Governor Ann Waiguru of Kirinyaga county has expressed her commitment to launch an aggressive campaign to sell the county as a leading tourism destination of choice.
Governor Waiguru said on Tuesday with over 15, 000 climbers visiting Mount Kenya (especially to climb the peaks of Lenana and Batian), Kirinyaga every day, the county will soon become the destination of choice in the Central Region.
Waiguru said through the county strategic paper (Mountain Rising Blue print 2032), Kirinyaga county intends to implement a shorter and friendlier climbing route to the Mt. Kenya through Kamweti to the advantage of visitors.
“The new route to the iconic Mt. Kenya through Castle lodge will shorten the traditional climbing routes via Naro Moru by over 10 kilometre’, said the governor.
She said one can climb to the peak of the snowcapped Mount Kenya through Kamweti route from the Castle lodge.
The Castle Hotel also has a historic background given that it hosted King George and the current Queen Elizabeth of England during the colonial era.
The route passes through the dense forest, bamboo forest viewing the swamps and moorland to meet up with other routes at Mackinder camp for the final climb conquering point Lenana.
“The Kamweti route offers two different packages depending on time, one five days and one of seven days.
Ms Waiguru, who was speaking on Wednesday during a country music extravaganza held at Sagana said many Kenyans are not aware of the serene features and wonderful tourist sites that exist in the county.
She said the county has embarked on a vigorous campaign to make known some of the unique sites only found in Kirinyaga.
‘We have remarkable places like the Ndaraca ya Ngai (God’s Bridge), a drive away from Nairobi- Embu highway, amidst the scenic view of Mt Kenya is the natural bridge which was used as a hideaway joint for more than fifty Mau Mau men and women during the colonial times.
The British never discovered the scene and so it was a safe haven for the freedom fighters.
It is a breath taking imagery of which nobody has a clear answer on how it came into existence.
Other attractions in the county include The Mwea Classic Marathon which uses “smell rice” theme and plays host to Olympic stars.
The marathon is held every year at Mwea Secondary School with a free registration and usually closes a day before the main event.
Last year the event attracted 1800 runners.
The marathon is also associated with the Kenya’s largest rice scheme that spreads along Thiba and Nyamindi Rivers with an intention to show case to the runners the beautiful paddy carpets that define Mwea and at the same time create awareness that connects education and economic empowerment to sport.
Kirinyaga is also home to many wild animals, on a good day, you can spot elephants at Castle forest lodge.
There is a famous hide out where elephants mate during the rainy season to the view of tourists at the Castle lodge forest.
Waiguru said those attracted to culture will have the Mwomboko dancers handy for their entertainment.
The dancing group formed in the 1940s bares a name from the Kikuyu traditional dance known as Mwomboko.
The objective of the group is to maintain the Kikuyu culture through dance and song, the group also educates and informs the citizens through songs that have important messages affecting the society’s day livelihood.
“Would you like to learn about the origin of Kikuyu, Meru, Kamba or Embu, as well as experience a taste of their roots or cultural background, if yes Thingira cultural village is the place to visit it is here where the first missionary got off Mt. Kenya and named it Mt. Kinya crossing from Riakanau in Eastern province to Kirinyaga for trade’’, says the governor.
The famous mud huts are also good descriptions as they represent the origin of the Bantu culture.
“I have embarked on a journey to make this county a leading world tourist destination which despite the many existing natural resources have for decades remained unexploited’’, she said.
Waiguru also said with Havila Resort having been declared the Olympic Site for Africa canoeing and kayaking in 2015, she will endeavor to ensure the required equipment and facilities were available to make the sport more attractive.
The site was used for the Rio De Janeiro Olympic qualifiers for the African canoeing and kayaking team while rafting is also being considered as the third water sport at this river.
“I urge Kenyans to come and visit this Olympic site and see what is on offer especially to those who love the wonders of nature, “she said.
Waiguru said plans were now on for the construction of a five star hotel around the shs. 19 billion Thiba Mega Dam with the county government having identified potential investors who are ready to undertake the project.
“The whole idea is to boost growth in the tourism industry which has remained dormant despite the enormous potential.
“The tourism sector in 2017 earned Kirinyaga county shs. 300 million revenue while the future projections look bright. she said.
By Irungu Mwangi