Nestled in the heart of Central Kenya, Muranga County is a region renowned for its rich cultural heritage, breathtaking landscapes, and thriving agricultural sector.
Located approximately 85 kilometers north-northeast of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, Murang’a County offers a unique blend of traditional and modern experiences.
In this article, we will delve into the fascinating aspects of Muranga County, exploring its history, attractions, and economic significance.
Quick Facts About Muranga County
- County Number: 021
- Number of Sub-Counties: 7 (Kiharu, Kangema, Mathioya, Kigumo, Maragwa, Kandara, Gatanga.)
- County Headquarters: Murang’a town
- Current Governor: Irungu Kang’ata
- Current Senator: Joe Nyutu
- Woman Representative: Betty Njeri Maina
- County Website: muranga.go.ke
A Brief History of Muranga County
Murang’a County, located in the Central region of Kenya, is one of the five counties in that area. It shares borders with Nyeri to the North, Kiambu to the South, Nyandarua to the West, and Kirinyaga, Embu, and Machakos counties to the East.
Geographically, it is positioned between latitudes 0° 34′ South and 107′ South and longitudes 36° East and 37° 27′ East. Covering a land area of 2,558.8 square kilometers, Murang’a County encompasses a significant portion of the Central region.
Murang’a County has a storied past that dates back centuries. The Agikuyu, one of Kenya’s major ethnic groups, were the region’s original inhabitants. They established their settlements along the Tana River, cultivating the fertile land and engaging in trade with neighboring communities.
In the late 19th century, during the British colonial era, Murang’a became a key center for resistance against colonial rule. Notable freedom fighters like Dedan Kimathi and General China fought fiercely to liberate the country from colonial oppression.
Physical and Topographic Features
The county is situated between 914m above sea level (ASL) in the East and 3,353m above sea level (ASL) along the slopes of the Aberdare Mountains in the West. Transitioning to the highest areas in the west, the topography becomes deeply dissected, with multiple rivers draining the region.
These rivers flow from the Aberdare ranges towards the West, eventually joining the Tana River.
In terms of geology, the county consists of volcanic rocks from the Pleistocene era and basement system rocks of the Achaean type. The volcanic rocks dominate the western part of the county, adjacent to the Aberdares, while the basement system rocks are found in the eastern part.
Porous beds and disconformities within the volcanic rock system serve as important aquifers, collecting and transporting groundwater, which regulates the water supply from wells and boreholes.
Topography and Geology
The topography and geology of the county possess both advantages and disadvantages for its development. The highest areas act as rain catchment areas, serving as the origins of many rivers that drain the county. However, the dissected terrain increases the risk of landslides and gully erosion.
The presence of numerous streams and valleys necessitates the construction of numerous bridges to connect different ridges, making road construction and maintenance challenging and costly.
On the other hand, volcanic soils are generally fertile, making them crucial for agriculture. The slopes with rich volcanic soils at higher altitudes are particularly suitable for tea cultivation.
The County can be divided into three distinct climatic regions: the western region with an equatorial climate, the central region with a sub-tropical climate, and the eastern part with semi-arid conditions.
The long rainy season occurs from March to May, with the highest rainfall typically recorded in April. Rainfall during this month is highly reliable. The short rainy season falls in October and November.
The western region, including areas like Kangema, Gatanga, and the higher parts of Kigumo and Kandara, experiences a wet and humid climate due to the influence of the Aberdares and Mount Kenya.
In contrast, the eastern region, comprising the lower parts of Kigumo, Kandara, Kiharu, and Maragwa constituencies, receives less rainfall, necessitating irrigation for crop production.
Top 10 Things to Do in Muranga County
Murang’a County offers a plethora of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. From natural wonders to cultural experiences, this vibrant region has something for everyone.
With its captivating landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and exciting activities, Murang’a County is a destination that promises an unforgettable experience.
Here are the top 10 things to do in Murang’a County.
1. Explore the Aberdare Range
Embark on a hiking adventure through the scenic Aberdare Range, known for its lush forests, majestic peaks, and breathtaking waterfalls.
2. Learn about Agikuyu Culture
Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the Agikuyu people by visiting the Murang’a Cultural Museum, where you can discover artifacts and traditional artwork. You can also visit the Mukurwe Wa Nyagathanga center.
3. Take a Tea Plantation Tour
Murang’a County is known as the “bedrock of Kenya’s agriculture,” so visit a tea plantation and learn about the tea-making process.
4. Visit Ndakaini Dam
Explore the impressive Ndakaini Dam, a major water reservoir that supplies water and offers beautiful scenery for nature lovers.
