Nyeri County (County 19)
The yearning for an adventure struck again. This time I decided to take a ride to Nyeri County and explore places close to the “city”.
Having previously seen Zaina Falls (one of the most amazing waterfalls in Kenya) in 2017, I was doubtful that Nyeri would have anything different to offer.
Besides tea farms, coffee farms, forests and cold weather, Nyeri is a touristic County that has been less explored. There are many places to visit, things to do and nice places to stay in Nyeri.
Below is a list of just a few places that I visited.
#1 National Museums of Kenya – Nyeri Museum
Nyeri Museum is less known to many people including the locals.
This Museum was constructed in 1924 as a “Native Law Court” to settle customary cases that used to be handled by village elders.
Some years after independence, the court was abandoned for some time before the National Museums of Kenya took over in 1997.
Today the court is a museum of the history of freedom fighters (Mau Mau), tools used during the colonial period and stories of what happened after Kenyan independence.
It is a place worth visiting.
#2 Baden-Powell information Center & Museum
Lieutenant-General Robert Stephenson Smyth (Baden-Powell) was the founder and Chief Scout of the Global Boys Scout Association and Girls Guide.
The Baden-Powell museum is located along the Nyeri-Kamakwa road in the Outspan hotel Compound. It is part of the Pax-Tu house which Baden-Powell used to stay in while in Nyeri.
A few minutes away (In Nyeri town) is the Baden-Powell Information center and Graveyard where he was buried together with his wife.
The graveyard is a National Monument and a very important site for The Boys Scout Association and Girls Guide.
#3 Chinga Dam and Waterfall
This less-known site is located a few minutes from Othaya town towards Chinga Boys High School. Across the road from the Dam is a magnificent waterfall.
Some of the activities at the dam include boat riding, fishing and watching the sun as it rises or sinks behind the Aberdare ranges.
From the dam, you can also get great views of tea plantations which are very common in Nyeri County.
#4 Italian War Memorial Church
The Italian War Memorial Church is located at Mathari towards Nyeri high school or Kamwenja teachers college. The church was built in 1952 and serves as the resting place for Italian Soldiers and their African allies who died during World War 2.
The Church is unique as it is open for Mass only once a year (First Sunday of November) to honor the soldiers.
At the entrance of the church, there are writings honoring the Duke of Aosta who hailed from the Italian royal family and who died in Kenya.
#5 Karatina Open Air Market in Nyeri County
I have used the Nairobi – Nyeri road (A2) many times and never stopped to visit Karatina Market. This time I did!
Located in Karatina town, Karatina Market is East Africa’s largest open-air market. In this market, you will find almost all farm produce including cereals, vegetables, and fruits.
#6 Nyeri Old Clock Tower
The clock tower is located inside Consolata Mathari Mission Hospital in Mathari, Nyeri. It was built by Italians who established missionary work in the area.
A story is told about a priest who used to adjust the clock only for the laborers to work extra hours without knowing what time it was.
There is another clock tower in Nyeri town located close to Baden-Powell Information center.
#7 Mathari Mission Catholic Church
This church is located inside the Consolata Mathari Mission Hospital compound. It is part of the many establishments within the compound constructed by the Italian missionaries in Kenya.
The church is also the resting place of Sister Irene Nyaatha Stefani who was declared “Blessed” and a beatification ceremony held at the same place.
#8 Nyeri Hill (“Githuuri”)
Nyeri hill is also known as “Githuuri” by the local people. “Githuuri” is a Kikuyu name for a Hill. The Hill is located in Mathari area and can be seen from many parts of Nyeri as it is one of the tallest hills in the area.
From the top of the hill, one can have great views of the main peaks of Mount Kenya.
Mathari is a special area in Nyeri County. It was one of the places where Italian missionaries settled when they arrived in East Africa.
It is said that the first missionary got the vast land from an area chief in exchange for a blanket. He later recruited villagers as laborers for his coffee and tea farms and in exchange offered them houses.
Other places in Nyeri County worth visiting
- Chaka Ranch
- Thunguma Museum
- Wambugu Farm
- Aberdare National Park
- Dedan Kimathi hideouts in Narumoru forest
- Mount Kenya
- Solio Ranch
- Mau Mau Caves – Narumoru forest
- Mau Mau Fig Tree – in the Aberdares forest
- Nyeri Club – Close to Outspan Hotel
- Queen Elizabeth Monument – At the Treetops Lodge
- Tafaria Castle and Game Lodge
- Sangare Farm House – Mweiga Vilas
- Rhino watch sanctuary
- The Giraffe Ark
- Dedan Kimathi’s Trench
- Aberdare Country Club – The Ark Limited
“Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still.” ― Carl Sagan, Cosmos