Tharaka Nithi County

Geography, Land-Use, Highlights, Population, Roads, Airports, Climate & National Monuments in Tharaka Nithi

Geography of Tharaka Nithi County

The highest altitude within Tharaka Nithi County is about 5,200 ms at Chuka Igambang’ombe and Maara, while the lowest is 600 ms at Tharaka. The main physical feature in Tharaka Nithi is the 360 km2 of Mount Kenya Forest which is shared by Maara and Chuka. This forest serves as both a tourist attraction and as a catchments area for Tana River. Prominent hills in the county include Kierra, Munuguni and Njuguni, Kijegge and Ntugi. Tharaka Nithi County is strikingly different from other parts of Kenya in having large masses of hillocks.

Land Use in Tharaka Nithi County

Tharaka Nithi County has two major ecological zones. The highland comprised of Maara and Chuka – which receive adequate rainfall for agriculture – and the semi-arid (lower zone) covering Tharaka. The salient land use in Tharaka Nithi County is farming. Other land uses include cultural and forestry conservation. Majority of the residents are small scale farmers with an average of 3 hectares used for food and cash crop farming. Large scale farmers own an average of 6.7 hectares. Cash crops include tea and coffee grown mainly in Maara and Chuka.

Highlights in Tharaka Nithi County

Tharaka Nithi’s main attractions are its expansive landscape, cultural sites and Tana River Basin. The main landforms in Tharaka Nithi County are mountains, hills and foot ridges. Mount Kenya is the main mountain. The topography of the County is greatly influenced by Mount Kenya creating a V-shaped valleys within which main tributaries of River Tana originating from Mount Kenya forest flow. The county borders Meru National Park that offers high potential for tourism activities, yet, little tourist activities take place in these adjacent areas. A small portion of Mwingi National Reserve also sits in the southeast corner of the area.

Distant view of Vivienne Falls, below The Temple.  Photo Courtesy of Geo View
Distant view of Vivienne Falls, below The Temple. Image Courtesy of Geo View

Population in Tharaka Nithi County

Tharaka Nithi County had a total population of 365,330 based on the 2009 population and housing census. This was projected to rise to 399,735 in 2012 and 478,570 by 2017 – equating to an annual population growth rate is 1.8%. Chuka Town, in Meru South S.C., is the largest urban centre with a projected population of 45,882 residents in 2012, while Chogoria Town in Maara had a projected population of 33,378 in 2012. Marimanti is the only urban centre in Tharaka Sub-county with a projected population of 9,009 in 2012, expected to increase to 9,857 by 2017.  The average population density is 150 people / km2.

Airports in Tharaka Nithi County

Tharaka Nithi County currently has no airports or airstrips. 

Roads in Tharaka Nithi County

Tharaka Nithi County has a total road network of 1670 kms. Of these, only 61 kms are under bitumen road. These include the B6 Embu-Meru Road and the Kathegeri-Chuka-Chogoria-Keria Road, the C92 Ishiara-Kathwana-Chiakariga-Marimanti Road and the Chogoria-Maara Road. Other roads are earth surface.

Tharaka Nithi County Distance Chart
Tharaka Nithi County Distance Chart

Climate in Tharaka Nithi County

Temperatures in the highland areas range between 14 C to 30 C, while those in the lowland area range between 22 C to 36 C. Tharaka Constituency, which lies in the lower region, experiencess temperatures of up to 40 C. It has a bi-modal rainfall pattern, with the long rains in April to June and short rains in October.

National Monuments in Tharaka Nithi

There are no designated national monuments in Tharaka Nithi County.

Tharaka Nithi County Map

Tharaka Nithi County Map