Maralal Travel Guide

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Maralal is a small town north of Nyahururu and Nanyuki. It’s in a beautiful spot, surrounded by Maralal National Sanctuary. The area is home to the Samburu people, relatives of the Maasai. They are perhaps the smartest dressed tribe in the country. The area is impoverished, so expect to be severely harassed by locals trying to sell trinkets or beg.

Maralal is not too frequently visited by tourists except for once a year at its annual International Camel Derby. The Derby is held every July and everyone is invited for a hell of a good time. The race is based at Yare Club and Campground, a few km out of town, where you are free to camp for KSh 200, or get a nice room.

There is an amateur competition and a professional race. The amateur class is open to anyone wishing to ride. For a few thousand Kenyan shillings, you can pick your own camel, hire a handler to run behind your camel and hit it with a stick, and take a chance at winning a lot of money. No matter how you do, you can be sure of two things: You’ll leave with a hang-over from celebrating for two days straight, and you’ll be so sore you won’t be able to sit comfortably for days. Get there on Friday or early Saturday to register for the race.

If you’re looking for another place to stay besides the Yare Club, try the Buffalo Lodge. It offers rooms for KSh 400 and has two lively bars. Kimaniki Boarding & Lodging and the Silence Hotel are also good values. The only upper-end place is the expensive Maralal Safari Lodge (# (0368) 2060), 3 km outside of town towards Baragoi. It has a golf course, swimming pool, and a watering hole for attracting game. It costs US$ 120/150 for singles/doubles with full board. The restaurant and facilities are open to the public.

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