5. Explore the Tuthu Catholic Church Mausoleum
Established in 1902 by Consolata missionaries, the Tuthu Catholic Church holds significant historical and cultural value. Within its premises, you can find the mausoleum of Chief Karuri wa Gakure, a paramount chief who warmly welcomed the first missionaries to Central Kenya.
He generously provided them with a compound to reside in and allowed them to conduct their inaugural mass beneath a sacred Mugumo tree, revered by the Agikuyu community. Additionally, the church compound houses a shrine that adds to its spiritual ambiance.
6. Discover the Karia Ka Mbari Ya Ngware
Experience the cultural heritage site of Karia Ka Mbari Ya Ngware, which offers a deep insight into the origins of the Agikuyu people. This sacred location serves as a gathering place for Kikuyu elders to perform rituals, prayers, and other traditional practices, making it a significant site for the community.
7. Indulge in the Aberdare Cottages Experience
Immerse yourself in the beauty of Murang’a County by staying at the Aberdare Cottages. This exquisite destination offers a range of activities for adventure enthusiasts, including hiking, fly fishing, mountain biking, and boat riding.
As you enjoy these thrilling experiences, you’ll also be treated to breathtaking views of the lush greenery of Murang’a’s picturesque landscape. The luxury cottages provide a comfortable and memorable stay for visitors seeking tranquillity and natural beauty.
8. Visit Sagana
Head to Sagana and enjoy thrilling water sports such as white-water rafting and kayaking on the Sagana River.
9. Explore Murang’a Town
Discover the bustling Murang’a Town, a vibrant hub where you can shop for local crafts, taste delicious street food, and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere.
10. Taste Local Delicacies
Indulge in the flavors of Murang’a County by trying local dishes such as Mukimo (a mashed potato dish), Githeri (a combination of corn and beans), and Waru wa Njahi (black bean and potato stew).
11. Go on a Coffee Farm Tour
Murang’a County is renowned for its coffee production. Visit a coffee farm to witness the cultivation and processing of this beloved beverage.
12. Visit Kiharu Fort
Step back in time at Kiharu Fort, an ancient fortification that played a significant role in the region’s history and offers a glimpse into the past.
13. Relax By the Riverside
Find a peaceful spot along one of Murang’a County’s rivers, such as the Mathioya or the Thika, and unwind while enjoying the soothing sounds of nature.
The Economy of Muranga County
Murang’a County is known as the “bedrock of Kenya’s agriculture.” Its fertile soil and favorable climate support a thriving agricultural sector. Coffee and tea farming are the primary cash crops in the county, with numerous farms spread across picturesque landscapes.
In addition to coffee and tea, the region also produces avocados, macadamia nuts, and various fruits and vegetables. The county’s dedication to agriculture has earned it the nickname “Kenya’s fruit basket.”
2. Dairy Farming
The county is also renowned for its vibrant dairy industry. Murang’a County’s favorable climatic conditions and abundant water resources provide an ideal environment for dairy farming. Numerous dairy cooperatives have been established in the region, enabling farmers to pool their resources, access markets, and benefit from collective bargaining.
3. Hydroelectric Power
Murang’a County boasts several hydroelectric power plants, including the popular Ndakaini Dam. These power plants harness the energy of rivers and dams, providing electricity to both the county and neighboring regions. The energy generated contributes significantly to the country’s power grid and supports industrial and domestic needs.
The Agikuyu people have a rich cultural heritage that is deeply rooted in Murang’a County. The county’s cultural festivals and ceremonies allow one to experience traditional music, dance, and attire. The famous Agikuyu traditional wedding ceremony, known as “Ngurario,” showcases the community’s cultural practices and is a vibrant display of unity and celebration.
Where to Stay in Muranga County: Hotels and Resorts
Murang’a offers various hotels and resorts catering to various preferences and budgets. Whether seeking a luxurious getaway or a comfortable stay, you’ll find suitable accommodations in this vibrant county.
Here are a few notable hotels and resorts in Muranga County. They include Sagana Getaway Resort, Aberdare Cottages, Maragua Paradise Resort, and The Old House Resort.
Murang’a County is a treasure trove of natural wonders, cultural heritage, and economic significance. Its picturesque landscapes, from the Aberdare Ranges to Chania Falls, offer a feast for the eyes, while its thriving agricultural sector contributes significantly to the country’s economy.
With its rich history, warm hospitality, and diverse attractions, Murang’a County is an ideal destination for those seeking an immersive experience of Kenya’s cultural and natural heritage.
Whether you are a nature lover, a history enthusiast, or simply searching for a unique adventure, Murang’a County will captivate your heart and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.