Overview of Nyandarua County
Nyandarua county is an agriculturally-rich zone located on the north-western part of the former Central Province, west of the Aberdare Mountain Ranges.
It borders five counties; Lakipia to the north and north east, Muran'ga and Nyeri to the east, Nakuru to the west and south west, and Kiambu to the south.
The county covers an area of 3,245.3 square kilometres with a population of about 596,200 people.
It is located about 100km from Nairobi.
The name Nyandarua means 'pegged hide' in the Gikuyu language perhaps because of the Aberdare Mountain Ranges’ resemblance to an animal skin pegged out to dry.
Nyandarua County Government
Nyandarua County constitutes five constituencies: Ol Kalou, Kinangop, Kipipiri, Ndaragwa and Ol Joro Orok.
The county's top leaders are Daniel Waithika (Governor), Esther Maina (County Commissioner), Muriuki Karue (Senator) and Wanjiku Muhia (Women Representative).
Other top leaders in Nyandarua County include David Kiaraho (MP-Olkalou), Stephen Mburu (MP-Kinangop), Samuel Kamunye (MP-Kipipiri), Francis Nderitu (MP-Ndaragwa) and John Waiganjo (MP-Ol Joro Orok).
People of Nyandarua County
Nyandarua County is home to 596,268 people (male - 49% and female - 51%), according to the 2009 National Census. The Kikuyu people are the dominant community in Nyandarua, making at least 90% of the county’s population.
They are predominantly farmers growing cash crops such as coffee and tea alongside food crops such as maize, potatoes and beans. The top export markets for Kenya's coffee are Germany, Belgium and Sweden. On the other hand, Pakistan, Egypt and UK are the main export markets for Kenya’s tea.
Other communities such as Luo, Luhyia, Kamba and Kisii are also residents especially in the urban centres. These groups of people reside in the county where they primarily engage in various businesses and employment. The government is the main employer in the county.
Religion and Traditional Culture
Majority of people living in Nyandarua County are Christians, with a small number of Muslims being present in major towns.
The Kikuyu people speak Gikuyu; a language widely spoken across the country even in major towns where a majority of people speak Kiswahili. Many Kikuyus also speak English and Kiswahili, and they are among the most educated ethnic group in Kenya.
They traditionally believed in a single god, called Ngai (the provider), living at the top of Mount Kenya. However, most Kikuyus have abandoned their traditional beliefs for Christianity. Top Christian denominations in the county include Roman Catholic, Anglican, PCEA, Assemblies of God and other protestant churches.
Githeri (maize and beans), irio (mashed beans and potatoes) and mukimo (mashed green peas and potatoes) are the staple food for the Kikuyu people.
Is the biggest town in the county and is located about 120km from Nairobi, along the Nairobi-Nyahururu road. It is the headquarters of the Nyandarua County. Trade of farm produce is the main economic activity in Ol Kalou.
Farmers in the county mainly sell their products to traders from Nairobi, Nakuru, Nyeri, Embu, Kirinyaga and Thika. Most of these farmers practise subsistence farming and therefore do not have the capacity to sell directly to the consumers of their produce.
Other major urban centres are Mairo Inya, located four miles east of Thomson’s Falls and Engineer town in North Kinangop. Like Ol Kalou, farming is the backbone of Mairo Inya and Engineer economy.
Climate and Weather
Nyandarua County has predictable weather patterns with temperatures ranging between 12°C during the cold months (June and July) and 25°C during the hot months (January and February).
The county receives between 700mm and 1500mm of rainfall annually. It has two rainy seasons; March-April-May (long rains) and November (short rains).
Agriculture is the backbone of the Nyandarua County economy, thanks to the county’s fertile soils and favourable climate.
The county is considered the bread basket of Kenya because of its high production of potatoes, cabbages, maize and beans that are sold in Nairobi and most other towns in the country. Other crops that flourish in Nyandarua include carrots, kales, tomatoes and peas.
The county was a leading producer of pyrethrum in the 1990s, but production of the crop has since gone down due poor management of the affairs of the sub-sector. In recent years, Nyandarua has attracted floriculturists who have established large flower farms in the county. Some of the largest flower farms in the county include Suera, Prima Rosa and Balaji. Nyandarua flowers are mainly grown for export to Holland, UK and Germany.
Small-scale farmers are yet to make entry into the sub-sector due to the high costs associated with floriculture. Livestock rearing is also a major economic activity in Nyandarua. Farmers in the county engage in dairy farming, sheep rearing, beef production as well as poultry. These products are sold to traders from Nairobi and other neighbouring towns.
