by Harold Ayodo
Until World Bank nominated it as the best town to invest in countrywide, Narok was just a dusty remote town. The developments in infrastructure and the short time it takes to register property in the town has made Narok one of the most sought after by investors.
Banks, financial institutions, three-star hotels and guesthouses are noticeable throughout the town, which is located about 140km northwest of Nairobi.
Titled Doing Business in Kenya 2010, sub-National Series, the World Bank report, which was released last month, also named Narok as the most attractive destination for local and international investors.
Masai mara national park
- 1 Is Uhuru losing the grip on his Mt Kenya backyard?
- 2 Just like Americans, we must send away the hate mongers
- 3 Kenya and the US will always be on the path of mutual respect
- 4 Gideon Moi urges leaders to respect President Uhuru Kenyatta
Until recently, not many people were interested in investing in Narok, a place where most land is communally owned by pastoralists. However, there are a number of cosy guesthouses that target the tourists visiting the expansive Masai Mara National Park, which handles about 75 to 80 per cent of Kenya’s safari tourists especially in high seasons.
The World Bank survey could shift the focus of investors to Narok, which has population of slightly over 40,000 people.
The report ranked Narok as the 15th best investment destination in the world, behind towns in Hong Kong and China. Investments in major towns like Nairobi and Mombasa sag under the weight of poor services and traffic jams due to large populations.
The ongoing rehabilitation of the Sh3.8 billion Narok-Mai Mahiu Road is among infrastructural developments making the area lucrative. Initiatives by the Government and the Narok County Council to rehabilitate roads leading to tourist destinations in the area are also bearing fruit. Most roads are tarmacked and it is common to find Maasai women displaying traditional artefacts on the road.
Not surprisingly, property prices have since gone up in this lucrative town, which is on the way to Masai Mara National Park. Estate agents in the area say a quarter acre within the town fetches up to Sh700,000. Property prices have escalated due to the rush by investors to secure land to construct tourist hotels, apartments and other businesses.
The wealthy prefer to settle around Lenana area while the middle class seem to like the area popularly known as ‘Total’, which is also relatively upmarket. Rent for two-bedroom houses is about Sh7,500 per month around ‘Total’ while residents in Majengo pay between Sh1,500 and Sh3,000 per month.
Curio shops targeting tourists to the Masai Mara Game Reserve and entertainment spots litter the once sleepy town. Mid Rock, Mahogany, Tamek, Xpress Bar, Dimples Pub, Klub Equator 2 and Almy are among the favourite joints for the young at heart. Beer prices are about half of what most spots charge in Nairobi and taxis charge Sh100 to go from one area to the next. Motorbikes are also popular as alternatives to taxis.
Seasons and Chambai Springs are arguably the best hotels in Narok. Room charges average Sh1,000 per night for bed and breakfast. Seasons Restaurant and Hotel has integrated Maasai architecture to mirror a manyatta.
Wheat farming and cattle keeping are Narok’s main economic activities. There are a multitude of prayer houses and several public and private primary and secondary schools. The recent addition of Moi University Narok Campus is another reason why the area is a beehive of activity.