Here’s some of my favourite things to do in Iten. Known as the ‘Home of Champions’, it has more to offer than just great training facilities.
1. Horse Riding
Kenya is the original home of the African horse safari and has been offering horse riding adventures since the 1970s. To this day this is still a very exciting and popular way of getting up close to Africa’s wildlife.
There are a variety of experiences on offer including luxury high-end lodge stays, camping under the stars or just a ride-out.
Riders, non-riders, families, couples, and solo adventurers alike, are all catered for. So you are sure to find something that suits your ability and your budget!
With knowledgeable and experienced guides looking after you, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
I can’t think of a better way of feeling at-one with Africa’s wilderness and, for me, this is definitely one of the best things to do in Iten.
2. Kerio View Hotel
Kerio View Hotel on the outskirts of Iten, is perfectly placed on the edge of the Kerio escarpment to give the most spectacular views across the valley.
Accommodation consists of rooms or cottages and there is a vibrant restaurant/bar that serves food and drink from early morning until late evening.
The staff are friendly and attentive and the food is good, simple and tasty, although there is not a lot of vegetarian options.
Located next door to a centre for elite athletes, the hotel is always buzzing with athletes and coaches as well as locals and tourists.
The hotel decor is very authentic and modern, with many athletic art pieces and iconic photographs. There is even artwork in the grounds of the hotel, along with pretty walks and beautiful views over the Rift Valley.
So, whether you choose to stay here or just call in for some food/drink, with it’s great ambience and breathtaking views, Keiro View Hotel has to be on the bucket list of things to do in Iten.
3. Iten Viewpoint
Located on the edge off town, Iten viewpoint offers magnificent views of the Keiro Valley as well as the Tugen Hills that run parallel to the Keiyo Escarpment.
At the northern end of the Tugen Hills you can see Tiati Mountain rising up to an elevation of 2173 metres.
To the south, at the head of the valley, you can see the forested slopes of Kapkut and Kipkanyilat, through which flow the rivers which give rise to the Kerio River.
The river itself is just visible, winding through the bush of the valley some 1000 metres below. At the base of the valley you might also spot the seasonal Lake Kamnarok.
Additionally, there is a nice bar and small restaurant, so you can purchase food/drink to enjoy whilst taking in the spectacular views!
Therefore, I think Iten viewpoint is definitely another ‘must-do’ of the best things to do in Iten.
4. Cliff Jumping At Cheploch Gorge
Cheploch Gorge is located about 39km from Iten and for a ‘heart in your mouth’ experience, this is the place to visit.
Some years ago, local youths jumping into the gorge for fun realised that they were drawing a large number of onlookers.
Some of these onlookers appreciated their dare-devil stunts and would reward them by dropping them gifts.
Subsequently, in 2013, the young men came up with the idea of making this into their livelihood and started charging 50 shillings each to watch them dive.
Now known as the Cheploch Gorge divers, these young men perform gymnastic dives from over 20m, into the narrow stretch of water below. (The actual depth of the water under the surface is unknown.)
Apart from the life-threatening dives off the cliffs, the water in the gorge is actually crocodile infested. So no relaxing in the water once they’ve safely completed the dive!
Going to watch the cliff jumpers at Cheploch Gorge is worth a visit and very entertaining, but not for the faint-hearted!
5. Mountain Biking
Iten and the surrounding area is perfect for some great mountain biking. There are a multitude of beautiful, rural and forest tracks to choose from and literally thousands of kilometres of biking trails available.
The upland plateau offers many routes on tarmac as well as non-tarmac, that are suitable for all abilities. There are, however, some routes that are more challenging than others, so the choice is yours.
Several dedicated trails have been created on the escarpment, which offer exciting downhill rides that can take you down to the Kerio Valley.
You will find all sizes of mountain bikes available to hire in Iten, with prices starting at 1000 shillings (£6.50) for half a day.
This is an inexpensive and exhilarating way to get out and see the stunning countryside, as well as say hello to the friendly locals that you pass along the way.
6. Eat Local
One of my favourite things to do when visiting somewhere, is to eat local and I got to try some delicious foods in Iten.
Simple but satisfying, Ugali is a mainstay of Kenyan food and is like a dense porridge made from maize or corn. It has a mild pop-corn like taste and is served as accompaniment to soups, stews and curries.
You can also get some great street food including:
Charred corn – the corn on the cob is well roasted and then rolled in an optional spicy blend of chili, fresh lime juice and salt. The result is crunchy and delicious!
Ground nuts – these are what I recognised as peanuts. Roasted and wrapped in newspapers, they are a cheap and tasty snack.
Sugar Cane – for a very sweet treat, raw sugar cane is sliced into bite sized pieces or sold whole. You chew the sugar cane, sucking out the sweet juice, then spit out the fibrous remnants.
7. Rimoi National Reserve
The Rimoi National Reserve is located about an hours drive from Iten, on the escarpment of the Rift Valley in Elgeyo Marakwet County.
Covering an area of 66 sq km, this relatively small, protected animal conservation reserve is most famous for its large herds of elephants.
It’s also home to other wild animals including zebras, warthogs, impalas, monkeys, a variety of reptiles as well as an abundance of beautiful birds.
Elephants usually move in small groups, however, the Rimoi elephants can number up to a hundred in a herd. So the chances of spotting some in this reserve are pretty high!
The only way to safely get up close to these wild creatures is with armed and knowledgeable reserve rangers who expertly track the elephants.
Seeing these amazing animals in their natural habitat is incredible and has to be on the list of best things to do in Iten.
8. Torok Waterfall
Located 21km south of Iten, amongst the unspoiled countryside of Elgeyo Marakwet County, Torok Waterfall is surrounded by lush, tropical vegetation.
If you like a good waterfall hunt, along with some physical exertion, a hike up to this waterfall is well worth the effort.
Standing at over 200m high and cascading down to join the Kerio River, it’s one of the highest, natural waterfalls in this part of the country.
The spectacular views along the hike certainly help to take your mind off the pretty steep slopes as you climb upwards.
After roughly two hours you will arrive at the base of the falls where there are plenty of nice spots to sit, take a breather and enjoy the beautiful waterfall. As well as the impressive views out over the Great Rift Valley.
As a keen waterfall chaser, this for me, was definitely up there as one of my favourite things to do in Iten.
Where To Stay In Iten
Set in Iten, Kilima Resort features a garden, terrace and restaurant. The accommodation offers a 24-hour front desk, airport transfers, a kids’ club and free WiFi.
A buffet breakfast is available every morning at the hotel.
Guests at Kilima Resort will be able to enjoy activities in and around Iten, like hiking, fishing and cycling.
For more places to stay in Iten, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.