Kitui County

Discover Kitui County

View of the dramatic and formidable Nzambani Rock.  Photo Courtesy
View of the dramatic and formidable Nzambani Rock. Image Courtesy

Brief Overview of Kitui County

The principal line of communication in Kitui County is the A3 Thika-Liboi Road linking Thika with Kitui, 131 kms away, whilst a second, but less engaged, road meets the A109 Nairobi-Mombasa Road at Kibwezi, 144 kms south of Kitui. The northern part of Kitui County is best approached via the A3 which runs east to west about 20 kms outside the northern boundary – through Matuu, Kithyoko, Mwingi and Mbuvi Towns – and from which its two secondary roads extend to Mui and Nuu. The southern part is served via Kitui, where several fairly good roads radiate out of: west to Machakos Town along the C97 Mulutu-Wamunyu-Masii-Machakos Road; east and north via C96 Kitui-Zombe-Ikoo-Mwingi Road; and east and south via the Kitui-Zombe-Nguuni-Ikutha Road. In context, these roads traverse sizable distances across the long and narrowed 30,496 km2 Kitui County which is about 125 kms at its widest and almost 300 kms north to south.

To a great extent, the nature of most parts of Kitui County could be described as a rocky plain, sloping from west to east, excepting the uplands of Yatta Plateau and the Kitui Hills in the central part. “Kitui stands on a low spur at the south-western end of a group of hills which rise to over 5,000 ft. The town itself lies at an altitude of no more than 3,800 ft”. The low-lying, comparatively flat, tropical bushland, extending from Kitui Hills eastwards to Tana River, is generally less than 2,400 ft asl. Moreover, a combination of high temperature and low rainfall renders cultivation very difficult, and the greater part of the area is covered with Aristida grasses, and stunted thorn bush mainly composed of species of Acacia and Commiphora strewn with towering Baobab. In stack contrast, in the areas along the banks of Tana, Ura, Tiva and Galana Rivers the vegetation is riverine embodied by flourishing green belts of palms. The western hilly region around Kitui naturally supports the densest population of its local Akamba Community.

Only 16% of the land Kitui County is arable with the remainder consisting of marginal land and arid areas. Still and all, the huge potential mineralogy of the county is listed as including possible deposits of coal, gypsum, magnisite, gold, asbestos, garnet, tormaline, vanadium and silica. Kitui County has three large National Reserves found along its extreme frontiers – Mwingi National Reserve (north), South Kitui National Reserve (east) and parts of Tsavo East National Park (south). These all offer great opportunities for game viewing and exploring little-travelled and unfamiliar horizons. Tsavo, the largest, covers almost 6369 km2 and the entire southern quarter of Kitui County. In sum, the reserves cover about 35% of Kitui. The Athi-Galana-Sabaki River traversing it from north to south also forms its natural western boundary with Makueni County. Uniquely situated between Athi-Galana-Sabaki and Tiva River and also traversing it from north to south is the Yatta Plateau, the most prominent landmark – a 210 kms long continuous lave plateau ridge typified by plain wide shallow spaced valleys.

Salient Features of Kitui County

  • County Number 15
  • Area – 30496 km2
  • Altitude – 400 to 800 ms
  • Major Towns – Kitui, Mwingi, Mutomo
  • Borders – T. River, Taveta, Meru, Embu Tharaka, Makueni, Machakos

Brief History of Kitui County

During the British colonial reign over Kenya, the now defunct Kitui District was divided up into 23 location, each with its own Chief.  Unlike their neighboring communities Kitui Kamba were, as a tribe, pleasant, likeable and totally loyal. They also made excellent soldiers and policemen, taking eagerly to discipline and service.  Their contribution in the King’s African Rifles during the Second World War was greater than that of any other community in Kenya and possibly the singular greatest contribution was made by Senior Chief Kasina of Migwani.

