Discover Bomet County
Brief Overview of Bomet County
What Bomet County lacks in flourishing touring destinations is made up for by a pleasant display of striking agro-climatic zones. The discerning traveller using the longer but scenic Nairobi-Narok-Bomet-Kisii Road will quickly apprehend these changes, from Narok’s low-lying wheat fields to the highland forests at the northern end of Bomet County. The higher regions in the north eastern areas of Bomet are dominated by tea; its middle region by maize, pyrethrum and coffee; while in the lower-lying southern regions, like Sigor, the main trade is livestock.
In the north, Bomet County picks up the undulating topography where Kericho County leaves it off at the Mau Complex. Apart from its north-eastern area that rises easterly to meet the Mau Complex, land in Bomet County generally slopes southward until it eventually levels out in the flatter terrain nearing Masai Mara National Reserve. The land slopes gently from 3100 ms near Mau Complex and Kericho to 1800 ms in the lower area where the land is motsly flat. Agriculture is the mainstay of Bomet County, where about 80% of the residents are farmers.
Bomet’s biggest communication advantage is that it is traversed by B3 Narok-Sotik-Kisii Road, about midway, from Molut (east) to Sotik (west), a distance of 58 kms. Its main town of Bomet lies almost equidistant from Molut and Sotik. Here, trippers will find plenty of modest accommodation. It is both its regional hub and a place of relaxation, and naturalness. Apart from the beautiful farms and hillocks, other sites to interest in Bomet include Trans Mara Forest; beyond the Mara, which straddles its entire southern boundary; and the South Western Mau National Reserve which aligns with Bomet’s northern boundary of 73 kms.
Salient Features of Bomet County
- County Number 36
- Area – 2037 km2
- Altitude – 1800 to 3000 ms
- Major Towns – Bomet, Sotik, Konoin, Kaplong
- Borders – Kericho, Narok, Nyamira, Nakuru
Brief History of Bomet County
Up until 1992, Bomet County was part of the defunct Kericho District. Hitherto the independence of Kenya, the higher areas of Bomet fell under the District of Kipsigis Tribal Reserve, with European farmlands at Sotik and Lumbwa and tea estates at Kericho itself being dominant producers. Chepalungu, Sotik, Konoin, Bomet Central and Bomet East were all part of the former colonial scheduled quarter for European settlement. The expropriation of land by colonial settlers and lack thereafter of restitution plans is still a big source of friction in Bomet County, with crusades to gain recompense for land lost and allocated to settlers.
Places of Interest in Bomet County
1. Trans Mara Forest
Bomet County butts up against a long stretch of the great Mau Forest Complex, home to a variegated array of flora and fauna including the rare Yellow Backed Duicker that is endemic to the 2773 km2 Mau. The 344 km2 Trans Mara Forest is an outlying part of the Mau Complex, which encompasses seven forest zones of Mau Narok, Maasai Mau, Eastern and Western Mau, South and South West Mau and Bomet’s Trans Mara Forest. Nyakweri Forest is the largest remaining forest section of Trans Mara District and forms part of the dispersal area of the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Despite its faunal interest of 200 bird species and 50 animal species, both Trans Mara and the Mau itself are underdeveloped for tourism. It was gazetted in 1941 as a Forest Reserve. Still and all, most of its forests have been the subject of wanton defacing and sullying. Unique to Trans Mara Forest, one of the spry closed-canopy forests in Kenya, is that its integrity is part thanks to the Maasai: “In their simplistic and unsophisticated existence, they treat forests as a gem, just as they do their livestock that they regard as the source of life itself”. Today, though not armed, the Saparingo rangers of Trans Mara Forest opt for participatory dialogue when engaging with the community.
Trans Mara District had been originally hived-off Narok County in 1994, covering an area of 2,842 km2. Both the Mara Triangle and the Trans Mara Forest were part of the district which had its centre at Kilgoris. In 2010, under the new constitution, Trans Mara was restored back to Narok.
2. Masai Mara National Reserve
Bomet County is a key path to the world-famous Masai Mara National Reserve found in the neighbouring County of Narok. Owing to its proximity to the Mara, Bomet is well-known to the trippers who wish to visit the park. Locals in Bomet County enjoy easy and trouble-free weekend jaunts to the Mara for game drives. Most visitors from Bomet take in a trip to the famous Mara, either on their way back from Western Kenya or as part of a circuit that takes in Bomet’s interests. Tenwek Falls, which is just 6 kms north of Bomet Town and about 60 kms from the Mara serves as a perfect jumping-off place. Bomet Town is found off Narok-Kisii Road, about 223 kms southwest of Nairobi, and 82 kms from Narok Town.