Nyandarua County has more than 100 healthcare facilities serving the residents of the county. Notable hospitals in the county include Nyahururu District Hospital and JM Kariuki Memorial Hospital (formerly Ol Kalou District Hospital).
There are 471 primary schools and 149 high schools serving 149,209 pupils and 25,758 students respectively. The county's Teacher to Pupil Ratio is 1: 42 for public primary schools and 1:22 for public high schools.
Some of the top high schools in Nyandarua County include Kisima Mixed Secondary school, Karima Girls High School, Njabini Boys High School, Busara Forest View Academy and Nyandarua High School.
Although Nyandarua County has no university, it has several polytechnics and technical colleges including the Nyandarua Institute of Science and Technology.
Some of the famous people in Nyandarua County include John Ngugi and Samuel Wanjiru.
John Ngugi - a former Kenyan cross country runner, won the World Cross Country title four consecutive times between 1986 and 1989. He also won a gold medal in the 5,000 metres race at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
Samuel Wanjiru - who was a Kenyan athlete until his death on May 16, 2011, won the Olympic gold in marathon during the 2008 Beijing Olympics - becoming the first Kenyan to accomplish such a feat.
Attractions and Places of Interest
Tourist attractions in Nyandarua County include the Aberdare National Park, Thomson’s Falls and Lake Ol Bolossat.
The Aberdare National Park, which sits on 767 square km in the higher areas of the Aberdare Ranges, is home to a huge population of wildlife. Some of the animals that can be spotted here include black rhinoceros, bongo (an elusive antelope), leopard, buffalo and eland among many others. The park is also home to over 240 species of birds including vultures, goshawks and sunbirds.
The Aberdare Mountain Ranges, located about 150km from Nairobi, offer spectacular waterfalls and views and are a great place for camping, hiking and bird watching.
Thomson’s Falls, situated just a kilometre from Nyahururu town, some 160km from Nairobi, offers a great stopover for those travelling to the Aberdare National Park from Nakuru. The falls, which drop 72 metres on the Ewaso Narok River, have one of the highest hippo pools in the country.
Lake Ol Bolossat, the only lake in the former Central Province, is an internationally recognised habitat for birds, with 180 species of birds. It is also home to 15 species of animals including hippopotamus. The lake is a popular destination among lovers of birdlife.
Travelling to Nyandarua County
Nyandarua County is easily accessible from Nairobi by road. There are tens of matatus (commuter vans) plying the Nairobi to Nyahururu route on a daily basis. The 160km journey takes about two and a half hours due to the bad condition of the 58km road between Gilgil and Nyahururu. The vehicles are usually boarded at the Nyamakima bus stop near River Road.
Nyandarua is also accessible from Nyeri town, via the 82-km Nyeri-Nyahururu road, and from Nakuru town via the 80km-Nakuru-Ndundori-Ol Kalou road.
Aberdare National Park is accessible on the eastern side via Naro Moru and Nyeri, about 150km from Nairobi. The western side of the park is accessible from Naivasha, about 87km from Nairobi. The national park can be reached by air via the Mweiga Airstrip, located just opposite to the national park’s headquarters along the Nyahururu-Nyeri road.
Nyandarua County offers a wide choice of accommodation. Top facilities near the Aberdare National Park include the Outspan Hotel, Aberdare Country Club, The Ark, Treetops, Naro Moru River Lodge, Red Court Hotel and Sangare Tented Camp.
Other top facilities in Nyandarua include Thomson's Falls Lodge, Lake Ol Bolossat Cottages & Guesthouse, Malewa Wildlife Lodge and Kigio Wildlife Camp. Numerous guest houses and low-value lodgings can be found in Ol Kalou, Nyahururu, and Nyeri.
Nyandarua County is served by all the major banks including Kenya Commercial Bank, Equity Bank, Barclays and Family Bank. Safaricom M-Pesa services are readily available in most parts of the county.
There are stop over facilities with convenience facilities and curio shops in many parts of the county, especially near tourist attractions such as Thomson’s Falls and the Great Rift Valley Viewpoint along the Nairobi-Naivasha highway.
Delamare Farm shop on the outskirts of Naivasha is especially a nice stopover on the way to Nyahururu. The shop sells farm fresh yoghurts and some yummy hot dogs. Jamaa & Sons Supermarket in Ol Kalou town is the largest shopping store in Nyandarua County. It offers a wide range of products, including food and beverages.
TOP of the Nyandarua County