View of a section of the 210 kms long Yatta Plateau.  Photo Courtesy of A Thousand Words
View of the 210 kms long Yatta Plateau. Image Courtesy of A Thousand Words

Places of Interest in Kitui County

1. Kanyonyoo Wildlife Conservancy

Kanyonyoo Wildlife Conservancy is 231 km2 of arid bushland interspered with acacia accommodating remnants of once prolific plains game that freely roamed the previously unsettled area. It is about 76 kms east of Thika near Kanyonyoo Market. The A3 Thika-Garissa-Liboi Road progresses along its southern flanks, while the B7 Kibwezi-Kitui-Kandwia-Usueni Road travel on its western frontier, so it is approachable from the south as well as from the east. So far there is no accommodation within the conservancy but it is served by Thatha Hills Resort and Kitui Premier Resort both within a reasonable distance. The conservancy was established to preserve the existing wildlife in harmony with ranching. Some of the notable wildlife include buffaloes, zebra, antelopes and giraffes. It is also home to a variegated bird life. The generally dry climate of Kitui means that its parkways are passable almost all year round. Against the backdrop of Thatha Hills it is almost guranteed success, yet, in addition, it has impressive game. The fact that Kanyonyoo Wildlife Conservancy lacks a focal point or a much-talked about spectacle makes for pleasant afternoon game drive full of adventure. From Kitui Town, this is located 30 kms northerly in Thatha Village.

Spatial Location of Kanyonyoo Wildlife Conservancy in Kitui County
Spatial Location of Kanyonyoo Wildlife Conservancy in Kitui County

2. B2 Yatta Ranch

Kitui County has three significant ranches – B2 Yatta Ranch, SEKU and GASP ranches. SEKU and GASP are managed by South Eastern Kenya University and the Catholic Diocese of Kitui, respectively. B2 Yatta is owned by a Co-operative Society hence is classified as a group ranch. Founded in 1950, Yatta Ranch was originated from the yattas (trust lands) of Kitui County which were split into a variety of large scale paddocks with the purposes of rotation grazing. Located outside the populated areas, in Katoteni, where there is little farming activity, these grazing ranching schemes play important roles in advancing the economic enterprise of this arid region. The 240,000 acres B2 Yatta Ranch verges on the 160,000 acres Yatta Ranch in Machakos. Both lie along the marches of Yatta Plateau and benefit from River Athi which supports these flourishing ranches specializing in cattle. B2 Yatta Ranch hosts a herd of almost 2,000 cows. For tourism, the proposed Yatta Wildlife Conservancy is still taking shape. It sits in Kwa Vonza Location, turning off the B7 Kitui-Ikutha-Kibwezi Road at Katheka.

3. Ukasi Hill

Garissa is approached on a good road from Nairobi, through Thika and Mwingi, which runs across the northern portions of Kitui and Tana River Counties, and forms the salient line of communication to its capital town of Garissa, 369 kms away. Owing to the comparatively low rainfall and to the indigenous practice of overgrazing, the landscape beyond Thika is mainly of the thick thorn-bush type with little grass. Around Mwingi, 127 kms east of Thika, where the road crosses the River Kanginga, the ground slopes away eastwards with a handful low-lying hills. Rising abruptly from this plain are three modest hills – Endau (4,387 ft), Engamba (3,100 ft) and the Kandelongwe (1,570 ft). This featureless plain, on which are wide-spaced valleys and scanty inselbergs, continues eastwards and north-eastwards until Garissa Town is reached, set along on its western border. Ukasi, where the Ukasi Hill is found, is a further 61 east of Mwingi. This is more impressive for what it contains than the landscape itself. Ukasi Hill earned its fame through its eerie and rather bizarre residents. Unique to the unassuming 120 ms high Ukasi Hill, near Ngomeni, is that it is home to one of the rarest and oddest looking flies in Kenya: “Scientists first came across the yellow-haired fly in 1933 and again in 1948. Since then, at least half a dozen expeditions have visited the location to find this insect dubbed as the terrible hairy fly – Standard Media. This bizarre fly, unable to fly and partial to breeding in bat faeces, is thought to live only in the dark, bat-filled cleft on the isolated Ukasi Hill. It has peculiar non-functional wings resembling miniature belt straps and mingy eyes.

