Nandi County

Discover Nandi County

View of the fetching Nandi Hills in the southern region.  Photo Courtesy of Arise Nandi
Nandi Hills in the mid-southern region. Image Courtesy of Arise Nandi

Brief Overview of Nandi County

Nandi County has long been known for its pretty-as-a-picture bucolic landscape encompassing year-round verdant belts of prolific farms, forests and reposeful mountaneous regions; particularly in the south, southeast and northeast. Quite charming, its four key forests – South and North Nandi, Tinderet and Kimondi – cover 12% of the land area. There are many other designated areas of splendid natural beauty like: Bonjoge National Reserve, Kingwal Wetland, Nandi Hills, and Cheptiik Falls. A predominantly farming county, it also inlays some of the impressive farmlands seen anywhere in Kenya. And its razzle-dazzle highlands enfold yet another evocative beauty. Christened as the “Source of Champions”, Nandi is home to a swag of the world’s great middle and long-distance runners.

Nandi County is part of the North Rift Block, wedged betwixt Kakamega County (west), Uasin Gishu County (northeast), Kericho County (southeast), Kisumu County (south) and Vihiga County (southwest). As such it enjoys an efficacious logistical advantage, flanked on all the frontiers by major trunk roads, giving it a faultless access. The A104 Nakuru-Eldoret-Kampala Road marches almost parallel to its eastern and northern boundaries, from near Timboroa to Webuyu en route Eldoret and Leseru. In the south, it is flanked by the B1 Nakuru-Mau Summit-Kisumu Road and the C35 Londiani-Kisumu Road. In the west, it is flanked by the A1 Kisumu-Kampala Road, en route Webuye. In its heartland, it is served by a good road network, through the hilly landscape, which has made transport network difficult to build, yet, is a delight for callers to Nandi County.

The short 46 kms journey from Eldoret to Kapsabet, the traditional entry point to Nandi, goes past many of its lighthouse attractions, to include, Cheptiik Falls, Ngabunat Caves, Kingwal Swamp, and the fitful and rolling Nandi Hills; before arriving at Kapsabet, the main town, where the conspicuously incised plains are reached. From Kapsabet Town the country is generally marked by steep slopes, especially in the Meteitei and Tinderet regions to the southeast. The undulating landscape marches on southbound through Kemeloi, Kaptumek, and Kapkures.

Salient Features of Nandi County

  • County Number 29
  • Area – 2884 km2
  • Altitude – 5036 ft
  • Major Towns – Kapsabet, Nandi Hills
  • Borders – Vihiga, Kericho, Kisumu, Uasin Gishu, Kakamega

Brief History of Nandi County

Prior to the arrival of the colonial government in Nandi, the district had since been the arena of some major factions; notably that with the Maasai. And, the new visitors turned this strife a few notches up. By the grand assertion that the Crown and not the natives had original title to some land in Nandi was in many ways the wellspring of all the bad blood, the taxes notwithstanding. The native Nandi in return resisted the outsiders intrusion into their land. Consequently, following the 11-years Nandi Resistance, the punitive expeditions culminated in the 1905 Nandi War, and one of the savage campaigns led by the British forces. 

View of the Ngabunat Falls and Caves in Mogobich.  Photo Courtesy of Hidden Treasures
Ngabunat Falls and Caves in Mogobich. Image Courtesy of Hidden Treasures

Places of Interest in Nandi County

1. Londiani-Koru Route

If the object of your travel aims for Kisumu or beyond, the C35 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 13 kms. Londiani stands astride the verge of two large 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.

Winding through the southeast and west region of Kenya, the A109 Mombasa-Kampala Road through Nairobi, Nakuru and Eldoret is one of the busiest and most popular trunk roads in Kenya. Driving along this 1,137 kms road one get a greater appreciation of Kenya’s ecological gamut. Along the A109 Road there are a great many touring destinations – spectacular national parks, museums, historic landmarks and natural wonders – far more than on any other primary road in Kenya. The A109 runs in a general northwest direction from the Indian Ocean (Mombasa) to Lake Victoria (Jinja, Uganda). As it skips from county to county it branches-off into major towns to include: A123 Voi-Taveta Road, B3 Mai-Mahiu-Kisii Road, B1 Nakuru-Sigor Road, and B1 Mau Summit-Kisumu-Busia Road. From Mau Summit, the road alters course from northwest to due west, as the B1 crosses the verdant Kericho County aiming for Lake Victoria in Kisumu. From Mau Summit, the B1 Road also runs just south of Nandi County.

