Kajiado County

Discover Kajiado County

Spatial Location of Kajiado County in Kenya
Spatial Location of Kajiado County in Kenya

Brief Overview of Kajiado County

About 15 kms west of Nairobi City lie the four-peaked Ngong Hills, whose name is derived from a Maasai idiom “Ol Doinyo Lamwea” meaning source of stream rising from near the foot. They mark the unofficial border between Kajiado and Nairobi. From Ngong Hills, overlooking the Rift Valley, the terrain sharply falls and the radical, rolling savanna begins its unswerving domination, southbound into Tanzania and stretching away east to Ol Doinyo Sabuk National Park. The right-angled-triangle-shaped Kajiado County borders Tanzania along its longer side and is flanked by the Nairobi-Mombasa Road or A104 Uganda Road on the hypotenuse from the northeast (Mai-Mahiu), to the south (Tsavo), for 231 kms.

The monotony of the sweeping savanna in Kajiado County, typified by dry river beds, liberal clumps of thorny acacia and rough grasses, is only interspersed by the sequence of volcanic hills. This dry type savanna which dominates much of Kajiado County offers little vegetation to support the invaluable livestock of the infamous pastoralist Maasai Community who hold an undisputed sway on these plains, ergo cattle tracks that cut deep in the solid rock of Kajiado are evidence enough that the Maasai have been roaming these plains for a very long time. Although the rock in Kajiado is soft, it must have taken a few hundred years to cut two feet or more in depth. The Maasai are an allegory of Kajiado’s splendor.

At the southwest quarter of Kajiado County is to be found a game watcher’s and photographer’s outdoor paradise. Amboseli National Park, with the magnificent backdrop of Mt. Kilimanjaro, is one of the most favoured game park in Kenya. Its generally dry climate means that its routes are passable almost all the year round. Game watchers can easily observe as wildlife gathers in the shimmering swamps to drink or get treated to the awe-inspiring spectacle of elephant herds roaming the magnolious plains. Amboseli is the crown-jewel of Kajiado County. All kinds of game are plentiful here, and the buffalo and elephant in particular sighted in sizeable groups. Rhinos are usually found along the edge of the park.

A Watering Hole at Amboseli National Park.  Image Courtesy of Mapio
A Watering Hole at Amboseli National Park.  Image Courtesy of Mapio

Salient Features of Kajiado County

  • County Number 34
  • Area – 29101 km2
  • Altitude – 500 to 2500 ms
  • Major Towns – Ngong, Kajiado, Namanga
  • Borders – Narok, Nakuru, Nairobi, Kiambu, Makueni, Machakos, Taita
Kajiado County Map

Brief History of Kajiado County

From circa 1750 the Maasai, a semi-nomadic pastoralist society, utterly swayed the East African Rift Valley, more or less controlling the frontier between Uasin Gishu plateau in the north to the plains nearby Mount Meru in the south. Apart from the Kwavi Maasai who practised farming, the life of the Maasai, for all purposes and intent, centered around livestock keeping and it may be said the acquiring of it in raids. Up until the first half of the 19th century their influence was on the ascendency. Their military legion was a force to reckon with, going undefeated for decades. Earliest caravans to Maasailand were not spared either. It was customary to seek permission to pass through, pay tributes or avoid the area altogether. It was the Maasai presence in the interior of the area that was to become Kenya and Uganda that saved it from the widespread slave trade, a scourge that ravaged many sections of Tanzania and Central Africa. Well nigh of the Scramble for Africa it was naturally expected that the Maasai would put up a stiff resistance against the British. As it turned out, however, that was not to be the case. In 1883, Joseph Thomson, a Scottish explorer, became the foremost European to traverse through the vast unexplored plains of Kajiado in South-western Kenya. Soon after, Britain and Germany struggled for hegemony of the area, leading to a speedy sub-division of Maasai plains, unexpectedly with ease.

In the second half of the 19th century Maasai power declined, as they endured a series of dire events. The rise of the Nandi, following their political unification in 1850s, adversely affected their influence as did the valiant effort by the Pokot to defend their territory, both routing the Maasai in their home tuff. Moreover, Mbatian’s rise to power in 1866, after the death of laibon Supet, bore disaccord among the factions of Maasai, weakening them even further. In drawing their downfall to a close, the rinderpest outbreak of 1890s, aggravated by the severe drought, struck the last brow. For these reasons, their response to the colonial system was one of collaboration and they dealt with the British diplomatically. Even so, the British took advantage of their friendly relations with the Maasai to negotiate for the land concessions of 1904 and 1911. The northern Maasai plains were placed under British rule and the southern Maasai plains under Germany by virtue of the 1904-11 treaties. To make matters worse, the 1904 agreement to set up reserves in Laikipia and Ngong accorded favour to the new settlers. As an outcome, the native Maasai community witnessed their premium grazing areas being taken over by the settlers. All in all, the Maasai saw a reduction of almost 40% of their land or 70,000 km2. As with every citation of colonial land policies across Kenya, these were meant to engender European culture, land ownership and enclave the Maasai society, rather than serve the perceived mutual interest.

View from the summit of Ngong Hills near Nairobi.  Photo Courtesy
Summit of Ngong Hills near Nairobi.  Image Courtesy of Mapio
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48 Attractions in Kajiado County, arranged as one would visit these - northeast, south then north - with aid of in-depth narratives, images, strip maps and distance chart: 

Oloolua Nature Trail, Rongai-Kiserian Valley, Kitengela Glass House, Rimpa Estate Wildlife Conservancy, Ngong Hills, Finch Hatton’s Monument, Kompass at Ngong Hills, Kiserian Dam, Kipeto Wind Farm, Pec Nature Camp, Olooltepes Picnic Site, Enkaji Osiwo House,  Ole Polos Country Club, Mount Olorgesailie, Masai Village, Olorgesailie Museum, Lake Magadi, Nyiri Desert, Shompole Conservancy, Shompole (Ngare Ng’iro) Swamp, Olkiramatian Conservancy, Nguruman Escarpment, Entasopia Falls, Lake Natron, Mount Suswa Conservancy, Masai Ostrich Farm, Kitengela Conservation Area, Kitil Bamboo Farm, Kajiado War Memorial, Kenya Marble Quarry, Olelek Ranch, Lerruat Log Resort, Magadi Train, Olomaiyana Bush Camp, Ol Doinyo Orok, Paradise Gallery, Mount Kilimanjaro, Amboseli National Park, Lake Amboseli, Maasai Heritage Musuem, Kimana Sanctuary, Sidai Oleng Conservancy, Selenkay Conservancy, Chyulu Hills, Mbirikani Group Ranch, Lake Chala, Crystal Caves at Lake Chala, Selengai Stones

Geography, Land-Use, Highlights, Population, Roads, Airports, Climate and National Monuments in Kajiado County