4. Mumoni Hill Forest Reserve

This is located in the northwest edge of Kitui County and reached 64 kms north of Mwingi Town along the C93 Mwingi-Kathwana Road, at Katse. Mumoni Hill, emerging as a wooded inselberg, rises to 1811 ms (6000 ft) and 700 ms from the surrounding arid scrubland plains. To the west, Mumoni Hill is separated from Kiang’ombe Forest Reserve (in Embu County) by a broad valley cut through by Tana River which in the southwest area is dammed to carve out Kiambere Dam – completed in 1987 along the border between Embu and Kitui Counties as part of the Seven Forks Dam Project. Mumoni Hill forms the larger share of the 104 km2 Mumoni Forest Reserve alongside Muvoria Hill Forest Reserve set in the immediate south. Both these hillscapes were gazetted in 1993 as a forest reserve owing to their importance as a water tower for the densely populated Mwingi North region. For tourism, Mumoni Hill Forest Reserve is a walkers and bird-watchers wild escape, where colourful birds like raptors, hindes babbler, palied harrier, Somali biome and martial eagles have been regularly spotted. Although still underdeveloped, the reserve is crisscrossed by a good network of pathways from which nature-lovers can appreciate the rich floral and avi-faunal beauty as well as its fetching mountain scenery. 375 plant species were identified in 2006.

Spatial Location of Mumoni Hill Forest Reserve in Kitui County
Spatial Location of Mumoni Hill Forest Reserve in Kitui County

5. Muvaroa Hill Forest Reserve

Although Muvaria Hill is a third the size of Mumoni, it bears much resemblance to its sister hill, with its floral virility covering most of its hilltop with thick bush and in some places with trees. It also rises to about 1800 ms and 650 ms above the landscape and is a critical watershed for the springs and streams that water Mwingi. Both these mountain masses form the headwaters of the Mwengo and Ndatha Rivers. There are paths in and around the Hill for walking and scouting.

6. Kiambere Dam

The earth-filled embankment of Kiambere Dam, which straddles the boundary between Embu and Kitui County, was completed in 1987. Its 110 ms tall dam withholds a stupefying 585,000,000 m3 of water with the assistance of second earth fill saddle dam to the north. It generates 165 MW. Although it is rich in fish and a favoured fishing spot by natives, the omens of Kiambere Dam is that it’s murky waters are also swarmed over with crocodiles and hippos which have been the subject of indignant human-wildlife conflict.  A particular highlight for visitors to Kiambere, and also to Kindaruma, is the chance to view the huge and unsettling tailrace. It is found 38 kms from Kivaa and 22 kms from Kindaruma.

7. Mwingi National Reserve

Previously known as Kitui-North National Reserve, sometimes dubbed as the Mwingi North National Reserve and more proper as Mwingi National Reserve, this occupies about 745 km2 in the northeast edge of Kitui County. It is one of four protected and contiguous areas which consist the larger 4,400 km2 Meru Conversation Zone alongside with Meru National Park (in the north), Bisanadi National Reserve (northeast) and Kora National Reserve (east). As a result, this Reserve is a designated as a “wilderness zone” by Kenya Wildlife Service which allows for fly camping, camel and horseback safari. The Reserve is flanked on the northern frontier by the River Tana. Due to the fact that Mwingi National Reserve is bordered by other reserves, it is frequently visited by various game from the neighboring parks. Animals that are found in Mwingi Reserve include caracal, elephant, hippo, leopard, lion and different antelope species among others”. Traditional game viewing is still extremely restricting and there is no accommodation. Trippers aiming for the reserve must have a strong wish to venture off the grid. It can be accessed via C93 Mwingi-Kathwana Road turning off at Kamuwongo Centre and through Kyuso Village or via Meru National Park.

8. George Adamson Bridge

Fabricated between 1986 and 1990, the steel vintage George Adamson Bridge close to the northern edge of Mwingi Game Reserve and which separates Meru National Park and Kora National Park, crossing River Tana, is a warm tribute to the famed reformist and conservationist George Adamson, and is the universal welcome to Kora National Park. This, of course, was where the exemplary novel Born Free about “Elsa the lioness” was penned by Joy Adamson in 1960. George Adamson, nicknamed Bwana Simba, is memorialized for his valorous efforts to conserve and make over Kora National Park. Located close by George Adamson Bridge is the scenically-splendid Adamson’s Falls, Grand Falls and Kora Rapids.