Map Showing the Londiani-Koru Route Vis-a-vis Kericho-Kisumu Route
Map Showing the Londiani-Koru Route Vis-a-vis Kericho-Kisumu Route

2. Nyando Escarpment

Nandi County comprises of five distinct topographic features – the rolling hills (west), Kapsabet Plateau, Tinderet volcanic mass, King’wal Swamp, and the Nyando Escarpment. The latter, which reaches 1800 ms at its highest elevation and forming part of the hill where Kisumu City is set, marks the casual border between Kisumu and Nandi Counties. It rises from the foot of Kajulu Hills in the outskirts of Kisumu and spreads past the moribund Miwani Sugar Factory towards Chemelil and Koru on the Nyanza-Rift Valley border. The Escarpment comprises of extremely rugged terrain, typified by granite and volcanic rocks. The Equator runs along its scarp-line. Its most rugged region, as you cross the Kano Plains, doubles as a wondrous roadside attraction and a hiking trails that culminates at the Nandi Rock sometimes known as the monkey rock – a stellar vantage point with vistas of Kisumu, Lake Victoria and Nyando Belt. Along the Londiani-Kisumu Road, “one can see River Nyando coursing along the hills on its way to Lake Victoria, along with many other rivers flowing under bridges”. The Nyando Escarpment has gained unwelcome notoriety owing to the inter-tribal clashes, between the Dholuo and Nandi Tribes. “The undertones from the Nandi Community points to the fact that; the communal boundary has been moved up from Awasi to Chemelil, translating to occupation of the Luo in what ‘deservedly’ belongs to the Nandi People. Secondly, de-gazette and revert back to Nandi naming of the landmark within their locality. What is now gazzetted as Nyando Escarpment should rightfully be called Nandi Escarpment”. The trail to stroll up Nyando Escarpment commences at Miwani, 21 kms from Kisumu City.

3. Bonjoge National Reserve

Although there is very little that separates the underdeveloped 21 km2 Bonjoge National Reserve from its rugged landscape, plans are underway to perk-up its infrastructure and revamp its wildlife. The Bonjogi National Reserve is situated atop Nandi Escarpment, 15 kms north of Kisumu City, and is more scenic than faunal, making for a pleasurable goal for a hike. “Bonjoge N. Reserve consists of millions of rocks and boulders that litter the landscape, rich birdlife and a wide array animal species including Olive baboons, Colobus monkeys, bush duikers, jackals, vervet and de-Brazza’s monkeys among many more” – Hidden Gems of Kenya.  The 5 kms ascent through the park, sometimes steep, takes adventure-makers to its summit, the famed Nandi Rock, with distant view of Lake Victoria and Kisumu City. What little wildlife there is to be seen here is made-up-for by the birds. A good pair of binoculars will better the Bonjoge experience ten-fold.

The clearest views are early in the morning; the most beautiful and memorable at sunset after a hot, sunny day. To the east and west the escarpment stretches away into the middle distance. Most of the boulder-strewn landscape to the west is part of Bonjoge Reserve – North Rift Tourism.

4. Nandi Rock

The vistas of Bonjoge National Reserve are typified by a craggy topography, of rock formations, most notably of its eye-catching Nandi Rock. This spectacular formation, atop the escarpment, can be hiked by anyone who is fit, including children. Its takes on average 6 hours (round-trip) to tour the site. All parties hiking to the Nandi Rock are required to report at KWS Kaptumik Post. The viewing ledge, near its summit, with awe-inspiring views, is the star here. The very top of the Nandi Rock can be scaled via a short 30 metres chimney by the very experienced climber. To make it there, “branch off the main highway, at Kabujoi, onto a murram road that passes St. Peter Clavers School. Pass a left branch to Kimwaren and Miwani (after 5 kms); reach Maraba (further 2 kms) where one enters a terrain of rounded rocks and boulders, greatly various in shape and size; descend a hill on a stretch of old tarmac to reach the junction (ahead 2 kms) and take the right branch to Chepkobel (further 7 kms). Proceed to Kaptumek Dispensary and KWS Post (further 3 kms). Some sections of the road, particularly the last, can be punishing when it rains – North Rift Tourism.

Flight around Nandi Rock. Published by Take a Smile Media House

5. South Nandi Forest

This 247 km2 canopy forest which lies between the Nandi Escarpment and C39 Kapsabet-Kaimosi Road, in the southwest region of Nandi, is an adjunct of the tropical Kakamega Forest and is marked by a mix of towering hardwood trees. It is comprised of two forest blocks: Kobujoi and Kimondi. Gazetted in 1936, as a Trust Land – to mitigate against wanton destruction and loss – South Nandi Forest plays an important hand in Nandi County’s climate and agriculture. The Kobujoi Forest Station is a valuable first-stop for those wishing to explore the South Nandi Forest. It has a Resource Centre that provides useful information, and which is the focal locale for ecotourism in Nandi. It has two bandas, with a four bed capacity, and a camping area. Found nearby the Kobujoi Station is the confluence of Mokong-Kimondi Rivers. The other forest station, at Kimondi, is located just 2 kms west of Kapsabet Town along C39 Kapsabet-Chavakali Road. South and North Nandi Forests (forming part of the Kakamega-Nandi Forests) are mainly confined to ground below 6,500 feet and form a marked contrast to the Northern Tinderet, Timboroa and Kaptagat Forests which flourish from 7500 to 9000 feet. The South and North Nandi Forests are mainly composed of mixed indigenous hardwoods, and mainly Croton that marks 65% of the forests.

Map of the Kakamega-Nandi Forest Complex
Map of the Kakamega-Nandi Forest Complex.

