Attractions in Nandi County
1. Londiani-Koru Route
If the object of your journey is Kisumu and outbound, then C35 Londiani-Koru-Awasi route offers a great alternative away from the ever-busy B1 Mau Summit-Kericho-Kisumu Road. At Londiani, 9 kms from Mau Summit turnoff, taking a right turn, this pleasurable tarred road 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, the fault trough extending westwards to the shores of Lake Victoria, and the Gregory Rift Valley – and this 82 kms stretch of road, passing Tinderet Mountain, Nandi Hills and the conical hills near Koru, has unparalleled views of both these unique landforms. Then, there is 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.
Traversing the southeast and west quarter of Kenya, the usual A109 Mombasa-Kampala route 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 diversity. 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 by way of 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.
2. Nyando Escarpment
Nandi County is composed of five distinct topographic features: the rolling hills (west), Kapsabet Plateau, Tinderet volcanic complex, 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 is marked by an extremely rugged area strewn with 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 had gained unwelcome notoriety thanks 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 epic 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 and rock formations, most notably of its eye-catching Nandi Rock. This spectacular formation, atop the escarpment, can be reached by anyone who is fit including children. Its takes on average 6 hours round-trip to explore the site. All parties hiking to the Nandi Rock are required to report at KWS Kaptumik Post. The viewing ledge, below the summit rock, with breathtaking views, is the star here. The very top of the Nandi Rock can be scaled via a short 30 metres chimney by the experienced climbers. To get to Nandi Rock, “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.
5. South Nandi Forest
The 247 km2 South Nandi Forest lies between the Nandi Escarpment and C39 Kapsabet-Kaimosi Road in the southwest region of Nandi. It 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, which is also the focal point 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 a part of the Kakamega-Nandi Forests, are mainly confined to ground below 6,500 feet and display 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.