Central Highlands

The Central Highlands, to the north of Nairobi and forming the eastern boundary of the Rift Valley, is the heartland of the Kikuyu people who make up the largest ethnic group in Kenya. It used to be known as the 'White Highlands' because - being fertile and well watered - many of the white settlers chose it for their farmland. Thanks to the nutritious volcanic soils of Mount Kenya, this region is now home to much small-scale farming, including coffee, and is very densely populated.

There are a number of towns in the Central Highlands, often referred to as upcountry, and these are useful for shops and communications but have few distractions and will not hold the attention of visitors for very long. The real reason people come to the Central Highlands is to visit the Aberdares National Park - home to the famous hotels, the Ark and Treetops - the more remote Meru National Park, and also to climb Mount Kenya. The newest attraction of the region, and one of East Africa's wildlife conservation success stories, is the Laikipia Plateau. Here the many farms and ranches across a vast area have joined forces to protect the wild animals on their land and start tourism initiatives to support their gallant efforts. After the Masai Mara, it's now the best place to view wildlife, including the Big Five, and is home to over 50% of Kenya's rhino. This area is over 9500 sq km and covers not only much of the Central Highlands but also stretches into the Northern Territory and into Western Kenya. It is, however, best accessed from the town of Nanyuki so it is included in this chapter.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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