Kalenjin Cultural tours

The Kalenjin live primarily in Kenya. They are an ethnic grouping of eight culturally and linguistically related groups or "tribes": the Kipsigis, Nandi, Tugen, Keiyo, Marakwet, Pokot (sometimes called the Suk), Sabaot (who live in the Mount Elgon region, overlapping the Kenya/Uganda border), and the Terik. Their present-day homeland is Kenya's western highlands and the Rift Valley.

Trip Highlights 

Community: Kalenjin community
Duration: 1 week (7 days)
Accommodation: Community family stays
Meals: local food

Dates of travel: any day throughout the year.
Minimum pax: Individual/ groups accepted:


Day 1: Nairobi – Rift Valley
Morning drive from Nairobi across the Rift Valley to arrive in the late afternoon where you will be welcomed to your new family and have lunch then dinner and overnight in the host family.

Day 2: Culture enrollment
After breakfast, enjoy this day with your new family who will guide you through the Kalenjin culture, how they name their children, the relations of the genders, greetings, major foods and getting around while you learn about the history and origins of the Kalenjin. Have all the meals at the host family.

Day 3: Preparation of Kalenjin food
After breakfast, engage in learning how to prepare the Kalenjin food including the famous Kalenjin milk “mursik”. This is guided by experienced community women and young girls. Take lunch and proceed in the afternoon to visit nearby Kalenjin villages to learn more about their culture then return to the host family for dinner and overnight.

Day 4: Kalenjin life activities
After breakfast, proceed with learning and helping in the activities that the Kalenjins do as a source of their income. Learn the agricultural crops grown in the area including wheat, maize and passion fruits. They also keep livestock like sheep and cows. Return to the host family for lunch and then proceed in helping in activities like fetching water, firewood and milking cows before dinner and overnight.

Day 5: visit the local schools

After breakfast, proceed and visit the nearby local schools for motivational talks. Return to the host family for lunch, dinner and overnight.

Day 6: Community Day Out

This is your time to decide what to do for the community since you will be travelling back home the following day. You have time to initiate your own project or activity that you would like to be sustained by the community even in your absence.

Day 7: Departure
We hope you have had a great stay with your local host family and it is time to say goodbye. You will have your breakfast and share your last moments with your host family before leaving for Nairobi or jetting back home.

History of the Kalenjins

Kalenjins live in the western Kenya highlands. Presumably, these people absorbed other populations already living in the region. From some time after A. D. 500 to about A. D. 1600, there seems to have been a series of migrations eastward and southward from near Mount Elgon. The Nandi and Kipsigis, in response to Maasai expansion, borrowed from the Maasai some of the traits that distinguish them from other Kalenjin: large-scale economic dependence on herding, military organization and aggressive cattle raiding, and centralized religious-political leadership. The family that established the office of orkoiyot (warlord/diviner) among both the Nandi and Kipsigis were nineteenth-century Maasai immigrants. By 1800, both the Nandi and Kipsigis were expanding at the expense of the Maasai. This process was
halted in 1905 by the imposition of British colonial rule.

Introduced during the colonial era were new crops/techniques and a cash economy (Kalenjin men were paid wages for their military service as early as World War I); conversions to Christianity began (Kalenjin
was the first East African vernacular to have a translation of the Bible). Consciousness of a common Kalenjin identity emerged to facilitate action as a political-interest group during and after World
War II—historically, the Nandi and Kipsigis raided other Kalenjin as well as the Maasai, Gusii, Luyia, and Luo. The name "Kalenjin" is said to derive from a radio broadcaster who often used the phrase (meaning
"I tell you"). Similarly, "Sabaot" is a modern term used to mean those Kalenjin subgroups that use "Subai" as a greeting. Nandi and Kipsigis were early recipients of individual land titles (1954), with large holdings by African standards because of their historically low population density. Economic development schemes were promoted as independence (1964) approached, and afterward many Kalenjins from more crowded areas resettled on farms in the former White Highlands near Kitale. Today's Kalenjins are among the most prosperous of Kenya's ethnic groups. Kenya's second president, Daniel arap Moi, is a Tugen.


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