaks and gorges, and hot springs are even more reason to discover Mount Elgon National Park.
Kitale is a base for people heading on expeditions to Mount Elgon, Saiwa Swamp National Park and up to Turkana. In the 19th C, Kitale known as Quitale at the time, was a slave-trading center.The Kitale Museum has a nature trail behind it that leads through some virgin rainforest. Numbered points will lead you along the trail. The Museum itself began with a collection of birds, butterflies and ethnographic memorabilia on the Turkana people that belonged to Lt Colonel Stoneham.Next to the museum is the Olaf Palme Agroforestry Center. This Swedish-funded program was created to educate locals on the protection and rehabilitation of the environment by integrating trees into the farm system. An agroforestry plot, information center and arboretum with 46 species of indigenous trees can be visited.
The Cherangani Hills are a series of rolling hills that rise to a peak of 3,529 meters at Kamalagon. Extensive tracks and paths wind through scrubs and forests, which are ideal for relaxed hill walking.Unlike most of Kenya's mountains and ranges, the Cherangani Hills are not volcanic in origin. The hills are on a forested escarpment and surrounded on three sides by sheer cliff faces. Climbers seek to scale the steep Elgeyo Escarpment, which forms the western wall of the Cherangani Hills.The area is home to the Marakwet people who migrated to the area from the north. They have set up countless farms in the Cherangani Hills, as it is an ideal location for agriculture.
Eldoret was originally known as 64, because it was located at the 64th mile post on the wagon route from Londiani. Former President Moi is from the area and it was his government that built Moi University and then the Eldoret International Airport as well as Moi Teaching and Refferal Hospital.Eldoret is a home to many great athletes including Kipchoge Keino, a Kenyan runner who won gold medals at the 1968 and 1972 Summer Olympics.The Dorino Lessos Creameries Cheese Factory is located on Kenyatta Street in Eldoret. The cheese factory produces over 30 different types of cheese. Visitors are welcome to taste as many as they like from Stilton to Gruyere to Cheddar. Yogurt and ice cream are also produced.
Kabarnet is located on the eastern edge of the Kerio Valley. The view of Tugen Hills is spectacular along the road heading from Marigat. Views include east over the Rift Valley towards Lakes Baringo and Bogoria, and west into the Kerio Valley.Kabarnet is the hometown of Daniel Arap Moi, President of the Republic of Kenya.The Kabarnet Museum was created in the former residence of the District Comissioner and displays include elements from local culture and traditions, as well as information on Lake Baringo and its environment. The gardens surrounding the Kabarnet Museum are so lush that it has become a small botanical park.
Kenya is the world's third largest producer of tea and the town of Kericho is in the heart of Kenya's tea plantations. The rolling hills are carpeted with bright green tea bushes and with rain falling almost every afternoon, the climate is perfect for tea.Kericho was named for the Maasai chief, Ole Kericho, who was killed during a battle in the 18th C by Gusii. The area is now the home of the Kipsigis people.The Tea Hotel is the closest plantation to Kericho. Built in the 1950's by Brooke Bond Tea Company, it may be possible to arrange a tour while picking is in progress.
Lake Kamnarok and Kerio Valley National Reserve
Lake Kamnorak and Kerio Valley National Reserves are in a deep valley with semi-tropical vegetation on the slopes and dry bush at the base. The main attractions are crocodiles, elephants, beautiful landscapes and abundant bird life. Other wildlife found in the area includes bush pigs, waterbuck, buffalo, pelicans and grebes.The Kerio River divides Lake Kamnarok and Kerio Valley Reserves. Lake Kamnarok is the easiest to access and there is a campsite beside the lake. Kerio Valley can be reached from Lake Kamnarok, in the dry season, but visitors must wade across a river north of the lake. Cheplooch Gorge is south of the reserves.
Kakamega is located north of Kisumu on the A1 Highway. Kakamega is the base for trips into the Kakamega Forest Reserve where travelers can sleep over or stock up before heading out. The nearby Kakamega Forest is famous for its diverse bird and insect life.South of Kakamega is the Crying Stone of Ilesi. This formation consists of a large boulder balanced on a column of rock with water flowing from a groove in the middle. Local residents are keen to show travelers the way and share some of the legend behind this local curiosity.
Saiwa Swamp National Park
Saiwa Swamp National Park opened in 1974 to protect the semi-Aquatic Sitatunga Antelope. As one of Kenya's smallest parks, it is very accessible by foot. It is home to over 370 species of birds as well as blue, vervet and De Brazza's monkeys. Saiwa Swamp National Park has three nature trails, bridges for walking over the swamp and three viewing platforms for observing the wildlife. Other wildlife found with Saiwa Swamp are the spotted neck otters, potto, giant forest squirrels, Colobus monkeys, Bushbucks and Duikers.