Your story is what you have, what you will always have; its simply something that you own. Well my dream is to travel to the 47 counties of Kenya to explore the scenically stunning and accessible sites. Counties in Kenya are defined as the geographical units that were envisioned by the 2010 constitution of Kenya as units of devolved government. These powers are found in articles 191 and192 in the fourth schedule of the constitution of Kenya and county governments Act of 2012. They also constitute the elections of the members of the National Assembly to the Senate and women Members of Parliament to the National Assembly of Kenya specifically known as “women representatives”
Trans-Nzoia County is county number 027 according to the constitution of Kenya. It is found in the western part of Kenya. The county is covered by a range of serene natural forest, cedar , elgon teak, and a number of swamps enabling it to host a wide range of wildlife species among them the endangered swamp dwelling Sitatunga antelope . Where to stay?, worry not about accommodation because this county hosts high end accommodation spots .Love birds? , well this is the place to be, there is no doubt that you will learn so much on birds you might become an ornithologist in one day.
The county has four main tourist sites namely: Kitale National Museum, Mt. Elgon National Park, Saiwa Swamp National Park and Kitale Nature Conservancy. I’m glad that one can visit this befitting county in just two days. Isn’t this amazing?. Come on guys let’s look at the four significant sites
A. Kitale National Museum
At a tender age of 5years Colonel Hugh Stoneham developed strong love for nature , he had an extensive collection of insects( especially butterflies) and birds. This was the first ever home Museum in Kenya’s history . It was first opened to the public in 1924 and was named after Colonel Hugh Stoneham who was a large contributor to the collection of artifacts until his death in 1966, later on it was named Kitale Museum in 1974 by the National Museums of Kenya.
The museum is divided into three compartments
1. The Gallery(photography prohibited)
The gallery is subdivided into 4 sections: the Stoneham collection, prehistory, natural science, and the culture section. At the entry of the gallery the first thing to encounter is the Stoneham collection which includes insects, bird species like the African fish eagle, piano ,a tape recorder, a type writer and artifacts. The prehistory section was what I loved the most because it reminded me of my history lessons during high school days. I learned so much about the items and stories that were recorded before documentation took place. , it includes early man, artifacts, plants and animal remain s .Natural Science subsection was further subdivided into ornithology, amphibians and reptiles, mammalogy, entomology and ecology subsections. I learnt about many bird species, amphibians and reptiles, different mammals of the African savanna, a variety of insects and the ecology of African wildlife. Kenya has a rich cultural diversity. I saw how different Kenyan communities practiced hunting and gathering, mixed farming,, how they prepared and preserved their food, how rites of passage ceremonies like birth, naming, circumcision , marriage and death were celebrated. Besides that I was able to see various native music instruments that were used in ceremonies as well as communication. They included Kadungu,Drums,Kayamba, Lyre, Fiddle ,Lyre and horns,. I also encountered variety of beauty products used by different communities during the 19th century.
2. Traditional homesteads
This section displays traditional homesteads of ancient Kenyan communities. I was lucky to go through three homes.
I. The Nandi community homestead
I was impressed with the Nandi home. It was so unique it was made in a meandering manner , the reason behind this was to confuse the enemy when attacking. It consisted of the main hut called Kot, granary (Chaget),the initiates room called Sigirion and a sacred point for performing rituals
II. The Luhya community homestead
The Luhya homestead consisted of three houses ,the main house was the first wives’ house where all all the family gathering and sharing of meals was done. The second house was the second wive’s , the iniates house, the granary and the cowshed. In the compound a significant tree was planted to show the presence of the family head or the father but this tree was cut when the father dies.
III. The Sabaot community homestead.
The ancient Sabaot community used to live in caves and thus why their homesteads are made in similar shapes to caves. Their home was made of 5 rooms namely the bedroom,, visitors room, the warriors room(young mens room) and the cattle, goats and sheep’s room.
V. White settlers homestead
This was a little bit modern , it had the living room, the bedroom a separate kitchen and also a separate toilet.
3. The Snake Park
This section was so, lively, I had the opportunity to interact with wildlife. It contained the tortoise pen, the Nile crocodile pen, and the poisonous and non-poisonous snakes of Kenya.
I. The tortoise pen
I learned about the three species of tortoises in Kenya namely ‘;the Leopard Tortoise whichfeeds on herbs only, the Therrapin tortoises that feeds on herbs as well as flesh and the Hinch -back tortoises that is strictly omnivorous.
