The Central highlands of Kenya are amazing geography of contrasts. The deep green of cultivation farmlands gives way to the purple gray scrub grass of high ranches where cattle, sheep and plain game graze. Mountain ranges are covered in forests with hidden trout streams. These highlands streams flow to swift moving rivers that suddenly burst out and down into dramatic falls of water. Other mountains stand stark and dry, broken and weathered into moonscapes and mesas. Climbing a small rise can yield a panoramic vista of plains and plateaus rising to range after range of distant mountains. In the center, Mt Kenya dominates
With a base diameter of more than 150 kilometers and height 5189 meters, Mt Kenya is among the world’s largest free standing volcanic mountains. The equator crosses its northern slopes at 33350 meters with the mountain’s twin snowcapped peaks, Batian and Nelion, brushing the sky some 17 kilometers south. Mt Kenya has many moods-wisping clouds can cloak the peaks in mystery. Thunder and lighting can rage. Falling rain can obscure and hide the lower slopes with curtains of water. Glinting sunshine can illuminate the peaks.
Traveling in the Central Highlands of Kenya
At the equator, slight variations of altitude create enormous changes in both climate and landscape. This means that the traveler can enjoy diverse experiences and surrounding without having to cover great distances. In just a short drive you can pass from the cool, misty forest of the Aberdares to the dry Laikipia Plateau with its miles of open ranch land. When you drive around the western side of the mountain you are on a long straight road through dry, flat scrub lands. The road around the eastern side however, curves and dips in roller-coaster course through green farms, red cliffs and rushing waterfalls.
The great variation in the scenery is also reflected in many choices available to the traveler. There is a great range in the types of places where you can stay, as well as in the kinds of activities and experiences you can enjoy. In terms of accommodation there are night game viewing lodges deep in indigenous forests, elegant colonial country-club type hotels, and huge private ranches where you can rid and walk among wild animals. There are even sanctuaries and national reserves where you can stay in tents or bandas and go on game drives. You could also plan climbing or fishing trips.
Central Highlands vacation safari sights and spots
There are three national parks in this region: The Aberdare National park: the volcanic massif of the Aberdare Mountains is part of the eastern side of the rift valley. With steep hillsides and thick forests, these mountains have not been tamed into farmland. Leopard, buffalo, and elephant inhabit the forests, and on the high misty moorlands are lions and antelopes. There are streams and waterfalls, magnificent views, and lots of rain. It is frequently cold and misty. Four wheel drives are essential.
Mt Kenya National park: Mt Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa. although it is right on the equator , its peaks are snow-covered all year. There are four main routes to climb the mountain and few basic cabins and mountain huts you are likely to see wild animals and amazing range of unusual vegetation. The peaks of the mountain are more often than not obscured by clouds; your best chance of seeing then is in the early morning or just before sunset.
Meru National park: situated east of Mt Kenya and over the high Nyamabene hills, this is one of the least visited national parks in Kenya. With its many streams and higher than average rainfall, the park is luxuriant and bushy. There is long grass, swamp and riverside forests. Tall distinctive doum palms add an exotic touch and contorted termite creations dot the grasslands. The park is home to many species found in northern Kenya-reticulate giraffe, gravy zebra and gerenuk. There are also elephants, lions and cheetah, and more than 300 species of birds
There are a number of major vacation tour towns in the Central highlands.
Nyeri town is the administrative headquarters of Kenya’s central province. One of the largest towns in the central highlands, it has a lively market and architectural reminders of colonial days. Nyeri is where many of Kenya’s most renowned athletes first trained.
Nanyuki town is just north of the equator .it is a social and market center for the ranch lands of the Laikipia Plateau and the lower slopes of Mt Kenya. Northern of Nanyuki at Timau, there is a trout farm Kentrout- good for lunch stop under the trees and possible stays overnight. Soon after Timau the road drops down towards the semi-arid northern deserts which seem to stretch on without end to Lake Turkana.
Nyahururu town is best known for Thomson’s falls which are formed by the Ewaso River and plunge 72 meters to dense forest below. it is one of the highest towns in Kenya.
Meru town is both an agricultural center and the beginning of any visit to the Meru national safari park. Dense forests surround the town and the high altitude means that is often misty.
Embu town is the provincial headquarters of Eastern Province and is locates amongst hills on the southeastern slopes of Mt Kenya.