Discover Tharaka Nithi County
Brief Overview of Tharaka Nithi County
The perennial terrace of Tharaka Nithi County, bound by the Equator and Meru County in the north, west by the lowermost eastern footslopes of Mount Kenya, south by Embu County and in the east by the Meru National Park and Mwingi National Reserve, has, in the context of its spatial terrain, many inselbergs and ranges that stand out prominently. Over one-third of Tharaka Nithi County lies on the gentle eastern slopes of Mount Kenya which are cool, healthy and fertile with good rainfall supporting a dense population subsisting mainly on farming. A gradual diminution in the rainfall, fertility and density of population takes place as you move eastwards towards Mwingi National Reserve and Tana River, corresponding to a drop in elevation from 6,500-7,000 ft. above sea level on the lower edge of Mount Kenya forest to 1,600 ft. at Mwingi National Reserve and the Tana River valley that stretches from here southerly trending. Cultivation is largely superseded by pastoral herding in these lower-lying areas of the County.
Concomitantly, Tharaka Nithi County can be split into two distinct topographic zones: the eastern slopes of Mount Kenya and the Basement System terrain. Of its rivers, Maara River is its most prominent, and marks the boundary between Meru and Tharaka Nithi Counties including the shared Mount Kenya forest that is estimated to be about 360 km2 in area. The highland region of Tharaka Nithi is comprised of Maara and Chuka which receive adequate rainfall to support the thriving agriculture found here. The semi-arid areas around Tharaka support a thriving livestock enterprise and plenty of wildlife resources. The principal line of communication in Tharaka Nithi County is the B6 Embu-Meru Road which crosses its western quarter between the towns of Kyeni and Chogoria (through Chuka and Marina) and travels just 15 kms outside the Mount Kenya forest. The C92 Nkubu-Embu Road splits it down the middle between the towns of Tunyai and Kathwana (and from where the C93 Kathwana-Mwingi Road branches out).
Much of the beauty seen around Tharaka Nithi County arises from its clear-cut ecological zones and indubitably from the phenomenal beauty of Mount Kenya with its superb alpine flora, fauna and as a mountain climbing destination. The snowy-peaks of Mount Kenya, just 16.5 kms south of the Equator, are the most conspicuous landmark in Tharaka Nithi – that is one of the five counties whose border extends to the apex of Mount Kenya along with Embu, Meru, Kirinyaga, and Nyeri. It also has a handful of cultural and historic recreational resources that remain undeveloped. As a destination, Tharaka Nithi is still an underrated circuit despite having a very pleasant scenery which varies from heavily wooded country in the north to a vast arid rangeland in the south. Thirteen permanent rivers and streams make certain survival of its farmland, wildlife and industries. These also feed about twenty waterfalls – tiny and large – which are impressive.
Salient Features of Tharaka Nithi County
- County Number 13
- Area – 2662 km2
- Altitude – 600 to 5200 ms
- Major Towns – Kathwana, Chuka, Chogoria
- Borders – Meru, Nyeri, Embu, Kirinyaga, Kitui
Brief History of Tharaka Nithi County
In 1992, Meru District, also known as Greater Meru, was broken up into four regions of Meru Central, Meru North, Meru South and Tharaka. Later, Meru South, also known as Nithi District, was combined with Tharaka to assemble Tharaka-Nithi District. In 1998, Tharaka Nithi District was divided into two districts, Nithi and Tharaka, but, the Kenya Supreme Court decision of 2009 reversed the division and under Kenya Constitution of 2010 it became a county.