Attractions in Tharaka Nithi County
6. The Mutunguruni Tree
There are probably hundreds of majestic trunks around Tharaka Nithi County but amongst the woodsy in Ndagani Village (1.5 kms north of Chuka Town) are many lofty trees that include the famous Mutunguruni Tree. Openly preconized by the locals of Tharaka Nithi County as ‘Africa’s tallest tree’ as avouched with a placard hung on its trunk, the Mutunguruni Tree is a thing of beauty. Thought to over 200 years old, standing sentinel at 84 ms in triumphant isolation, seen from far and beyond is certainly, by any standards, a very tall tree. By the same account, the area at the base of the Mutunguruni Tree has been used as a shrine for eons. Although it has never been confirmed as Africa’s tallest tree, it is one of the paragons of nature worth a visit while in Tharaka Nithi. That said, the Mutunguruni Tree is a whopping 30 ms shorter than the tallest known tree in the world. Among the redwoods that tower above the ground along California’s coast at Redwood National and State Park is a tree named Hyperion that dwarfs them all. The epic tree was discovered in 2006 and is 379.7 feet, or 115.7 ms tall.
7. Kierra Ridge
As early as 1912 the Kierra Ridge (or the Kierra Hill) just east of Chogoria Town had attracted the attention of prospectors. During that year Messrs. A. Gamble and W. G. Parker pegged claims on the southwest flank of the Kierra Ridge to exploit the mica pegmatites occurring there. And in 1942, the southern slopes of Kierra Ridge was yet again the subject of tantalizing geological prospects for mica and the possibility of the occurrence in them of minerals such as nickel and chronium ores. “Dr. W. Pulfrey had recognized the presence of plenteous masses of mineral rich basic rock. A reconnaissance of the area was, therefore, undertaken between April and November, 1948, to determine the extent of the basic rocks, degree of mineralization and the most favourable localities for the prospecting. The examination of these basic plutonics did not, however, give much promise”. North of the Kierra Ridge is a chain of picturesque conical hills.
8. Kierra Viewpoint
From Chogoria Town, in the northwest corner of Tharaka Nithi County, it’s a 10 kms drive north via B6 Embu-Meru Road to Igoji Center and the first gateway township in Meru County. The drive between these two towns and northerly to Nkubu 16 kms away is revered for the breathtaking view of Kierra, backdropped by Kierra Ridge. The Kierra Viewpoint at Kanthiga Village – between Kaaga and Runogone near Meru Town, has been in existence for many years and offers the best views of one of the knockout landscapes in this region. Set at the doorstep of Mount Kenya, this heart-warming lookout takes in the ranges, forests, plains and hillocks. This is reminiscent of the stupefying view of the Great Rift Valley. Known locally as Kierra or Mukera, which loosely translates as a valley, a trip to Tharaka Nithi and Meru Counties should not omit a look-see of this lovely vista.
9. Inanduru Bat Caves
The lonesome Inanduru Cave, situated in a steep cliff along the banks of River Maara on the northern flanks of Kierra Range at Ganga Village within Matuguni Location, is a home to almost one million of these spectral creatures. Bats have historically suffered from human persecution owing to myriad misconceptions about them. Quite the contrary, bats are a salient keystone to pollination and a gainful check on insects, and play a germane role in the circle of life. For bat-lovers Inanduru Cave has a heart-stopping display of these nocturnal mammals especially at dusk when the cloud of bats head-out to feed. While it may spook some, the locals seem oblivious to the unveil. They have learnt to coexist. In fact they themselves are direct beneficiaries by collecting the bat-dung for farm-use. A fee small fee of sh. 300 per person is paid toward the preservation of the cave.
10. Weru Tea Factory
Tea is one of the most important exports of Tharaka Nithi County. It flourishes to a large extent in the upper highland zone and much of the beauty of this area arises from the tea-landscapes. Weru Tea Factory situated 2 kms from Marima, midpoint between Chuka and Chogoria, is the only tea factory in Tharaka Nithi County. This also welcomes tea-lovers to gather a few insights on the enriching journey of tea from farm to cup. A tour to this factory includes demonstrations on weighing, fermenting, dying, grading and, of course, a cup of their finest tea.
11. Kijegge Range
Chuka and Chogoria Towns along B6 Embu-Meru Road are linked to Kathwana Town and the C92 Road by Chogoria-Kirurumwe and Chogoria-Ikumbo Roads. Withal, C29 Road is an adjunct of B6 Road starting at Ena (in Embu County) travelling through Tharaka Nithi and terminating at Nkubu (in Meru County). Immediately east of Kathwana sits the Kijegge Range and arguably the most prominent of its uplands. Much of the Basement System rock in Tharaka Nithi County, mainly the gneisses of granitic composition, form lines and groups of inselbergs rising from a fairly flat floor. Some of them such as Kierra, Kijegge and Kiagu rise upwards of 1,500 feet above the surrounding plain. Tana River, the recipient of all the drainage in the region, is a notable example of a strike stream having selected for its course within the area a series of relatively less resistant migmatitic gneisses confined between the resistant granitoid gneisses of Mumoni Range (east) and Kijegge Range (west). “The thickness of the strata at Kijegge Range appears to be due to duplication by close folding. The right-angled bend made by Chemala-Lansa and Kantangu-Kiuguni basic body in the northeast part of the County is repeated to a less distinct degree in adjoining formations indicating a large, probably synclinal, flexure”. 33 km2 of the forest around the Kijegge Range were gazetted in 1959 as a “National Forest Reserve”.