Kirinyaga County


Discover Kirinyaga County

Rice paddies in Mwea Irrigation Scheme.  Photo Courtesy of Mak5 Resort
Rice paddies in Mwea Irrigation Scheme. Image Courtesy of Mak5 Resort

Brief Overview Kirinyaga County

Kirinyaga County is traditionally associated as the rice basket of Kenya and as a gateway to Mount Kenya National Park. Most of its rice fields unfold behind the beautiful mountain and enjoy wonderful landscapes. The rice fields have been a photographer’s delight for ages. In more recent times, the addition of adventure sports along Sagana River has become a budding epicenter of Kirinyaga County, where adventure-makers come from far and wide to take in its dares specially of the water rafting exploit that thrills and throws you in a panic at the same time.

By and large, Kirinyaga County is an agrarian county, which also grows some of the top-tier coffee in Kenya. Emblematic of Central Kenya, it is an impressively verdant country and much of its beauty arises from the endless patches of green fields abounding with produce, its indigenous forests, its wooded hillocks and steep valleys, which are crossed by big rivers. Within its overall slope are many stream and rivers which all, lower down, converge into the mighty River Tana, which will eventually drains into Indian Ocean after traversing almost 600 kms.

Although Kirinyaga County is only half the size of the adjoining Embu County, the two have kindred similarities.  On the map, both resemble scalene triangles drawn with an unsteady hand with their apex thrust into Mount Kenya and the imaginary triangles incline moderately from apex to base. Kirinyaga County can be divided up into three ecological zones – highland, midland and lowland. The highland region covers the areas of Ndia, Gichugu and Mount Kenya National Park. The lowland, around Mwea, is marked by gentle rolling plains, where rice is cutivated. The midland region includes Ndia, Gichugu and Kirinyaga Central.


Salient Features of Kirinyaga County

  • County Number 20
  • Area – 1478 km2
  • Altitude – 1151 to 5199 ms
  • Major Towns – Kerugoya, Sagana, Kianyaga
  • Borders – Embu, Muranga, Nyeri

Brief History of Kirinyaga County

While Kirinyaga does not boast a multiplicity of lauded Mau-Mau kingpins as does the near Nyeri County, its rank and file role in the fight for independence was significant. During the 1940’s, the “Mau Mau Oaths” were indiscriminately administered to all able members of the community, and in the latter stages, all the able men were positioned as troopers (forest fighters) to engage the British colonial forces in ‘forest warfares’. Kirinyaga District was created in 1963 out of the western part of Embu District. In 2012 it progressed from district to county.


A view of Mount Kenya through the Kamweti Route in Gichugu Constituency
Mount Kenya through the Kamweti Route in Gichugu Constituency

Places of Interest in Kirinyaga County

1. Sagana Getaway Retreat

Sagana Getaway Retreat, the popular resort and conference centre, is set up on a beautifully-appointed prominence overlooking the verdant countryside dotted with rolling hills and plains, as far eye can see. It is also a well-sought weekend retreat reveled for the romantic landscape hidden within the wooded landscape and with access to the Tana River, which feeds its big dam. Travellers to Sagana Getaway Retreat can enjoy a variety of suites – deluxe, triple, superior – all with exceptional views, seclusion and state-of-the-art conveniences. There is a child-friendly play area and a beautiful pool. This is located at Sagana off Nyeri Road.

2. Camp Malta

This is found along A2 Nairobi-Nanyuki Road next-door to KenGen Tana Power Stations at Makuyu, and shortly before the Tana River Bridge. There are several camping sites at delightful spots along Tana River besides various trout fishing launches. There is a central mess, toilet and shower facilities, and a communal bonfire is lit in the evening. Additional firewood is available for those wishing to set small fires near their camps. Those hiring tents need bedding, cooking and eating utensils and drinking water. There’s no bar, eatery or shop, so campers should come fully supplied. There are a few raised tented camps secluded by natural hedges. Camp Malta is in excellent surrounding and on its fringes flows River Tana, where there are many options for birding and exploration. It is also next-door to Tana Power Station where trippers can hike up to learn about the eccentricities of hydro-electricity. It has varied facilities for team building and group bonding activities. For more information about the condition of the camp and pricing write to tanaricampmalta@gmail.com; or call them at 0735 435192.

