Nyeri lies in the Central Highlands, 150km north of Nairobi, straddling two mountain massifs –the western slopes of Mount Kenya and the eastern base of the Aberdare (Nyandarua) Range which forms part of the eastern end of the Great Rift Valley.
The colonial town of Nyeri was the centre of the Happy Valley settlers, a group of British aristocrats and adventurers who became famous for their infamous decadent lifestyles and exploits in the first half of the 20th century. The town retained little of an English village where the cool air and morning mists once attracted the Happy Valley settlers.
The major industry in the county is farming due to its fertile soils. The area is one of the most densely populated in Kenya.
Nyeri Major Attractions
Mt. Kenya National Park
Inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the 5,199 m mountain is the highest in Kenya and the second highest mountain in Africa after Kilimanjaro. It is 25km from Nyeri town and 175km from Nairobi. The highest peaks of the mountain are Batian (5,199 m) (17,057 ft), Nelion (5,188 m)(17,021 ft) and Point Lenana (4,985 m) (16,355 ft).
Mountain climbers must train and be acclimatized before climbing to reduce risk of high altitude sickness.
Best months to climb: January, February, August and September for the stunning views of the landscape.
What to look for
Unique montane and alpine vegetation with 11 species of endemic plants, lakes, tarns and glaciers.
Tree hyrax, bongo, white tailed mongoose, suni, black fronted duiker, giant forest hog, mole rat, bushbucks, water bucks and elands.
Rare forest birds.
Where to stay
KWS Self – Catering Accommodation at Batian Guesthouse and Sirimon Bandas
Camping Facilities: Kinondoni, Road Head, Mintos Hut & Campsite, Naro Moru Gate, Met Station, Mackinders Campsite, Austrian Hut, Sirimon, Judmaier, Shipton, Liki North Hut 7, Solo and Major public campsites
Common activities: hiking, bird watching, camping, sport fishing.
How to get there
From Nairobi to Nyeri approx. 150 km.
Nanyuki – Isiolo road via Sirimon track.
Nyeri – Nanyuki road via Naro Moru.
Chogoria via Embu – Meru Road.
Mweiga Airstrip – 15km from Nyeri town.
Nanyuki Airstrip – 25km from Nyeri town.
Aberdare Ranges and National Park
The Aberdare National Park was established in May 1950 and covers an area of 766 km² on the Aberdare Mountain Range between 7,000 ft (2,100 m) to 14,000 ft (4,300 m) above sea level. The park has stunning landscapes – from the mountain peaks to deep valleys with streams, rivers, and waterfalls. The mountains have moorland, bamboo and rainforests.
The two highest peaks are Ol Donyo Lesatima (13,120 ft) and Kinangop at 12,816 ft. The park is 100 km north of Nairobi.
The Aberdare Range was named by J. J. Thomson in 1884 in honour of Lord Aberdare, who at that time was President of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Historical Society.
The Rhino Charge is an annual fund raiser to cater for fencing the Aberdare National Park as a means of protecting East Africa’s largest indigenous forest from destruction.
Karuru Falls which are Kenya’s tallest waterfalls,
Gura Falls, the Queen’s cave pavilion where in 1959, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip had a picnic.
The 2nd largest population of black Rhino, freedom fighter Dedan Kimathi’s hideout.
The famous Kimathi post office in the fig (Mugumo) tree and the Mau Mau freedom fighters caves.
Animals to look out for
Black rhino, Colobus monkey, elusive forest antelopes like the bongo, 250 species of rare birds.
Picnics and camping in the moorlands, hiking in the forest, mountain climbing, sport fishing in the rivers.
Where to stay
Modeled on Noah’s ark, it offers superb 24-hour game viewing like the rhino coming to the salient in front of the lodge to lick salt and drink water.
The Aberdare Country Club
This beautiful country house hotel offers luxury accommodation. It is the base hotel for The Ark.
The Treetops Hotel
The Treetops Hotel is a world famous Hotel where a young woman ascended the stairs as a princess on 6th February 1952 and the following day, descended as Queen Elizabeth II upon the death of her father King George IV.
KWS self catering accommodation
Fishing Lodge has two log cabins each with three bedrooms and two bathrooms to accommodate seven guests.
