Eldoret, the unofficial capital of the Kalenjin community, in the heart of Rift Valley, was the first place I visited in Kenya outside Nairobi. Back then, I was a young and excited trainee through AIESEC, the global student organization that brought me to Kenya the first time. That was on my 4th day in Kenya, and I was still busy getting overwhelmed with all the impressions from this marvelous country, at that time still unknown to me.
I can still vividly recall the slow and uncomfortable bus ride, in a dirty and shaky ramshakle on horrendously potholed roads, through the lush, green landscapes of the Rift Valley.
That was 2002. 8 years on, the scenery is still green and picturesque, however, the quality of the roads has improved dramatically, and the cars driving on them are newer and bigger.
Eldoret is a cosy little town, but without any really characteristic features. It is generally pretty clean and well-kept, but without anything to see or do in the town itself. The surrounding Rift Valley has some spectacular sceneries, though, and the nearby Eldama Ravine offers a breathtaking view of the Valley from the top of the escarpment.
There are no real high-quality hotels in Eldoret. The best option available is the much-touted Sirikwa. Clearly, the place once had some grandeur about it, but it is now so worn-down that the only reason for staying there is the lack of better options. The staff are very polite and friendly, though, and that is always a plus. The rooms are also decently clean.
Other options include The Wagon, just opposite Sirikwa, and Klique. The latter two are simple and cheap options, without much to write home about, except the fact that they have rooms, and restaurants with some atmosphere. The Wagon also has a bar that gets quite lively during weekends.
There are also some ok night clubs that get extremely crowded during the weekends. Signature is probably the most famous one, and that’s a good place to feel the pulse of Eldoret if you’re there during a weekend night. Extremely crowded, though.
Eldoret hardly features in the itinerary of the gourmet traveller, and don’t expect any of its restaurants to be featured in the Michelin Guide anytime soon. In fact, there aren’t too many restaurants there at all, except for the ones at the hotels. Sirikwa has a decent one, so does the Hotel White Castle. The one at The Wagon also has some pretty tasty curries. There are also 2 Chinese restaurants in Eldoret. The Elcove, recommended by some, is uninviting to the point where I walked out after merely looking in. Siam, a few blocks away, has more to offer. At least, that place has a bit of a Chinese atmosphere, and good food too!
This post was written from my Sony Ericsson X10, at Siam restaurant in Eldoret. The spicy chicken soup and and shredded pork in ginger and black bean sauce were definitely nice. Now it’s time for the date cake with ice cream! 🙂