To a stranger gazing at the little hilly town of Kabarnet at sunset, it could easily pass for just another town painted crimson by the rays of a setting October sun.
To a resident, however, Kabarnet is much more. Though it still carries traces of obsolete technology; telephone booths, this town is the nerve centre of Baringo County.
The town houses the County Assembly Hall and is home to the headquarters of what used to be the six districts of Baringo — Baringo Central, East Pokot, Koibatek, North Baringo, Marigat and Mogotio.
Baringo Central, in which Kabarnet town lies, covers an area of 2,477.9 square kilometres.
A journey to Kabarnet through the Eldoret-Iten-Kabarnet Road will leave any visitor breathless thanks to the spectacular gorges, valleys, streams and rounded hills.
Traces of modernisation are felt in this town with buildings mushrooming every day, how expansive development is stifled by the hilly topography of the region.
Six cyber cafes connecting residents to the rest of the world have now become core components of the town.
Boda bodas make the most common means of transport as they are suitable for the rough terrain and flexibility in accessing remote areas.
It would be impossible to go through the town without noticing two monumental buildings; the African Inland Church building and the classical glass stained St Mary’s Catholic Church cathedral.
Both churches lie opposite the best built institution in the town, The Kenya School of Government.
To the north of the town lies the market whose major trading day is Thursday. Fruits sold in the market include papayas which grow wildly in Kerio Valley, with tomatoes from the nearby lowland town of Marigat being in abundant supply.
The people of Kabarnet are warm and kind to strangers. They will win you over and ask you to plan a return visit even before you leave the town.
Those you meet on the streets, hotels or market place will not leave you without a kind word or a warm smile. You may not understand everything a Kabarnet dweller says, for they are in the habit of communicating in their local language, but if you do understand, it will probably be a smile inducing remark.
Like many Kenyans, residents here love to talk politics. You are guaranteed political talk when you stop at a vendor’s to buy a newspaper, as there is always a large number of self-declared political analysts who either complain or show incredible support for their preferred politician.
The town’s most prestigious hotel is the ‘Kabarnet Hotel,’ which boasts of being the only hotel in this town with a swimming pool. Other good hotels are, Sinkoro, ‘The Peoples’ Paradise and Sports Line Hotel.
You cannot leave Kabarnet without tasting the well known Koriema-goat meat. A story is told of how goat meat from Koriema, a trading centre 30 minutes away on the Nakuru-Kabarnet Road, is naturally salted.
It is believed that because the region is dry, the goats eat herbs which are not only medicinal, but also responsbile for flavouring their meat. Therefore, roast goat meat from Koriema need not be salted.
The town is supplied with milk from a dairy cooperative which is served by local farmers, so much that retailers only stock long-lasting milk.