II. The crocodile pen
I saw the male and female Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus). Males are larger than females. Has greenish iris eyes, the back are covered by horny pates. It has a thick tongue fixed on the floor of the mouth. They lay eggs similar to the size of the chicken eggs spends night in water and day basking; it tends to open it mouth wide for thermoregulation. The crocodile I a cold blooded animal. Incubation takes 11-14 weeks and sex is determined by temperature… has 66 teeth and can live up to 60 years in captivity and 45 years in the wild. Has no tongue
III. The rock python(non-poisonous)
Pythons are largely found in Sub-Saharan Africa .Females are larger than males, they lay eggs, the eggs are incubated for about two and a half months., sexual maturity reaches in 3years. Pythons have supra orbital bones on side skull and a pre-maxillary glands bone with teeth. Their skin is treasured by people for its leather, it is consumed as food by some communities in Africa and China. Pythons can live to 20-30 years.
Gaboon viper– it is the largest viper and can grow up to the size of a human calf .Gaboon vipers are docile and do not readily bite unless someone accidentally steps on them
Rhinoceros vipers– has wide distribution, they produce a frightening sound by rubbing jagged scales together, it does not hiss. Feeds on rodents and lizards.
Black mamba– habitats includes forests, open bush country,, holes and hollow tree trunks. Its not black despite the name, its dark olive brown with black marks and its undersize. Ranges between 9-14 ft, its not aggressive, this snakes tries to escape when approached it only attacks with lightening speed when provoked, it can travel very fast at a speed of 10 km when in bushes .Eggs hatch after 120 days , its poison can kill someone in less than 5 mins. Predates on mice and rats.
4. The Nature Trail.
Come walk through the serene 4km forest stretch and learn about rare plant and animal species. It gives you the opportunity to see more than 75 species of birds,t he white and black Colobus monkeys as well as the Debrazza monkeys.
B. Mt. Elgon National Park
Located 472km north west of Kenya’s capital a mountain called by the locals Elgon this towering feature hosts one of the most beautiful destination in the world covered with natural forest, cedar and the majestic elgon teaks. The park is a home to many animals including elephants, buffaloes, leopards, the black and white colobus monkeys, hogs, water bucks and species of antelopes. Other attractions include the three nature trails, mountain climbing as the mountains peak its 4.15km above sea level, this gives you an opportunity to see the moorland. The park prides itself with rich biodiversity of about 240 species of birds the highlight being the cinnamon chested bee-eater and the red headed parrot. The other mesmerizing features are the four explorable caves from which the elephants scratch off salt deposits using their tusks in the evenings as a diet compliment.
C. Saiwa Swamp National Park
Covering an approximate area of 3km2 Saiwa swamp National Park is the smallest park in Kenya let this small size not fool you because this park is a wonderful place hosting a myriad of species including the endangered Sitatatunga antelope a swamp dwelling antelope, De brazza monkey, black and white colobus monkeys, the blue monkeys, the vervet monkeys, the genet cats, white tailed mongooses, bushbucks and a whopping 372 bird species including the ross Turacco, and the Blue- headed coucal. The park can be visited at any time of the year and accommodation is available at the Sirikwa tented camp just a few kilometers away from the swamp junction.
Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekii)fast facts
• Swamp dwelling
• Distributed in central and east Africa
• They are selective and mixed feeders
• Mature males weigh 75-118 kg
• Females weigh 25-60kg
• Females reach sexual maturity at one year while males mature at 18 months
• Only the males possess horns that are spiral in shape
• Breeding occurs throughout the year
• Gestation is 7-8 months
• Not territorial
• Excellent swimmers
• Lifespan in captivity is 20 years while in the wild is about 15 years
• Major threats are habitat loss, poaching, hunting for bush meat , annual floods and pollution
D. Kitale Nature Conservancy
In the Eastern parts of Kenya on the kitale-lodwar road you will find Kitale Nature Conservancy bound by Mt. Elgon one side and Cherengany Hills on the East. The conservancy was created to protect the endangered wildlife species such as Sitatungas antelope, Kongoni, Mt.Bongo, Black Rhino, Elephants, Reed- buck and the majestic Rothschild giraffe. This species were almost wiped out as a result of hunting and habitat loss
(to be continued…..)