Spatial Location of Camp Malta Sagana
Spatial Location of Camp Malta Sagana

3. Tana KenGen

This is situated immediately north of Camp Malta just over the southern border in Muranga County, 82 kms from Nairobi City. The Tana Power Station lies just upstream of the confluence of the Sagana and Maragua Rivers that form River Tana. The bigger units draw water from Sagana River while the smaller units use water from Maragua River. It is a run-of-river plant with small sized dams having low water storage capacity: Merila Dam on Sagana River and Maragua Dam on Maragua River. Commissioned in the late 1930’s, its original outmoded power plants – two units each of 2MW installed in 1933, one unit of 2.4MW installed in 1953, and two units each of 4.0MW installed in 1955 – were retired in 2010, paving the way for the insertion of two 5.5MW and two 4.5MW in 2011.

4. Thingira Cultural Village

The multi-cultural Thingira Cultural Village, precisely depicting the traditional life of communities living around Mount Kenya – Ameru, Aembu, Agikuyu and Akamba, offers an edifying passage to the cultures of Central Kenya. Trippers to Thingira Cultural Village get to learn on these cultures in guided walks around the homesteads, through the traditional dances and traditional cuisine.  Unique to this centre is that trippers also take part in the fast-disappearing Mwomboko Dance, which is the Agikuyu’s response to the British fox-trot. Thingira is set on 20-acres bordered by River Tana that offers a wondrous locus to explore. Then, there’s their African-inspired-design rooms – with a modern interior. Some of the popular activities at Thingira Cultural Centre include walking, birding and line fishing. It’s located along A2 Nairobi-Nanyuki Road at Sagana, near Suntec.

5. Sagana Hotel

Envisioned to be one of the largest and convenient resorts in Kirinyaga County, the 4 star-rated Sagana Hotel at Sagana, with a surface area of 45,000 m2, will assuredly be one of its most epic hotels.  Set up on 24-acres, on a hillside which offers outstanding sweeping views, Sagana Hotel will be upon completion a big-wheel spot for Kirinyaga County and for Central Kenya. Among the highlights at Sagana Hotel are canoeing, boating, zip-lining over Tana River and the valley, camping, team building ventures, amazing lawns with a recreational botanical garden, spacious swimming pools, amphitheater and a modern wellness center.

6. Gatitika Falls

Kirinyaga has two principal lines of communication. The A2 Nairobi-Nanyuki Road which travels along the southwest quarter and the B6 Embu-Meru Road which travels northeasterly from the southwest corner to the eastern edge near Embu Town. 87 kms from Naiorbi by way of the A2 Road you reach Makutano or the B6 Embu-Meru Road and the easiest route to Gatitika Falls. The B6 Road is one three key road branching off the A2 Road to interior of Kirinyaga County alongside C73 Sagana-Embu Road and the C74 Karatina-Kutus-Embu Road. The pretty-as-a-picture Gatitika twin Falls, also locally-known as Matiki Meri, along Thiba River in Kimbimbi, is an undiscovered gem of a sparkle. The twin falls at Gatitika are separated by a jumbo bump on the lofty rock outcrop over which they tumble. The adventure to the falls is no less impressive. This begins with a tour along the ancient waterway farming canals, through farmlands and the verdant landscape. The fact that Gatitika Falls are only little-known adds to their charm too. On arrival, first-time trippers are dumbstruck with awe – equal parts for its beauty and for the unfathomable fact that their reality is still under wraps. The area around the falls has a natural clearing with wide lawns to rest and enjoy the sight. For venture, there are a series of caves around the falls. All in all, Gatitika is lively, catchy and reposeful. It’s found 24 kms from Makutano.

Spatial Location of Gatitika Falls Kimbimbi in Kirinyaga County
Spatial Location of Gatitika Falls Kimbimbi in Kirinyaga County

7. River Nyamindi

Kirinyaga County has six salient rivers – Sagana, Nyamindi, Thiba, Rupingazi,  Rwamuthambi and Ragati – all draining into the River Tana. The fast-flowing Nyamindi River is best seen along the Kamweti Route or en-route to the famous ‘God’s Bridge’. It is, despite its torrent, a favored swimming spot by the locals as well as a growing rafting exploit. Nyamindi River, flowing in the southern half of Kirinyaga County, is one of two big rivers feeding River Tana from Mt Kenya, along with River Thiba. River Sagana has its headwaters in the Aberdare Range.

