Garissa County

Discover Garissa County

Spatial Location of Garissa County in Kenya
Spatial Location of Garissa County in Kenya

Brief Overview of Garissa County

The notion that venturing to Garissa County is only for the bold, strong-minded and intransigent intrepid is slowly changing. Indeed, the budding hospitality in Garissa Town is a great indication that it is turning a new leaf. The proximity of Garissa Town to Lamu Island makes it ideal for linkage through to the Northern Frontier. What’s more, the fascinating and rich traditional culture of the Somali Community who inhabit Garissa offers one of the greatest cultural extravaganza found in Kenya.​ Relatively obscure in Kenya’s touring circuit, it offers a chance to explore an uncharted, unusual landscape. For the most part, Garissa is a flat and low-lying country without hills, valleys and mountains – a vast featureless plain sloping south and southeast from an altitude of about 300 ms to sea level near Kiunga in Lamu – making communication easy and extraordinarily scenic.

You reach Garissa along a good road from Nairobi through Thika and Mwingi, which runs across the northern portions of Kitui and Tana River Counties and forms the primary line of communication to its capital town of Garissa 369 kms away. Owing to the comparatively low rainfall and to the indigenous practice of overgrazing with both cattle and goats, the floral profile beyond Thika is mainly of the thick thorn-bush type with scanty grass. Around Mwingi, where the road crosses the River Kanginga, the ground slopes away eastwards with a few low-lying hills. Rising noticeably above the plain are three small hills: Endau (4,387 ft), Engamba (3,100 ft) and Kandelongwe (1,570 ft). This featureless plain, on which are wide-spaced valleys and isolated inselbergs, continues eastwards and north-eastwards until Garissa Town is reached, situated on the western border.

Large tree, like Acacia, are found only along its drainage ways. What is opulent, on an unprecedented extent, is scattered shrub and grasslands spreading out in unbroken patches of tens of kilometres at a time, and which supports a sizeable amount of wildlife. Almost all its parks have abundant game, yet, because of the rariness of vehicles its wildlife is shy. Excepting the Bour-Algi Giraffe Sanctuary found near Garissa Town, its other reserves (Rahole, Arawale, Ishaqbini Hirola, Boni and Lag Badana) are farflung, either in its extreme hinterland or along its boundaries. Garissa Town serves as a great jump-off to explore its reserves and sanctuaries. From Garissa Town, A3 Road swings east through Dadaab to Liboi at the Kenya-Somalia border. Besides the A3 Nairobi-Liboi Road, the B9 Isiolo-Mandera Road runs across its northern region from Garba Tula to Harbeswein. 

A Section of Garissa Town (in 2016).  Image Courtesy of Panoramio
A Section of Garissa Town (in 2016). Image Courtesy of Panoramio

Salient Features of Garissa County

  • County Number 07
  • Area – 44174 km2
  • Altitude – 20 to 400 ms
  • Major Towns – Garissa, Masalani, Hulugho
  • Borders – Lamu, Tana River, Isiolo, Wajir
Garissa County Map

Brief History of Garissa County

Garissa County, a part of NFD, was carved out of Jubaland territory of present-day southern Somalia during the colonial period. Like many a regions in Kenya, Garissa had its share of tragedies arising from the colonial era, notably of the Garissa Bulla Kartasi Massacre of 1980. Garissa County experienced political oppression and economic exclusion by the government until very recently. The unconcern for Garissa County goes back a long way. In 1960, the NFD, guided by the Northern Province People’s Progressive Party, sought to secede it from Kenya and be reunited with Somalia; but it failed. This did not sit well with the Government and it was rendered a ‘closed space’ on a national level, perhaps to reinforce ethnic consciousness. As this went on, the Shifta Wars that pitted the Government against the NFDLA begun in December 1963, further alienating it.

Aerial view of Hirola Ishaqbini Conservancy.  Photo Courtesy of Northern Rangelands Trust
Aerial view of Hirola Ishaqbini Conservancy. Image Courtesy of the NRT
Continue Reading...

16 Attractions in Garissa County, arranged as one would visit these - west, north, east then south - with aid of in-depth narratives, images, strip maps and distance chart:

River Tana, Almond Resort, Suuq Mugdi Market, Garissa Culture and Heritage Center, Garissa Solar Power Plant, Bour-Algi Giraffe Sanctuary, Rahole National Reserve, Merti Plateau, River Ewaso Nyiro, Lorian Swamp, Dadaab Camp, Arawale National Reserve, Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy, Lake Ishaqbini, Boni National Reserve, Lag Badana

Geography, Land-Use, Highlights, Population, Roads, Airports, Climate and National Monuments in Garissa County