Hyrax Hill Nakuru
Hyrax Hill is located two kilometers from Nakuru Town. It is a conspicuous landmark in Nakuru’s eastern outskirts on the Nairobi-Nakuru Highway. The hill houses hyraxes (also known as rock rabbits), from whom the hill derives its name.
Hyrax Hill earliest occupation, estimated to be about 5,000 years ago, was at a time when the Lake Nakuru waters reached the foot of the hill. Archaeologists have identified four periods of site use, that include the Neolithic period, as seen in burial moulds and distinctive pottery and shallow stone bowls from one of the excavations.
There was another occupation above this 5,000-year-old burial mould. It is, however, contested whether it was an occupational site or a place of different activities/ customs. This level shows some form of burial practices.
Females, for example, were buried with shallow stone bowls and occasionally a stone pestle next to their bodies.
Then there is the Iron Age recorded by the stone enclosures found at another location of the site. Here, evidence of ceramic smoking pipes, glass beads and cowrie shell ornaments indicate a quite recent date, perhaps not before the 18th century.
The last one is the Sirikwa occupation evident in groups of about 13 holes measuring 10 and 20 metres wide with associate mounds. These were formerly circular cattle pens dug on the hillside and fenced as protection against wild carnivores and thieves. The herdsmen were probably housed outside these stone pens. These Sirikwa holes seem to have pioneered the pastoral economy of the Maasai of today as no evidence of cultivation was found at the site. Today, this site is an established museum declared a national monument in 1943. Due to its proximity to Nairobi and Nakuru, the site is ideal for tourism as well as visits by educational groups.
Located within Nakuru town, Hyrax Hill Museum depicts the lifestyle of seasonal settlement by prehistoric people at least 3,000 years old. The Museum is a former farmhouse ceded to the monument in 1965, by the Late Mr. A. Selfe. A small museum was opened here where artifacts from the Hyrax Hill site and other sites in the Central Rift Valley are displayed.
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Numerous sites around the hill belong to different time periods with the earliest finds dating back to the Neolithic period. There is evidence in the form beach sands that a fresh water Lake once extended right to the base of the hill; turning the hill into a peninsular or even an island. The mighty prehistoric lake is believed to have covered the valley from Nakuru to Lake Elementaita about 8,500 years ago. Traces of it have been found at Hyrax Hill, the Wakumi Burial Site, Gambles cave and amongst other places.
The hill was named after hyraxes which are found in abundance, living in cracks within rocks found in this area.
As a region of archaeological interest, the East African Archaeological Expedition of 1926, led by L.S.B. Leakey, first noted Hyrax Hill. In 1937, Mary Leakey undertook some archaeological surveys on the hill. Since then, research has been intermittent with major undertakings in 1965 by Ron Clarke.
The Kenya Government gazetted Hyrax hill as a National Monument in 1943, four years after the first archeological excavation on the hill. Since then Hyrax hill has been a renowned archaeological research area and a reference point for investigations of the prehistory of East Africa. Some sites have been excavated and left open for public viewing.
Other attractions within the site include:
- Picnic Site
- Camping Site
- Nature Trail
- Picturesque View of Lake Nakuru
- Tortoise Pit
Hyrax hill lies in the middle of Kenya’s Rift valley, about 4 km from Nakuru town. The site is close to the Nairobi-Nakuru highway. It is about 150 km away from Nairobi. From Lake Nakuru, the hill is about 4.5 km with its base about 100m above the Lake
For more information contact
Hyrax Hill Museum
P.O.Box 9535, 20110 Lanet Nakuru
Tel: 051- 2217175