6. Tindiyo Falls

The route from Kaimosi, in the far west, through Kabsabet to Eldoret, goes past many great attraction sites of Nandi County. The central area of the jug-shaped Nandi is notable for its jets of waterfalls – small and substantial – like Tindinyo Falls along River Yala. Two Rivers – the Kimondi and Sirua – converge in the North Tinderet Forest to form the Yala, which flows into Lake Victoria through a series of swamps and glades. Tindiyo Falls is best seen from the Tindiyo Falls Hotel, which is an old house restored to a resort. Also of interest along Tindiyo riverine walk is a drop-in at the small hydro-plant found upstream that offers a unique sight on walking trips, and close by South Nandi Forest. Tindiyo Falls is located 19 kms west of Kapsabet Town through Chepsonoi and Tindiyo Centers.

7. Karebe Gold Mining

The Karebe Gold Mining Company has been undertaking mining operations at Karebe, south of South Nandi Forest, at the foot slopes of Nyando Escarpment nearby Kibigori and Miwani since 2009. Other small scale mining activities by native communities also exist. Although gold in moderate amounts has been discovered in a variety of locations in Kenya, such as West Pokot, Laikipia and Machakos, mining has been mainly restricted to areas in which the Nyanzian and Kavirondian Systems are found, that is around the Kisii highlands and near Kibigori within Nandi County. Karebe Gold Mining Limited, the largest gold producer in Kenya, has over 300 employees. Of a recent development, Karebe has been accused by the surrounding communities of encroachment into their farmlands as well as poor management of the environment. At the same time, Karebe provides one of few opportunities in Kenya to learn about ‘gold dig-ups’.

8. Nandi Scarp

Best sighted from elevated areas inside Kakamega Forest Reserve like Lirhanda Hill, the Nandi Scarp (not to be confused with Nyando or Nandi Escarpment) is one of the striking geological features in the west and northwest areas of Nandi. Rising in the South Nandi Forest (originally known as Kapwaren Forest), just south of the Kakamega-Kapsabet Road and just 3 kms to its western boundary with Kakamega County, this forms a natural barrier between the North Nandi Forest and Kakamega Forest Reserve. The main scarps rise to 5400 to 6600 ft over most of its length, and then south of Kakamega-Kapsabet Road proximate to South Nandi Forest it rapidly dies out. Isolated features such as Chapkaigat, Tabolwa, Kimoror, and Sumayat atop the Nandi Scarp rise to well-over 7000 ft.

9. North Nandi Forest

Erstwhile contiguous with South Nandi Forest, and now separated by a few kms tract of land, the 105 km2 North Nandi Forest lying along the western border of Nandi County (north of South Nandi Forest) is the strip of high canopy forest immediately east of Kakamega Forest. It stretches for more than 30 kms from north to south and is 3-5 kms wide for most of its length. Occurring in Kabiyet and Central Nandi Sub-counties, on the periphery of Nandi Fault Scarp, this forest is a biosphere of prolific flora and fauna, most notably of its outstanding birding appeal. The enclosed 34 km2 North Nandi Forest Reserve, gazetted in 1968 as an Important Birding Area with almost 117 bird species recorded here, still remains largely undeveloped. A sought-after attraction within North Nandi Forest is the Tabolwa Rock, a monolithic grey granite mound that doubles as a beyond-money prominence from where trippers can view the pretty farmlands, Mount Elgon and Kakamega Forest. North Nandi Forest is found 30 kms north of Kapsabet Town along the Kapsabet-Baraton Road then Sangalo-Segem Road.

With the influx of miners came the need for opening up the forest and to build the Kisumu-Kapsabet highway that cuts across the indigenous forest and divides it into two: South and North Nandi Forest. North Nandi is warmer than its “big brother” but its biodiversity is richer. – Rupi Mangat

10. Cheruiyot Ecosystem

Set hard along the eastern limit of the North Nandi Forest at Kapkoimet, 5 kms off the Chepterit-Baraton Road, Cheruiyot Ecosystem is the perfect jumping-off place to explore the beauty of North Nandi Forest. Established to both conserve the environment and Nandi culture, it contributes to the learning of indigenous mastery of plants and towards the preservation of this fast-disappearing knack. Cheruiyot Ecosystem, set up on a foreland overlooking the epochal Nandi Hills, has pleasurable views of the boonie landscape typified by rocky outcrops, forest patches and variegated flora. At the site, there is a museum which expositions an array of artefacts and traditional antiques of the Nandi Tribe. There’s also a Kalengin homestead consisted of two huts, with the obligatory two doors, with each being partitioned into two rooms, pursuant to the traditional architecture.

