To the unacquainted eyes of a stranger staring at the little hilly town of Kabarnet at sunset, it could easily pass off as just another town painted crimson by the rays of a setting October sun. To a native however, Kabarnet is much more. Though it still carries traces of past age communication; an old post office and telephone booths that are obviously out of use, this town is the nerve center of the larger Baringo County. It houses the County Assembly Hall and is home to the County Headquarters for what used to be the six Districts of Baringo namely: Baringo Central, East Pokot, Koibatek, North Baringo , Marigat, and Mogotio.
Baringo Central in which Kabarnet town lies covers a land area of 2,477.9 square kilometers.
A journey to Kabarnet through the Eldoret- Iten-Kabarnet road will leave any traveler breathless thanks to the deep eroded gorges, valleys, streams and rounded hills.
Traces of modernization are felt in this town with modern architecture buildings mushrooming every day. Real estate development is however, stifled by the mountainous topography of the region which makes expansion impossible.
International connection in the town is fostered by its six cyber cafes which have now become a core component of the towns’ life.
It would be virtually impossible to go through the town and not notice two monumental buildings. The first, an AIC church house and the second, a classical Cathedral with stained glass windows belonging to St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Both churches lie opposite the towns’ best built institution, The Kenya School of Government formerly the Government Training Institute (G.T.I)
To the north of the town lies the municipal market whose major trading day is Thursday. Major fruits sold in the market are papayas which grow wildly in Kerio valley and tomatoes that are in abundance in the nearby lowland town of Marigat.
A great attraction of Kabarnet town is its people with their warmth and courteousness to strangers. They will win over your heart and provide you with the impetus to plan a return visit even before you leave the town. The locals you meet in 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 communing in their local language, but if you do understand, it will probably be a smile inducing remark, for they are a good natured bunch of people.
Kenyans love to talk politics and Kabarnet dwellers are no exception. Here, it is inborn to be an expert on the politics of the region. You are guaranteed a free political tip or two when you stop at a vendors’ to buy the paper, as there is always a large number of self-declared political analysts who either complain vehemently or show incredible stoicism towards their preferred politician.
The towns’ most prestigious hotel is the ‘Kabarnet Hotel’ which caters for guests with large expendable incomes. It 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 said to be owned by the successful athlete Paul Tergat
Kabarnet dwellers’ favorite meal is goat meat aptly named koriema. An often told tale is that of the naturally salted goat meat from Koriema, a centre 30 minutes away on the Nakuru-Kabarnet road. It is said that because the region is dry, the goats eat herbs which are not only medicinal, but also very key is flavoring the goat meat. Therefore, roast goat meat from Koriema need not be salted as it already contains enough salt.
The towns’ fresh milk is supplied by farmers from the nearby villages. One of them, a gentleman called Koima, collects approximately 300litres of milk each day from the small scale farmers in Talai , a center 19 km away and delivers it to the Dairy Cooperative Society in town. The Cooperative then sells milk to the hotels and offices in town at a retail price of between 42-50 shillings a liter. Processed packet milk is therefore not popular here. No wonder almost all supermarkets sell only the long lasting packs which go for about 70 shilling for the 500ml pack.
Kabarnet town is home to the only National School in Baringo County, Kapropita Girls, located about five kilometers from the town on the Nakuru- Kabarnet road.
It is also home to a one storey Kenya National Library building with a membership of 1,120. The library provides a suitable reading environment and a variety of books for the many primary schools in town.
The most common transport means in Kabarnet is motorbikes which are suitable because of the rough terrain and flexibility in accessing remote areas.