The Maasai originally referred to this area as eldore (stony river) after the nearby Sosiani River. Today, Eldoret is a thriving service town straddling the Kenya–Uganda highway. It’s the principal economic hub of western Kenya, but for the traveller there is little to see and less to do. The highlight is a visit to the Doinyo Lessos Creameries Cheese Factory to stock up on any one of 20 different varieties of cheese. It's also a gateway to Iten, the home of long-distance Kenyan running.
Eldoret is a Kalenjin stronghold (the tribe of former president Daniel arap Moi and controversial vice-president William Ruto) and something of a bellweather for the political health of the nation. In 2008, it achieved notoriety when 35 people (mostly Kikuyus) were burnt alive in a church on the outskirts of town. This incident was the largest single loss of life during the 2007 post-election violence.