Kiptunga Forest- An unexplored gem in Nakuru County
By Jeremy Okongo & Sammy Ngatia
The County through the department of Trade, Tourism and Culture in conjunction with the Great Rift Valley Association of Tours Operators (GRATO) and other tourism stakeholders have toured Kiptunga Forest to explore the untapped tourism products tucked within the forest.
The CECM for Trade, Tourism and Culture Hon. Stephen Kuria Muiruri said this will allow the county government to package and market Kiptunga Forest which is part of the larger Mau complex as a potential ecotourism site for both the domestic and international market.
‘’Today we are here as the county government to see areas of collaboration to promote ecotourism in this magnificent forest. We also want to map the areas so the world can see the tourism attractions potentials we have here in Mau Forest,’’ said Mr Kuria.
The CECM was accompanied by Tourism Chief Officer (CO) madam Rosemary Wambui. He was also flanked by the county staff and other tourism stakeholders who both joined them in hiking the forest through its routes which offered a unique opportunity to enjoy the magical sceneries alongside the flora and fauna.
The Tourism CO meanwhile, emphasised the need to embrace cultural tourism saying it is yet another front which is equally unexplored.
‘’We also need to promote a better understanding of cultural tourism as we are endowed with a lot of untapped cultural potentials that can generate income and opportunities for the local communities in a culturally and economically sustainable manner,” said madam Rosemary.
The 10,352-hectare Kiptunga forest has got untapped potential such as cultural centres, caves, waterfalls, valleys, massive trees and shrines if exploited can benefit the community and the county at large. It is also endowed with different species of birds as well as animals such as leopards, gazelles, hyenas, buffalos, and antelopes.
Jane Karanja, a representative of the Great Rift valley Association of Tours Operators (GRATO) however pointed out the need for the county government to create a physical circuit which will see tourists do forest escalation, hiking and agri-tourism activities which will further open the tourism potentials of the area.
The CECM for Trade promised that the county would play its part to ensure that the area is marketed to the world and that its full potential is exploited.
According to residents living next to Kiptunga forest, the activities along the Mau are very relevant when it comes to matters of tourism as it promotes community-based tourism where they are able to generate income from bee-keeping activities by packaging and selling honey to the tourists, hence earning an income. They can also do the herbariums, where one gets a catalogue to know the types of trees that exist in the forest.
Visitors to the forest will enjoy a therapeutic trip thanks to the clean air, quiet and calm in the forest.
Kiptunga Forest plays a pivotal role in being the key catchment of the Enapuiyapui wetland ecosystem that covers over 160 hectares and is also the source of the Mara River whose waters sustain the Mara National Reserve and the Serengeti National Park.