George Adamson on Elsa of Born Free with video clips of Elsa

9. Ngomeni Rock

This is situated midway between the southern end of Mwingi National Reserve (north) and Ukasi Hill (south). The site is best-known for the goodly Ngomeni Rock spanning 3 km2 with a rock-catchment dam holding eerie still water at its foot. It’s one of the impressive stone beacons in Kitui County which has no less than 200 stunning rock formations. The Ngomeni Rock is an easy-on-the-eye geological landmark towering 620 ms above the surrounding landscape.  This rock also has a rich floral diversity including the rock adapted grass. Ngomeni Rock Water Catchment, started in 1955, serves as a critical water buffer. It can be reached from Mbuvi, 49 kms east of Mwingi, then 14 kms north to Ngomeni.

From the cave you can also see another feature of Ngomeni history, a dam constructed by the British between 1955 and 1957. It rarely rains in the region, so the impermeable rock offers a crucial reservoir of rainwater for both Ngomeni’s residents and their livestock. The fact that there was still water in the dam shows just how effective it is, considering it hasn’t rained in the area since April. – Jan Foxx for NMG

10. Kitui War Monument

The traditional route to Kitui Town is along A3 Thika-Liboi Road to Kanyonyoo then south via B7 Kibwezi-Kitui Road, in sum traversing 131 kms. It sits on the western hilly area of Kitui County with higher rainfall that naturally support the densest native population. “The mango flourishes in groves nearby to Kitui, and tobacco is produced locally on a commercial scale. Deforestation as a result of shifting tribal cultivation is almost complete, but some of the higher ridges are capped by indigenous trees including podo, brown olive, mvuli, and the cape chestnut, and these have been supplemented by recent planting”. Kitui Town grew from a small colonial outpost set up to administer Kitui Native Reserve and colonial farmlands. Although it has a lengthy history of interaction with the British Empire and early Christian missionaries, most of its chronicles have been obliterated into history. The timeworn Kitui War Monument, found within Kitui County Offices, set up in honour of soldiers who fought in WW1, is a rare relic of Kitui’s rich history. The township has plenty of accommodation options.

11. Villa Kitui

Originally build as a residential country house close to Kitui Town in Ngiini Village, the 10-rooms Villa Kitui Hotel is among the latest establishments in Kitui’s fast-growing list of reasonable hotels. “Kitui Villa, owned by Prof Makau Mutua and his wife Prof Athena Harris, is the perfect blend of the countryside features and modern facilities of the city” – The Standard. Build using local mazera bricks, local glass and local furniture, it exudes an aspect of every oner in Kitui. Some highlights of Villa Kitui include tastefully furnished rooms, pool, gazebo, gardens, cozy watering-hole, gym, jacuzzi, library and walkways, nyama choma parlour, an open-kitchen policy and the outstanding all-round scenery. 

12. Kalundu Eco Park

The Kalundu Eco Park is, without question, the ace of Kitui’s public outdoor recreation locales. Of particular interest are Kalundu Dam and Kalundu River which bestrew a charming belt of riverine and grass patches. It is essentially a walker’s park. The feasibility studies for a floating restaurant, water-sporting activities such as boat rowing, botanical gardens, culture center with exhibition of artefacts, children play area and a swimming pool have been completed and plans are underway to set these up. Kalundu Eco-Park is located 2 kms west of the main Kitui township along Mbusyani Road and close to Kitui Showground.

13. Kitui Hills

These from the central feature around Kitui Town. The chief summits of the Kitui Hills are all grouped within five miles of the southern boundary of Kitui’s fault-zone, and stand more than 1,000 ft. higher than the hills and ridges on its northern side. Against the low-lying, comparatively flat, tropical bushland that extends eastwards to the Tana River, Kitui Hills prominently dominate much of the landscape. In addition, the area around these hills receives more rainfall, satisfactorily distinguishing its vegetal profile for the predominating arid plains.

Spatial Location of Kitui Hills in Kitui County
Spatial Location of Kitui Hills in Kitui County

14. Baobab Boulevard

As far as beautiful roads go in Kenya, the stretch of road just outside Kitui Town along B7 Kitui-Ikutha-Kibwezi Road is one to behold. The rarely-busy-road is skirted on either sides with lofty baobabs, forming a pleasing and monumental arched roadway. Looked up to as the ‘trees of life’, or again as ‘Africa’s wooden elephants’, the cherished and long-lived baobab trees, which are all-embracing across Kitui County, have recently become a source of super-foods. Residents of Kitui County are keenly innovating methods to convert the baobabs edible fruits to a popular sweet candy locally known as Mabuyu and also using the baobab’s vitamin rich pulp as a supplement. “These gigantic trees dwarf other plants on farms along the A109 Mombasa-Nairobi Road as you approach Kibwezi Town.”