8. Mwea Rice Plains

Most trippers take in sights of Mwea Rice Plains, either on their way to Embu or on their way back to Nairobi. For those on their way to Nairobi, approaching it from the hilly and rugged interior of Kirinyaga, the Mwea Rice Plains, described as ‘the rice basket’, stands out in parched contrast. Shortly after leaving Mururu Centre along Embu-Nairobi Road, the first views of it are indelibly pretty. Here, the terrain levels out into a flat sheet of land. The 60 km2 Mwea Rice Irrigation Scheme, which was instituted in 1953 by the colonial government and handed over to National Board in 1963, is the country’s biggest rice growing project. It covers the southern region of Kirinyaga County. These paddies are sown during the rainy season and they are especially worth the visit between April and June or between November and early December. In recent years, the Mwea Classic Marathon, run in September, has become a popular way to explore these plains.

9. Mwea Classic Marathon

First run in September of 2009, and retaining the traditional starting location at Mwea Secondary School, the Mwea Classic Marathon has become an integral part of the community in Mwea and the entire Kirinyaga County, owing to the big role it plays in enriching lives of the young people. It has three competitive races – full marathon (42 kms), half marathon (21 kms) and short marathon (10 kms) – and a family fun-race (5 kms). The popular half-marathon starts at the sports field outside Mwea Secondary School, straight to Mwea Hospital and to Karira Primary School before turning right and running in the rice pads past Mwea stores to the far end bridge. Thence, it turns right again back into the rice pads, running for approximately 8 kilometres on the dirt roads within the rice scheme, before re-joining the Embu Road at Thiba North where it makes a loop running on the tarmac road, through Mwea Town, to the finish at Mwea School.

10. God’s Bridge

Also known as the Ndaraca ya Ngai along the Nyamindi River, this site with two unique areas – its invisible bridge and its underground bridge, is a must-see in Kirinyaga. The first is a baffling piece of architecture, and the second a dazzling natural formation. On arrival at the former, the first impression on the tripper is that someone forgot to build its traffic deck, yet, this is always in anticipation of the chronicles of the denuded bridge. The folklore that the deck of the bridge was mysteriously swept away by the deluge of the scurry River Nyamindi many years ago is a hard one to sell considering the overall craftsmanship on site. The latter is by far the star here. This calls for some nifty navigation along a narrow path uncomfortably close to the formidable Nyamindi River. The underground bridge, which is much-liked and notably found within the scenic view of Mount Kenya, was once a hideout for Mau Mau brigades during the colonial epoch and the associated struggle for independence. The main cave (ndaraca) is almost 20 ms long. Inside, the cave is marked by saw-tooth jagged rocks over the rushing river. Formed by a process of cave development in the lime stone beneath the river bed, it is also gazed with smoggy black and mold-green walls. God’s Bridge or ‘Ndaraca ya Ngai’ is situated near Mururi Centre along B6 Embu-Meru Road.

11. Murinduko Hill Forest

Not far from Njukiri Forest, south of Embu Town along B7 Embu-Kivaa-Kitui Road, lies the Murinduko Hill. Although much of the 19.4 km2 Murinduko Hill Forest sits in Kirinyaga County but it is easier approached through Embu Town. During the colonial area, Murinduko was part of Njukiini Location, an area that stretched as far as Njukiini and Njukiri Forest. It is one of few isolated hills that terminate the gently rolling landscape hitherto seen on the approach to Embu from Makutano. Murinduko Village (1350 ms above sea level) is a non-irrigated area outside Mwea Irrigation Scheme. It is situated on the slopes of Murinduko Hill and is served by two streams that flow at the edge of the village. Murinduko Hill Forest, which has the highest representation of larval habitat types among the forests in Central Kenya, also has a delightfully unique topographic profile, especially of its cliffs, gorges, and valleys pieced together by the river action and temporary pools formed within the forest. The local community run ecotourism tours around the forest to the unique landforms, apiary, and traditional shrines.

