Imagine taking a hike across the scenic Elgeiyo escarpment down to Tugen Hill before retiring to your cabin after a mouth-watering nyama choma at the foot of the Laikipia Plateau.
This and more outdoor adventure will soon be possible as the Rift Valley region is pioneering the official marking of ancient walking trails set to offer trekking opportunities while opening up neighbourhoods for tourism.
The Trans Rift Trails will connect a network of footpaths that cut across the most scenic part of Rift Valley landscapes to the general public who can walk long distances through the valleys, over the waterfalls, and venturing deeper into less-explored natural areas.
Also known as ‘The Old African Highways’ the initiative is set to open up villages while also reviving the art of walking.
Through United Nations Development’s (UNDP) Small Grants Programme, the project has been granted funds to develop the age-old natural trails as well as promote active adventure tourism while supporting environmental conservation and boosting tourism in rural neighborhoods.
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“Simply, this means the project is opening up the everyday-use footpaths which have been there since time immemorial for communities and visitors. Trails are good for health and will also boost livelihoods. They will also re-awaken the walking culture which was nearly lost in Kenya,” North Rift Tourism Coordinator William Kimosop said.
Kimosop added that a detailed trail map will be out by February 2020.
The trails, in the North Rift, are also expected to open up opportunities as Kenya inches nearer to developing the first geopark in Baringo. The geopark initiative is an initiative by the Kerio Valley Development Authority and United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). The GeoPark is set to be another boost to the trails.
The trans-rift trails in the North Rift will start from Chororget at Elgeiyo escarpment down to Sego and Kapkelelwe in Kerio Valley, Sacho, Tugen Hills through to Radad, Majimoto, Nyalilpuch near Lake Bogoria and ends at Mochongoi near Laikipia Plateau.
Along the trails are various packages including forest walks, trail running, biking mapped in Elgeiyo Marakwet, and bush camping.
Visitors will also be treated to bird-watching activities, paragliding along Elgeiyo- Marakwet and West Pokot, canoeing in potential lakes, fishing in Lake Baringo, fossil hunting, star-gazing at Tumbili cliff lodge, Suguta Valley, and Lakes Turkana and Logipi.
With the tourism package along the trans-rift trails, Kimosop said the networks will enable Kenya to be enrolled as part of the World’s Trail network, an international representative body of the world’s leading trails and trail destinations.
“We are also working towards becoming a member of World Trails Network and we have since pioneered conversations to get the standards for operations,” he added.
Information on the project outline notes that knowledge gained from the development of Trans rift trails will boost tourism in rural communities while inspiring trails in more areas.
“This project isn't only a groundbreaking initiative but also a model by which more areas and sites can take a cue from. Lessons learned and knowledge gained shall enable Kenya to leap into the active tourism segment while touching the lives of rural communities,” a section of the project outline reads.