Discover Nyandarua County
Brief Overview of Nyandarua County
It’s all too common in Nyandarua County, turning off the main roads into the rural tracks, kicking up a trawl of dust behind you, that you follow, climbing the winding, unmade and barren passes through the mountainous region, heading deeper into the fertile wooded hills, to end up at one of many imposing-looking edifices left behind from the infamous era of the ‘happy valley’. Feeling nervous and curious in equal proportions on arrival at one of these old and worn stucco bungalows that feel empty, quiet and still, it’s like the kind of interesting thing they all forgot to teach you in a history class. Perhaps the whole experience and chronicles of the ‘happy valley set’ turning this slice of the Kenyan highland into a milieu of hedonism between the 1920’s and 40’s left a bad taste in the mouth. But history is very opaque. You see what comes out, not the script that produces the event. Which is why, these oddments of the happy valley have fundamental incompleteness despite being actually pleasing for the intrepid and history buff.
Away from these relics, along its main roads, many travellers to Nyandarua take in the Aberdare Range – often referred to as Nyandarua Range – on a touring circuit which includes the Aberdare National Park. A good number of the latter, on reaching Naivasha (along the A104 Mombasa-Uganda Road), turn right, and take the fascinating C77 main road that travels over the Aberdare Range before dropping down into Nyeri. On a lesser extent, travellers with only the objective of a wildly beautiful drive on reaching Naivasha-Flyover Bridge – 62 kms from Nairobi, turn left, then left en route Njabini. A rarely busy road marching along with the rugged Aberdare Range for 50 kms through Njabini, Engineer, Ndunyu Njeru and Miharati. From Miharati drivers can drop over to Naivasha Town or to Nyahururu – through Ol Kalou. If, instead of turning left into Njabini from Flyover, one proceeds along C67 Flyover-Gatura Road, the drive goes over the Aberdare Range before terminating at Thika-Mangu Flyover on A2 Nyeri Road.
Nyandarua is crossed with a handful of other great roads that include the Gilgil-Nyahururu Road, Njabini-Naivasha Road and Ndunyu Njeru-Ndaragwa-Nyeri Road. Forefront among its lighthouse attractions is Lake Ol’Bolossat, a pleasing highland lake. Nyandarua as a whole falls into the Central Highlands and the combined geological activities, together with a good climate, has resulted in the formation of extensive areas of plateaus and scarps, mountains and hills; most notable of these is Aberdares that offers first-rate opportunities for expeditions. Spatially, it is a long and narrowed county uniquely lying betwixt the Rift Valley and Aberdare Range. End to end along the entire eastern frontier, from Njabini in the south to Ndaragwa in the north, Nyandarua County is traversed by the 120 kms long Aberdare Range, a year round great scenery with an abundance of rare montane flora not usually found in the tropics. This is also a sanctuary for elephants and buffalo. Even without the possibility of seeing game, the views of the prudently dazzling Aberdare Range, marked by heavily gullied and forested tops, that in some sections become sheer cliff walls, offers a splendid attraction.
Salient Features of Nyandarua County
- County Number 18
- Area – 3245 km2
- Altitude – 8380 ft
- Major Towns – Ol Kalou, Engineer, Njabini
- Borders – Laikipia, Nyeri, Kiambu, Nakuru, Muranga
Brief History of Nyandarua County
Up until the colonial ascendancy, life in the sparsely populated Nyandarua was dependent on subsistence agriculture, much the same as the interior of Kenya. Most of the fallow land was annexed during the colonial dominion and effective barriers created to pave way for the famous ‘white highlands’. Aside from land degradation to create more space, Nyandarua was also popular as the Happy Valley. The Wanjohi Valley was once home to the ‘Happy Valley Set’ famous for their decadent lifestyle and exploits as verified by the old ruins they left behind. Many of the incumbent residents of Nyandarua were resettled during the 1960’s through the Kinangop Resettlement Scheme among varied settlement schemes.