|• 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 therefore, most of the hotels are expanding. In addition, travelers have noted that Kitui is a suitable resting place on the way from Mount Kenya to Mombasa.
Kitui 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 where 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 sites. Some of the best hotels include but not limited to the Riverside Hotel, Signal Hotel, Parkside Villa, Royal Makuti Hotel and the Tourist Hotel. Like any other place, price tends to dictate the level of standard of rooms and service; but there is a place and price for every budget. Since tourism in Kitui has just started growing, the prices of accommodation are still fair.
There are several banks in Kitui; Barclay’s, Equity Bank, The National Bank, KCB, and Family Bank which all have ATM’s. There are other banks in and around Kitui, however they are not recommended.
Kitui has many good eateries where one can have light and heavy meals and it is quite common for the people of Kitui eat lunch out. As most customers are locals, the dishes offered are normally traditional African. Chapati (almost like tortillas), ugali, isyo (well-seasoned mix of beans/peas and maize, sometimes with pumpkin and leafy vegetables added), or rice served with goat meat, chicken, and/or cooked vegetable stew are common dishes. The best restaurants are the ones connected to the better hotels in town. If you want western, Chinese or Italian food you can visit Bavaria which is situated 1.5 km from the town centre. The prices in Kitui centre are normally quite reasonable, to fit the budget of the locals and do not vary significantly.
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 is suggested.
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 are parking attendants strolling the streets, normally in yellow coats, so make sure one of these contact you before leaving your car. The fee for parking a full day is 40 KSh for small personal vehicles, 50 for pick-up trucks, and 100 for lorries (April 2014), while the penalty is 500 K.Sh. If you do not pay the fee, the car may be locked so that you need to visit the municipal in order to release it.
The Kitui people are very religious and the churches play a central role in the community. There are plenty of churches around the area as well as mosques. Most locals go to service every Sunday, which is 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 and locals, alike are expected to contribute.
Kitui is in general a very safe area.
Naivas is a new supermarket in town which opened in December 2009. This store has everything you need, from food to furniture, office supplies and toiletries. Niavas has a very high standards, 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, as the 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.
Sights and Activities
Kitui has 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. It is suggested that you need to double the travel-time and distance that is approximated to arrive at your destination safely and at the time you wish to arrive.
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, the 60' tall rock is rising from the ground. There is a small fee to enter a staircase leading to the top of the rock 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 with the season.
In addition, Kitui is a county with strong culture and a rich history. 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 kind as the Kitui people are, if you ask, you're most likely to be welcomed.
Taxis are not a very common sight in Kitui because they are not marked in any special way which make them difficult to distinguish. A parking lot near the main stage is where to look in case you want one. Motorcycle taxis are much more commonly used by the locals, are more visible in the city, and are less expensive. Seeing a motorbike packed with three or four people is not an unusual sight. The best place to get a taxi is at Biashara Street near the town bus station.
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