Merti, Isiolo (in pictures)

By Galimo Askumo

Merti is a town located in Isiolo County, about 520 kilometers from Nairobi. It has a dark history as one of the fourteen ‘concentration camp’ sites in the North where locals were detained for years during the ‘Shifta War.’ The town has shed that past and become a vibrant center in the North. Being my hometown, I spent a couple of weeks here over the holidays and came back with these photos.

Merti bird eye view 3

Vantage point view of the town..

Merti bird eye view 2

..the main street of Merti town..

Merti town main street

Merti town main street 2

The town is bordered by a hill on one side..

Merti Hill

..and Ewaso Nyiro river on the other.

Merti Ewaso Nyiro

..the river in particular was a favourite chill spot. Temperature in the town averages above 35 degrees at this time of the year so the riverine forest was a good place to cool down and enjoy the best of mother nature.

Merti Ewaso Nyiro 2

The river is quite wide at this point as it approaches its destination, the Lorian Swamp.

Merti Ewasso Nyiro 3

I stumbled upon a tree house in the forest, owned by a farmer who stays safe from lions and hyenas by sleeping above the ground..

Merti Tree House

..the view from the tree house.

Merti farm

The town is predominantly Muslim as evidenced by the 7 mosques in a town of about 20,000 inhabitants..

Merti Jamia Mosque

..but a Christian quarter exists in Merti, christened ‘Manyatta Father.’ The church stepped in to help locals after the end of the Shifta War and their legacy lives on. There are several churches in the town as well as a Christian community center. It felt good being woken up by praise and worship songs from churches and seeing people co-exist peacefully. The harmony is such that Churches are built using signature features of ‘Islamic Architecture’ such as the horse-shoe arch and minaret-like bell towers.

Merti Macci Center

Transport from Merti to other towns further North doesn’t come easy. You end up paying a fortune for the luxury of riding in the back of this old Land Rover.

Merti transport

Sunsets in this town are incredibly vivid and colourful. The hill provides a perfect backdrop that adds to the magnificence of it all.

Sunset - Merti

All in all, I had a great vacation in this town where modernity and wild nature exist in close proximity. It takes quite an effort to get there but the experience is worth the journey. A good excuse to Tembea Kenya off the beaten path.

About the Author

Galimo Askumo
An explorer, an infomaniac and a hippie. I got tired of wanting to read detailed, long form articles on various topics that interest me so I decided to write about them. My username is an ode to the last two known members of my family tree which goes back 11 generations.

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  1. Wanjiku

    First off, that tree house is incredible. Despite what I can imagine are ravenous mosquitoes, I bet that dude sleeps like a baby next to the sound of the rushing river. Insomnia for who?
    Those sunset pictures are top-notch, the orange blush is especially amazing against the blues and the darkness of the hill.
    Thanks for the history, this post was very enjoyable (that tree house made my day)

  2. loso

    looks like a lovely place hope you enjoyed it

  3. KC

    Awesome pictures of Merti, never seen it captured so well. I have never been there (have only gotten as far as Gotu) but hopefully my travels take me there one day.

    • Galimo Askumo

      Thanks, Kenyancamper. There was barely any pictures of Merti online so I thought I should represent my hometown. It is quite close from Gotu, less than 2 hours drive. You can get some nice camping sites along the river valley. Karibu sana Merti

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