Kitui Road trip – Ikoo Valley & Nzambani Rock

Coming back from Ngomeni felt surreal. Mwingi and it’s environs really blew my mind away. It’s the kind of place that looks rustic yet self sufficient and stays with you way after you leave it. I talked about our first day here

So we came back to Mwingi town and looked for a place to call it a night. Thorn tree sounded good enough for me, plus it looked a little bit more beautiful on the outside than the other hotels around. And as it turns out, their prices were even below what they had put on the booking.com apps. I think due to the pandemic. 

So we woke up the next day faced with the same challenge as the day before. Where do we visit? Some of the options from the internet seemed like they needed full days as they were near the other counties. But since we couldn’t stay undecided forever, we decided to take a drive to that side that leads to Mwingi Reserve. The road to Tseikuru where Kalonzo Musyoka comes from.

The road was actually good..but that wasn’t what caught our attention. The hills. To say that Mwingi has countless hills, will be an understatement. Everywhere one looks, you are either heading towards a hill, or on your side is a range of hills or far away are some hills kissing the clouds. I don’t think my camera did them justice, but hopefully when I’ll be back to go to the Mwingi Reserve, I’ll talk more pictures of those ranges. 

So we drove around till the place where the tarmac road ends. About 30 kilometers in, and came back. Finally we decided to go see one of Victor Matara’s recommendations, Ikoo Valley. Trying to Google it and turns out that there was a facebook expedition group for that valley but they seemed to have disappeared after 2017. 

From our internet search there seemed to be a village or shopping center called Ikoo and the Ikoo Valley seemed to have different viewing points. It’s like viewing rift valley from Mai Mahiu or Iten. We decided to follow Victor Matara’s description where he had said it’s 30 kilometers outside of Kitui Town on your way to Mwingi. And since we were leaving Mwingi, we would see it and then make our way out of the County through Kitui, instead of the Thika-Garissa road that we had used the previous day. 

So we left Mwingi town and made a turn to the road that connects Kitui Town and Mwingi. It’s not tarmacked yet, but hopefully in a few years time it will be. Again, the rocks and hills followed us. But this time round, we were leaving the dry semi-arid vibe of Mwingi, and picking up this cool green climate of Mwigwani, the area that connects the two towns. The murram road isn’t too bad, in fact looking at the proboxes flying past us, one wouldn’t even know they are on a murram road. 

All along I was curious on what made Ikoo Valley a tourist attraction site. I mean, we all have valleys, small valleys that is, in our villages but we wouldn’t call them tourist attraction sites. So what made this one special? 

When we got there, I kinda understood why. It’s like land just sunk in for around 7 kilometers. Like literally there are trees and homes and the edges. But the middle just sunk in. I would have loved to be told any mythical tales on what the old people here say about it, but since we didn’t have a local guide, we just enjoyed the view.  

Ikoo Valley

We did try and go down a little bit, but I felt extremely dizzy after two or so meters. Like the kind where you stand up and there are other forces of a different sort of gravity pulling you. I thought it was just me, until my travel partner mentioned the same. That they felt some sort of a pull there. It’s the kind that warns your system from any mischief there. 

I wouldn’t say it’s thoroughly glamorous. But if you are on those sides, I think it would be a waste to not pop in and see it. It’s literally on the side of the road. 

Anyway, we took a lot of pictures and decided to head to Nzambani Rock on the outskirts of Kitui. I mean if we were going to go to Kitui Town, it would make no sense to not see that famous rock. 

We were starving, but if we were to see the rock and still get back in time before the curfew, then we really needed to get there first. And we were so lucky we made that choice because on the entrance, someone has built a pretty decent restaurant. 

So we got in, had our temperatures measured, washes our hands, ordered for food to eat later after we’ve seen the rock, paid 200Ksh each to go see the Rock and requested one of them to take us up. 

The establishment there is taking quite good care of the place. Complete with planting indigenous trees and putting their names on them and a small description on their most common uses. I liked that. 

But the small hike to the stairs on the rock? Certainly not for the faint hearted. I knew I was really unfit but that small 15-25 minutes hike reminded just how much I need to hit the gym. But weirdly enough the stairs are way easier to climb than that small hike. The only difficulty, would be for those who have height phobia. Going up on stairs fixed on a rock that seems like it could fall off, can give one the phobias. 

But all that fades away when you get off those stairs. The fatigue. The hike. The height phobia if you have it. For that moment alone, you are brought face to face, with earth’s beauty every single side that you face. North, south, easy and west, every side is filled with hills. And for those who know Kamba geography, you can tell pretty much which side is which

We found a family celebrating their daughter’s birthday there on top. As well as a couple having a picnic. It’s that sort of a place. Cool, relaxed, a beautiful scenery in front of you and a whole rock to sit and just take it all in. It’s extremely perfect for a picnic. 

We stayed there for an hour or so. Just taking it all in. And beating stories. On one side are these unoccupied hills. And we were wondering why they are unoccupied. Our guide was telling us about this other place near those unoccupied hills, where some people came and buried toxic hazardous waste. The people around started getting sick, having miscarriages and skin diseases until the culprit was found to be something seeping from the ground into their water and food. Charity Ngilu helped them campaign to have that hazardous waste that had been buried there removed. I found that really inhumane of anyone to do that to some villagers who have no idea why their wombs no longer hold babies. 

Anyway, lot’s of stories later, we descended and went to take lunch. I was truly starving but my heart was full. 

We then left and unfortunately, we left at the time of the sun setting. And we were driving right into it. It’s the kind of glare that reflects on both the road and your eyes and you can see absolutely nothing. You drive by the mercies. Hoping that you don’t hit something and no one hits you because you just can’t see. 

But two things made up for it. The road to Kitui Town is paved with good intentions. Some wise person, decades ago, planted this row of trees that stretches for kilometers just when you are entering or leaving the town. And we found them when their flowers are I’m bloom. And for kilometers, we were being bid farewell by these deep red flowers all along the road. It felt magical to say the least. 

And the sunset itself? By jove it didn’t disappoint. I hope the pictures speak for themselves. 

And just like that we wrapped up our trip to Mwingi. Till next time. 

9 Comments

  1. Such a beautiful tale Mwende, you have the words for the apt description of the places visited.
    Nowadays I have started appreciating that journey, unnecessary stops on the way to Kitui and also past Kitui through Mutomo, Ikutha all the way to Kibwezi.

    Liked by 1 person

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