11. Nandi Hills

Not to be confused with Nandi Hills Sub-county and Nandi Hills Town, these hillocks of roughly equivalent height forming the Nandi Hills in the mid-south region of Nandi County, a short hop west of South Nandi Forest, are one of its most hallowed landforms. The prepossessing landscape around these typically flat-top ridges with identical summits, postulated to be remnants of an eroded plain, are exemplified by fine sweeps of expansive tea estates. Superbly sighted along C37 Kapsabet-Nandi Hill Road, they are a great launch for evening walks. Nandi Hills Town, the second busiest town in Nandi County (after Kapsabet), set on the Nandi Hills, has many hotels that make for suitable starting-points to explore the area. “On the south side of Nandi Hills Town, at Kapsimotwo, is the Morobi Hill, where the aged used to voluntarily end their lives by plunging into an escarpment in a ceremony called Sheu” – Standard Media. Then, there’s the Koitalel arap Samoei Museum built in honour of the legendary Nandi Hero who led the anti-colonial revolt in this region. A visit to Nandi Hills should not omit a look-see of the much-lauded Kapsimotwa Gardens and the Nandi Bears Club.

Spatial location of Nandi Hills within Nandi County
Spatial location of Nandi Hills within Nandi County

12. Koitalel Arap Samoei Museum

This Museum, in Nandi Hills Town, honours the legendary leader Koitalel Arap Samoei who led one of the most famous resistance against the ‘British Rule’ in Kenya – dubbed as Nandi Resistance – at the height of colonial occupation in Kenya. On October 19, 1905, on the grounds of what is now Nandi Bears Club, Koitalel Arap Samoei was asked to meet Col Richard Meinertzhagen for a truce. Instead, Meinertzhagen killed Koitalel and his entourage in cold blood. Sosten Saina, a grand-nephew of one of Arap Samoei’s bodyguards notes: “There were about 22 of them who went for a meeting with the “mzungu” that day. Koitalel Arap Samoei had been advised not to shake hands because if he did, that would give him away as the leader. But, he extended his hand, and was shot at point-blank range. At the Koitalel Arap Samoei Museum there are two huge symbolic fig trees; one believed to mark the actual patch where his body was buried. The Koitalel Museum expositions memorabilia and relics of the venerated leader, as well as, diversified artefacts which depict the cultures of the Nandi Community.

At the close of 19th century, the Orkoiyot (or divine leader from the Talai Clan) took an almost executive role when Koitalel Arap Samoei led the Nandi Community to resist colonial rule, for 11 years, opposing alienation from their ancestral land. He had a strong military and he was feared. After his defeat the British briefly attempted to harness his Talai clansmen to the system of colonial rule – promoting them as chiefs. This was based upon a misunderstanding of the status of Orkoiyot, whose powers often stood in direct conflict with the authority, yet, highly lionized by the locals.

13. Samiitui Historical Site

The chronicles of Koitalel Arap Samoei are an exceptional excerpt from an era now almost lost to us. Samiitui Historical Site would be a tourist destination in its own right even if it wasn’t for the fact that a museum in honour of the Nandi legend has been in existence for years. This is where the Nandi leader Kipnyolei Arap Kurgat, father of Koitalel Samoei, lived. His leadership tools were hidden since 1885 till 2006. Still and all, there’s no information available about the site.

14. Nandi Bears Club

Whilst the Nandi Bears Club dates back to 1928, teeing-off at the sans-pareil 9-hole 70-par golf course did not get underway until 1935, then a preserve for the rich tea farmers. Adulated as one of the grueling golf courses in Western Kenya, Nandi Bears Club has grown in popularity as one of the prestigious courses in Kenya, and now host of many tournaments including the Gill Trophy and Kenya Breweries’ Festival of Golf. Its name was originated from an old-wives tales of folkolic bears associated with the thick forests at hand. “The Nandi bear, locally known as “kerit”, was a mysterious beast, believed to have lived near where the Nandi Bears Club sits, eons ago, before facing extinction – Nation Media. Nandi Bear Club is located next to Koitalel Arap Samoei Museum in Nandi Hills Town.

15. Ketbarak Viewpoint

Any trip that takes to the Kapsimotwa Gardens or to the Kips Eco Lodge can combine, with little trouble, a stop at Ketbarak Viewpoint, sometimes known as the Ketbarak Hill, 5 kms southwest of Nandi Hills Town along the Nandi Hills-Ketbarak Road. It overlooks Nandi Bears Club, the picturesque tea country and the precipitous landscape of Nandi which when viewed from this perspective, in pleasant weather, is a worthwhile experience. Plans are underway by the Nandi County to set up infrastructure around the Ketbarak Viewpoint to make it easier and comfortable for motorists to the site to appreciate the beauty of this region.

16. Kip’s Eco-Resort

Also known as the Ketbarak Cottages, the 9-rooms Kip’s Eco-Resort snuggled in the rolling countryside of Nandi Hills, with pleasing panoramic vistas of the tea estates, is an accomplished dream by the Kip’s and Kipkurgat Families to build a cozy and sustainable lodge that renders an authentic ‘Nandi’ experience. Kip’s Eco-Resort is unrelentingly eco-friendly. 100% of staff are from the community. 80% of their supplies are sourced locally and their cottages are built using only local material. Energy for the resort is 100% clean and renewable. What’s more, the activities at Kip’s Eco-Resort are centered around wellness and nature, to include: tea-picking, walking to Ketbarak Viewpoint (0.5 kms away) and Nandi Hills (2 kms away). From here, visitors can tour Kapsimotwa Gardens, Koitalel Arap Samoei Museum, Morobi Hill and Karebe Gold Mines. It is found 3.6 kms from Nandi Hills along the Koitalel Samoei and Nandi Hills-Kapsimotwo Road.