15. Nzambani Rock

8 kms south of Kitui Town along B7 Kitui-Ikutha-Kibwezi Road one reaches the turnoff to the C96 Kitui-Zombe-Ikoo-Mwingi Road, along which in 2 kms the distinguishable Nzambani Rock is reached. Kitui is famous for its plenitude of prodigious decomposed granite rocks and rock formations, and perhaps none is as impressive as the Nzambani Rock, which can be easily sighted from 50 kms out. With the help of a steel staircase built on the side of the rock, trippers to the much-liked destination can nimbly ascend to its 100 ms high crest that is a beyond-money viewing deck. From here, it is easy to appreciate the ecological gamut of Kitui County which features out and out sweeps of grassland, buffs of scrubland, forests, and farmland. Nzambani Rock, or Ivia ya Nzambani as it is locally known, is thought to be among the tallest rock formations seen in Kenya.

View of Kitui landscape from Nzambani Rock. Published by Bethwel Njore

16. Ikoo Valley

Faulting has influenced the physiography in the north-western region of Kitui, and has produced a line of weakness transverse to the grain of the Kitui Hills, and along which the Ikoo has incised a deep gorge. The V-shaped yawning and narrowed Ikoo Valley, extending 20 kms, represents a major dislocation in the rock system of African Mozambique Belt. Seen from varied viewpoints, the 300 ms wide valley which is oriented in a WNW-ESE strike offers an ever-changing and dramatic scenery of vast proportions. “The view is breathtaking. The Ikoo Valley almost surrounds you. You can spot Ikoo River and watch it disappear in the deep valley. It is a place of unbelievable beauty and one of the magnificent landscapes in Kitui County.” Overlooking Kea Region to the south and Mutito and Zombe Hills to the east, this also forms the origin of Ikoo River which runs eastwards into the sunken Mui Basin. Some of the best viewpoints of the Ikoo Valley include at Kazaa, Ulamaba and Bazaa – all which have numerous stem-winding trails that take to the hair-raising descent to the bottom of the valley. Ikoo Valley is located 48 kms east and north from Kitui Town through Zombe along C96 Kitui-Zombe-Ikoo-Mwingi Road; and 30 kms south of Mwingi Town.

Spatial Location of Ikoo Valley in Kitui County
Spatial Location of Ikoo Valley in Kitui County

17. Mui Basin

The underutilized mineralogy of Kitui County has always existed, with possible deposits of gypsum, silica, gold, asbestos, epdote, graphite, iron ore and copper prospected and documented. Steps-forward in the use and exploration of these resources have pushed to the forefront the Mui Basin Coal Exploration Project, currently in the feasibility stage, and where an estimated 4 million tonnes were confirmed to exist. Mui Basin extends over an area of 600 km2 with a sediment diameter range of about 50-500 metres. The basin extents northward from Ikoo Valley towards Mwingi Town, in the north central part of Kitui County (around Miambani). A distinct feature at Mui is a magnificent elongated rock exposure about 6 kms across, north of the Mwingi-Mui-Nuu Road. This exposure feature is open to the south, but surrounded by the Nuu Hills that rise to about 1,000 ft above its floor on the remaining three sides. The road extending from A3 Thika-Garissa-Liboi Road, near Mwingi, to Mui and Nuu is the easiest way to explore the Mui Basin. It is also accessible from Kitui through Zombe, Mutitu, and Ikoo.

18. Nuu Hills

The easily-sighted dome-shaped Nuu Hills cover 10 km2 about 8 kms northeast of the Ikoo Valley. These are best approached from the south. That is to say you drive out on the C96 Kitui-Zombe-Ikoo-Mwingi Road past the Ikoo Valley and onwards and over the hump of Nuu Hills through Nuu Shopping Centre. The pretty Nuu Hills are best known for the series of springs, avi-fauna and floral diversity. Some notable springs that rise in these hills include: Kyatuka, Kiwani, Kallesi, Ngeni Mola, Mutaitho, Kaunzuu and Miinyeni. Collectively known as Mutaitho Hills springs, rising amidst the arid perched landscape in the central areas of Kitui, they are a salient source of water for communities and livestock and for which reason they are locally thought to mythical and a cardinal lifeline.