12. Njukiini Forest

Njukiini Forest (in Kirinyaga) and Njukiri Forest (in Embu) form a contiguous forest block at the eastern base of Mount Kenya. In Embu, Njukiri Community Forest Association (NCFA), with support from Kenya Forest Service, has been continually involved in tree planting exercises to replenish the degraded areas. “This was in recognition that the environment and forest protection is a shared responsibility that all must tirelessly go after”. Between 2015 and 2017, NCFA planted 150,000+ tree seedlings – 75% exotic and 25% indigenous tree species with an average survival rate of 75%, while Kangaita Community Forest Users Association has replenished 55 hectares of Njukiini Forest in Kirinyaga County.

Spatial Location of Njukiini Forest in Kirinyaga County
Spatial Location of Njukiini Forest in Kirinyaga County

13. Kijani Camp

The enjoyable and affordable Kijani Camp about 5 kms past Makutano along A2 Nairobi-Nanyuki Road is a jumping-off place for trippers to Kirinyaga County.  Kijani Camp offers the options of living in villas or camping in their grounds. From Kijani Camp, trippers may take part in day trips to Mwea Rice Plains or visit the nearby White Waters, Savage Wilderness, Rapids Camp, or Napoleon Rafting Camp which are all well-known for water-rafting and numerous other adrenaline rushing activities. Trippers who fancy something less dramatic and quiet can tour the close by tea and coffee farms or bike around the Kijani Camp.

14. Timstep Hotel and Campsite

This is found on the banks of River Tana just off the A2 Nairobi-Nanyuki Road north of Kijani Camp. In area it is close to 10-acres. Features are well-equipped cottages, picnic and camping site as well as water sports such as kayaking and river rafting. Camping equipment is available for hire at a modest fee. This is a very attractive family-oriented retreat with woodland, large open spaces, roomy grounds and kids play area. It’s located just 7 kms from the Makutano Junction.

15. Savage Wilderness

Established in 1990 as Kenya’s foremost rafting company, Savage Wilderness is a fun and adventure-oriented getaway cataloged among the most avouched for spots in Kirinyaga County and especially loved for its wild and high-adrenaline sports.  Its biggest trump-card, by far, is the thrilling kayaking circuit that goes over multiple rapids and a 6-ms waterfall. Then, there’s the zip line, mountain-biking and walking trails, rock climbing, bungee jumping, achoring range and its splendid campsite. Savage Wilderness is patronized by an international team of outdoor experts who are adeptly trained to provide the best safety standards.

Savage Wilderness Bungee Jump. Published by|Svenska Skolan

16. Rapid Camp

Established in 2006, Rapids Camp provides water rafting, kayaking, mountain, rock and cliff climbing team building and guided safaris. The “high-adrenaline” Rapid Camp also taps into some softer and casual activities like, its moonlight walks, sunrise treks and dining at its falls. For the adrenaline junkies, there is a 40-feet plunge and waterfall challenge which is combined with moderate drops over the circuit of canyons and steep gorges curved along Sagana River. It has a grade five rapids challenge course too. There is also zip-lining, bungee jumping, river boarding and birding. It is located at Sagana along Nairobi-Nanyuki Road.

Spatial Location of Rapid Camp Sagana in Kirinyaga County
Spatial Location of Rapid Camp Sagana in Kirinyaga County

17. Green Algae Fish Farm

Green Algae Fish Farm at Sagana (16 kms north of Makutani) is one of the big producers of ornamental fish in Kenya. It’s also one of best alternative touring site in Kirinyaga County.  The farm is a beneficiary of the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund to improve agriculture and food security in Africa. Green Algae Fish Farm raises both indigenous and exotic species of fish that include goldfish, cod and tilapia, and the variegated variety at the farm is impressive.  It has roughly one dozen ponds and its amiable tour guides have a good understanding of what is nurtured in each of its ponds. It’s found at Sagana along Nairobi-Nanyuki Road.

