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Nakuru Town – A Guide to Nakuru Kenya

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Nakuru Town Guide

Nakuru Town is 157 kilometers north-west of Nairobi. Nakuru Town is the fourth largest town in the country. It was  started in 1900 as a resting camp by the Uganda Railway builders before they started the climb of the Rift Valley’s Westen or Londiani Escarpment. Nakuru Kenya has become the centre of the farming community in the Rift Valley region with modem shopping facilities, sports, clubs and high class hotels.

Nakuru  Town Climate and Geography

The climate in Nakuru is mostly mild during the summers and can get quite cold during the winters. It rains a decent amount during the rainy seasons (sometimes it rains at odd times of the year too ). During the winters, the weather in the Nakuru ranges from pleasant and mildly cold to bitter cold. Weather in Nakuru plays a major part in determining the schedule and the itinerary of a holiday trip.

History of Nakuru Town

Nakuru town is located 160 km North west of Nairobi and is the fourth largest urban centre in Kenya after Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.

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Nakuru town is situated at an altitude of 1859m above the sea level and it is within the region of the Great Rift Valley whose formation gave rise to a unique natural structure. The town started as a railway station on Kenyan-Uganda railway at the turn of this century. The name ‘Nakuru’ is derived from Nakurro, the Maasai word meaning a ‘dusty place’. The town is located in an environmentally sensitive area. It is sandwiched between Lake Nakuru National Park to the south and the Menengai crater and its associated volcanic landscapes. Further to the North East of the town is the Bahati Escarpment forming the western fridge of the Aberdares Escarpment.

From a population of 38,181 in 1962, the population reached 163,927 in 1989. Nowadays, Nakuru town is the fourth largest town in Kenya (after Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu), with a 1999 population of 289,385(GOK, 2000). By the year 2015, the population is projected to rise to 760,000, which is approximately 50% above the present levels. The population growth has been influenced by the birth rates, rural-urban migration and boundary extensions.

There is rapid ‘urban’ development at the periphery of Nakuru town because many people take refuge in those areas as a result of shortage of housing in the town centre. Most of these settlements take place in areas expropriated from agricultural uses by use of subdivision plans. This makes planning complex, especially as residents ‘demand’ inclusion in the municipal boundaries and they benefit from urban services, which are being overstretched beyond their limits. Majority of the population live in unplanned settlements that are not served with municipal services and the quality of the environment in these neighbourhoods has been falling.

Economy Activities in Nakuru Town

Agriculture, manufacturing and tourism are the backbone of the economy of Nakuru Kenya. The area surrounding the Nakuru town is known for its vast agricultural potential with numerous small farms and also vast agricultural enterprises.

The main crops grown around Nakuru town and marketed in the town include coffee, wheat, barley, maize, and beans. These crops are stored in massive silos at the outskirts of the town by the National Cereals and Produce Board and Lesiolo Grain Handlers Limited. The crops provide the primary raw material for the manufacturing industries found in Nakuru and Nairobi. These industries include flour milling and grain ginneries.

Dairy farming is a key economic activity and provides the inputs for various milk processing plants around the town. The town is also a center for various retail businesses that provide goods and services to the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. A large public market lies to the west of the town on the main through fare to the capital, Nairobi.

Nakuru Town Kenya Photo

Nakuru Town Kenya Photo

Things to do and Places to Visit While in Nakuru Town

Lake Nakuru

It is home to millions of flamingos that create a magnificent pink rim around the lake. Though the name Nakuru means a dusty place in the Maasai language, this lake is not dusty; it is a beautiful soda lake in the Great Rift Valley.

Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha is one of the top places to visit in Nakuru County. It has numerous luxury lodges and camps around it, and you get regular boat safaris over the lake to see birds, hippos etc.

Lake Nakuru National Park

It offers a sanctuary for the region’s hundreds of wildlife and plan species. There are over 400 species of birds. Other wildlife animals are giraffes, rhinos in Kenya, lions in Kenya, cheetahs in Kenya, leopards in Kenya, waterbucks in Kenya and snakes in Kenya.

Hell’s Gate National Park

Hell’s Gate is heaven. Rocks jutting out of the surface, gorges scoured beautifully by water, wildlife and birds are some of the things to see in this park. In addition to birds, you will also see gazelles, buffalos in Kenya, zebras in Kenya, eland entelope, hartebeests and baboons. Activities in the park include cycling, game viewing, horse riding, hiking, photography and rock climbing.

Lord Egerton Castle

Lord Maurice Egerton built the castle hoping that the woman will fell in love with  agree to live in it, but she turned his proposal down and broke his heart.  She had turned down his first offer to stay in his first six-bedroom house calling it a chicken coop and when he built the castle, she did not accept his proposal either. The castle is located about 12km from Nakuru Town. The castles’ design is beautiful both in and out. It sits on beautifully landscaped land. It is one of the places to visit in Nakuru County for a taste of aristocratic lifestyle of the last century.

Mount Longonot

This mountain is one of the attractions you will see on your way from Nairobi to Nakuru. It is an extinct volcanic whose last activity was in the 1800s. Do not forget your hiking boots, camera and a pair of binoculars.

