Kenya Land and its People

Physical features in Kenya


The country is divided into four disctint geographical and ecological zones. To the east, the coastal plain borders the Indian Ocean. This is followed by the low plateau that makes up Eastern and North-Eastern Counties.

The highlands have Mt.Kenya and adjoining areas, which are in the Central counties.

The Lake Victoria basin is a bowl-shaped region in the west that borders Uganda and Comprises the Western and Nyanza Counties.[regions i.e]
Physical features in Kenya range from desert-like conditions, snow-capped mountains, sandy coastlines, freshwater lakes, savannah grasslands and fertile agricultural plantations to extinct volcanoes.

Kenya’s territorial sea extends 12 nautical miles. The fishing zone is 200 nautical miles, and the continental shelf is 200m deep.


Kenya is the home to the two of the three highest mountains of the African Continent – Mt Kenya and Mt Elgon. It has several mountains and hills. Many of these geographical features are surrounded or have national parks.

Mountain climbing, camping and game viewing are among some of the activities organised in the parks. Lodges and campsites accomodate visitors.

Mt Kenya

It is 5,199m above sea level. Although located along the Equator, its slopes are permanently covered in snow and ice. The spectacular mountain is the home of hundreds of flora and fauna species and is a major tourist attraction.

The park surrounding the mountain hosts varied wildlife and vegetation. There are several lodges and hotels around Mt.Kenya.

Mt longonot

It is a volcanic landform that rises to 2,776 m above level and lies on the bed of the Great Rift valley. Thrusting straight out of the Rift Valley floor, the cone of the mountain is composed of soft volcanic deposits that have eroded into deep gulches and narrow ridges. The extinct volcano is home to a variety of birds and wildlife, and is fairly easy to climb.

The mountain has hot springs and steam seeps through vents in the solidified lava.

Mt Elgon

It is along the Kenya-Uganda border in the west and is 4,300 m above sea level. Mt Elgon is an extinct volcano. It is often hidden in the clouds and has a jagged, much-eroded crater with flat-topped peaks that crop up like stumpy fingers of an upturned hand.

Part of the eastern side of the mountain is the Mt Elgon National Park. The fertile volcanic soil in the mountain region is ideal for coffee and maize farming.

Chyulu hills

Framing the vast plains of Tsavo and lying within view of Mt Kilimanjaro, are the Taita and Chyulu Hills. The Chyulu hills are considered as some of the volcanic mountains in the world, born out of the earth only 500 years ago. The beautiful hills are bordered by an expanse of black lava flow known as Sheitani, the source of many local legends.

This is a paradise of elephant herds, cheetah and wonderful view of Mt Kilimanjaro.

Taita Hills

They are home to a private game sanctuary, with a wide variety of game, including the lion, cheetah and elephant. Prolific bird includes the rare Taita falcon, a bird recorded in early Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Taita are three groups of hills – the Dabida, Sagalla and Kasigau.

Namanga Hills

They are also known as the Ol Doinyo Orok Mountain. One of the remaining mist forest ecosystems is here – in the southern end of Kenya. Part of the mountain crosses the border into Tanzania. The peak is at 8,360 feet.

The Maasai live in the surrounding lands, and their hunting has had an impact on the wildlife populations. Animals in the Namanga Hills include antelopes, ostriches, hyenas and zebras. There is a national park in the hills, but it is not very popular parks with tourists.

Water towers

Kenya has five key water towers: Mau Escarpment, Mt Kenya, Aberdare ranges, Cherangany Hills and Mt Elgon. The government has set out programmes to not only rehabilitate, but also protect them.


Menengai in Nakuru, Loroghi Hills in Samburu, Cherangany Hills in Trans Nzoia, Shimba Hills, Mt Marsabit and Mt Dukana on the Ethiopian border. Others are North Island Volcano and Namarunu all near Lake Turkana. Nyambene Hills in Meru, Ngong Hills, Mt Kilimambogo, Mt Homa in the Winam Gulf and Suswa in Maasailand are some of the many mountains and hills in Kenya.


Lake Victoria

It is in Western Kenya and the largest Fresh water lake on the continent that supports a major fishing industry in the East African Region. It is the second largest fresh water mass in the world and shared with Uganda and Tanzania. It Covers 68,000 square kilometers.

