alexa Why prehistoric Olorgesailie is Kenya’s blast from the past - Daily Nation

Why prehistoric Olorgesailie is Kenya’s blast from the past

Thursday August 13 2015

Are you looking for the perfect weekend getaway? Then the prehistoric site Olorgesailie, located 70km south of Nairobi, is the place to be.

Located on the floor of the Great Rift Valley between two extinct volcanoes — Mt Olorgesailie and Oldonyo Esakut — the area known as the “hand-axe factory” has become one of the biggest tourist attractions in Kenya.

To the south of Mt Olorgesailie is Lake Kwenia, a seasonal lake and habitat of a large colony of Ruppell’s griffon vultures.

The vultures are considered the highest-flying birds, with a recorded altitude of 11,300 metres above sea level.

This is what makes the area a bird watchers’ paradise. There is so much to see and discover at Olorgesailie.

A number of Acheulean hand axes, associated with animal slaughtering, were exhumed here by Glynn Isaac during his research in the 1960s.


The site, which was recently re-dated to between 900,000 and 990,000 years, has international significance for palaeontology, archaeology and geology.

It is said to have the largest accumulation of stone-tool fossils, hence its name, the “factory of stone tools”.

The archaeological site was first discovered in 1919 by JW Gregory, who discovered hand axes made by humans who lived near the Lake Basin about 900,000 to 990,000 years ago.

Years later, in 1943, archaeologists Louis and Mary Leakey resumed work on the site, which was later excavated by Glynn Isaac, who unearthed even more hand axes and bone fragments of extinct animals.

The Olorgesailie site is run by the National Museums of Kenya and opens its doors to the public every day from 8am. Mt Olorgesailie, which is 1,760 metres high, is a bird watchers’ paradise.

Various bird species can be found here even as it provides you with the opportunity to get close to the local Maasai culture.

In the earlier days, the mountain was used by the Maasai to perform sacrifices to their god, Enkai. As you walk the rocky tracks, you get to savour the beautiful landscape of dry rivers and an extinct lake now filled with paleo-soils and thick white silt.

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