3. The Fair Hills Hotel
The Fair Hills Hotel is 9 kms before Bomet Town, reached via B3 Narok-Bomet-Kisii Road on a glorious 3-hours drive from Nairobi which takes travellers past the view of the Great Rift Valley, past the picture-postcard plains of Narok and finally through the wooded hillocks of Bomet. The hotel itself has been named after the fetching and bonny low-lying hills that encircle it. The views around it are breathtakingly lovely. The 3-star-rated Fair Hills Hotel, with a choice of ten room-layouts all with superb views of the countryside, is also set at the heart of the tea-lovers country with look-see glimpses of the thriving tea farmlands. Its neo-African-inspired exemplar is complemented by a roomy stretched-out man made lake and well set-out gardens. Most visitors spend the day exploring the gardens and lake, with the option of taking walking trips around the villages or visiting Tenwek Falls. Fair Hills is one of the youngest, largest, yet most-up-to-date hotel in Bomet, opened on May 13th, 2016. Its amenities – full restaurant, bar facility, lounges, dinettes, gazebos and bedrooms – are of a modern design.
4. Sahara Gardens Hotel
Located about 6 kms past Bomet along B3 Narok-Bomet-Kisii Road sits another accomplished and increasingly popular hotel establishment of Bomet at Sahara Gardens Hotel – with branches in Narok and Kericho. This 3-starred, 8-rooms hotel is well off the busy township and is a splendid spot to enjoy a weekend or day out. It’s layout is inspired by the fresh-wave of African influenced designs which aim to blend deftly to their landscape which at Sahara includes splendid scarped panorama, tranquil rural country and a year-round viridescent outlook.
5. Tenwek Falls
The 14 ms Tenwek Falls near Tenwek Hospital, set hard in a verdant outback, is a must see interest while in Bomet County, and is especially pleasant soon after the March to May rainy season. Tenwek Falls occurs on River Nyangores, a key tributary of the Mara River, that flows from Mau Complex southerly via Tenwek to the Mara. The main activity here is walking along its dam way. Occasionally, you can catch a group of daring local divers plunging off the roof a small hydro-power plant into the pool at the base of the falls. While at Tenwek Falls trippers can explore this antiquated power generating station built decades ago by the missionaries or explore the caves located below the falls which once housed the mythical tiondab barak or the animal of the sky. Also of interest while exploring Tenwek Falls is an antiquated Mission Church built in 1936. Tenwek is a quick 15-minutes drive or 8 kms north from Bomet via Bomet-Tenwek-Silibwet Road.
6. Motigo Hill
There are few things more satisfying than finding an enchanting view, staring at it and being in awe of a new found beauty. Motigo Hill, tucked away in the heart of Merigi Village – just 6 kms east of Tenwek – merits an adventure to prospect its wildly captivating views. The summit provides a first-rate viewing ledge from where the panoramic vista composed of the Mau Forest, the farmlands, and the hillocks will make any tripper cook-a-hoop that they made it here. It is found in Motigo nearby Motigo Secondary, reached via the Tenwek-Motigo-Merigi Road.
Tourists flock the area mostly to experience the sunrise and the sunset atop Motigo Hill. In the morning, the site creates a perfect lull for those saying prayers. – Nation Media
7. Kipsegon Ecosystem
Today, more than ever, ecological parks and protected rare habitats are making big headlines as more people seek novel sustainable approaches to manage the environment. The 27-acres community protected Kipsegon Ecosystem, found at Nyangores, is a biosphere of amusing variety and a walk here is akin to walking an unspoiled eden. The floral diversity of Kipsegon Ecosystem, at the very edge of the South Mau National Reserve, comes to life as the local guides explain the traditional medical use or ecological function of almost every plant. Then, there are the innumerable bird species chirping an endless orchestra of tunes, its cool rural air, its streams, its bogs, and forest patch – which all offer a rewarding no-frills simple encounter with nature. So much so, that Bomet County set aside Sh 19 M towards protecting the habitat against human encroachment and further anthropogenic activities. It is located 18 kms from Bomet Town, via the Bomet-Tenwek-Silibwet Road – through Silibwet, Tirgaga and Bondet – at Nyangores.
8. Tirgaga Tea Factory
About 7 kms north of Tenwek along C24 Bomet-Tenwek-Silibwet Road lies the Tirgaga Tea Factory – one of 12 tea factories in Bomet County. Started in 2006, astride the boundary of Aisaik and Kabusare Sub-locations of Singorwet and Ndarawetta locations, it produces primary grades BP1, PF1 PD, D1, TMF and Secondary grades F1 and Dust grades of tea. The factory, which is fed by more than 5000 farmers, also runs informative tours that engage guests through the process involved in producing their brands of tea. On the tours, guests to the factory learn about the fermentation, dying, cutting, sieving and tea grading. It is useful to prearrange a trip with the company via firstname.lastname@example.org. In any case, a trip here take you appreciable close to edge of the South Western Mau National Reserve, part of the largest remaining indigenous forest in Kenya.
