The middle Pleistocene site of Olorgesailie is an important prehistoric site, about 70 km. south of Nairobi on the Magadi road. The trip to Olorgesailie takes you down the shoulder of the Great Rift Valley, with breathtaking views of open country. Olorgesailie is the largest of the National Museums of Kenya’s prehistoric sites. Acheulian stone axes and fossilized skeletons of extinct species of elephant and hippopotamus are displayed in a small museum on site. Exhibits date from 1.2 million years ago. Recently bones of early humans have also been found here.
About 440 species of birds have been recorded at Olorgesailie. Most of the birds can be seen at the main site itself, often without stirring from the welcome shade of the picnic banda. The rocky scarps north-west of the site are home to Lanner Falcon and Kestrels. White-throated Bee-eaters are known to breed in the diatomite cliffs to the west, and in the dry season the permanent pools of water in the Olkenju Ngiro River Gorge are magnets not only for livestock, but for doves, sandgrouse and other birds.
Less than an hour’s drive further south is Lake Magadi, with extraordinary scenery and spectacular water birds. For the more adventurous, Mt. Olorgesailie makes a difficult but exhilarating climb. The site has cottages that can be booked through the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi.