Kitale Travel Guide

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Trevor Mikelas

Kitale is a good-sized town north of Kakamega in the western highlands, and is a very productive agricultural area. It’s important to tourists because it serves as a base for traveling to Mt Elgon to the west and Lodwar to the north. There are two museums in town, the National Museum which has a nice nature trail out back, and an agroforestry project next door and a private museum, Treasures of Africa, which has a fantastic collection of Ugandan and Turkana artifacts set in a beautiful desert garden. The curator is a botanist with a keen interest in anthropology and linguistics and knows a lot about the area.  There is also an interesting museum in Kapenguria to the north, with a lot of exhibits relating to the Mau Mau (Jomo Kenyatta was imprisoned here).

Matatus run to and from Kitale from Eldoret, Kisumu, Lodwar, the Ugandan border, Kakamega Forest and many other spots. If you’re coming from a town further east than Eldoret, take a vehicle to Eldoret first, as all matatus will stop here for a while anyway. You might as well be free to choose a nissan that is almost full and ready to go instead of waiting for your nissan to fill up.

As to the railway station: Passenger rail traffic has stopped for many years, though freight trains run again.   However, an easy way to get from Nairobi to Western Kenya is to take a passenger train to Kisumu (on Lake Victoria).  From there, visit the Lake and surrounds and then take a matatu to Kakamega and enjoy the forest. From Kakamega, take a matatu to Kitale.

Bottom end places to stay include the New Kitale House and the Executive Lodge which is a bit more expensive but has private bathrooms although not always hot water - ask for a room far away from the bar/tv. For a nicer place, try the Bongo Hotel (# (0325) 20593) on Moi Ave. It has singles/doubles with shared bathrooms for KSh 600/700 or with attached bathrooms for KSh 700/800, including breakfast but if you have a room at the front you will be disturbed by the all night bar adjacent and some of the rooms are very shabby - ask to see several. The Alakara Hotel (# (0325) 20395) on Kenyatta St have rooms at about Kshs1500. The Vision Gate on Kenyatta St has rooms at about Kshs1200 but they rent the downstairs floor to a very noisy charismatic church who get going with their speaker system at 6am! The nicest place in the town for budget travellers is the new Karibuni Lodge (#0735 573798 email: theresainafrica@yahoo.co.uk website: www.karibunikitale.com ), 2km from the town centre - they will pick you up from the bus stand.  Probably the only place in town you can get a peaceful night's sleep unless you can sleep through bar noise, tv, disco and preachers.  Walk-in garden tents, dorms or rooms with private bathroom from Kshs300-1500.  Camping available or self-catering.  Log fire, garden, great food, real Kenyan coffee, good excursions.  Book exchange, lounge, hammocks. Also a great place to stay but much more pricey, is Sirikwa Safaris 23 km north of Kitale. You can camp here with access to all the facilities (Kshs375), sleep in a furnished tent for KShs2000+, or stay in a room for KShs3000+. The grounds are beautiful, and the owners are very welcoming and helpful. There are self-catering facilities or you can order meals (about Kshs1000 for dinner). 

There are not many decent restaurants in town, the best being Karibuni Lodge for good European style food, coffeee and cakes (dinner booking required for non-residents), Pinewood near the Agro-Forestry centre (for Indian food) and Iroko Twigs on Kenyatta Street for traditional style food.

Good internet cafe, Kitale Communications Centre, in the Lantern Restaurant building opposite Standard Chartered Bank.  Visa/ATM at Standard Chartered and Barclays.

Surprisingly, one of the best and largest Shoping Malls in Kenya is in Kitale, known as Khetia's Gigamart. This is a WallMart Style Hypermart with everything you need from fresh groceries to latest in electronics. It even has a bookshop, DIY Centre, Mobile Electronics, ATM, Ice Cream Shop  - you name it. It is one place worth visiting in Kitale.

Excursions from Kitale include Saiwa Swamp National Park, Kakamega Forest, Mt Elgon National Park, trekking in the Cheranganis, homestays with Pokot families, good birdwatching, trekking Kongolai Escarpment, horseriding at Delta Crescent Game Sanctuary.  Good guides are available from Karibuni Lodge or Sirikwa Safaris.

Contributors

March 08, 2007 change by tiastravels (3 points)

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