Lake Naivasha

At more than 2,000m above sea level, it is popular for fishing and boating. It has a few hippos but no crocodiles. It is renowned for numerous bird species such as the marabou storks, doves and fish eagles. The lake is only an hour’s drive from Nairobi and Near Mt Longonot.

It is the only freshwater body mass in the RIft Valley and has a thriving fishing industry.

Lake Turkana

It has saline water and borders Ethiopia. It is 320 square km, the most spectacular of Africa’s lakes. Commonly referred to as the Jade Sea due to its electric blue-green colour, the lake is surrounded by dry desert and hills. Economic activities around the lake include fishing and tourism. It also provides water to the Turkana and Pokot pastoralist communities.

Lake Nakuru

Situated on the floor of the Rift Valley, it is surrounded by a beautiful national park of acacia forest. It is a world Heritage site famous for its more than one million pink flamingo population. It is also the home to more than 450 bird species and wildlife, inlcuding the leopard, waterbuck, impala, eland, Rothschild’s giraffe, black rhino, zebra and ostrich. The park is also renowned for big pythons.

Lake Baringo

The water mass is 60km north of Nakuru town and is surrounded by a scenic rugged semi-desert landscape. Lake Baringo is saline and on the floor of the rift valley. The lake is another birdwatchers’ paradise, with more than 450 bird species and home to crocodiles and hippos. Activities at the lake include fishing,skiing,surfing and boat rides.

Lake Bogoria

This is another saline water mass near lake Baringo. The lake’s primary attraction is a series of furiously erupting hot springs and flamingoes. The area surrounding the lake has a variety of birdlife:Fish eagles, pelicans, avocets and steppe eagles. Wildlife in the park includes buffaloes, hyenas, dik-dik and warthog.

Lake Magadi

It lies in the Rift Valley depression, a vast shalloe pool of soda, sludge of alkaline water. It is the world’s second largest source of sodium carbonate.

Lake Elementaita

It is a small (18 sq km) soda lake in the eastern sweep of the Great Rift Valley. It is surrounded by spectacular country that played an important role in the early colonial history of Kenya. This was the estate and stronghold of Lord Delamere. Lake Elementaita lies in the shadow of a hill locally known as the ‘Sleeping Maasai’.

The lake attracts many visiting flamingo, and along the shores graze zebra,gazelle,eland and warthog.

Lake Kamnarok

It is at the base of the Kerio Valley. The name originated from the word ‘narok’, a species of a water plant that was found in the lake in the early stages of its formation.

Size of the lake is 1km2. The 1961 floods enlarged it and residents were evacuated. The lake was gazetted in 1984, leading to the creation og Lake Kamnarok Game Reserve, the home of 500 elephants.

Lake Logipi

It is saline and lies at the northern end of the Suguta Valley in Samburu. Lake Logipi is between 3 and 5 meters deep, and is 6 km wide and 3 km long. Flamingoes inhabit the saline waters.

It is separated from Lake Turkana by the Barrier volcanic complex, a group of volcanoes that last erupted the late 19th century or early 20th century. Hot springs discharge on the northern shoreline of Lake Logipi and maintain water at times of extreme aridity. During the rainy reason, the lake is recharged from the Suguta River, forming a temporary lake, Alablab.

Lake Jipe

Located at the south-western tip of the Tsavo National Park, Lake Jipe is framed by tall reeds, with plenty of hippo, elephant and birdlife painting its shallow waters. The lake is one of Kenya’s most important wetlands, providing refuge for numerous water and marsh birds. There is a motorboat for hire at the gate.


Kenya’s biggest rivers are Tana and Athi in the east part of the country. They account for more than 90 percent of the hydropower generated in the country. In the west part of the country are Mara, Nyando, Nzoia, Yala and Sondu-Miriu rivers, which empty into Lake Victoria.

In the north is the Turkwell river, which drains into Lake Turkana. Other rivers include Sabaki, Ewaso Ng’iro, Gucha, Kerio, Mbagathi, Nairobi, Naro Moru, Njoro and Tsavo.

Related posts

The White Highlands of Kenya


Political Organization in Kenya during the Colonial Period


The Imperial British East African Company (that was located in Kenya).


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