Machakos County is a great destination for quick road trips seeing that it’s about 66 km from Nairobi CBD. It’s a less popular travel destination compared to Nakuru or Kiambu but is full of scenic views, historical sites, and wildlife reserves waiting for you to explore. Here’s a list of the top 10 places to visit in Machakos County.
1) Iveti Forest Reserve
Iveti Forest Reserve is on the second-highest peak in Machakos. The entrance to the reserve is approximately 15 minutes off Machakos-Kangundo Road, near Mumbuni Boys High School. The reserve is abundant with cedar trees, pine trees, a variety of birdlife, and scenic views. It’s an ideal destination for bird watching and hiking. Plus there are campsites within the reserve.
2) Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park
Ol Donyo Sabuk is also referred to as Mt. Kilimambogo which translates to ‘Buffalo Mountain’. This is a testament to the large number of buffalos found there. The park is found in Kyanzavi Division, about 85 km from Nairobi. Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park is home to wildlife such as; buffalos, bushbucks, baboons, porcupines, and over 45 species of birds nesting in the dense montane forest that covers the mountain. You have the option of hiking to the summit or driving up through a trail inside the forest.
3) Maanzoni Sanctuary
Maanzoni Sanctuary is set on a 10,000-acre ranch in Athi River. The sanctuary is home to a number of wildlife such as; zebras, elands, gazelles, wilder beasts, and giraffes. Entry into the sanctuary is free. There’s also a luxurious lodge, Maanzoni Lodge, at the center of the sanctuary. Guests at the lodge are able to go for walking safaris. Walking safaris sound so cool!
4) Masinga Dam
Masinga Dam is approximately 106 km from Nairobi. It is the largest man-made dam in East and Central Africa spanning an area of 47 kilometers squared. The dam is formed on the Tana River which is the longest river in Kenya. At the site, you are given a tour of the facility and then, an insane climb to the highest point of the dam. There are also campsites near the dam so after the tour, you can light a fire at the campsite and stargaze through the night.
5) Kituluni Hill/Kyamwilu Hill
This hill in Machakos is mind-boggling. Water flows uphill unaided. You can try it yourself by pouring some water on the road and then watch it flow against gravity.
6) Lukenya Hill and Caves
The Lukenya Hill and Caves are found near Lukenya School, a 6-minute drive off Mombasa Road. This location is an important archeological site and the earliest excavation efforts began in the 1940s carried out by the Leakeys. The caves, on the other hand, have historical significance for Kenya. They were used as hiding spots for the Mau Mau during the fight for Kenya’s independence.
7) Machakos People’s Park
The park is found in the heart of Machakos town. It sits on an expansive piece of land with manicured lawns, lots of flowers, and dedicated staff. The park opens from Thursday till Sunday. Entry to the park is free, but you pay for the activities. Most of the activities are children-friendly and they include; zip lining, boat rides, horses and camel rides, archery, and miniature golf. The park also has a field amphitheater, a couple of restaurants, and clean washrooms.
8) Lord Macmillan’s Castle
The late Lord Macmillan was an American explorer who arrived in Kenya in September 1904. Together with his wife Lucie, he boarded the Uganda Railway destined for Kisumu. During the trip, he engaged in big game hunting but became so enamored with the area around Nairobi that he departed from his hunting party, which went on to Uganda and returned to Nairobi. He later built the castle; a grand single-storied, 32-roomed castle with underground bunkers. The castle has hosted some of the greatest people in history like former US President Theodore Roosevelt and former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.
9) African Heritage House
The house is located next to AIC Kasina Church, in Mlolongo. It’s filled with paintings, photographs, sculptures, and colorful fabric on the seats all collected by Allan Donovan during his travels. The tour is given by Allan Donovan and he shares the stories behind each item. It’s a wholesome experience. There’s also the option of booking an overnight stay. The manicured lawns overlooking Nairobi National Park are perfect for picnics and sundowners.
10) Mua Hills
The Mua Hills is located near the Mua Road junction, off Mombasa Road. The hills are great for hiking and offer a relatively easy hiking trail which is good for first-time hikers. There are speculations that the hills may have been part of a larger highland plateau that linked the Aberdares and Mbooni Hills. But were reduced due to massive weathering over millions of years.
I am a charismatic 23-year-old student at the University of Nairobi. I enjoy traveling be it planned or impromptu. I also enjoy partying. I'll be there with a drink in my cup all through the night, chasing the sun. Life's too short not to choose the fast lane. Carpe diem!