A Guide To Mau Forest

Mau Forest is the most complex forest reserves in the Rift Valley of Kenya, and is the largest indigenous montane forest in East Africa. The forest registers one of the highest rainfall rates in Kenya and thus the largest water catchment area, with many local rivers originating from it.

Mau Forest is the largest remaining indigenous forest in Kenya. It covers over 400,000 hectares and is the largest of the country’s five water towers as well as the largest closed-canopy forest ecosystem. The forest borders Kericho County to the West, Narok to the South, Nakuru to the North and Bomet to the South-West.

Mau Forest is divided into seven blocs comprising South-West Mau (Tinet), East Mau, Oldonyo Purro, Transmara, Maasai Mau, Western Mau and Southern Mau. The complex forms part of the upper water catchment area and it is the catchment source for Lake Victoria and the White Nile. It also has numerous rivers originating from it. These rivers support agriculture, hydro power, urban water supply, tourism and wildlife habitat throughout much of Kenya.

The forest is also home to rare indigenous trees such as cedar, African olive, bamboo, dombeya and shrubs. It also has exotic trees such as cypress, pine, grevillea robusta and eucalyptus which are regularly planted by the Kenya Forest Department mainly for commercial purposes. The complex also contains a good number of medicinal plants.

Mau Forest
Mau Forest

Mau Forest is also home to a diverse selection of wild animals although their numbers have greatly reduced due to human encroachment and deforestation. The original inhabitants of the forest, the Ogiek, who have lived there for hundreds of years – continue to call the complex their home. They are predominantly hunters and gatherers hence make their livelihood from the forest.


Fewer trees mean less water.

The Mau Forest Complex acts as a natural water tower for Kenya, storing water during the rainy season and releasing it during the dry season. Approximately 10 million people—not to mention countless wildlife species—depend on the rivers fed by the forest complex. But, human activity, including agriculture, logging, and settlements, has reduced the Mau Forest to a quarter of what it once was, disrupting the forest’s role in storing and distributing water to outlying areas.

Fewer trees can also lead to flooding.

Forest cover allows the land underneath to steadily store and then release water slowly. Though when an area has been deforested, rainwater tends to flow more quickly into rivers, increasing the likelihood of flash floods. Rainwater that deluges an area can also lead to top soil erosion and soil nutrient depletion.

Mau Forest Contacts

Attraction Type: Scenery & Landscapes, Wildlife
Category: Forest, Lake or River, Birding Site
Region: South Rift
City / Town: Elburgon
Road / Street: Elburgon
Telephone: 259 20 239 6440
259 715 735555
Email: info@kenyaforestservice.org
Entrance Fee: Yes

Watch a Video of Mau Forest