Overview of Laikipia County
Located on the equator, Laikipia County is found in the Great Rift Valley and is among the smallest in Kenya with an area of 9,462 square kilometers.
Laikipia which means treeless plain in Maasai language is a vast plain where different kinds of wildlife, including the big five roam freely on the rangelands of Laikipia.
The county borders six counties: Meru and Nyeri to the south, Nyandarua to the southwest, Samburu to the north, Isiolo to the northeast and Baringo to the west.
Laikipia County Government
Laikipia County constitutes three constituencies; Laikipia West, Laikipia East and Laikipia North.
The county's top leaders are Irungu Wakahora (Governor), Godfrey Kariuki (Senator) and Jane Machira (Women Representative).
Other top leaders in Laikipia County include Stephen Karani (MP-Laikipia West), Antony Kimaru (MP-Laikipia East) and Mathew Lerpukel (MP-Laikipia North).
The People of Laikipia County
The county’s population according to the 2009 National Census is 399,227 with males forming 49.8% while female form 50.2% of the population. With multiple ethnic communities, the Kikuyus and Maasai communities form the largest portion of its residents. Other tribes mainly Borana, Samburu, Kalenjin, Meru, Somali, Turkana, European and Asian settlers are the resident minorities.
Religion and Traditional Culture
Laikipia County has different religions, but Christian and Muslim are the principal religions. The pastoralist communities have cultures which suit their nomadic lifestyle, while the agricultural communities have different cultures suitable to their way of life. For example everything about the Samburu revolves around the livestock and warfare. This means that they have to move from one area to another in search of pasture for their livestock and engage in raids amongst themselves and with neighboring tribes especially the Turkana in a bid to recover their stolen cattle. Most of the communities have gender division of labor depending on activities they engage in on a daily basis.
Located 6.5km north of the equator, Nanyuki town is the county headquarters.
With its breathtaking landscape and spectacular backdrop of the snowcapped Mount Kenya, Nanyuki is an ideal holiday destination with modern hotels and resorts to fit any visitors budget.
The town hosts the main Kenya Air Force airbase and the British Army training camp. It's always booming with business activity as residents strive to satisfy the needs of tourists and army officers who reside in the town.
Nyahururu town came about due to the Thomson falls in the nearby Ewaso Nyiro River. Because of dairy farming activities in the area, the town is an important player in the milk processing sector. Nyahururu is also known for it's large production and trading of fresh farm produce like peas, potatoes and carrots which are then transported for sale in major towns.
Due to its location along the equator and proximity to Mount Kenya, the county experiences a cool temparate climate, with mean annual temperatures of between 16°C and 26°C. The county receives an average of 400mm and 750mm rainfall annually with areas considered to be farming zones receiving considerably higher amounts than average. Most of the residents in Laikipia North are pastoralists who move from one area to another in search of water and pasture when the area gets too dry.
Agriculture is the dominant economic activity. Majority of residents keep livestock and grow different food crops such as maize, carrots, peas, potatoes, wheat and cash crops as well as horticultural crops. Laikipia County is known for its big open ranches like Solio, Borana and Oljogi which provide a significant source of beef for local consumption and export. The county also benefits from tourism due to the many wildlife conservancies and ranches. Because of its diverse wildlife, it's one of the top destination for local and foreign tourists. Some of the tourist attraction sites include; ole Pejeta conservancy, Thomson falls, Laikipia Plateau reserve among others.
The county is served by two district hospitals - one located in Nanyuki town and the other in Nyahururu town. Among other healthcare facilities is 56 dispensaries, 8 health centers, 9 medical clinics and 2 nursing homes, found in main towns and suburbs.
As of 2013, there are 350 primary schools and 91 secondary schools in Laikipia County. Some of the top schools include Nanyuki Secondary, Njonjo Girls and Nyahururu Elite School. Tertiary institutions include Laikipia University and Karatina University College - Nanyuki Campus.
Places of Interest
Laikipia is a county with different landscapes and climatic zones from fertile arable land, dry and arid land to large stretches of rangelands. The county is popular for its abundant wildlife, where you find endangered species like the Bongo and the African wild dog.
Laikipia has several private ranches that frequently organize activities for fun and memorable trips. Some of these activities include fishing, walking and horseback safaris, and helicopter safaris which gives visitors a chance to have a bird’s view of Laikipia’s wildlife and landscapes. Some places of interest in Laikipia include Solio Ranch, Oljogi Ranch, OL Pejeta Ranch and Borana ranch.
Nanyuki which is at the leeward side of Mount Kenya offers a spectacular view of Mount Kenya and the sight of the snowcapped mountain so close to the equator that it's a sight to behold. One can also climb Mount Kenya from the Sirimon gate, about 16 kilometers north of Nanyuki town.
Travelling to Laikipia County
The county is accessible by road and air. Nanyuki and Nyahururu towns located about 200kms from Nairobi, can be accessed through the Nairobi-Nanyuki Road or Nairobi-Nakuru highway, then branching at Gilgil to use the Gilgil-Nyahururu road. Nyahururu town is about 68 kms from Gilgil town. A number of towns in the county are also connected by a railway line. Air transport is available in various ranches and wildlife sanctuaries where tourists are able to use chartered aircrafts to visit the sites. There are a number of airstrips which facilitate movement of tourists within the county.
There is a wide array of hotels and resorts amongst them the Sport man Arms Hotel, Falcon Heights Hotel and Kilimara hotel located in Nanyuki Town. Olympia hotel in Nyahururu town is a clean affordable hotel offering bed and breakfast.
The county has six commercial banks namely; Equity Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank, Fina Bank, CFC Stanbic Bank and Co-operative Bank. The county also has several microfinancial institutions top amongst them Faulu Kenya and Kenya Women Finance Trust (KWFT).
There are two main open air markets selling fresh produce and new and second-hand clothes, one in Nyahururu and the other in Nanyuki. There are many shops selling different products like carvings, jewelry and food products, the largest being Nakumatt Supermarket located in Nanyuki town. There are also roadside shops that sell everything from fresh fruits to camping material that are found along the Nairobi-Nanyuki Road and the Gilgil-Nyahururu to Nanyuki roads.
TOP of the Laikipia County