Nyeri County

Attractions in Nyeri County

23. Mount Kenya National Park

The dissected volcano of Mount Kenya, which forms Kenya’s highest mountain, has been a walkers paradise for explorers and mountaineers since 1889 when the summit was first reached. “Overlooking Nyeri, and Kikuyuland, at 17,058 ft (5,199 ms) Mount Kenya is a fairy tale castle mountain whose triad of peaks rise through the moorland mist as a challenge to the walker and the rock climber and whose brooding, rolling foothills, covered with dense indigenous woodland contains enormous concentration of big game.” The views of this extravaganza of remarkable beauty when seen on a clear day blue sky justifies its reputation as a World Heritage Site. Of particular interest are its trio conoid snowy peaks, tapering towards the heavens, composed of ten dwindling glaciers, all the more striking bearing in mind that these peaks are in spitting distance of the equator.

Mount Kenya is more scenic than faunal and is a key attraction for hikers and mountaineers – not motorists. Howbeit, it is possible to drive from Nanyuki to the far end of Sirimon Track and Old Moses Camp (Judmier Camp) at 3300 ms. There are 8 walking routes up to its main peak spread around the Mountain in the five counties whose borders extend to its highest peak. Sirimon and Naro-Moru Routes being the most frequented. Of the two routes in Nyeri – Burguret and Naro Moru – the latter which follows the Naro Moru River to a clearing at 10,000 ft then onward to Teleki Valley (15,700 ft) and Point Lenana (16,355 ft) is widely popular. Mount Kenya National Park is denned as the area above the 11,000 ft contour, under the aegis of Kenya Wildlife Service. About half of the remainder of the area between the 11,000 ft and 5,000 ft contour is the Mount Kenya Forest Reserve under Kenya Forest Service – with stations at Nanyuki, Gathiuru, Kabaru, Hombe, Ragati, the Castle Forest Lodge and Irangi in Embu.

Hiking Routes - Mount Kenya.  Courtesy of Adventure Alternative
Hiking Routes – Mount Kenya. Courtesy of Adventure Alternative

24. Naro Moru Route

Naro Moru Route maintained by Kenya Wildlife Service and Mountain Club of Kenya is the most direct access to the higher parts of Mount Kenya. The Route commences at Naro Moru Gate, nearby Naru Moru Police Station, on a pathway which leads through farms to the Forest Station. It follows the Naro Moru River and ends in the clearing at 10,000 feet. If hiking from Naro Moru River Lodge, the path leads to their Met Station Lodge at 10,000 ft. From Met, a well marked path continues up the through moorland and vertical bog on a narrow path that goes past the ridge overlooking the Teleki Valley, to Kwarwill’s Hut at 13,500 ft.  From here, its a sharp trail to Top Hut (15,700 ft.). The distance from the end of the clearing to Top Hut is 9 kms. From Top Hut, the walk goes through Firmin Hut to Lenana. Although the highest levels on the mountain to which a vehicle can penetrate are reached on the Sirimon Track, Naro Moru Route provides the quickest route to Point Lenana. It takes on average just three days (round-trip).

Point Lenana can be reached by almost anyone who is fit. The youngest climber to climb Mount Kenya from Naro Moru River Lodge climbing base was a 6 year old from the Royal Family in Saudi Arabia in 2008 and the oldest was an 80 year old Asian man. The highest peaks of Batian and Nelion can only be reached by more experienced climbers.

25. Burguret Route

The less travelled and wilder Buruget Route to Point Lenana, descending on the Sirimon or Chogoria Route, is the least hiked of the 8 routes, only favoured by parties ascending the mountain with pack-animals. Originally a wild trail, it was the adventuresome mettle of the famed Italian prisoner of war and writer Felice Benuzzi, going-up and descending via Chogoria Route, who first put in under the limelight. Felice’s epic escape in 1943 and his ascend to Mount Kenya using the Burguret Route, aiming to put the Italian Flag on the summit, is detailed in exotic detail in his captivating book “No Picnic on Mount Kenya”. The Buruget Route commences on the west side of Mount Kenya near Mountain Rock Lodge – recognized as the company that revived treks on this route. It also provides a restful base to acclimatize and prepare. Burguret Route extends about 30 kms and takes on average 6 days (round-trip). It is not motorable above Gathiuru Forest Station (15 kms away). From here, the ascent goes through the Bamboo Forest to Giant Bamboo Camp, through the pencil cedar forest to the Highland Base, Shipton’s Camp, Old Moses and Top Hut, before aiming for Point Lenana.

