Paleontological Sites in Kenya
8. Kipsaraman Museum
Kipsaraman, sometimes spelt Kipsaramon, is one of the most significant fossil sites in Tugen Hills and in Rift Valley region of Kenya. Kipsaraman is located at the north edge of Tugen Hills and about 30 kms north of Kabarnet Town nearby Kapsomin. Kipsaraman Museum was gazetted as a national monument in 1990, following the discovery of a farrago of fossils related to primitive man. It gained global fame as a preeminent site in the study of evolution and climatic changes. Significantly, in 2000, the ‘Orrorin Tugenensis’, also known as the ‘Millennium Man‘ – named so because the fossilised remains were found at the turn of this millennium – was excavated here and dated back 5 million years ago. “The first remains were discovered in the Tugen Hills of Kenya’s Baringo on October 25, 2000, by a troupe from College de France in Paris and the Museums of Kenya”.
French and Kenyan scientists have unearthed fossilized remains of mankind’s earliest known ancestor that predate previous discoveries by more than 1.5 million years. The discovery of “Millennium Man,” as the creature has been nicknamed, could change the way scientists think about evolution and the origin of species. – Deseret News, Utah
9. Kariandusi Museum
Nakuru is rich in the remains of prehistoric man, and Kariandusi Museum, 7 kms beyond Gilgil and passing Kekopey Centre, is one of the most important in Kenya. It was first excavated in 1928 under the guidance of Dr. L.S.B Leakey yielding numerous links in the chain of human evolution, with abundant fossil remains dating back 700,000 to 1 million years. Kariandusi is plausibly the first Acheulian Site to have been found in Situ in East Africa. Thereafter, excavation progressed almost continuously for two decades, and it is possible to visit these sites and stand where these discoveries, so important to the history of mankind, were made. Key interest for visitors include the museum exhibition hall, field archaeological site, nature trail to the gorge and Church of Goodwill. Kariandusi also lies just east of Lake Elementaita and is flanked by Menengai Crater on the north and Eburru Mountains found on the south. It is located just 2 kms off the Gilgil-Nakuru Road and can be explored in combination with Lake Elementaita.
10. Hyrax Hill Museum
North of Lake Nakuru National Park, shortly before arriving at Nakuru Town nearby Shree Jalaram Aradhana Temple, sits the Hyrax Hill Museum, a former farm house containing an interesting display of stone age utensils and tools. It is named after the hyraxes living in cracks within its hill. It was established, in 1943, to depict the lifestyle of seasonal settlement by prehistoric people at least 3,000 years old. The compact museum exhibits the artefacts excavated from the Hyrax Hill archaeological site and from other sites in the Central Rift Valley. For nature lovers, a day at the Hyrax Hill overlooking Lake Nakuru is one of the finest viewpoints provided the weather is good. Other areas of interest include the Sirikwa Holes, the nature trail and picnic site, and camping ground. Hyrax Hill Museum is situated 4 kms from Nakuru Town along Nakuru-Nairobi Road.
11. River Njoro Caves
An essential part to remember is that Njoro is in the Rift Valley, so volcanicity is an important element in its physical geography. It does means the soils derived from volcanic rocks are rife for farming. Njoro is situated at the western edge of the floor of the Rift, at the very base of Mau Escarpment. At Njoro, the topping height of the contour lines rises rapidly towards the escarpment from 7000 ft to 8100 ft (2140 ms to 2440 ms) over a distance of 8 kms. As such, this part of the valley is much higher, wetter and cooler than parts further north and south and, in the same way, the greater part of Njoro area is farmed; agriculture and stock farming being often carried out side by side. The greater part of the agricultural farmlands, chiefly wheat and barley, is farmed on the higher ground near Molo and Elburgon. Hidden within the boonies of Njoro, at Njokerio Village, are the little-travelled Njoro Caves, a traditional pilgrimage shrine that was thrust into the limelight in 1938 when Dr L.S.B. Leakey excavated a vast prehistoric burial shrine dated back to 850 B.C. They offer rare insight on the connection between traditional religion and science. There is also a tiny waterfalls near Njoro Caves.
12. Olorgesailie Museum
12 kms past Mount Olorgesailie, at Oltepesi, is a momentous landmark among the archaeological sites of Kenya. At this site, a respectable size of tools made by the pre-historic man some 200,000 years ago remain exposed and are visible to visitors. First excavated in 1919 by geologist John Gregory and subsequently in 1942 by Louis Leakey, Olorgesailie Museum is best known for its enriching and fascinating pre-history of man. The site itself is on a dried lake basin thought to have existed about 100,000 to 200,000 years ago. Fittingly eke-named the tool factory, it exhibits many of tools associated with the Middle Pleistocene Epoch. Unique to the Olorgesailie Museum is its looping elevated walkway, which goes appreciably close to the excavation site exposing lots of interesting artefacts. It makes for an intriguing final destination on an afternoon’s vivify joyride across the humps of Ngong Hills down to the Rift Valley. The more ardent adventurer may wish to continue down to Lake Magadi 35 kms past the exit to Olorgesailie.
13. Songhor Pre-historic Site
This is located about 14 kms northeast of the Chemilil / Makutano roundabout along C37 Chemilil-Kopere Road passing Chemilil Sugar Factory and Kopere-Songhor Road, taking a right turnoff at Kopere Shopping Centre. The 78-acres Songhor Pre-historic Site is located at the foot of Nandi Escarpment, and it was gazetted in 1982 as a national monument owing to its importance in the study of the Miocene Era, 19 Mya. The hominids excavated here point to the existence of man and a variety of animals thriving in this area during the antiquated past. The evidence also indicates that the ape-like-man proconsul Africanus lived at Songhor. Although there is very little to separate this site from its surrounding grassy landscape, apart from a modest timber-built research base, and offers little for tourism, Songhor is still an active research base frequented by experts, especially anthropologists and paleontologists studying the Miocene Era. It is situated 50 kms east of Kisumu City via C34 Mamboleo-Miwani-Chemilil Road.