The Central Kenya tourist circuit is a captivating destination, renowned for its breathtaking mountains and distinctive landscapes. Though it may have fewer animals compared to other regions, the allure of climbing the verdant highlands is unmatched. Located in the heart of Kenya, this circuit beckons visitors with its array of attractions, including game reserves, national parks, and cultural sites. Embark on a journey through this diverse region and experience the wonders it has to offer.
This circuit shouldn’t be confused with Central Rift Tourism Circuit.
What is Central Kenya?
Central Kenya is a region located in the heart of Kenya, bordered by the Great Rift Valley to the west and Mount Kenya to the east. It covers an extensive area that includes several counties such as Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Nyandarua, and Kiambu. This region is also home to some of Kenya’s most prominent towns, including Thika, Nyeri, and Karatina.
What is the Central Kenya Tourist Circuit?
The Central Kenya Tourist Circuit is a well-established tourist destination that encompasses the central region of Kenya. It offers an array of diverse attractions and activities, making it a must-visit for any traveler seeking to explore the heart of Kenya.
Central Kenya Tourist Circuit is one of the key circuits in Kenya that is popular with specialized hobbyists such as mountain climbers, hikers and trekkers, botanists, and bird watchers. It is also a popular destination for family vacations, educational trips, and cultural experiences.
What are the Main Attractions in Central Kenya?
The Central Kenya Tourist Circuit boasts an array of unique attractions that cater to diverse interests. Some of the main attractions include:
Mount Kenya National Park:
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to Africa’s second-highest mountain, offering awe-inspiring vistas, diverse flora and fauna, and challenging trekking paths. Mount Kenya stands tall at 5,199 m, making it the second-highest peak on the continent. This ancient extinct volcano, believed to have reached a staggering 6,500 m during its active phase 3.1-2.6 million years ago, is Kenya’s largest mountain and the second-largest in Africa. Designated as a World Heritage Site, it showcases three prominent peaks: Batian, Nelion, and Lenana. Read more about mountains in Kenya.
Prepare to be captivated by its unique landscapes and stunning scenery, boasting pristine wilderness with lakes, tarns, glaciers, dense forests, mineral springs, and a rich array of rare and endangered animal species. The high-altitude adapted plains game and the distinctive montane and alpine vegetation further enhance its allure. This destination is perfect for adventure seekers, offering opportunities for mountain climbing, camping, hiking, and birdwatching.
Aberdare Ranges and Forest:
Located in the central highlands, the Aberdare National Park covers an area of 296 square miles as per this blog. This diverse ecosystem boasts spectacular landscapes with steep forested ravines and gorges, tumbling waterfalls, crystal clear streams and rivers, moorlands, and bamboo forests.
The park is home to a wide variety of wildlife such as the endangered black rhino, the elusive bongo antelope, elephants, buffaloes, leopards and a rich birdlife including the rare Jackson’s francolin. Visitors can enjoy game drives through the park or embark on a nature walk with an experienced guide.
Also situated within the Aberdare Ranges is the Aberdare Country Club, established in 1930. This colonial-style resort offers luxurious accommodations and amenities such as horse riding, trout fishing, golfing, and beautiful gardens to explore. The stunning views of Mount Kenya from the Aberdare Country Club are not to be missed.
One of the most demanding hiking trails in Kenya is the 18.2-km out-and-back route near Njabini, Nyandarua, leading to Elephant Hill. Widely recognized as a challenging path, it typically takes around 7 hours and 22 minutes to complete. Despite its popularity, there are quieter moments during the day that allow for a more serene hiking experience.
Lake Ol Bolossat:
Nestled in the foothills of the Aberdare Mountains, Lake Ol Bolossat is a beautiful freshwater lake and an important source of water for local communities. It is also home to a variety of bird species such as pelicans, storks, ducks, and herons.
Visitors can enjoy activities such as boating, fishing, camping, and bird watching at Lake Ol Bolossat. The surrounding landscape is also a great spot for picnics and nature walks.
Another popular attraction in the Central Kenya Tourist Circuit is the Thomson’s Falls, located within the Nyahururu town. The falls are named after Joseph Thomson, a Scottish geologist and naturalist who discovered them in 1883 during his exploration of East Africa.
The waterfall drops approximately 74 meters into a ravine, creating a picturesque sight that can be enjoyed by visitors. There are also various hiking trails and viewpoints around the falls, providing different perspectives of this natural wonder.
Besides Thomson Falls, where I proposed to my wife, there are numerous other captivating waterfalls in this circuit. The region boasts a variety of splendid cascades, including Chania and Thika Falls, The Fourteen Falls, Zaina Falls, Chinga Falls, Ndaragwa Waterfalls, and Karuru Falls.
Fourteen Falls is named after the fourteen consecutive falls that make up this scenic masterpiece. Visitors can take a boat ride to get a closer view of the falls, or simply admire them from one of the many viewpoints.
Chinga Falls is another magnificent waterfall that cascades down in three tiers, surrounded by lush vegetation and offering an ideal spot for picnics and relaxation.
Ndaragwa Waterfalls are a series of small waterfalls that flow from the Aberdare Ranges. Visitors can hike through the forest to reach these falls and enjoy a refreshing swim in their crystal clear pools.
Karuru Falls, located within the Aberdare National Park, is another popular destination for visitors seeking stunning scenery and outdoor activities. The waterfall drops approximately 300 meters and is surrounded by a dense forest, creating a truly breathtaking sight.
Thingira Cultural Village:
Located near Karuru Falls, this traditional village offers visitors a glimpse into the culture and traditions of Central Kenya. Visitors can participate in activities such as traditional dances, cooking, and crafts while learning about the local customs and way of life. The village also offers accommodations for those looking to fully immerse themselves in the local culture.
Aberdare National Park:
The Aberdare National Park, one of Kenya’s most iconic national parks, is located in the Central Kenya Tourist Circuit. This mountainous park is home to diverse flora and fauna, including rare species such as the bongo antelope and black leopard. Visitors can enjoy game drives, bird watching, and hiking through the park’s beautiful landscapes.
Weather in this circuit:
The weather in the Central Kenya Tourist Circuit is generally mild and pleasant, making it an ideal destination for outdoor activities. However, visitors should be prepared for occasional rainfall as the region experiences a wet season from March to May and another from October to December. The dry season runs from June to September and January to February, providing optimal conditions for wildlife viewing and outdoor adventures.
Camping while on this circuit:
For those looking to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Central Kenya, camping is a popular accommodation option. Many campsites are located within or near national parks and reserves, providing visitors with an up-close and personal experience with nature. Some campsites even offer guided tours and activities such as game drives, bird watching, and hiking.
As you can see from our interactive map showing campsites in Kenya, there are over 50 campsites in this circuit.
You can expect to pay around $20-30 per night for a campsite, with basic amenities such as showers and toilets available.