Attractions in Meru County
1. Kierra Valley
From Chogoria Town, in the northeast corner of Tharaka Nithi County, it is 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. “The Rift Valley look-like scenery between Kanthiga village of Kaaga sub-location and Runogone sublocation known locally as “Kiera or mukera” meaning a valley. The two opposite escarpment provide a great view of the area”. Set at the doorstep of Mount Kenya, this vistat takes in the ranges, forests, plains and hillocks. a trip to Tharaka Nithi and Meru County should not omit a look-see of this viewpoint.
2. 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. 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 the basic plutonics did not, however, give much promise”. North of the Kierra Ridge is a chain of picturesque conical hills.
3. St. Mary’s High School, Igoji
Soon as his arrival in 1907 Edward Butler Horne (the D.C.) earnestly set about the onerous task of bringing the modern world to this back-country. A man of great organizational skills and healthy optimism, he took upon himself many projects that were bedevilled by a shortage of cash, undeveloped infrastructure, and a lugubrious if not distrustful response by the locals. Nicknamed ‘Kangangi’ by the local people for his love of wandering all over their land, Horne granted United Methodist Church territorial rights in Meru where they first established a mission station at Kagaa in 1912. The next move was to mobilize the children, initially boys only, for “kusoma”, the Kiswahili word for reading, which came to mean Christianity, as the two were inseparable. Beyond doubt one of the oldest modern schools in Meru, St. Mary’s High School at Igoji was started on April 11, 1943, by the Consolata Sisters, as an intermediate school for girls on a five-acre piece of land donated by the community. “Many of the original buildings are still standing, including the kitchen and attached dining hall, dormitories and the classrooms. Walls are built of chisel dressed stone under a corrugated iron sheets housetop. The windows are glazed in wooden casements with wire mesh protection while doors are made of timber match-boarding” – Douglas Kiereini.
4. Devil’s Bridge Falls
This whooper on the left hand side along the B6 Embu-Meru Road – about 300 meters past Gikumene Primary School and before negotiating the famous sharp corner at Ngo’nyii – can be sighted as you drive by and is accessible by means of a quick but steep pathway often with a rough mud-caked underfoot to the base. Locally known as the Ndurumo-ya-Irine, it spectacularly drops almost 300 feet, turning to a misty gash close to the naturally formed pool at the base. About 30 meters from the falls is a huge boulder upon which the water has cut through as River Riiji proceeds on its run. This rock is traditionally known as the “uroro-bwa-nkoma” or “ndaracha-ya-nkoma” which means devil’s bridge. “In the olden days, the place was an important source of red and white ochre, or nondoo in Kimeru language, used by various communities for decorating their bodies. It was also peculiarly used by women to draw a line on their heads when hosting a community party”. In context of its topographic profile, the area around Nkubu marks the lowermost flows of Mount Kenya and Devil’s Falls occurs over one of the rarely exposed phonolites building-up to a thickness of more than a 110 feet.
5. Tharuu Springs
Sometimes cited as Tharuu Mineral Waters, these are among the prettiest of the naturally occurring springs around Tharuu Village, found a few kilometres west of Nkubu via the Nkubu-Kionyo Road. Less of a tourism destination than a no-frills adventure in nature, these series of natural water springs have, for as long as folk have lived here, being indefatigable albeit mysteriously transuding both saline and fresh water and the subject of much fascination. Especially poignant when viewed from above, walking along the rock formation where they occur, Tharuu Springs are a thought-provoking natural wonder. ‘Mwonyo jwa Thaaru’ as they are known to the locals, these battery of springs bubbling on the rock-strewn area of the site discharge an invariable stream of mineral water used for different purposes. “There were certain mineral waters meant for human beings and others meant for their livestock. There are some mineral springs that only produce water safe for human consumption and others produce water good for cooking only, specially local vegetables, arrowroots and maize” – Meru County.