Nyamira County

Discover Nyamira County

View of the Keera Falls in Rangenyo.  Photo Courtesy
View of the Keera Falls in Rangenyo. Image Courtesy of WikiMedia

Brief Overview of Nyamira County

For the most parts Nyamira and Kisii Counties are alike – topographically and culturally – and both these counties are exemplified by a hilly terrain, much of which is under cultivation and supported by rather plenteous rains distributed throughout the year.  In any case, Nyamira was at one time part of Kisii District. While Kisii County marches westerly from Rongo in Migori County, Nyamira County marches eastwards from near Kisii Town to Sotik in Bomet County, and then northerly to Sondu in Kericho County. Nyamira holds a logistical upper-hand over its motherland with the B3 Mai Mahiu-Kaplong-Kisii Road and Kisii-Kisumu Road looping around it along its southern, eastern and northern limits.

By the same token, one of the prominent features shared by the two is Gucha River, which rises in Kiabonyoru Hill in the northeastern area of Nyamira near Nyamira Town. River Gucha and its main tributary River Migori flows for 175 kms before draining into Lake Victoria. Gucha drains a catchment area of 2,196 km2 mainly in Nyamira and Kisii. Although the upper part of the Gucha River has been heavily harnessed for water supply and development around Kisii and Nyamira Towns, and recently Keroka Town, it remains one of its more striking features.  Some highlights along the Gucha River include Keera and Gogo Falls.

The Kiabonyoru, Nyabisimba, Nkoora, Kemasare Hills and the Emanga Ridge are the most predominant geological formations in Nyamira County. “The low zones comprise of swampy, wetlands and valley bottoms while the upper zones are dominated by the hills. The high altitude areas are conducive the growth of tea that is the important cash crop and revenue earner within Nyamira County”.

Salient Features of Nyamira County

  • County Number 46
  • Area – 899 km2
  • Altitude – 1250 to 2100 ms
  • Major Towns – Nyamira, Keroka, Nyansiongo
  • Borders – Bomet, Kisii, Homabay, Kericho

Brief History of Nyamira County

Nyamira was originally part of Kisii District. It was hived-off in 1989 as part of the formation of new districts in Kenya that took place between 1969 and 1989, growing the number of the then districts from 40 to 46. Nyamira, which is also known as North-Kisii, is a thriving agricultural area much like Kisii, producing rated crops like tea and bananas. And much of the history of Nyamira County is interlinked with that of Kisii townships which were originally established by British soldiers who were being forced to retreat from Lake Victoria by heavy gunfire from German franchise gun-boats during the warfares of the early 20th Century. Later, Kisii Town was picked out as the District Headquarters for the larger South Nyanza and larger Kisii Districts giving it impetus to grow rapidly.

View of a hillscape in Nyamira County.  Photo Courtesy of Gusii Online
View of a hillscape in Nyamira County. Image Courtesy of Gusii Online

Best Places to Visit in Nyamira County

1. Bonyunyu Dam

Situated in the southwest corner of Nyamira along the B3 Sotik-Kisii Road, in Gachuba Ward, the planned 35-ms high Bonyunyu Dam crossing Gucha River will be utilized primarily for water reservoir to benefit communities in Nyamira and Kisii County. Work at Bonyunyu began in August 2018 and on completion, which will inevitably modify the native landscape, is also envisioned to amplify touring options in Nyamira as a recreation honeypot. With massive push-backs on the inception, on account of local demonstrations opposing its construction perceived as a steamrolled endeavor with unconvincing benefits, the omens are that Bonyunyu Dam will become for Nyamira what Mwihoti Dam is to Njoro in Nakuru County. Bonyunyu Dam is found about 10 kms north of Keumbu Town.