17. Kapsimotwa Gardens

Established in 1955 by Australian settler Roy Meyer, in part to break the mono-culture of tea and provide a community leisure hideaway, Kapsimotwa Gardens over the decades has aptly established itself as a must-see destination in Nandi County. These variegated gardens, planted with almost 100 varieties of flowers, carefully plotted trees and hedges, well-kept lawns, capacious pathways, a lake, ponds, streams and delightful rest areas, all on a beautifully-appointed property within a tea estate with superb views of the beguiling Nandi Hills annotates the difference between a good garden and a beautiful one. Almost everywhere you look there is real care and pre-commission demonstrated to piece together this mellow garth. It has some witty twists too. Like the Africa and Australia-shaped ponds, the tradional-inspired grass-thatched garden houses. It is also a birding paradise. There’s plenty to see around the Kapsimotwa Gardens to include the knockout views at the edge of Nyando Escarpment and sweeps of tea farms. It’s found 11 kms from Nandi Hills Town along C37 Nandi Hills-Kapsimotwa Road.

Experiential Video of Kapsimotwa Gardens. Published by CraftyChum

18. Sheu Morobi Cliff

Awarded the moniker of “the cliff of death”, the steep 450 ms Morobi Hill or the Sheu Morobi Cliff on Nyando Escarpment, 15 kms south of Nandi Hills Town, is a place of unparalleled beauty, yet, it is the bloodcurdling tales of the uncanny and terrifying Sheu Rituals that draw visitors to the site. In Nandi, Sheu means “there we go forever”. As it goes, the Sheu Ritual was upheld as an honourable act for the elderly to plunge-off Sheu-Morobi, to their death. It was transmuted with many rituals to make certain the elder died in eternal peace. Furthermore, “The Sheu Ritual was conducted every 5 to 10 years after the harvest period to ensure the elders were well fed before embarking on their spiritual journeys to the land of the dead. Those who chose to die a natural death were considered cowardly, and it was feared they would curse their descendants. Still, Nandi elders brook no refusal that they willingly chose to die, and were never forced”. The practice was ended by the missioners during the colonial era. Sheu Morobi Cliff is located 15 kms from Nandi Hills Town along Nandi Hills-Kimwani Road.

19. Chemase Waterfalls

This small falls is found at Chemase, hidden deep in the hillscape and thriving sugarcane farmland along the Nyando Escarpment. The fact that this dinky falls is only lesser-known can only be a good thing for preserving its natural beauty, and it takes about 40 minutes walking from the village to approach it, through a maze of paths among the sugar cane fields and with no sign directing anyone to any waterfall, oft-times on mucaked paths with a rough underfoot. The use of a local guide is imperative. Chemase Falls occurs along River Lamaiywo, one of the tributaries of River Nyando, which itself rises high in the glades of the Mau Escarpment and flows through the sugar belt north-westerly trending to drain into Lake Victoria. Chemase is 35 kms southwest of Nandi Hills Town via Nandi Hills-Kaptumo-Kipsigak Road. It can also be reached via Nandi Hills-Kopere Road and Kopere-Potopoto Road. From Kisumu it is about 38 kms to Chemase.

20. Mberere Holy Springs

From Nandi Hills Town southerly heading over Nyando Escarpment, the road finally terminates at Chemilil 30 kms away. The drive over the escarpment is a wildly pretty one with winsome roadside views of an overtly rugged landscape. There are rocks jutting out all over the boondocks, some reaching up to 2,500 ms. By the same token, the area is an odd place to find a dashing and peaceful spring of sparkling water. “At a corner, by a tall tree, the springs bubble and flow through the grove and into the plantations”. These Mberere Holy Springs have for millenia been the source of holy water for the Legio Maria Sect and its members may often be found praying within the Mberere Shrine. The springs, located within Kimwani Agricultural Development Corporation, near Chemilil, offer a unusual trip that is equal parts a cultural passage and nature excursion. From Kisumu, it can be approached via the C37 Awasi-Chemilil-Songhor Road.

21. Kopere Rocks

As plain as daylight towering along C37 Chemilil-Kopere-Songhor Road about 12 kms northeast of Chemilil are the Kopere Rocks popularly dubbed as Mawe ya Mungu – “a stack of rock columns piled up a hillock, as if someone chiselled them and then piled them up and forgot about them” – Rupi Mangat. When the Chemelil-Kopere-Songhor road was being cleared for construction in the 1950s, the surveyors found these rocks and left them unharmed. They are located a few kms drive before Songhor Pre-historic Site along C37 Nandi Hills-Kopere Road.