Nuu Hills has 13 springs, with each capable of filling a river with water. The springs form a beautiful waterfall, about 10 metres high, before returning the same water to where it came from — beneath the hills. The springs decorate Nuu Hills by forming what resembles a golden mayoral chain. From a distance, the springs look like pieces of diamond pinned around the hills. It is a lovely site to behold. – NMG

19. Mutomo Hill Plant Sanctuary

Mutomo Hill Plant Sanctuary is 70 kms south of Kitui via the B7 Kitui-Ikutha-Kibwezi Road. This 10-hectares privately-run sanctuary was gazetted in 1993 as a botanic garden to champion and celebrate the unique and indigenous flora of Kitui. Originally begun in 1964 as the foremost public botanic garden in Kenya, with the assistance of Worldwide Fund for Nature, Mutomo Hill Sanctuary is primarily focused on the preservation of indigenous plant-life and “records at the Council show that 102 plant species had been identified on the hill by 1968 — and the listing had not been completed”. Callers to the site get to learn about the conservation of important medicinal trees on a guided-tour culminating at the summit of the moderate Mutomo Hill which offers lovely views of the rural country. A snake park is under construction. From Mutomo it’s a 74 kms drive through Ikutha and Kalulini to Kibwezi; and the A109 Mombasa-Nairobi Road.

20. South Kitui National Reserve

The 1,831 km2 South Kitui Reserve National Reserve is situated 30 kms east of Mutomo on the eastern edge of Kitui, and 10 kms north of Tsavo East National Park. Gazetted in 1979, and placed under the trusteeship of the defunct Kitui District Council, there was little development invested hitherto, but of a more recent development it has become a focal-point for conservation and efforts to revamp it are currently on-going. It had been, for five decades, an extensively degraded, encroached and ravaged area. Like Mwingi National Reserve, neither is at all well known. Both lack accommodation and easy access routes through their dense and dry bushland habitations. In 2013, during the aerial census of elephants carried out in Tsavo-Mkomazi Ecosystems which include Tsavo East, Tsavo West, Chyulu and Mkomazi National Parks, South Kitui National Reserve and Taita, Kulalu and Galana Ranches, a total of 12,866 elephants were counted – 12,843 in Tsavo Ecosystem and 23 in Mkomazi National Park representing an increase of 15% over three years with an annual average increase of about 4.9%.

21. AIC Ikutha

“In 1892, the British established a police station at Machakos, and the following year another station was opened at Kitui. This was the beginning of the colonial administration of Ukambani, but it was not the beginning of contact between Akamba and westerners.” In 1849, Johann Krapf, affiliated with the Church Missionary Society (CMS), set foot in Ukambani to kick the ball rolling for the new wave of Christianity in this region. Kraph had made it to Ukambani with the blessing and support of the influential Kamba Chief Kivoi through whom he had joined a trade convoy from Mombasa to Ukambani. It was on this voyage that Kraph crossed the Athi River and climbed up the Yatta Plateau where, from a vantage point near Kitui, he became the first white man to behold the snows of Mount Kenya. On his second expedition, in 1851, his dreams were cut short when his caravan was attacked and looted, with his friends and servants killed or dispersed. The CMS would not return to Ukambani until after WW1. In 1892, the Leipzig Evangelical Lutheran Society led by Johannes Hoffman launched a station at Ikutha, and three years later, another at Mulango. It was the Africa Inland Mission (or AIC), however, founded by Peter Cameron Scott and co-founded by Johannes Hoffman – at Ikutha – which was to do most of the evangelizing in Ukambani, and bankrolled many Churches in the area. This is located in Ikutha, 27 kms south of Mutomo and 47 kms northeast from Kibwezi.

