Menengai Crater Nakuru Kenya You’d be forgiven from yawning when looking at the gentle forested slopes of this dominant volcano from Nakuru (yes, it’s that boring). However, when standing high a top a promontory on the edge of the hidden crater some 8km away , your mouth will open for completely different reasons(yes, its that jaw-droopingly gorgeous).
Striking red cliffs radiate outward and encircle a 90 sq km cauldron of convoluted black lava flows. While lush vegetation is now proliferating on the harsh crater floor, some 480m below, the violent and dramatic volcanic history is easily seen.
A grim local legend states that the plumes of steam rising from the bottom are the souls of defeated Maasai warriors, thrown into the crater after a territorial battle, trying to make their way into heaven.
While hiking to the view point from town offers great views back over the Lake Nakuru, it’s rather isolated and tourists have been mugged. To be safe, the 9 km walk from town should only be done in groups of at least four or five. Alternatively, you could take a taxi up and back for Ksh 1000. There’s a small group of dukas ( shops) at the main viewpoint selling drinks and trinkets.
Hyrax Hill Prehistoric Site-Nakuru
This archeological site is 4km outside of Nakuru and contains a museum and the remains of three settlements excavated between 1937 and the late 1980s, the oldest being possibly being 3000 years old and the most recent only 200 to 300 years old.
The tiny museum discusses the distribution and the cultures of the Rift Valley peoples over the centuries. Try not to laugh at the plastic spitting cobra.
You are free to wander the site, but it’s rather cryptic and a guide is useful- a tip of Ksh 100 is plenty. The North –East Village, which is believed to be 400 years old, sits closest to the museum and once housed 13 enclosures. Only the 1965 excavation of Pit D remains open. It was here where a great number of pottery fragments were found, some of which have been pieced tighter into complete jars and are being displayed at the museum.
From Pit D the trail climbs to the scant remains of the stone-walled hill fort near the top of Hyrax Hill itself. You can continue to the peak, from where there’s a fine view of the flamingo- lined lake Nakuru in the distance.
Looking down the other side of the hill, you will see two ‘C’ shaped Iron Age stone hut foundations at the base. Just north of the foundations, a series of Iron Aged burial pits containing 19 skeletons was found. The majority were male and lots of them had been decapitated, , so a number of colorful explanations have been offered.
Nearby, two Neolithic burial mounds and several other Iron Age burial pits were discovered. The large collection of items found in these pits included a real puzzle- six Indian coins, one of them 500 years old, and others dating from 1918 and 1919.
On a more lively note, there’s a bao (a traditional African game that played through out East Africa) board carved into a rock outcrop between the Iron Age settlements and the museum.
It’s now possible to camp (per tent 500) here, though the facilities are limited. Local matatus to Naivasha or Nairobi will take you past the turn-off (about 1 km from the site), just south of Nakuru.
Robert is a tour expert in Kenya east Africa travel. He is a director of Landmark safaris, a Kenya vacation tour operator & outfitter. Get selecting here; http://www.landmarksafaris.com/planner/?refferer=ezinearticles