Mount Longonot National Park

The park is within and around Mount Longonot. Wildlife inhabits the forest around the mountain as well as on the crater’s floor. Animals to see include zebras, giraffes and hartebeests. It is a popular place to visit in Nakuru County, about an hour’s drive from Nairobi.

Crescent Island

This island is situated on Lake Naivasha and it is one of the few unique places in the country. It has a number of wildlife species roaming the underbrush. You will encounter most of these species during your walk. Host a picnic, relax and enjoy the scenery as you take photos with giraffes, zebras and wildebeests in the background.

Olkaria Hot Spa

Olkaria Hot Spa is adjacent to Hell’s Gate National Park. After a safari in the park, walk into the spa for another round of thrilling fun. This spa has naturally heated water, cooled to a temperate fit for human skin. The large outdoor spa attracts dozens of adventure seekers daily.

Crater Lake

This volcanic crater lake is close to Lake Naivasha, and it has a game conservancy with giraffes, over 100 species of birds, zebras and buffalos. It is a great venue for a hike or walk.

Ol Donyo Eburru

Ol Donyo Eburru is the highest peak of Mount Eburru. This attraction is part of the Eburru ecosystem, which spreads over Nakuru County. Eburru Forest has a variety of flora and fauna species. Indigenous trees weave a maze offering shade and habitat to the hundreds of birds. Other wildlife animals to see are giraffes, bushbucks, gazelles, waterbucks, monkeys, buffalos, bongos, baboons and leopards.

Lake Elementaita

It is another of the magnificent lakes in the Great Rift Valley. It is a short distance from Gilgil Town and you can see it as you drive on the highway. Explore this attraction on foot to see birds, gazelles, elands, warthogs, and take pictures of the scenery. South of the lake are several hot springs. It is also a popular fishing spot for locals.

Kigio Wildlife Conservancy

This community owned conservancy is in Gilgil. It has about 3,500 wildlife animals that include buffalos, elands, waterbucks, leopards, Rothschild giraffes, hyenas and hippos.

Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site

The famous Leakey family discovered this Neolithic site in 1927, and excavations began in 1937 to reveal fossils dating back to 1500 B.C. They found tombs, human settlements and skeletons of 19 bodies. These and other fossils are preserved in the Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site and Museum.

Kariandusi Pre-historic Site

The Leakeys discovered this site in 1928. The fossils excavated hand axes of the Stone Age period, a molar of an elephant with a straight tusk, algae skeletons and knives. This attraction is a short distance from the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway in Gilgil. Another attraction close to it is Lake Elementaita.

Most places to visit in Nakuru town have numerous hotels, lodges and campsites in or around them. These include the plush groups of hotels such as Sarova Hotels, Governors Camps and Serena Hotels.

Night Clubs and Nightlife in Nakuru Town

There are many places to go to have fun at night in Nakuru town. There are more than 4 discos in town, and literally hundreds of bars.

Dimples Disco is small but always lively on the weekends. It’s located at the west end of Kenyatta Rd, near the roundabout. It’s upstairs, and directly across the hall is a great bar called Mahogany where you can listen to the latest tunes, shoot pool and eat nyama choma (barbecue).

Perhaps the most famous and fancy club is Coco Savana Disco on Club Road. It has a nice sound system and plays a variety of music. The clientele is mostly young Kenyan men and prostitutes. There’s a bar/restaurant upstairs that is full of people every night.

If you still want more fun, try the bar called Tickles on Kenyatta Ave upstairs of the Piranha Restaurant. The last disco, the XTC is above the Oyster Shell Restaurant, also on Kenyatta.

Accommodation and Hotels in Nakuru Town

The best place to get nyama choma, and the most biggest hang-out in town is the Millennium Hotel on Government Ave or Kipchoge Ave. At night they make room for a dance floor and place music. The place is mostly outdoors, with 3 separate bars, 4 pool tables, and seats about 100 people. On weekend nights the place is packed with twice that number.

Taidy’s restaurant is an upcoming eating and party joint located along Ebrahim road. it includes a nightclub that is a popular hangout for the youth on weekends. it is also a beautiful place to be in with the welcoming dishes that are served.

Best Hotels in Nakuru Town

  1. Ziwa Bush Lodge
  2. Tumaini Cottage and Conference Centre
  3. Elementaita Country Lodge
  4. Nakuru Milimani Guest House
  5. Hillcourt Resort and Spar
  6. Punda Milias Nakuru Camp
  7. Midland Nakuru Hotel
  8. Merica Hotel

Education Institutions  in Nakuru Town

Nakuru town is also an important educational center. It is the home of Egerton University, a large public university, and Kabarak University, a private university. The Rift Valley Institute of Technology is also based here, as is the Kenya Industrial Training Institute (KITI). The Kenya Institute of Management (KIM) has a college branch in Nakuru.