26. Burguret Kilele House

Located halfway between Mountain Rock Lodge and Nanyuki Town, Burguret Kilele House, set on a 25-acres, is a reposeful base for trippers aiming for Point Lenana (via the Burguret Route) or for trippers heading out north to Samburu. If the above were not sufficient, the beauty of this calm and tastefully furnished 3-bedrooms, self-catering house is perfected by magnificent scenery of Mount Kenya. It gives all its visitors as warm a welcome to soak-in the beauty and live repose of the romantic alpine aura. From here visitor can take walks up to the forest or visit many places of interest found within easy reach. It is located at Burguret along the Kiganjo-Nanyuki Road, about 15 kms from Nanyuki Town.

The Burguret Kilele House. Image Courtesy of Tripadvisor
The Burguret Kilele House. Image Courtesy of Tripadvisor

27. Seremwai

The drive across the Honi Valley from National Police College to Seremwai is said to be one of Nyeri’s finest drive, and for those who haven’t journeyed on the Nyeri-Nyahururu Road, the Kaburuini-Chaka Road through Nyaribu, or on the Solio Ranch-Naro Moru Road that is probably true. The drive across Honi Valley is a heart-stopping 7 kms of meandering road down to the valley where the Honi Rover is crossed before the commensurate ascent up the valley. Just the same, it is exceedingly scenic and provides memorable sights for first-time trippers to Nyeri. At the top of the hill, en-route Nyeri, the native coffee farms are reached. On the left, one may catch a glimpse of the quintessentially British settler dwelling simply known as Seremwai. A great but seldom visited relic, it was built in 1920 as a residence for settler-farmer John Carberry, as part of his 650-acres coffee estate. “His coffee plantation was called Seremwai, meaning ‘the place of death’ in Maasai; which was the scene of an ancient battle” – Oloi. Surprisingly in good condition at close inspection, it exudes a strict adherence to the fine ethos of British country homes. It is located 9 kms from Nyeri Town.

Spatial Location of Seremwai in Nyeri County
Spatial Location of Seremwai in Nyeri County

28. Le Pristine Hotel

This is a short drive of about 2 kms from the Nyeri-Kiganjo Road via Seremwai Road that takes the turning at Game Rock to Mount Kenya Academy (Primary). Conscious of the fact that coffee was once worth its weight in gold and a highly-profitable venture for farmers in Nyeri, before it faced a complexity of setbacks leading to its disfavour, driving through this boulevard like road crossing large native coffee farms is a nostalgically remembered detail in the history of Nyeri. Tucked away deep in these native coffee estates of Seremwai and perched on a prominence facing out to Honi Valley and outwith to Kiganjo and Mount Kenya is Le Pristine Hotel. Tastefully crafted in the prim and proper transitional ‘Old English Style Home’ with a steeply pitched roof, cross-gables and a large, stone chimneys at the front, in the same league as the rustic and victorian interior instanced by the fashionable woodwork on its furnishing, panels and floor, this chic hotel decorously matches the landscape and offers a fine twist on dining. It has great-looking gardens too. It is situated 2 kms past Mount Kenya Academy.

Le Pristine Hotel in Nyeri. Image Courtesy of Tripadvisor

When James Ramsey Smith Esq., a British Colonial Settler, decided to put up a homestead in his Nderutu Coffee Estate in highlands of the then Colony & Protectorate of Kenya in the 1930s, he chose the most vantage location in the Estate. Here, he constructed a magnificent Victorian house with a panoramic view of Mt. Kenya and the surrounding plains. This house has been restored to its original elegant form.