22. Songhor Pre-Historic Site

This is located about 14 kms northeast of the Chemilil to Makutano roundabout along C37 Chemilil-Kopere Road passing Chemilil Sugar Factory, and Kopere-Songhor Road, taking a right turnoff at Kopere Shopping Centre. The 78-acres Songhor Pre-historic Site is found at the foot of Nyando Escarpment, and it was gazetted in 1982 as a National Monument owing to its importance in the study of the Miocene Era, 19 Mya. The hominids excavated here point to the existence of man and a variety of animals thriving in this area during the antiquated past. The evidence also indicates that the ape-like-man proconsul Africanus lived at Songhor. Although there is very little to separate this site from its surrounding grassy landscape, apart from a modest timber-built research base, and offers little for tourism, Songhor is still an active research base frequented by experts, especially anthropologists and paleontologists studying the Miocene Era. It is found 50 kms east of Kisumu City along C34 Mamboleo-Miwani-Chemilil Road.

Spatial Location of Songhor Pre-Historic Site
Spatial Location of Songhor Pre-Historic Site

23. North Tinderet Forest

Unmistakably Nandi, the wooded highlands of Tinderet completely engulfed by the neat-as-a pin tea farms in the southeast region of Nandi County, bordering Kericho, has been the subject of many a photographer. In many ways, the iconic portrait of the North Tinderet Forest on the periphery of the tea estates owes its classic invariability to the fact that the 246 km2 dense forest marked by steep gorges is difficult to access. One of the classic features of the Tinderet Forests is the excision of big tracts for tea plantations. This project was conceived in 1986, as a potential way to conserve it, by establishing a buffer territory between the farmlands and the forest. It however led to rampant annexing. Unlike the South and Nandi Forests, which have remained intact, the Northern Tinderet Forest has been greatly diminished for its timber, especially podo, and only 50% of the original forest stands. The North Tinderet Forest, which marches with Nyando Escarpment far south to Mau Summit and Londiani, is widely recognized as a faunal and floral biodiversity hotbed as well as a life-changing water catchment.

24. Ngabunat Caves

Loosely translating to “a secret and hidden hideaway”, Ngabunat is truly a gem of unprecedented beauty and mystique. It is almost incomprehensible that this wonder, straight out of a fairytale, is only a lesser-known destination, despite its fetching beauty and enthralling cultural chronicles. All in all there are ten caves at Ngabunat Site, with the most popular being its uppermost one with a picture perfect waterfall cascading over its mouth. Ngabunat Caves are one of the most culturally-important heritage sites in Nandi County, with a history dating back to the 18th Century. It was here that the legendary ‘Mogobich Battles’ between the Nandi and the Ilwasin Kishu Maasai Tribes were swedged: to separate the men from the boys. Both these tribes wanted to lay claim these caves owing to the protected shelter and salty water for their livestock. Not too far from the Ngabunat Caves are spectacular views of Mogobich Valley. Ngabanut Caves are found in tea-growing region of Kapchorua just 10 kms east of Nandi Hills Town.

25. Kipkolok Springs

The colourful and charming Kipkolok Springs whose saline pool changes colour from an azure blue to emerald green as the water recedes and fills out with the season is a photographer’s paradise.  Kipkolok is the native Nandi translates to “water with lime of salt”. This communal pool, whose saline lime water is used for salt brine and to nourish livestock, was once ‘run’ by Maasai in the bygone days when these two communities were entangled in perpetuated brawls. Akin to the Ngabunat Caves, Kipkolok Springs are a living-museum of the riveting history of the Nandi Tribe.  It is found at Kiplolok Village in Songoliet Location.

26. Kapsabet

From Nandi Hills Town it’s a quick 20 kms drive north to Kapsabet Town, the largest town in Nandi, which sits roughly in the middle of the County. Kapsabet is many things to many people. It is the agricultural hub of Nandi, a mecca for long-distance running, a political center, and an historical landmark. In recent times, the Nandi County has rolled out projects aiming to exploit these unique qualities to include: construction of an arts and cultural centre with a museum; construction of a hall of fame in honour of its titlist athletes; and identification, restoration and protection of its heritage sites like Kaptumo and Kipture Forts, Menhertzegen House, Kapsabet Bible College and Kapsabet Boys High School. It is salutory to mention that Kapsabet High School is prominent as one of two premier Government high schools in the North Rift Region alongside Chewoyet High School in West Pokot County. It was pioneered and established by Elijah Cheruiyot Chepkwony (a young Nandi working in Eldoret) on March 2, 1925, as a series of mud and wattle huts; making it one of the foremost schools in Kenya.

Spatial Location of Kapsabet Town in Nandi County
Spatial Location of Kapsabet Town in Nandi County

27. Kaptumo and Kipture Forts

The start of the 20th Century was a period of radical if not tremendous change for most regions in Kenya, many not envisaged by the foregoing generation. The laying of Kenya-Uganda Railway track had achieved an irreversible momentum, leaving in its wake many thriving towns like Voi, Nairobi and Nakuru, and ergo making access to the hinterland of Kenya easier for settling and development. Construction began at the port city of Mombasa in British East Africa in 1896 and finished at the railhead, Kisumu, on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria, in 1901. The construction of roads to connect existing centres also increased trade and development, especially at Port Florence (of present-day Kisumu), Nairobi and many other major centres along the railway line. In 1906 an administrative station for Nandi District, first at Kipture, later moved to Kaptumo and finally to Kapsabet. “To handle the increased traffic from the new and administrative centre at Kisii, a new port was opened at Kongo (now Kendu Bay) in 1908. By the end of 1910, the main centres in North-Western Region of Kenya included Kisumu and Kibos in Kisumu District; Yala River, Mumias and Kakamega in North Kavirondo District; Kapsabet and Kaptumo in Nandi District, Kericho in the one time Lumbwa District; and Homa Bay and Rangwe in South Kavirondo.

