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Nyeri County is one of the 47 counties in Kenya and is located in the central region of the country. It covers an area of 2,475.4 Km2 and is situated between longitudes 36038‖ east and 37020‖east and between the equator and latitude 00 380 south. It borders Laikipia County to the north, Kirinyaga County to the east, Murang‘a County to the south, Nyandarua County to the west and Meru County to the northeast.
Nyeri county lies in the Central Highlands, 150 km 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.
Physical and Topographic Features of Nyeri County
The main physical features of the county are Mount Kenya (5,199m) to the east and the Aberdare ranges (3,999m) to the west. The western part of the county is flat, whereas further southwards, the topography is characterized by steep ridges and valleys, with a few hills such as Karima, Nyeri and Tumutumu. These hills affect the pattern of rainfall, thus influencing the mode of agricultural production in some localized areas. The major rivers found in the county are Sagana, Ragati, Chania, Gura and Nairobi.
Ecological Conditions in Nyeri County
Ecology is the relation of plants and living creatures to each other and to their environment. Climatic conditions coupled with rainfall, and the land tenure systems have a tremendous influence on the economic activities in the county particularly agricultural development, which is the backbone of its economy. Much of the agricultural products are from small holders‘ farms, which produce both food and cash crops especially in the higher potential areas of Mathira, Tetu and Othaya while in the marginal areas of Kieni plateau, subsistence and drought resistant crops with a mixture of horticulture, wheat farming and livestock rearing are predominant. The county has two forest eco-systems, namely Aberdare and Mt. Kenya.
Climatic Conditions in Nyeri County
The county experiences equatorial rainfall due to its location within the highland equatorial zone of Kenya. The long rains occur from March to May while the short rains come in October to December, but occasionally this pattern is disrupted by abrupt and adverse changes in climatic conditions.
Infrastructure and Access in Nyeri County
Road, Rail Network, Ports, and Airports, Airstrips and Jetties
The county has 3,092.73 Kms of classified roads with 738.8 Kms of bitumen, 1390.59 Kms gravel and 963.34 Kms earth surface. The earth surface roads are impassable during the rainy season. The traversing of the county by numerous permanent rivers and undulating terrain has brought about challenges on opening up of new roads. In order for the affected roads to be fully utilized, there is need to construct bridges at various crossing points. The county has three airstrips that also serve to hasten movement and enhances tourism. Furthermore, the county has three railway stations.
Posts and Telecommunications: Post Offices, Mobile telephony, landline etc
The county is fairly developed as a result of the advent of mobile telephony and internet hubs in the urban centres. The mobile phone coverage stands at 91 per cent and there are 384 cyber cafes. This has greatly revolutionised the way people communicate and improved efficiency in service delivery.
Land and Land use in Nyeri County
Nyeri County has a total area of 987.5 Km2 and 758.5 Km2 of arable and non-arable land respectively. The larger part of the land is used for food crop while the rest is used for cash crop farming, livestock rearing and farm forestry. The mean holding size is one hectare for majority of the small holders.
Percentage of land with title deeds
Over 85 per cent of farmers have title deeds for their land as adjudication started early after independence. The main reason for lack of the title deeds by some farmers is domestic wrangles while other landowners in settlement schemes have not cleared their loans.
Incidences of landlessness
It is estimated that 40,340 household (20%) in the county are landless. Incidences of landlessness in the county are evidenced by the IDPs in Kieni Constituency, colonial villages and informal settlements around the major urban centers. Attempts have been made to solve the problem of a few landless where some IDPs were allocated land in Solio Settlement scheme in the neighboring Laikipia County.
Water and Sanitation in Nyeri County
Water resources and quality
The county‘s water resource comprises of both ground and surface water. Surface water consists of permanent rivers such as Sagana, Nairobi, Chania, Gura, Honi and Ragati among others. The main catchment areas for the rivers are the Aberdare Ranges and Mount Kenya. There are 13 permanent rivers, 23 water dams, 30 boreholes and other various sources including roof catchment. The quality of the water is good as its fresh and suitable for domestic, livestock and irrigation purposes.
Water supply schemes
There are four major supplies of water in the county namely; Tetu-Aguthi, Mathira, Othaya-Mukurwe-ini and Nyeri Water and Sewerage Companies. There are also other schemes coming up under the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. A total of 88,332 households have access to piped water and 113,371 households to portable water.
The county is adequately served with surface and underground water with average distance to the nearest water point being two Km. Majority of the population, that is, 66.9 per cent take between five and 29 minutes to fetch water for domestic use.
The water and sewerage companies also provide sanitation services in collaboration with local authorities. Human waste is well disposed with 85.6 per cent of the county population using covered and uncovered pit latrines while 0.1 per cent use buckets especially in the informal settlements of Witemere and others.