Spatial Location of Ikutha in Kitui County
Spatial Location of Ikutha in Kitui County

22. Tsavo East National Park

Approximately 6369 km2 of Kitui County is placed under the expansive Tsavo East National Park famed for its size and as a stronghold for big game in Kenya – and what is thought to be the largest concentration of elephants in the world. Put differently, the 13,747 km2 Tsavo East National Park covers 25% of Kitui County. In spite of the large coverage of Kitui, there are no direct benefits to its revenue enterprise, mainly because Tsavo East National Park is supervised and administered by the Taita Taveta County Government; in an arrangement that many have expressed their reservations about. However, plans are underway to establish a gate at Kanziku. All in not lost for trippers to Kitui County who can glimpse the thousands of square kilometres of this virtually endless untamed bushland especially in Kasaala and Kimweli regions within Ikutha Sub-county.

23. Yatta Plateau

Rising 150 ms over the surrounding landscape and spanning 210 kms from near Ol Doinyo Sabuk National Park, in Machakos County, marching south along the western bounds of Tsavo East National Park, Yatta Plateau is best-known as the world’s longest lava flow. It is marked by a narrowed flat to gently undulating bush-covered ridge with a maximum altitude 450 ms above sea level. Along the A109 Mombasa-Nairobi Road, shortly after the turnoff to Kibwezi, the striking upland of Yatta Plateau can be easily sighted: to the left if heading to Mombasa and to the right if heading to Nairobi – first appearing as a perfectly sketched line in the distance and as a wooded range as you near Voi. Athi River skirts the western side of the Yatta Plateau while River Tiva flows on its eastern side. The plateau is rarely inspected at close quarters mainly because it occurs in the less developed northern area of Tsavo East that is less accessible but can be toured by crossing Galana River on a causeway at the Lugard’s Falls where the routes extends via Mopea Gap north to Tiva River near Wathoni, and east of Lali Hills.

24. Ithumba Camp

The simple, rustic and secluded self-catering Ithumba Camp, previously run by Kenya Wildlife Service and now overseen by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, was set up as an eco-camp with an aim of exhibiting the beauty of the northern area of Tsavo East National Park for trippers seeking an authentic Out of Africa experience. And to actively foster the support for the conservation of its wildlife. The beautifully-sighted 3-bandas Ithumba Camp, set between bush and acacia trees along the Galana River, brings trippers appreciably close to the splendour of its game better than most safari lodges. Callers to Ithumba Camp also get to tour the Ithumba Elephant Nursery and see the little eles, saved from the hands of poachers, happily thriving. Ithumba Camp is 98 kms from Kibwezi township.

An exclusive stylishly rustic hideaway, designed for the intrepid traveller who relishes being off the beaten track, with big skies, star-studded nights and a rich array of fascinating species in the surrounding wild landscape. Based at the foot of Ithumba Hill with commanding views across the Yatta Plateau, guests can immerse themselves in the sounds of nature whilst close by is the Ithumba R. Unit which guests have the opportunity to visit. – Ithumba Camp

25. Ithumba Hill Camp

Opened in 2015, the newly completed up-market 4-tented Ithumba Hill Camp, nestled on an exemplary prominence on the side of Ithumba Hill, is a latter-day establishment in the lesser developed northern quarter of Tsavo East National Park. Ithumba Hill Camp, which sleeps up to eight, is one of four safari camps operated by David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust under their auspices of Ithumba Regeneration Centre. Callers to the camp can enjoy tours of Ithumba Elephant Nursery and take part in the noble conservation efforts. In addition, callers to Ithumba Hill Camp can make safari organizations to the remote wilderness of the Tsavo East National Park. DSWT also operates Galdessa Camp – fringed with doum palms and overlooking the Yatta Plateau along Galana River, and Galdessa Little Camp – a luxurious yet wild experience in Tsavo East Nat. Park.

26. Man-eaters Bridge

This is located in the southern area of Kitui County close to Man Eaters Camp along the border with Makueni County. In mid 1898, a pair of man-eating lions terrorized laborers and delayed the fabrication of this railway bridge crossing Tsavo River for several months. It is thought that about 140 railroad workers were mauled and, as these attacks mounted, hundreds of workers fled from Tsavo, halting construction on the bridge and Kenya-Uganda Railway. “Man-eaters of Tsavo”, the 1907 book by John Henry Patterson recounts his tough experience while overseeing building of this historic bridge. The construction crew returned and finished the Man-eaters Bridge in February 1899. While the Man-eaters Bridge has all but faded into history, the epic 400 ms Tsavo Super Bridge completed in 2016 passes over this bridge. Also found near Man-eaters Bridge is the old Tsavo Railroad Station and River Tsavo, both connected with the riveting history of the rail.  The bridge is located 10 kms from Tsavo Station.