18. Ruamuthambi Falls

At Sagana, along the A2 Nairobi-Nanyuki Road, 102 kms from Nairobi, there is a choice of two roads, running westerly to Muranga Town and easterly to Embu Road. If you follow the latter (C73 Sagana-Kutus-Embu Road) that cuts across Kirinyaga County, you will find yourself climbing towards Mount Kenya from the low lying flat region around Sagana. Suddenly you begin to climb steeply, it becomes cooler and greener and the mountain scenery is one of the spectacular sights in Kenya. 8 kms from Sagana you reach Kagio Town, and 1.5 kms from here sits a rarely travelled waterfalls at Ruamuthambi. The 15 metres waterfalls, reached by a dirt road through the villages, is rather rewarding and set about in an undisturbed corner surrounded by farmlands and woodland. Ruamuthambi River, along which the Ruamuthami Falls occurs, is one of four major rivers in and around the Mwea Irrigation Scheme in company with Tana, Nyamindi and Thiba, and their tributaries – Murubara, Kituthe, Kiwe, Nyakungu and Kiruara.

19. Kamuruana Hill

Set about 4 kms from the Chehe Forest Station, in Kangaita, the wooded dome-like undissected ash cone of Kamuruana Hill is one of the worthy walking trails in Kirinyaga County. The moderate gradient of Kamuruana Hill makes it rather easy for trippers to reach its upper limits and enjoy the diversified flora and rich bird life. Kamuruana Forest, which covers 23.9 hectares, is one of two gazetted forests found in Kirinyaga, together with the 202.3 hectares Muriinduko Forest. There is a lovely natural clearing at the summit, with amenities like toilets and water, which is popular for picnics and birding, and which can be reached by car for those not aiming to hike. From here, the views are great and trippers can enjoy romantic walks along the trails. This is located on the southwestern tip of Mount Kenya Forest, 16 kms from Karatina, via Gikororo-Ndima-Itundu Road.

20. Ragati Conservancy

Found within the Kamweti Forest, on the higher reaches of the Kamweti Route and at the doorstep of the Ragati River, Ragati Conservancy is an enchanting alpine wonderland which is rhapsodized as Kenya’s number one fly fishing spot – especially for trout. Established in liaison with the Kenya Forest Service and covering 5,000-hectares consisted in essence of afro-montane forest and afro-alpine heath on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya, at an altitude of 2200 ms to 3000 ms, this off-the-grid magical pie-in-the-sky is a salubrious and restful hideout. Adventure-makers to Ragati Conservancy get to enjoy a stay at their wonderful Ndongoro Log Cabin, or at the Kichachu Tented Camp from where they can explore Mount Kenya National Park along Kamweti Route, enjoy fly fishing, walking safaris, visiting nearby waterfalls or engage in some of its noble projects centered on preservation and protection of this unique ecosystem. The only safe way to get Ragati is by 4X4, through the Ragati Forest Station – 20 kms from Karatina, off the Karatina University Road just before Karatina Town.

21. Kiburi House

Not to be confused with the nondescript Kiburi House along Kirinyaga Road in downtown Nairobi, this destination is located in the beautiful tea-growing area of Kimunye, at the foot-slopes of the Kamweti Forest. The easy-on-the-eye and rustic Kiburi House, which was raised in 1962, is a delightful weekend getaway that guarantees a peaceful and no-frills staycation.  Kiburi House has sprawling and inviting gardens with winsome matures trees that provide a peaceful rural decorum. Kiburi House was the home for Kamunye Family, who extended their friendly hospitality to holiday-makers visiting Kirinyaga.  Their main house is beautifully furnished with both old and new age pieces, in a homely and laid-back style.  The farm is the heart and soul of Kiburu House, that’s thriving with plenty of animals and plants to include their foremost acreage of coffee and tea.

22. Thiba Fishing Camp

Within spitting distance of Castle Forest Lodge is Thiba Fishing Camp on River Thiba. It flows besides the camp; the Kiringa, 1.5 kms away and the Nyamindi and Rupingazi Rivers. From this camp the fishermen can fish the Thiba which contains Barbus and other species with the options of walking to Nyamindi or Rupingazi. The camp itself is comprised of 6 furnished rondavels with two beds, a table and simple chairs. There is a kitchen for each hut and a washroom with hot water. A caretaker is at hand to give assistance round the clock. The anglers visiting Thiba Camp are advised to be self-reliant although limited supplies like firewood and paraffin can be acquired at the camp. There are a handful of busy shopping centers with ample supplies, all within a 30-minutes drive from camp.