28. Eden Springs Hotel

The flourishing township of Kapsabet has brought with it a budding hospitality diegesis, with many pleasing middle-class hotels that include the Eden Springs Hotel, which is the first tourist resort in Nandi County. This modish hotels is set to attract trippers to Nandi. And built just a short distance from the main town it is perfect for both day-outings and a restful lodging for travellers. Some of the highlights at the Eden Springs Hotel include its variety of rooms (that includes cottages and five-rooms bungalow), its generous outdoors spaces, the gardens, swimming pool and a children play area. It’s found along Namgoi-Tilolwe Road.

29. Keben Springs

Situated at Chepterit, near Tulon Shopping Center, within a bucolic backwoods hemmed-in by wait-a-bit braids of thick bush and the freshness of outgrown verdure, the rocks, cave and a clear-water spring of Keben Salt Lick calls-up the simple delights of a village adventure. Generally speaking, some springs around the Tinderet volcanic rocks are carbonated and springs flowing over them are mineralized. In a like way, Keben Springs has naturally carbonated and alkaline earthy water, and since time immemorial the natives of this area have enjoyed the benefits of the wellness springs. It is not at all rare even at present to find a handful of school going children on their back from school replenishing their bottles with this tasty water. There is a general consensus among all folk living around the area that this water is good for one’s health. And they are absolutely correct and lucky to have this oddity here. The area as a whole is well-watered and water-supply presents little problem. The naturally formed alkaline spring at Keben drizzle to feed a tiny and beautiful clear pool which eventually forms a small rapid lower down. Despite its oddity and peculiar beauty, Keben Springs is threatened by encroachment and anthropogenic activities. It is found 3 kms from Tulon Center, reached by heading east for 8 kms from Chepterit Centre, which is 8 kms northeast of Kapsabet Town along C39 Eldoret-Kapsabet Road.

30. Kingwal Wetland

From Kapsabet it is a 46 kms journey to Eldoret through Mosoriot and Mlango along C39 Kakamega-Kapsabet-Eldoret Road. The drives goes past the graceful farmlands of Nandi interspersed by patches of woodlands, villages and small centres. 8 kms from Kapsabet, at Chepterit, one would be interested in taking a detour via Chepterit-Kapkagaon Road to Kosirai, to explore Kingwal Wetland, which is popular as a breeding ground for the rare Sitatunga antelope. Kingwal is one of only few places in Kenya where the rare semi-aquatic Sitatunga can be sighted in its habitat. Happy in the swamps, this shy antelopes often submerges until only the face is above water when it is frightened. Kingwal Swamp covers about 3 km2, easily toured on foot. The 10 km2 Kingwal Wetland comprises of a system of rivers, streams and springs that are interconnected within the habitat.

Sitatunga - A Photographic Gallery of Wildlife in Kenya

Sitatunga, (Nzohe)

Happy in the swamps, this shy antelopes often submerges until only the face is above water when it is frightened. It is sturdy and fairly common, rarely found far from water. It sports a greyish-brown coat, and only the males carry the broad ringed horns. Its elongated hooves that spread out helps it navigate the soft ground.

31. Chepkiit Falls

38 kms from Kapsabet en route Eldoret at Mlango – and the boundary between Nandi and Uasin Gishu Counties – sits a most impressive waterfall which is the pride of the entire North Rift Circuit. Also known as Mlango Falls, the scenic 70 ms Chepkiit Falls along the Kipkaren River is especially worth a visit soon after the rains. It is, over all months of the year, a pleasant falls to explore. Chepkiit Falls, named after the monkeys found in the nearby forests, still remains largely underdeveloped although in the recent past guard rails and steps were installed for safety.  The site has a correlative cultural significance to that of Morobi Cliff as a Sheu Ritual Site.  Aside from the rushing falls, there are ‘bat-filled’ caves at the bottom for the very dashing. It is located 16 kms southwest of Eldoret Town.

32. Ndalat Hill

Located in the northwest corner of Nandi County, Ndalat Hill offers a glimpse of the antithesis ecology of Uasin Gishu County; literally in the opposite side of Nandi’s spectrum. Its landscape, as sighted atop Ndalat Hills, is comparatively flat, with only few and far-between hills. In fact, the only other noteworthy hill in Uasin Gishu is the Sergoit Hill in the northeast region south of Moiben. The isolated Ndalat Hill which reaches 2195 ms and only about 130 ms higher than Eldoret is a no-sweat easy-going hiking destination. At the summit, Ndalat Hill offers a whip-smart place to contemplate the uncanny geological differences of these two counties, and whose analogies of geological uniformity in many travel stories have been purely coincidental. Ndalat Hill sits 23 kms west of Eldoret via C39 Kisumu-Stendi Road and 64 kms from Kapsabet Town through Eldoret.

