Gilgil, Kenya, is a town in Nakuru County, Kenya. The town is located between Naivasha and Nakuru and along the Nairobi – Nakuru highway. It is to the west of the Gilgil River, which flows south to feed Lake Naivasha. Gilgil is the centre of the Gilgil Division in Nakuru County.
Agriculture is the main local industry. While Gilgil Telecommunications Industries was a notable employer, it is now closed down as it was sold by the government. There are a few industries within the outskirts of the town, namely the Gilgil Diatomite Industries which is located further to the west along the Gilgil-Nakuru main road. The industry mines diatomite which is used for various industrial purposes. The other industry is the Ndume Farm Machineries, which manufactures farm equipment, especially maize milling machines and ploughs.
The towns population has grown considerably since 2007 as many of the internally displaced people fleeing post-election violence after the 2007 presidential election opted to settle in GilGil and Naivasha. These populations have significantly expanded the farming activities in the towns outskirts.
The community also hosts two large Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) barracks, the headquarters of Kenya Police Service’s Anti-Stock-Theft unit (4 kilometres northwest of the town centre) and the headquarters of the National Youth Service (to the west of the town). The larger numbers of personnel employed by these organizations contribute a lot to the town’s economy. Much of the town’s real estate has expanded thanks to military personnel who are routinely engaged in overseas peace-keeping missions, with the resulting monetary benefits being invested in property, both residential and commercial.
The National Youth Service (NYS) barracks, run in a military style operation, provide a 3-month basic training for the youth who must undergo a two-year national service before they’re provided with a tuition free training in most engineering technical fields. The Anti-Stock-Theft unit (ASTU), a paramilitary outfit, is a rapid response police unit to track down cattle rustlers mainly among the pastoral communities.
Tourism is also a small-scale contributor to the town’s economy. Nearby destinations include Lake Elementaita, northwest along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, which serves as a bird sanctuary and has a number of hotels and lodges.
The Kariandusi Prehistoric Site lies next to the Kariandusi Diatomite Plant. The site is operated by the National Museums of Kenya, and an important Lower Paleolithic site. There is enough geological evidence to show that in the past, large lakes, sometimes reaching levels hundreds of meters higher than the present Lake Nakuru and Elementaita, occupied this basin. Dating back between 700,000 and one million years old, Kariandusi is possibly the first Acheulian site to have been found in Situ in East Africa.
Dr Leakey, a renowned paleontologist, believed that this was a factory site of the Acheulian period. He made this conclusion after numerous collections of specimens were found lying in the Kariandusi riverbed. This living site of the hand-axe man, was discovered in 1928.