View of the Ikoo Valley.  Photo Courtesy of Trip Suggest
View of the Ikoo Valley. Image Courtesy of Trip Suggest

Geography of Kitui County

Kitui County has a low-lying topography with arid and semi-arid climates.  The general landscape of Kitui is flat with a plain that gently rolls down towards the east and northeast, where altitudes dip as low as 400 ms. Altitude in the county ranges between 400 to 1,800 ms. The central part of Kitui County is marked by hilly ridges separated by wide low lying areas and has slightly lower elevation of between 600 and 900 ms asl to the eastern side of the county. To the western side of Kitui County, the main relief feature is the Yatta Plateau, which stretches from the north to the south of the county and lies between Rivers Athi and Tiva. Yatta Plateau is marked by a plain wide shallow spaced valley.  Other highland parts around Kitui County include Migwani, Mumoni, Kitui, Nuu and Mui Hills.

Land Use in Kitui County

6,369 km2 of Kitui County land consists of the Tsavo East National Park and is not available for agriculture, while 14,137 km2 is arable agricultural land and 6,364 km2 arid non-arable land. Over 85% of Kitui County’s population live in rural areas.  The farm types in Kitui County are either Mixed or mono culture farming. Small scale farming is practised in the entire county while large scale farming in sorghum and green grams is done in Mwingi North, Kitui Rural and Kitui South, Kitui East and Kitui West where the average large scale farm size is estimated to be 60 acres.  87% derive livelihoods from directly from agriculture.

Highlights in Kitui County

Kitui has a number of potential touring attractions which have, for many years, remained unexploited. The main attractions in Kitui County include Nzambani Rock, Ikoo Valley, Ngomeni Rock Catchment and Conservancy, Tsavo East National Park and its two national reserves: South Kitui and Mwingi. Although it doesn’t have any classified tourist hotels, there are many good hotels in Kitui.

Population in Kitui County

Kitui County’s population was 1,012,709 according to the population and household census report of 2009.  The population growth rate of Kitui was 2.1% and slightly lower than the national average rate of 2.6%.  Climatic conditions influence the settlement patterns and the majority of people live in scattered settlements, with only 5% living in an urban environment. The most densely populated area is Kitui Central with 208 people / km2 and the lowest is Kitui East with 25 people / km2; that averages 44 people / km2.  With the exception of the areas bordering the Tana River County, which experience cattle rustling and banditry, the rest of Kitui County does not have any major human conflicts.

View of the Ngomeni Rock and Ngomeni Rock Catchment.  Photo Courtesy
View of the Ngomeni Rock and Ngomeni Rock Catchment. Image Courtesy

Airports in Kitui County

Kitui County has three airstrips at Ithookwe, Tseikuru and Mutomo, of which only one airstrip is operational (Ithookwe). A fourth airstrip is proposed to be constructed in Mwingi seeing that coal mining is set to begin at the Mui Basin.

Roads in Kitui County

Kitui County has about 225 kms of bitumen roads, 278 kms of gravel surface and 2,598.7 kms of earth roads. It has one Class feeder and connecting routes in Kitui are in poor condition and rendered impassable during the rainy season.

Climate in Kitui County

The climate within Kitui is generally hot and dry with unreliable rainfall. The climate falls under two climatic zones i.e. arid and semi-arid with most it being classified as arid. It experiences high temperatures year-round, ranging from 14°C-34°C. The hotter months are September, October, January and February.

Kitui County Distance Chart
Kitui County Distance Chart

View of Syongila Junction, 3 kms from Kitui Town.  Photo Courtesy of A Thousand Words
Syongila, 3 kms from Kitui Town. Image Courtesy of A Thousand Words

National Monuments in Kitui County

There are no designated national monuments in Kitui County

Kitui County Map

Kitui County Map