Health and Nutrition in Nyeri County
Health access (Health facilities, Personnel)
Nyeri County has one level 5 hospital, three level 4, three mission and three private hospitals. It also has one nursing home, 18 level 3 and 75 level 2 health facilities, one hospice and 228 private clinics spread across the county. The doctor/population ratio is about 1:6459 and a nurse/population ratio of 1:1431 depicting shortage of medical personnel to serve the people. The county through the Public Health and Sanitation sub-sector funded by APHIA II and GOK has been able to train 365 Community Health Workers to help the households in maintaining good health status and sanitation.
Tourist Attractions in Nyeri County
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 25 km from Nyeri town and 175 km 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 Guest-house 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 – lsiolo road via Sirimon track.
- Nyeri — Nanyuki road via Naro Moru.
- Chogoria via Embu – Meru Road.
- Mweiga Airstrip — 15 km from Nyeri town.
- Nanyuki Airstrip — 25 km from Nyeri town.
Aberdare Ranges and National Park
Established in May 1950, the Aberdare National Park covers an area of 766 kml 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 OI 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 ll 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.
Hotels, Lodges and accommodation in Nyeri county
Lodges in Nyeri County
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 ll 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.
- Outspan Hotel.
- Sandal Homestay and Cottages.
- Colobus 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
Facts about Nyeri County
Nyeri County is located in Central Kenya, it borders the following counties; Laikipia to the North, Meru to the North East, Kirinyaga to the East, Muranga to the South, and Nyandarua to the West.
Area (Km 2): 3,337.1Km 2
Climate/Weather: Temperatures range from a mean annual minimum of 12°C to a mean maximum of 27°C, with rainfall amounts of between 550mm and 1,500mm per annum.
Road Network: Bitumen Surface (297.3 Km), Gravel Surface (323.4 Km), Earth Surface (434.7 Km)
Key National Monument(s): Mt. Kenya, Mt. Kenya National Park, Aberdare National Park
Population of Nyeri County
Population: 693,558 (Male – 49 %, Female – 51 %)
Population Density: 208 people per Km 2
National Percentage: 1.8 %
Annual Growth Rate: 0.8 %
Age Distribution: 0-14 years (33.8 %), 15-64 years (59.7 %), 65+ years (6.5%)
Number of Households: 201,703
Government of Nyeri County
County Capital: Nyeri Town (Proposed)
Number of Constituencies (2010): 6 (Tetu, Kieni, Mathira, Othaya, Mukurweini and Nyeri Town)
Registered Voters: 346,374
National percentage: 2.7 %
Number of Districts (2009): 6 (Kieni East, Kieni West, Mukurweini, Nyeri East, Central and Nyeri South)
Number of Local Authorities (2010): 4 (Nyeri County Council, Othaya Town Council, and Municipal Councils of Nyeri and Karatina)
Economy of Nyeri County
Poverty Level: 32.7 %
Age Dependency Ratio: 100:68
Resources: Forest, Wildlife, Minerals (Stone, Sand, Kaolin), Livestock, Pasture, Water, Medicinal Plants
Tourist Attractions: Mt. Kenya, Mt. Kenya National Park, Aberdare National Park
Financial Services: 10 Commercial Banks, 3 Micro-Finance Institutions
Main Economic Activities/industries: Tea, Coffee, Dairy Farming, Milk Processing Firms, Maize Millers
Agricultural products: Maize, Beans, Peas, Potatoes, Vegetables, Dairy Products.
Education of Nyeri County
Number of Institutions (2007): Primary (584), Secondary (194)
Primary: Enrolment (145,906)
Teacher to Pupil Ratio: 1:35 (Public Schools)
Secondary: Enrolment (47,524)
Teacher to Pupil Ratio: 1:25 (Public Schools)
Tertiary: 2 Universities, 3 Satellite Campuses, 2 Medical Training Colleges, 2 Teacher Training Colleges, Several Youth Polytechnics and more than 18 Commercial Colleges
Adult Literacy Classes: Enrolment (Over 6,500 – Central Province)
Health in Nyeri County
Health Facilities: 340 – Provincial General Hospital (1), District Hospital (1), Sub-District Hospitals (3), Dispensaries (109), Health Centres (13), Medical Clinics (182), Nursing Homes (3), Maternity Homes (2), Radiology Units (3), Dental Clinics (7), Eye Centre (1), Other (15)
Doctor to Population Ratio: 1:29.000
Infant Mortality Rates: 27/1000
Under Five Mortality Rates: 34/1000
Prevalent Diseases: Malaria, Urinary Tract Infections, Skin Diseases
Notable Hospitals: Nyeri Provincial General Hospital and Karatina District Hospital
Contact Nyeri County
P.O Box 1112-00100,