Tusk Camp Banda has two bandas to sleep eight guests.
Sapper Hut (wooden cabin) has two beds and an external bathroom.
Kiandongoro Fishing Lodge.
In Park Accommodation
Treetops, The Ark and Aberdares Country Club.
Reedbuck – offers communal mess hut, pit latrine and shower.
Ruhuruini – offers pit latrines.
Wandare – no facilities.
Shamata – no facilities.
Other places close to Nyeri to stay
The luxurious Mt Kenya Safari Club.
Naro Moru River Lodge (The base for climbing Mt. Kenya).
Mountain Lodge Serena.
Sandai Homestay and Cottages.
Paxtu House is a small museum standing on Outspan Hotel grounds. The house was built for Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the scouts’ movement in the world. Room 45 of the hotel was his bedroom and has been converted into a scout’s museum. Lord Baden Powell’s grave site is a national monument.
Events in Nyeri County
- Mwea classic marathon
- Founders day -Scouts event February 22
Kiambu is an administrative district in the Central region and borders Nairobi. Although the county is rural, its urban population is increasing as Nairobi grows rapidly.
The main economic activity in the county is agriculture – tea, coffee, dairy, poultry and horticulture. Kiambu’s major urban centers are Thika, Ruiru, Gatundu, Limuru, Kabete, Githunguri, Kiambaa, Kikuyu, Kiambu, Lari and Karuri.
Kiambu Major Attractions
Chania Falls and Thika Falls: Both falls lie on either side of the iconic Blue Posts Hotel in Thika.
The falls are located about 65km from Nairobi off the Thika – Garissa Road. The name is from the fourteen successive falls of water along the famous Athi River, originating from the Aberdare mountains. They form the border between Thika and Machakos districts.
How to get there
21km from Thika town. Take Thika-Garissa road, turn at Makutano Junction. At the base of Fourteen Falls are large boulders with water cascading 25-feet down.
Where to stay
Fourteen Falls Lodge,
Blue Post Hotel.
Boating, fishing, photography and bird watching.
Near the Fourteen Falls lies Kilimambogo, a Swahili word for the Mountain of the Buffalo and home to the late great philanthropist Sir Macmillan. Half way up the hill, you will find the graves of Sir Macmillan, his wife and their house help. It is on the foot of this hill that Macmillan entertained Theodore Roosevelt, former President of the United States, and Sir Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Thika World War Memorial Park
This park along General Kago road is the final resting place of the souls of gallant African Soldiers.
Mama Ngina Gardens
These gardens along Mama Ngina Drive boast walkways and public lawns for leisure walks and picnics.
Kerugoya is the main administrative town in Kirinyaga County. The county has four constituencies namely; Mwea, Gichugu, Ndia and Kirinyaga Central. The main economic activity in the area is agriculture
Kirinyaga Major Attractions
Mwea National Reserve
The 42km² reserve lies northwest of Kamburu Dam, a little-known oasis.
Elephants, lesser kudu, crocodile, hippo, giraffe, Burchell’s zebra, buffalo, leopard, grey duiker, black-backed jackal, bushbuck, waterbuck, Olive baboon, Sykes’ monkey, Serval cat, Spotted hyena, warthog, rock hyrax, bush pig, impala and hartebeest. Rare animals include stripped ground squirrel, genet, black backed jackal, and yellow baboons.
Over 200 species of birds, Mwea is renowned for its water birds and waders. The only protected area for the globally threatened and Kenya-endemic Hinde’s babbler, the reserve shelters two other rare species – the Pel’s fishing owl and the White-backed night heron.
Water rafting and bungee jumping in the Tana River.
How to get there
170 km from Nairobi with the last 10km on dirt road. Take the Thika road to Matuu – Masinga Dam – Makima Gate.
Masinga airstrip near Masinga Lodge. Then a 13km drive to the reserve via Makina Gate.
Where to stay
No lodges or self-catering accommodation in the reserve. Masinga Lodge is outside the reserve at Masinga Dam.
Mbogo, Silvester, Mavuria, Kyangosi, HippoPoint, Kanyonga and Githechu.
Park operation hours: 6.00am-6.00pm including holidays.