Spatial Location of Thiba Fishing Camp in Kirinyaga County
Spatial Location of Thiba Fishing Camp in Kirinyaga County

23. Castle Forest Lodge

The rustic Castle Forest Lodge, a pretty cabin built in 1910 on a natural clearing deep within the serried forest on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya National Park, is a both a romantic weekend hermitage and a perfect base to explore the beautiful montane landscape. Here, it’s all about you and the mountain. Open year round, with the breathtakingly scenic backdrop of Mount Kenya, its rustic wooden craftsmanship takes gracefully to its landscape. In 2000, Castle Forest Lodge was fully renovated and revamped, and increased its accommodation to host up to 30 guests. It has a 100% eco-friendly policy. The bush-hut mountain cabins, with fireplaces and verandas, are pretty snug and cozy. Holiday-makers at the lodge may also enjoy fly-fishing, riverine walks to the falls, swimming and hikes along the Kamweti Route. Castle Forest Lodge is owned by Government of Kenya, and run by Melia Laa. It is found in Kimunye, off Kerugoya-Kutus Road.

Castle Forest Lodge | KG Brian

24. Kamweti Route

The excursion up Kamweti Route commences at Castle Forest Lodge, located about 22 kms from Kerugoya Town. Conquering the Kamweti Route is fairly challenging, largely because it is on the windward side of the mountain that is often marked by a rough underfoot, dense forests, muddy after rains, no huts and a forest trail used more by animals than humans.  The popular Sirimon and Chogoria routes are mostly dry owing to the rain-shadow of Mount Kenya. At Mackinder’s Camp, the Kamweti Routes meets up all other routes for the final climb to conquer Point Lenana.  Having arrived at Mackinder’s, where several circuits branch off from, you might be in luck to join other parties heading to Point Lenana. That is to say, up to this point the Kamweti Track is in the back of beyond. This secluded route takes on average 5 to 7 days (round-trip). It is also, by far, the longest trail up to Point Lenana and it aligns up with Nyamindi West River. That said, it has some pleasing waterfalls along the way, most notably of Kamweti Falls. Mountain Rock gives shrewd insights about the Kamweti Route.

25. Mount Kenya National Park

The snowy-peaks of Mount Kenya, situated just south of the equator, are the most conspicous landmark in Kirinyaga County, one of the five counties whose border extends to the apex of Mount Kenya. It is locally dubbed as ‘Kirinyaga’, which loosely translates to “the mountain with white spots”, a name which also pays reverence to the Mwene Nyaga or God of Kirinyaga, and, forbye, Mount Kenya is weighed-up as the “holy mountain” by all three tribes living around it (Kikuyu, Embu and Meru). A word of prudence of necessary here, that although culturally the Akirinyaga, or Kikuyus from Kirinyaga, are closely related to their neighbours, the discerning traveller should know their cultures are miles apart. Mount Kenya National Park is a prime attraction to mountaineers – and not motorists. Nevertheless is it possible to take a vehicle up to 13,000 ft to the far end of the Sirimon Track from Nanyuki. Withal, it is more scenic than faunal. In Kirinyaga County, the journey up Mount Kenya commences at Castle Forest Lodge using the Kamweti Route. It takes an average of 5 days to ascend Lenana Peak (3rd highest peak) on Mount Kenya using the Kamweti Route to Chogoria Route, and 6 days via the Kamweti to Sirimon Route.  Getting to Lenana Peak, which is the most ascended peak, can be topped by anyone with average fitness.

26. Thiba Dam

The envisioned Shs. 20 billion Grand Thiba Dam is aimed at tranforming and improving the outmoded irrigation facilities at Mwea Rice Irrigation Scheme to enhance its rice crop production as well as to provide a stable supply of water required by this massive irrigation scheme. Upon completion, Thiba Dam will double production of rice in the Mwea Rice Scheme – from the current 80,000 to 160,000 tonnes of paddy annually. What’s more, a resort city which includes a golf course is under planning in company with a new proposed route to climb Mount Kenya that is currently being plotted and which will prune the Kamweti Route by about 11 kilometers. Thiba Dam is located within Rukenya in Gichugu.

“Thiba Dam is the first step in ensuring that Kenya becomes food sufficient” – remarks by Uhuru Kenyatta during the launch of 20 B Thiba Dam Project to boost rice farming.