9. South Western Mau National Reserve
The South Western Mau National Reserve is the new name for what has been simply familiar as the South Mau Forest, and a part of the Mau Complex which was officially gazetted in 1954 as a Forest Reserve. The total combined area of Mau Complex originally estimated at 4,000 km2 of precipitous rugged woody country in the 1960’s is now estimated at 2,773 km2. Even so, it is ecologically and economically critical for Kenya and parts of East Africa. 10 million people depend on its rivers. It also influences the region’s micro-climate which creates ideal conditions to produce crops such as tea. Furthermore, it is one of Kenya’s main water towers. The destruction of more that 30% of Mau’s forest – either been cut down or degraded for putting tea production and other private sector industries – has triggered a national alarm, prompting establishment of secure protected reserves. The edge of the reserve is located 5 kms from Tirgaga Tea Factory at Ndarawetta. There is an all weather gravel road that climbs an easy gradient passing tea farmlands. Although it still under utilized as a destination, replanting the degraded forest sections and regulating access have commenced.
10. Iria Maina Falls
This site is 37 kms from Bomet in Konoin Sub-county via C24 Bomet-Tenwek-Silibwet Road through Mogogosiek Centre and just 6 kms before Litein Town. From Litein the road rounds back to B3 Narok-Bomet-Kisii Road rejoining it at Kaplong. At Boito Village of Itare Location in Konoin is to be found the little-known Iria Maina Fall occurring on Itare River. In recent times, Bomet County, in conjunction with several investors, has embarked on the construction of a hydro-power plant with 14 MW capacity. Of interest on a visit of the Iria Maina Falls is a riverine walk along the Itare River to the series of caves along its bank.
11. Changoi Tea Factory
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 Bomet 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 Bomet near the boundary with Kericho County or 21 kms north of Litein, 34 kms from Sotik and 67 kms from Bomet via Sotik.
Geography of Bomet County
A considerable part of Bomet County is characterized by undulating topography that gives way to flatter terrain in the south. The overall slope of the land in Bomet County is towards the south, except the north eastern part which rises eastwards towards the 3,000 ms high Mau Ridges. The land slopes gently from Kericho Plateau to about 1,800 ms in the lower area where the land is generally flat with a few scattered hills in Chepalungu and Sigor. Chepalungu Sub-county is the largest in acreage covering 535.8 km2, followed by Sotik (479.2 km2 ), Konoin (445 km2 ) and Bomet East (311.3 km2 ) and Bomet Central (266 km2).
Land Use in Bomet County
The higher altitudes in the north-eastern parts of Bomet County are specially suitable for tea and dairy farming. The middle region of the County which lies 2,300 ms above sea level is suitable for maize, pyrethrum and coffee. The south ern region of the County such as Sigor and parts of Longisa, the main economic activity is livestock, while milk production is a major economic activity in Sotik.
Highlights of Bomet County
Although there are no flourishing touring attraction activities in Bomet County, there exists immense potential for tourism. Part of Bomet County is within the expansive Mau Forest Complex. It borders a long stretch of Mau Forest which is an indigenous forest that is home to different species of animals and plants. However, owing to human encroachment, animal life is threatened and certain species of wild animals and plant are almost extant. It has a few pretty falls too.
Population of Bomet County
The population density of Bomet County was 384 / km2 in 2012 – which was expected to grow to 415 / km2 and 437 / km2 in 2015 and 2017. The population was estimated at 723,813 in 2009 per the Population and Housing Census and has similar features as that of the national population growth rate of 3% but with different demographic indicators. Population was estimated at 782,531 in 2012; 846,012 in 2015 and 891,168 by 2017 at an estimated growth rate of 2.7%.
Airports in Bomet County
Bomet County has an air strip located near Bomet Town.
Roads in Bomet County
The total length of road in Bomet County is 7000 kms, of which 237 kms are under bitumen and 1577.5 kms under gravel and earth surface. The bitumen surface is only 3.3 per cent of its total network. Given the heavy rains across Bomet County, roads, particularly gravel and earth surface, become impassable.
Climate in Bomet County
Rainfall is evenly distributed, except for the short dry season in January and February. The wettest months are April and May. Overall, there is little break between short and long rains in the whole county. The temperature levels range from 16 C to 24 C with the coldest months between February and April, while the hot season (generally pleasant) falls between December and January.
National Monuments in Bomet County
There are no designated national monuments in Bomet County.