Nakuru Kenya is now becoming a center of academic with centers like Kenya Institute of Biomedical Sciences and Technology (KIBSAT) being opened in the Town and the most recent Nakuru Counseling & Training Institute [NCTI], which is a project of Nakuru Christian Professionals Association. The institute, popularly known as Centre of Hope trains youths at moderate fees and offers full sponsorship to the needy in the community. It partners with Nakurun Lapsetry (Finland) among others. Mwangaza College, initially called the Bishop Ndingi Centre for skills formation, is also another known college in Nakuru town.

Nakuru Kenya is also a home to various private colleges and privately owned secondary schools. Famous private secondary schools include Melvin Jones, Lions Academy, Greensteds School and Shah Lalji Nagpar Academy. Students in these schools follow the British curriculum and education up till A-levels is currently being offered.

Universities in Nakuru Town

  1. Egerton University 
  2. Kabarak University

Colleges in Nakuru Town

  1. African institute of research and development studies
  2. Nakuru Institute of Information Communication Technology
  3. Kenya Institute of Biomedical Sciences and Technology [KIBSAT]
  4. Nakuru College of Health Sciences and Management
  5. Nakuru Counseling & Training Institute, Centre of Hope
  6. Rift Valley Institute of Science & Technology
  7. Prestige Academy and College
  8. Jogoo Commercial College

Primary Schools in Nakuru Town

  1. Excel Academy
  2. Barut primary school
  3. Bondeni Primary School
  4. Jamhuri Primary School
  5. Harambee Khalsa Primary School
  6. Heshima primary school
  7. Kaptembwa primary school
  8. Kariba Road Primary School
  9. Kelelwet primary school
  10. Kenyatta Primary School
  11. Kimathi Primary School
  12. Koinange primary school
  13. Lanet Lighthouse Academy, Lanet, Nakuru
  14. Lions Primary School
  15. Mama Ngina Primary School
  16. Melvin Jones Primary School
  17. Menengai Primary School
  18. Michinda Boys Boarding Primary School
  19. Mogoon primary school
  20. Moi Primary School
  21. Roots Academy
  22. Racecourse Primary School
  23. St. Joseph’s Primary School
  24. St. Mary’s Primary School

People of Nakuru Town

Nakuru Kenya is populated by people from the whole of Kenya and from many regions of the world. The town has a sizable population of Kenyans of Indian origin and a few of the original settler families also remained in the area. Although the town’s population is predominantly African, the town has a cosmopolitan feel. People from different regions of the country have added a unique flavor to Nakuru town. The people and their politics make Nakuru a vibrant town. As per 1999 Kenya Population Census , Nakuru had the third largest urban population in Kenya.

Surrounding towns include Lanet, which lies approximately 10 km from Nakuru, predominantly a residential town and home to an army base. Njoro lies 20 km from Nakuru and is a small agricultural town with a local university aimed at promoting agricultural development in Kenya, namely Egerton University (est. 1934).

Hospitals and Clinics in Nakuru Town

There are several Hospitals and Clinics in Nakuru town which offer medical services to the residents of Nakuru county. You will find hospitals accredited hospitals, qualified hospitals, contracted hospital in Kenya as well as Clinics in Nakuru, Dispensary, Health Centers, Hospitals, Imaging Center, laboratories, lens & optics, Medical centres.

Shopping in Nakuru Town

Nakuru town is the headquarters of Nakuru county and one of the largest town in the country. There are endless things to do here, and shopping is one of them. Here is a guide on Nakuru Shopping:

Furniture in Nakuru Town

Being a largely agricultural society has its perks in Nakuru town, particularly with the budding tourist industry. The wood from the forests surrounding the area is used in the furniture in houses, as well as some of the building materials of the houses in the town. Tourists looking for something exotic to showcase in houses back home can always browse through the endless rows of shops selling furniture, most of which are concentrated in the Nakuru city center. Those not looking for anything to bring home can still admire the tribal carvings on some of their designs, or the simplicity of others. The trade of carpentry is passed down to the younger generation, and this is particularly evident through the young designers that are beginning to spring up, melding both traditional and new-age together. Be sure to check the wood for termites or wood ants before leaving the country, though, as the wood can be infected.

Handicrafts in Nakuru Town

Handicrafts are a large part of the African culture, and this is no different in Nakuru town. Visit the local markets as a chance to witness the people in action – while the men are busy with the butchery or the livestock, the women and children are up and about selling the various homemade items from baskets or small stalls. Stop by one of these to take a look at the different items on sale – from colorful woven headbands and wooden carved key rings, to stitched pencil cases and painted plastic vases, the possibilities are limitless. So get a couple as keepsakes or souvenirs, or just buy a few as meaningful gifts for those back home.

Antiques in Nakuru Town

Another of Nakuru’s well-known items are its antiques, generally wooden furniture items or carved frames made out of the same material. Those who love the ethnic style will be in a heaven in Nakuru’s antique shops. The furniture and furnishings are completed with a dark varnish that represents the old school designs of the district. Be sure to take at some of the paintings that are on sale as well. Many of these draw inspiration from tribal paintings found from the tribal times, and some even paint scenes of tribal conflicts and wars of the past.

Nakuru Town-Video