27. Gichugu Farms Circuit

Under the Mountain Cities Blue Print 2032 which outlines Kirinyaga County’s development plan for the coming 15 years in the pursuit of transforming it to “The Health, Wellness, Organic and Resort Capital of the World”, Gichugu Sub-County is set to be developed mainly as a Resort City. It is hoped that the area can capitalize on its fantastic floral beauty, particularly around its coffee farms. By the same token, there will be well-ordered scenic experiential coffee farm circuits showcasing its pretty coffee farms, coffee processing yards and finally coffee testing (as with wine tasting in vineyards across the world) at a five star resort with epochal views of Mount Kenya. Gichugu is also home to Thiba Dam.


View of Castle Forest Lodge with mount Kenya in the background.  Photo Courtesy of Booking
Castle Forest Lodge with Mount Kenya in the background. Image Courtesy

Geography of Kirinyaga County

Mount Kenya, lying on the northern half of Kirinyaga County, to a large extent influences both the landscape and climate.  The highland area covers the upper areas of Ndia, Gichugu and Kirinyaga North – and the whole of the mountain area.  The midland region of Kirinyaga County includes parts of Ndia, Gichugu and Kirinyaga Central.  The lowland region, which is typified by gently rolling plains, covers most of Mwea.  The frontier of Kirinyaga County lies within 5,380 ms, at the peak of Mount Kenya, to 1,158 ms in the south near the Mwea Plains.

Land Use in Kirinyaga County

Agriculture is the most important activity in Kirinyaga County with 87% of the total population deriving their livelihood from the sector, which accounts for 72% of household income.  Most of the land in the upper parts of the Kirinyaga County – Gichugu, Kirinyaga Central and Ndia – is individually owned, while on the lower region (Mwea Plains) is owned by National Irrigation Board (NIB).

Highlights in Kirinyaga County

Mount Kenya National Park, in the upper region of Kirinyaga County, which boasts of thick indigenous forests and plenty of wildlife, cottages and scenic landscape, is its most outstanding natural spectacle. Next to this, is the ramble contiguous natural beauty seen in most of Kirinyaga County, which is primarily an agricultural driven region. The main crops include rice, in the lower zones, and tea, in the upper parts of the county. Coffee is also a major crop grown in the upper and middle zones. Other major crops grown in a sizable scale include bananas, tomatoes, beans, mangoes, maize, and assorted horticultural produce.

Population in Kirinyaga County

Kirinyaga County’s population density was projected at 488 people / km2 in 2012.  Based on the Kenya Population and Housing Census 2009 Report, the population of Kirinyaga County was 528,054 people – with an annual growth rate of 1.5%. The most populated town in Kirinyaga County is Wang‟uru, with a population of 18,437, followed by Kerugoya Town with a population of 17,122.


View of Gatitika Falls.  Photo Courtesy of MeatAndBae
View of Gatitika Falls. Image Courtesy of MeatAndBae

Airports in Kirinyaga County

There is one airstrip located in Mwea, which is underutilized.

Roads in Kirinyaga County

The total road network in Kirinyaga County is about 1,109 kms, out of which only 106 kms is bitumenized, 462 kms is gravel, and 540 kms is earth surfaced roads. The county has an established primary road network with 7 main roads: Makutano-Embu, Kutus-Karatina Road, Baricho Road, Kiburu Road, Kutus-Sagana Road, Kutus-Kianyaga Road and the Kabare-Kerugoya-Kimunye Road. 

Climate in Kirinyaga County

Kirinyaga County has a typical tropical climate with equatorial rainfall pattern. The climate is predominantly influenced by its position along the equator and its position on the windward side of Mount Kenya. Rainfall intensity declines southwards, from the peaks of Mount Kenya to Mwea. Average temperatures range from a mean of 8 Degrees C in the upper zones to 30 C in the lower zones.

Kirinyaga County Distance Chart
Kirinyaga County Distance Chart

View of God's Bridge of Ndaraca ya Ngai.  Photo Courtesy
View of God’s Bridge or the Ndaraca ya Ngai. Image Courtesy

National Monuments in Kirinyaga County

There are no designated national monuments in Kirinyaga County


Kirinyaga County Map

Kirinyaga County Map