|• Total||155,896 |
|Time zone||EAT (UTC+3)|
Kitui is a town in Kenya, 180 kilometres east of Nairobi and 105 kilometres east of Machakos. Due to political reforms, Kitui is now the headquarters of Kitui County, which covers a larger area than the former Kitui District did. As a consequence, the city has become a natural meeting point for politicians and businessmen. And most of the hotels are therefore expanding. In addition, people have noticed that Kitui town is suitable for a pit-stop or a sleep on the way from Mt. Kenya to Mombasa.
Kitui town had a population of 155,896 in 2009 making it the 12th largest urban centre in Kenya in terms of population. It is the largest urban centre in the county followed by Mwingi. A large majority of the residents belong to the Kamba, a Bantu people. The Kamba of Kenya speak the Bantu Kamba language (Kikamba) as a mother tongue, and are considered as friendly and welcoming people.
Although most of the sights are located in the outskirts of town, Kitui is a busy trading centre, its streets lined with arcaded shops. Every Monday and Thursday is a market day. All sorts of vegetables can be bought, in addition to goats, hens and sometimes even cows.
The two major secondary schools are Kitui High School and St. Charles Lwanga High School. For girls, there is Mulango Girls High and St. Angelas High. Other secondary schools are Tungutu, Chuluni, Changwithya Boys, Matinyani and Katulani Mixed Secondary School.
The hotels in Kitui are of mixed standard. However, since tourism has just started blossoming, there are currently several development projects. In spring 2011 a new hotel named Cottages and Guesthouse opened. Together with Talents Hotel, it represents the hotels of higher standard in town. There are many other hotels in the area too, though the standard must be said to be a bit lower. As tourism in Kitui just started growing, the prices are still very fair.
It’s quite common that the people of Kitui eat lunch out, and therefore there are several places to eat in the Kitui area. As most customers are locals, the dishes offered are normally traditional African. Chapati (almost like tortillas), ugali, githeri or rice served with goat meat, chicken and/or cooked vegetable stew. The best restaurants are the ones connected to the better hotels in town. If you want good western, chinese or Italian food you can visit Bavaria that is situated 1,5 km from the centre. The prices in Kitui centre are normally quite low, to fit the budget of the locals – and does not vary significantly.
There are several banks in Kitui; Barclay’s, Equity Bank, The National Bank, KCB and Family Bank – of which all have ATM’s. In addition to these you can find more banks, but the ones mentioned above are recommended.
Naivas is a new supermarket in town, which opened in December 2009. This store got everything you need, from food to furniture, office supplies and toiletries. The standard of this store is very good, so don’t be afraid if you have forgotten some necessities for the trip. There are also several pharmacies in town, of which all are clean and trustworthy, though the variety is limited. For example; the selection of bandages is very poor - so be sure to bring this on the trip in case you'll get injured.
Although there are many shops in town, finding clothes of western style may be challenging, same with shoes. The more expensive stores are located in the Muli Mall, which is situated in the middle of the town centre. There are some bookstores in Kitui, but they mostly sell schoolbooks, so if you need something to read for leisure, be sure to buy this in advance of your arrival in Kitui.
The Kitui people are very religious and the churches play a central role in the community. There are plenty of churches around the area, and a couple of mosques can also be spotted around the area. Most locals go to service every Sunday (usually around 10 am.), and visitors are welcomed. However, when visiting a church, you should be aware that fund-raisers or offerings are quite common – and that visitors are expected to contribute.
Sights and activities
Kitui got lot to offer, but it may be a bit difficult for tourists to find these, if not shown by locals. The roads are poorly signed, and directions given may be difficult to follow. Especially since you mostly need to double the travel-time and distance they approx.
Nzambani Rock is the premium scenic tourist attraction in Kitui. Situated about 20 minutes drive from the town (more in the rain season) it is truly a special sight. In the middle of the relatively flat landscape, suddenly the 60 feet tall rock is rising from the ground. To reach the top, it was built a staircase some years ago. There is a small fee to enter the staircase, which can be bought at the Nzambani Rock parking lot office for 100/200 KSH (Kenyans) or 200/400 KSH (foreigners) for children/adults. The prices can vary a bit with the season.
In addition, Kitui is a county with strong culture and a rich history. Therefore there are many traditional dance groups, whom all appreciate visitors. If you contact them and ask for a dance show or even a lesson, for a small fee they'd be happy to welcome you into their home. Visiting schools, orphanages or even the university can also be an experience, and as hospital as the Kitui people are – if you ask, you're most likely to be welcomed.
Kitui is in general a very safe area.
If you visit Kitui by car, you should notice that parking is not free of charge. Although there are no signs with information, be aware that parking without a parking ticket can be expensive and complicated. There should be parking attendants strolling the streets, normally in yellow coats, so make sure one of these contact you before leaving the car. The fee for parking a full day is 40 K.Sh (July 2011), while the penalty is 500 K.Sh. In addition the car may be locked, so that you need to visit the municipal in order to release it.
There are several gas stations located nearby the Kitui market. These are served, and telling them in advance how much you want to fill in shillings may be a clever.
Taxis are not a very common sight in Kitui town, but according to locals – taxis can be found. However these are not marked in any special way, so can therefore be difficult to spot. The motorcycle taxis however are much more commonly used by the locals, more visible in the city – and are also less expensive. Seeing a motorbike packed with three or four people is not an unusual sight. Though the most possible place for one to get a taxi is at the biashara street near the town bus station.
Kitui has got good eating places where one can have light and heavy meals, though a few of them offer accommodation. These hotels include: the riverside hotel, signal hotel, parkside villa, royal makuti hotel, tourist hotel, among others. Of these the ones that can offer accommodation are tourist hotel, parkside villa and some various guest houses at Kitui town.
Information site created by volunteers working and living in Kitui, summer 2011 - "Help to Self-help in Africa" ()
- Softkenya, Informationsite about Kenya: www.softkenya.com/town/kitui