2. Emanga Ridge

At the crest of the c-shaped road network which loops around Nyamira, close to Kisii Town, is the high-standing Emanga Ridge and the most important cultural landscape in Nyamira and Kisii. Aside from being a magnificent prominence to take in the country, this 100-acres cultural heritage site has withered many eras including the disruptive British Era. It has been widely suggested that Emanga Ridge, which separates Kisii and Nyamira, is the epicenter of Gusii civilization. A culture that has dominated this region since time immemorial. As it goes, the foremost Abagusii family settled and thrived at Emanga Ridge which is believed to be the ‘ancestral home’ of the Abagusii Community. Consequently, this ridge has always served as a religious shrine. So revered is the Emanga Ridge that the natives of Nyamira (and Kisii) dress to the nines when they call in on it. Visitors to Emanga Ridge in their few hours here can scarcely grasp let alone participate in many of its fascinating interests, yet, on arrival it feels sacred and propitious.

3. Manga Hills

The 5 kms long Manga Hills, also christened Marongo Hills, are a shared asset between Kisii and Nyamira and where the Emanga Ridge is found. These easy-on-the-eye verdant hills are not only pleasing roadside attractions but these are culturally important too. The sporadic volcanic steam eruptions sighted in years gone by at the Manga Hills, in the late 1940’s, only added to their ambiguity and magnetism. Some of the highlights around the fetching Manga Hills include the Emanga Ridge, Rigena rie Manga Rocks, Engoro ya Manga (a spectral endless hole which is thought to have been linked to Lake Victoria), the landscapes of the Southern areas of Kisii with distance views of the lake region, Ngora Mwaga or the ‘invisible’ Lake Okari, the Igena Monto Rocks, and nearby Ufanisi Resort.

Spatial Location of Manga Hills along Nyamira and Kisii Border
Spatial Location of Manga Hills along Nyamira and Kisii Border

4. Kiabonyuru Hill

Located in northeast region of Nyamira, 12 kms east of Nyamira Town through Kebirigo, Kiabonyoru Hill which rises 750 ms above the surrounding plains to 3,000 ms is the highest in Nyamira, and also the highest area in Gusiiland (Kisii and Nyamira). From the higher reaches, Lake Victoria, Homa Hills, Sotik Tea Estate, Kericho, and Keroka Towns can be easily sighted, as well as, the rolling countryside of Nyamira that unfolds in a most spectacular display. For tourism, this hillscape beauty is still largely undeveloped, being only a rough-and-ready hiking destination for trippers with a strong desire to venture off the beaten tracks. Of the 10 non-gazetted forests in Nyamira, which collectively cover 256 hectares, Manga Hills (76 hectares) and the Kiabonyoru Hills Catchments (11 hectares) are perhaps the most salient water towers. River Gucha, one of seven primary rivers in Nyamira (along with Sondu, Charachani, Kemera, Nyabomite, Eaka and Menyenya) rises on this Hill. All these rivers drain into Lake Victoria.

5. River Gucha

Rising in the Kiabonyoru Highlands, River Gucha, also known as Kuja River, is the biggest river in Gusiiland, streaming for 160 kms before draining into Lake Victoria. Along its course, Gucha is joined by River Migori at Sango Nyatike in Migori County, from where it flows as the River Gucha-Migori to Lake Victoria. River Migori has its headwaters in Chepalungu Forest found in Bomet County. One of the main highlights of River Gucha in Nyamira County is, of course, the impressive Keera Falls located about 10 kms north of Nyamira township. The downstream areas of River Gucha have great potential for both riverine tourism and white water sports, especially around Rianyakoora and Ria’nchore regions. There are also immense opportunity for creating aqua parks, sporting fisheries and numerous recreational facilities both along Gucha and Sondu Miriu Rivers.

6. Keera Falls

This untravelled falls, well off the beaten path, sits only 4 kms north of Nyamira Town and offers a fine afternoon of walking. The 35 ms Keera Falls with spooky caves at the bottom is unexpectedly pleasant. As with many waterfalls in Kenya, Keera Falls does not fall short of interesting myths and mysteries, not least, that its petrifying caves were historically a rainmakers shrine where they gathered to make their sacrifices. Whenever there was drought, the men (elders) performed traditional dances at Keera Falls, at the entrance of the main cave, accompanied by obligatory sacrifice of bundles of firewood and sometimes animal sacrifices left inside the cave.  This, it was believed, appeased their deities, who bestowed rain spells in exchange. “But nobody brings firewood here anymore, those who gather here simply enjoy the scenery and retelling of the stories surrounding the site” – Citizen Digital. Keera Falls is located 4 kms north of Nyamira Town, using C21 Nyamira-Kadongo Road, in Rangenyo Village of Bogochora Location.

