Nandi Region & its People

Welcome to the land of the Nandi warriors who were famous for their militant opposition to the introduction of British colonial rule in the early years of the last century. Guided by their spiritual leader (orkoiyot) Koitalel Samoei Arap Turgat, they were a thorn in the flesh of the British who had their eyes on the forests and rich agricultural lands of what is now Nandi, Keiyo and Uasin Gishu Districts. Of course, the warriors could not win against bullets from machine guns. But, what really turned the tide was the death of Arap Samoei, who, through deception and trickery, was lured to his assassination just over a hundred years ago. The despicable strategy of the colonialists was undoubtedly successful, though occasional attacks on, and thefts from, the advancing railway (the northern branch of the “Lunatic Express”) continued into later years.

Despite this history, the Nandi have maintained a spirit of independence; and the courage and endurance of their warrior forefathers is still in their blood. It comes out on the athletics track and on the X-country and marathon courses around the world ---- where they make their presence felt, year after year. And it is not only the men, such as the marathoner Robert Cheruiyot or 2008 800m Olympic champion Wilfred Bungei; what about the sensational Pamela Chelimo who is also an Olympic 800m champion ? !!

Their fearsome reputation not withstanding, the Nandi people are very friendly and welcoming to visitors. They would like nothing better than to sit down with you and share a sotet of mursik (sour milk) and stories about life. Milk is an important element in the life of a Nandi household. Whether fresh or sour, it is part of the diet of all from the youngest child to the oldest kogo. Athletes drink a lot of milk and simply cannot run without it. In the olden days the milk was mixed with blood from the neck-vein of a cow and this was the staple food of the warrior age set. Now milk is one of the chief income earners for the community. Another is tea, which is a cash crop found chiefly around Nandi Hills.

The two main towns of Nandi district are Nandi Hills and Kapsabet. The latter, although far larger in size and urban population, is, in accommodation facilities, limited to local and budget establishments.
In this respect, Nandi Hills is much better and has a number of quality guest houses, lodges and hotels. Kapsabet may be less prepared for visitors than it should be because most head for Eldoret, which is only an hour’s drive away. For an out-of-town location, options include: Kip’s Eco Resort, Hotel Jafferus and Tindinyo Falls Resort. They may not have all the mod-cons of the urban establishments, but offer a relaxing environment and tranquil atmosphere that may be exactly what you are looking for.

Eldoret & Uasin Gishu

Eldoret Town Sisibo

In contrast to the rolling hills of Nandi, the fields of Uasin Gishu are spread out on a vast plateau with just a few isolated hills (such as Sergoit, Ndalat and Karuna hills) interrupting the view to the horizon. The main crops are wheat and maize.

Eldoret town had its beginnings here on the windswept plains at a height ofLions Sign 2070m, as a staging and trading post, in the first years of the nineteenth century. It was located on a farm with title deed No.64, so, for many years, locals would refer to the town as “Sisibo” (a local way of saying 64); despite the official name having been adopted in 1912 (from eldare, a Masai word for “stony river”, to which “t” was affixed, to agree with the ending of many Nandi place names). Today “Sisibo” is the 5th-largest town in Kenya. It has a greater-urban population of 750,000 people and is suffering the stresses of urban expansion. However, all basic requirements are there, including many places for eating, entertainment and accommodation. Many of the new businesses and buildings in the town belong to successful athletes and former athletes who have decided to invest for their future in this place which is part of their past.

Farming in Uasin Gishu

The Uasin Gishu/ Nandi region is agriculturally very productive and relies on the efforts of both small- and large-scale farmers. They will, undoubtedly, be willing to explain to visitors their ways of raising animals and crops and the problems they encounter.
The mainstay commodities are maize, wheat, dairy produce, potatoes, tea and a large variety of vegetables. A visit to the local markets will give you a chance to sample these farm products and many more.
For those interested in floriculture, there are a number of flower farms around Eldoret town one can visit. They export their flowers mainly to Europe. The closest, Equator Flowers, is at Marula, 5 km along the Eldoret – Iten road.