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Olorgesailie prehistoric site

(On the C58, 65 km southwest of Nairobi, www.museums. or.ke, daily 0930-1800, US$5.75, children (under 18) US$2.90.)

A trip to this important prehistoric site can be combined with a visit to Lake Magadi. The site covers an area of 21 ha, and is the largest archaeological site in Kenya. It was discovered in 1919 by geologist JW Gregory and later in the 1940s excavated by Kenya’s most famous archaeologists, Mary and Louis Leakey. A team from the Smithsonian Institute in the USA continues to work here. In 1947 it was given national heritage status.

It is believed that a lake covered the present site of the mountain in prehistoric times, and that various mammals, including elephants, hippos, crocodiles and giraffes, lived near or in the lake. The abundant presence of game attracted hunters to this area. These early hunters are believed to have fashioned stone tools and axes. Fossilized remains of prehistoric animals, some gigantic compared to their descendants, and an abundance of Acheulean hand axes and other stone tools were uncovered here. A small, raised wooden walkway has been built around the display of prehistoric animal remains and tools, enabling the fossils to be exhibited where they were found; a guide is on hand to take you around.

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