The Kinangop Plateau lies between 2400 and 2700m above sea level and is bounded by the Aberdares Mountains to the east and a steep scarp dropping into the Rift valley to the west.
Geologically recent tectonic events created the Great Rift Valley and associated high mountains of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares Ranges.
The entire Kinangop plateau is about 77,000 hectares;
The Kinangop is one of the remnant peneplained plateaux, which features horst blocks and trough valleys, characterized by differing forms of savannahs depending on rainfall, relief, edaphic conditions and topography.
The Kinangop plateau shelter Sharpe’s Longclaw a globally threatened grassland-specialist bird and numerous other animals and plants endemic to the mountain grasslands of Kenya and northern Tanzania.
Sharpe’s Longclaw is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of globally threatened species because of the very rapid and continuing reduction in the extent and quality of its habitat.
Kinangop Plateau Birdwatching
More than 250 species of birds have been recorded in the grasslands including the localized;
- Levaillant’s Cisticola
- Wing snapping Cisticola
- Hunter’s Cisticola
- Lesser Jacana,
- Long tailed Widow bird
- Jackson's Widow bird
- Red collared Widowbird
- African Snipe
- Yellow crowned Canary
Originally, the entire Kinangop plateau was covered with almost treeless, tussocky grassland, including many tussock bogs in swampy valleys.
However, grassland habitat has been greatly modified within the last 40 years in the plateau as a result of changes in land tenure and agricultural practices;
which includes dairy farming, horticultural farming and sheep farming and planting of exotic tree species
Rainfall averages around 1000mm per year and peaks during April–May and October but the southern part of the plateau is wetter than the north, which lies in the rain shadow of the Aberdares National Park.
The landscape is generally flat and rises gently to the base of the mountains in the east.
The area is bisected by valleys bearing streams, which flow into the Malewa and Karati Rivers which then flow into Lake Naivasha