Though largely unvisited, the Taita Hills region, accessed via the A23, has a fascinating and distinct culture. Despite the name, the hills don’t have any real connection with the Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, which lies on the rolling plains to the south of the A23 road. From the junction at Mwatate, the C104 twists for 14km into precipitous and beautiful hills, striped with cliffs, waterfalls, intense cultivation and patches of thick forest, and rising to the (sometimes chilly) height of 2200m. The climate of the area is strongly affected by its proximity to the ocean, roughly about 100km away as the crow flies, and is so agreeable that during the 1950s the colonial administration briefly moved the district headquarters to Wundanyi from Voi to escape the harsh plains. Today there’s a high population density, reasonable prosperity and a strong sense of community up here. Most of the welcoming Taita people speak the Taita language, a member of the coastal Bantu family related to Swahili and Mijikenda.

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