Machakos County

Discover Machakos County

Spatial Location of Machakos County in Kenya

Brief Overview of Machakos County

Machakos County is a land of pleasurable scenery. It spreads over some 5,953 km2 in the south-western quarter of Kenya, along the boundaries with Makueni County (south), Kajiado County (south-west), Nairobi and Kiambu Counties (west), Kirinyaga and Muranga Counties (north-west), Embu County (north) and Kitui County (east), and it extends from the east side of the Kapiti Plains south-east of Nairobi to the west side of Mbooni Hills, west of Athi river, as a dissected plain surrounded the hills. It is approachable from the north by an 88 kms drive along the B7 Embu-Siakago Road to Kanyonyoo Market, and then a drive of 83 kms along the A3 Thika-Garissa Road through Matuu and Sabuk to Thika. Masinga Dam and Mwea National Reserve straddle its northern frontier.

At the moment, Ol Donyo Sabuk area to the north has been the most successful at attracting travellers to Machakos County, largely because of  Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park, nearby fourteen falls and MacMillan Castle. Ol Donyo Sabuk or Mount Kilimambogo, the highest hill in Machakos forming a triangular isolated mass, elongated parallel to the surrounding rocks, is the primary interest at the park. Formerly the haunt of sizeable colonial farmlands, with cattle raiders and plentiful wildlife which from time to time swooped into the hamlets in search of food, this remote typically African bushland has a lot to offer, both in majestic scenery and presenting nature at its least disturbed stage. The north Machakos-Thika area, in contrast to the area south of Machakos County, is less hilly and comprised up of ancient rocks concentrated in the east area of Ol Donyo Sabuk.

The fast developing road system has made organisation to places of interest in Machakos County much easier. The tourism industry is only partly developed and there are enormous possibilities for improvement.  Machakos County, of course, is a land of variety and splendid hillscapes, and there are plenty of day trips that await. Many of its fabled hills are found in the central and southern area easily reached on a drive of a little over 65 kms from Nairobi to Machakos, its largest. Those who arrive at Machakos, using it as a jumping-off place, can opt to hike, walk, ride or drive through many hillocks to be found here. Lukenya Hills, easily recognizable by the scarps on its eastern margin and trending in a north-east strike close to A104 Nairobi-Mombasa Road is a revered hiking trail.

View of Baobab tree along a stretch of road in Machakos.  Photo Courtesy
View of baobab trees along a stretch of road in Machakos. Image Courtesy

Salient Features of Machakos County

  • County Number 16
  • Area – 5953 km2
  • Altitude – 3734 ft
  • Major Towns – Machakos, Athi River
  • Borders – Nairobi, Kiambu, Embu, Kitui, Makueni, Kajiado, Muranga
Machakos County Map

Brief History of Machakos County

Machakos was the earliest district in Kenya, aside from the Coast belt, in which there was any permanent European settlement. The eastern half of the area fell into the Kamba Native Land Unit administered from Machakos, while that part of the area south of the railway was Maasai country administered from Kajiado. European farmlands occupied the central area between the Kamba and Maasai reserves. Machakos Town was founded in 1887 as the first administrative post for the British East Africa Company in the hinterland, before the headquarters was moved Nairobi two years later.  It is widely thought that the reason for this move was because the Uganda Railway by-passed Machakos Town. Still, others believe the move was attributed to the hostilities and conflicts between the local traders, natives, the settlers, and the government railway construction officials. The establishment of the station at Machakos in 1889 had coincided with a period of increasing prosperity among the Akamba. Their trade with the coast was flourishing as was their successful raids against the Oromo and the Maasai.

Relations between the Akamba and the British were soon strained because the British interfered with the trading activities of the Akamba. The long-standing company porters and soldiers rebelled, went great guns on indiscipline, became obstreperous even, stealing and destroying property. Another cause of friction was the lack of respect for Kamba traditions, including the wanton destruction of traditionally significant trees. The move by the British to stop the Akamba from raiding their Kikuyu neighbours was the last straw. The organized attempt to attack Machakos Fort by an influential Kamba trader and trader, Mwatu wa Ngoma, was thwarted by the then District Commissioner, John Ainsworth, who had been informed beforehand of the imminent danger and was well prepared. Henceforth, Mwatu wa Ngoma became an ally of Ainsworth for self-interest. The Akamba struggle to remain self-standing was pursued by another warrior, Mwana Muka from Kangundo. He was opposed to, and incited his country fork against, occupation of the Kamba land through the establishment of garrisons.

The discordance between Mwana Muka and Ainsworth – unnerved by the open rebellion – would lead to a significant engagement, fought to keep the gainful raiding routes open or, from the point of view of Ainsworth on behalf of the government, conform to the new colonial rules. The actions of Mwana Muka to send his warriors to attack the garrison prompted Ainsworth to send a punitive expedition of 950 Maasai warriors to ravage the area. It was a decisive chapter in the history of the Akamba, who lost 556 cattle and 1,300 goats during that fateful foray. Rather hard-hearted about the counter, Mwana Muka organized further attacks on the communication links between Machakos and Fort Smith. Reciprocally, a second punitive force comprising Kikuyu and Maasai warriors devastated the Kangundo area, forcing the hand of Mwana Muka to sue for peace. A detachment of the Kenya African Rifles was established in Kangundo. Although the Akamba resistance continued well into the 20th century, the colonial forces always had an upper hand and kept rule of law over Kamba land.

A Section of Machakos Town. Image Courtesy of Machakos Tourism
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34 Attractions in Machakos County, arranged as one would visit these - north, south, east then north - with aid of in-depth narratives, images, maps and distance chart:

Masinga Dam, Seven Fork Circuit, Mwea National Reserve, Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park, Ol Donyo Sapuk Lodge, MacMillan Castle, Fourteen Falls, Yatta Plateau, Kanzalu Hills, AIC Kangundo, Komarock Shrine, Hyena Caves, African Heritage House, Athi-Kapiti Conservancy, Kwa Kyelu Wildlife Sanctuary, Stony-Athi, Small World Country Club, Lukenya Hills, Swara Plains Wildlife Conservancy, Lukenya Motocross, Maanzoni Sanctuary, Amazing Kenya Retreat, Machakos Peoples Park, Masaku Flea and Curio Market, Old Fort of Machakos, Gelian Hotel, Kiima Kimwe, Machakos Golf Club, Mua Hills, Iveti Forest Reserve, Kituluni Hill, Kamuthanga Farm, AIC Mumbuni, Wamunyu 

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