Keera Waterfalls in Nyamira County. Published by Isaiah Morara

7. Nkoora Hills

To put right the increasing demand for conservation and perpetuation of both scenic and culturally valued installations, Nyamira has earmaked the 5-hectares landscape about the Nkoora Hills in Nyamaiya, 10 kms north of Nyamira Town (passing Nyamira District Hospital) as a potential location to be developed as a conservancy. Apart from being an important cultural shrine patronized as a site for prayer and meditation, Nkoora Hills are a vitally important floral biosphere, which can be exploited as a sustainable touring site. One of the major issues to address, and there are many, is the need for securing and developing the locale.

View of a section fo Bonyonyu Dam in Kitutu Masaba.  Photo Courtesy of KBC
Section of Bonyonyu Dam in Kitutu Masaba. Image Courtesy of KBC

Geography of Nyamira County

As alluded to earlier, Nyamira’s lay of the land is by and large precipitous, from undulating to rolling, with flat-topped ridges alternating with bottomlands. The Nkoora, Kiabonyoru, Nyabisimba, Kemasare Hills and the Manga Ridge are the most predominant features in the county. Generally speaking, soils in Nyamira are deep, permeable and highly fertile with good physical traits. The fertility is largely owing to enrichment with volcanic ash from the Rift Valley Volcanoes. Consequently, much of the land in Nyamira has been put under cultivation, with over 90% of its population depending on agriculture for subsistence. The Poorly drained soils on the plains and bottomlands are mostly used for grazing.

Land Use in Nyamira County

The agricultural industry contributes about 90% of Nyamira’s Gross Domestic Product and employs a substantive labour force. Agriculture plays an important role in the County’s socio-economic development and contributes towards its households food, income and nutritional security.  Nyamira County comprises of both large scale and small scale farmers.  The acreage under food crops and cash crops in Nyamira County is 58,394 and 48,543 hectares respectively.  The major cash crops in the county include tea, coffee, pyrethrum and banana, as well as, the blossoming horticulture sector. The main food crops grown include maize, beans, cassava, sweet potatoes, vegetables, avocado, millet and sorghum.

Highlights in Nyamira County

Nyamira County has no wildlife conservation areas – game parks, reserves, conservancies, game ranches, and although some small mammals like monkey and porcupine can be sighted along its major rivers and few forests, wildlife has been almost completely displaced due to the high population growth. Instead, Nyamira County relies on exceptional topographic and scenic beauty. The hotel industry in Nyamira is yet to hit its full stride. However, at the moment, there are five quality hotels in the county offering reasonable accommodation. These include: Borabu Inn, Guardian Resort and Freisha Hotel within Nyamira Town.

Population in Nyamira County

The total population for Nyamira County, in 2012, was aright projected to be 632,046 of which, 303,252 were males and 328,783 were females. This dense population was expected to increase to 667,716 and 692,641 in 2015 and 2017. The inter-census population growth rate is 1.9% versus the national rate of 3%.

River Gucha in Nyamira.  Photo Courtesy
The River Gucha. Image Courtesy of WikiMedia

Airports in Nyamira County

Nyamira currently has no airports and airstrips.

Roads in Nyamira County

Nyamira County has a total of 398 kms of roads, of which, earth surface make up 200 kms and gravel surface make up 100 kms, and 80 kms are bitumenized.

Climate in Nyamira County

The maximum day and minimum night temperatures are normally between 28 C and 10 C respectively, translating to an average temperature of 19 Degrees C.

Nyamira County Distance Chart
Nyamira County Distance Chart

View of the Engoro ya Mwaga in the cultural landscape of Manga Hills.  Photo Courtesy
The Engoro ya Mwaga at Manga Hills. Image Courtesy of Kisii Tourism

National Monuments in Nyamira County

There are no designated National Monuments in Nyamira County.

Nyamira County Map

Nyamira County Map