travel guide Masai Mara

Roho Ya Chui, Swahili for "soul of leopard", your partner for innovative training solutions in combination with safari packages and wildlife photography.

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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 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 M T E l g o N N a T I o N a l P a R K Iroko Twigs Hotel HoTEl $ (% 0773475884; Kenyatta st; s/d Ksh3000/3500; W ) If you can overlook a few missing bathroom tiles and a little wear and tear, this is far and away the smartest hotel in town. The rooms (doubles more than sin- gles) are pleasingly decorated with polished wood and art and there are coffee- and tea- making facilities and even dressing gowns in the wardrobes. Cosy cafe downstairs. Alakara Hotel HoTEl $ (% 072280023; Kenyatta st; s/d without bathroom Ksh1100/1200, s/d Ksh1500/2000; p ) The most inviting super cheapie in town is safe, friendly, clean and has comfortable beds and reliable(ish) hot water. It also has a good bar, restaurant and TV room. Bongo Lodge HoTEl $ (Moi ave; s/d excl breakfast Ksh1000/1200) One reader commented that this place 'looks like the scene of a murder'. If you're the kind of backpacker afraid of sleeping in murder scenes, you're going to be disappointed to hear that the Bongo still has some of the better budget beds in town. 5 Eating Iroko Boulevard Restaurant KENyaN $ (askari Rd; mains Ksh150-280; h 6.30am-6.30pm) It's got style, it's got glamour, it's got big-city aspirations and it's totally unexpected in Kitale. With cheap dishes and an old Mor- ris car hanging from the ceiling, this is the most popular place to eat in town. There are two other places in town with very similar names and menus – all are good. 8 Information Barclays Bank (Bank st) With aTM. other banks are next door. Post Office (Post office Rd) 8 Getting There & Away Matatus, buses and Peugeots are grouped by destination, and spread in and around the main bus and matatu park. Regular matatus run to Endebess (Ksh100, 45 minutes, change here for Mt Elgon National Park), Kapenguria (Ksh150, 45 minutes, change here to continue north to Marich), Eldoret (Ksh250, 1¼ hours), Kakamega (Ksh250 to Ksh300, 2½ hours) and Kisumu (Ksh500, four hours). Most bus companies have offices around the bus station and serve Eldoret (Ksh200, one hour), Nakuru (Ksh700, 3½ hours), Nairobi (Ksh900, seven hours) and lodwar (Ksh1500, 8½ hours) each day. Easy Coach (Moi ave) runs to Nairobi (Ksh1350, seven hours) via Nakuru (Ksh850, 3½ hours) at 8am and 8pm. Mt Elgon National Park Straddling the Ugandan border and peak- ing with Koitoboss (4187m), Kenya's third- highest peak, and Uganda's Wagagai (4321m), the slopes of Mt Elgon are a sight indeed, or at least they would be if they weren't buried under a blanket of mist and drizzle most of the time. With rainforest at the base, the vege- tation ascends through bamboo jungle to alpine moorland featuring the giant groundsel and giant lobelia plants. Common animals include buffaloes, bushbucks (both of which are usually graz- ing on the airstrip near Cholim gate), olive baboons, giant forest hogs and duikers. The lower forests are the habitat of the black- and-white colobus monkeys and blue and de Brazza's monkeys. There are more than 240 species of birds here, including red-fronted parrots, Ross's turacos and casqued hornbills. On the peaks CHERANGANI HILLS Northea of Kitale, forming the we ern wall of the spectacular Elgeyo Escarpment, are the Cherangani Hills. This high plateau has a di inctly pa oral feel, with thatched huts, patchwork shambas (small farm plots) and wide, rolling meadows cut by babbling brooks. Right up on the summits the landscape becomes barren, with bleak moorlands. You could easily spend weeks absorbed in the utter beauty of this landscape and never come across another touri . There are a couple of great five-day treks, namely from Kabichbich to Chesengoch and from Kapcherop to Sigor, and some intere ing shorter hikes in the northern reaches of the hills. 1 4 2

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