Packed with parks, where history comes to life
Posted Tuesday, May 3 2011 at 22:00
- Visitors to county spoilt for choice as to which of the many attractions to see
It is a prehistoric site with artifacts used by Iron Age people, whose tools included spears with heads made of fish bones. It is from Hyrax that it becomes clear that the entire area — all the way back to Naivasha —was once a giant lake.
There are numerous graves, one containing about 17 bodies of the Sirikwa and proof of a massive battle that forced them to flee the area.
Nakuru National Park, the county’s largest revenue earner, attracts thousands of visitors, among them parties of school children. Park deputy senior warden Joseph Dadacha said the 188 square kilometre park hosted 240,000 visitors last year, half of them locals.
Although Kenya Wildlife Service agrees that Lake Nakuru is the largest revenue earner among national parks — collecting between 20 to 30 per cent of the total KWS revenue — officials refused to release precise figures, saying they could be used by local councils to get KWS to send more money to them.
KWS spokesman Paul Udoto commented: “Nakuru is our largest earner but we cannot release the figures because they are sometimes used by politicians, especially civic leaders, to demand more from KWS, which is unfair.”
He said money collected from the five most popular national parks was used collectively to support the less famous parks and to protect wildlife.
The park is home to more than 400 bird species and is also a sanctuary for rhinos and the Rothschild giraffe.
Menengai Crater, seven kilometres north of Nakuru, draws visitors for all manner of reasons ranging from site-seeing to educational tours, pilgrimage… and sadly suicide.
People travel from as far as Uganda, western Kenya and the Coast to congregate in caves on the sides of the caldera for prayers, while others, desperate and unhappy, occasionally throw themselves into the abyss.
The most notorious suicide was in 2005 when a Catholic priest drove his car into the crater, while the latest was last year when a primary school teacher hired a boda boda motorbike from town, paid the rider on reaching the crater, then leapt to his death.
Lord Egerton Castle is a 52 room mansion built by a lovesick peer, Lord Egerton, for a woman he loved but who refused to marry him.
The castle is now a tourist attraction, used for accommodation and as a camp site. It is a popular place for weddings too.
Little known but interesting are the Njoro River caves, a site dating back to the stone-age. In the early 1930s, Mary Leakey discovered cremated burial sites estimated to be 3,000 years old.