Tinderet Tea Estates with Tinderet Mountains in background.  Image Courtesy
Tinderet Tea Estates with Tinderet Mountains in background. Image Courtesy

Geography of Nandi County

Generally speaking, Nandi County is comprised of five well-defined topographic zones: rolling hills, Kapsabet Plateau, Tinderet Volcanic mass, King’wal Swamp and Nyando Escarpment. The area around Kapsabet Plateau is an agriculture hub set at about 2,020 ms and comprises of an undulating land surface crossed by various rivers including Rivers Kipkaren, Kimondi and Birei. In like manner, the Tinderet Highlands, a major agricultural region, has several rivers making their way across the deeply incised valleys, to include: Rivers Kipkurere, Kibos, Kundos and Ainabng’etuny. Unique to Tinderet is the craggy landscape, which in some places has rocks jutting out to height of 2,500 ms. Furthermore, some of these rivers produce substantial waterfalls and rapids that have potential for harnessing hydroelectric power. Equally impressive in craggy disposition is the Nyando Escarpment, which comprises of extremely rugged terrain that consists of granites and volcanic rocks. The Equator runs alongside Nyando’s scarp-line.

Land Use in Nandi County

Forests in Nandi County form 13% of its land cover. The North and South Nandi Forest Reserves occurring at an altitude below 1,900 ms (ASL) bear significant differences to the North Tinderet Forest Reserve which occurs between 2,300 to 2,500 ms ASL. The North Nandi Forest is an extension of the Kakamega Forest, typified by high rainfall and diverse species of trees. These forests are composed of indigenous hardwoods. Some of the other forests at Kimondi and Serengonik collectively comprise of about 2,636-hectares of exotic forest plantations. Most of the remaining areas of Nandi are put under crop cultivation – for subsistence and commercial use. The main food crops produced in Nandi County are maize, beans, cow peas, potatoes and cabbages, covering a total of 1257 km2. The main cash crops are tea, coffee, and sugar cane. The cash crop covers about 263 km2.

Highlights in Nandi County

Nandi County has upwards of 66 identified tourist sites – nature based tourism, agro, sports, eco-tourism and cultural – scattered across the county, which to a large extent have not been fully developed to attract visitors. Some of the tourist products and attraction sites in the county include; Nature Based tourism, Agro tourism, Sports tourism, Eco tourism and Cultural tourism. The main National Reserve in Nandi is the Bonjoge National Reserve in Nandi South. Its other key attractions of interest include the epic Nandi Rock and the South Nandi Forest.

Population in Nandi County

In 2009, Nandi County had a population of 813,803 – comprising of 406,907 males and 406,896 females. The most densely populated constituency was Emgwen, with a population density of 400 persons / km2. Correspondingly, Tinderet was the least densely populated constituency then with a population density of 201 persons / km2. At present, Nandi’s inter-censual growth rate stands at 3.1 %, which is slightly higher than the national growth rate of 3.0%. A majority of the residents reside in the rural areas, since a large percentage of the county is rural. Only 3.9% of the entire population resides in urban centres. Kapsabet, its largest, is the most populous town, followed by Nandi Hills Town.

View atop the Tabolwa Rock, in Nandi North Forest.  Photo Courtesy of Edmond Kuto
Tabolwa Rock in Nandi North Forest. Image Courtesy of Edmond Kuto

Airports in Nandi County

Nandi County does not have any airstrips. In instead, Nandi County depends on airports in the neighbouring Counties of Uasin Gishu, Kisumu, and Kakamega.

Roads in Nandi County

Nandi County has roughly 183 kms of tarmac road, out of 1,673 kms total road network. Most of the remaining unpaved roads are in bad condition, especially during the rainy season, hindering effective access.  The poor state of the roads is accentuated by the heavy rainfall – which is experienced throughout the year.  

Climate in Nandi County

Nandi County has a pleasant and moderate warm climate year-round, with no cold and hot extremes. The climate is influenced by both altitude and geology. Most parts of Nandi County experience mean temperatures between 18 C to 22 C during the rainy season; exempting the area adjacent to Nyando Escarpment, which at a lower altitude of 1,300 m experiences warmer temperatures, as high as 26 C. In the dry months – December and January – the mean temperature in Nandi County is 23 C, which the during the cold spells between July and August night temperatures drop to as low as 14 C. Generally speaking, Nandi receives an average rainfall of 1200 mm to 2000 mm yearly. The long rains start in early March and continue up to end of June, while short rains start in mid September and end in November. Only rarely is there a month without some rainfall. The perceived dry spell is usually experienced from end of December to mid-March.

Nandi County Distance Chart
Nandi County Distance Chart

View of a section of the Kapsimotwa Gardens.  Photo Courtesy of Safari 254
Section of the Kapsimotwa Gardens. Image Courtesy of Safari 254

National Monuments in Nandi County

There are no designated national monuments in Nandi County.

Nandi County Map

Nandi County Map