Aim The aim of this study was to explore how Kalenjin women in rural Uasing Gishu County in Kenya perceive antenatal care and how their perceptions impede or motivate earlier access and continuous use of antenatal care services. Methods A study was conducted among 188 pregnant and post-natal mothers seeking care in 23 rural public health facilities. Gestational age at the initial antenatal care booking was established from their medical cards. Further researcher-administered questionnaire with closed and open-ended questions was used. Key informant interviews with traditional birth attendants (n = 6) and maternal and child health nursing officers (n = 6) were also conducted for triangulation. Descriptive statistics were applied using SPSS programme. The interviews of women who gave consent to be audio recorded (n = 52) were transcribed and thematically analysed using MAXQDA program, based on Andersen and Newman's (1973) behavioural model of health services utilization. Results The mean gestational age at booking initial biomedical care was 23.36 weeks. Only 18 patients (10%) booked before 13 weeks and 45% made four or more visits. The main reasons given for early booking were: illness in index pregnancy (42%) checking the foetus position and monitoring foetus progress (7%). The main reasons given for late booking were: no reason (31%), was not feeling sick (16%), fear or shame due to unexpected pregnancy (13%). Almost half of the respondents (44%) used both biomedical and traditional antenatal care services. Main reasons for visiting traditional care were to: check foetus position and reposition it (63%), collect medicinal herbs (31%), relief discomforts through massage (18%). Conclusion Early antenatal care booking is meant for women with unpleasant physical signs and symptoms. Later ANC is meant to check foetus position and reposition it to cephalic presentation and monitor its progress and this is only possible if the foetus is large.