travel guide Masai Mara

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M a s a i M a r a & W e s t e r n K e n ya W E s T E R N H I g H l a N D s M a s a i M a r a & W e s t e r n K e n ya s l E E P I N g & E a T I N g M a s a i M a r a & W e s t e r n K e n ya K E R I c H o chess sets, bowls, animals and the unmistak- able abstract figures of embracing couples. Each artisan specialises in one design before passing it on to someone else to be smoothed with wet sandpaper and polished with wax. Most pieces are destined for the curio shops of Nairobi and Mombasa and trade-aid shops around the world. As you would expect, pric- es are cheaper here than elsewhere. If you're undaunted by adding a few heavy rocks to your backpack, you can save a packet. 4 Sleeping & Eating St Vincent Guesthouse gUEsTHoUsE $ (% 0733650702; s/d/tw Ksh1500/2000/2400; p ) This Catholic-run guesthouse off the Moi Hwy isn't the place for a party, but it's hands down the best place to stay in Kisii. Rooms are very clean and cosy, it's quiet and securi- ty is good. No alcohol allowed. Nile Restaurant, Fast Food & Guesthouse HoTEl $ (% 0786706089; Hospital Rd; excl breakfast s & d Ksh1000-1500, tw Ksh2000) Clean, cheap rooms and a central location make the Nile the best deal in the town centre. The icing on the cake is that the 2nd-floor restaurant (mains KSh200 to KSh300) has a command- ing view of the chaos below. 8 Getting There & Away The congested matatu terminal in the centre of town is a chaos of loud, and often somewhat drunk, people trying to bundle you onto the nearest matatau, whether or not you want to go where it's going. If you do manage to pick your own matatu, you'll find regular departures to Homa Bay (Ksh200, 1½ hours), Kisumu (Ksh300, 2½ hours), Kericho (Ksh500, two hours) and Isebania (Ksh300, 1¾ hours) on the Tanzanian border. Tabaka matatus (Ksh100, 45 minutes) leave from cemetery Rd. Returning, it is sometimes easier to catch a boda-boda (Ksh70 to Ksh100) to the 'Tabaka junction' and pick up a Kisii-bound matatu there. Easy coach has twice-daily departures to Nai- robi (Ksh900, eight hours, 10am and 9.30pm). It also has a bus to Narok (Ksh550, four hours, 1pm), which is handy for the Mara. Kericho P OP 150,000 Kericho is a haven of tranquillity. Its sur- rounds are blanketed by a thick patchwork of manicured tea plantations, each seem- ingly hemmed in by distant stands of ever- greens, and even the town centre seems as orderly as the tea gardens. With a pleasant climate and a number of things to see and do, Kericho makes for a very calming couple of days. 1 Sights & Activities Tea Plantations FaRM Kericho is the centre of Africa's most im- portant tea gardens and the countryside surrounding the town is one of interlock- ing tea estates mixed with patches of forest. You might expect tea-plantation tours to be touted left, right and centre, but they are surprisingly few and far between. If you just want to take a stroll in the fields, the easiest plantations to get to are those behind the Tea Hotel. If you want something more organised, Harman Kirui (% 0721843980; kmtharman@; per person Ksh200) organises fun and informative tea-estate and factory tours. Most tours involve walking around the fields and watching the picking (note that the pickers don't work on Sunday). If you want to actually see the process through # # ÿ ÿ # ñ # # # › › › Market R ia n o Ri v e r Ogemba Rd C e m e t er y R d M oi H w y Sakawa Rd Sansora Rd Hospital Rd 4 5 1 2 3 R Î B3 1 2 1 2 A B B A Kisii # e 0 500 m 0 0.25 miles D Tabaka (23km); Homa Bay (75km) D Kericho (101km) Kisii ÿ Sleeping 1 Nile Restaurant, Fast Food & Guesthouse ........................................B2 2 St Vincent Guesthouse........................ A1 ï Transport 3 Easy Coach............................................B2 4 Matatus ..................................................B2 5 Matatus to Tabaka................................ B1 1 3 3

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