The Magical Rock Paintings of Kondoa Irangi

Tanzania is one of the rich tourist destinations in the world. The country has several tourist attractions ranging from natural, cultural, and archaeological sites, however most of them still untapped fully. Most of these sites are located in remote areas, which make it difficult for the visitors to easily visit them; one of these sites is Kondoa Irangi.

Kondoa Irangi is located in Kondoa district about 4 hours from Dodoma city the political capital of Tanzania. A visit to the site, with my fellow researchers from Savannas Forever Tanzania had an incredible adventure. With the assistance of Maulidi Rauna, the in-charge of Kolo Antiquity Department, we manage visit three sites in the hills of Mongomi and the antiquity museum. The antiquity museum house a collection of historical tools and information about the area’s ancestors are reserved and displayed. Paintings in the form of picture and pictorial diagrams from other areas of central Tanzania regions are also displayed at the antiquity house.

There are about 186 rock painting sites in Kondoa, distributed in a 500 square mile area. These sites were documented by Dr. Mary Leakey and her husband who were the earliest researchers to visit the area in the 1950s).

Most of the paintings are located on the hills, underneath or beneath the rocks. One area may contain more than one site closely located together. Somehow, the position of the paintings helps prevent rain and direct sunlight from reaching and destroying the paintings

Kondoa Rock Paintings tool
Some of the earliest tools displayed at Antiquity department at Kolo

The painting portrays;

  • Human every day life-people hunting, dancing, fighting,
  • Animals- such as Zebra, Giraffe, elephants, Rhino, Impala, Kudu and Buffalo
  • Earliest tools-stones, bones and iron tools.

As seen in the pictures, the paintings vary in terms of size, posture, colour, and the time which they were drawn. The variation in size can be seen on paintings which portray people with large heads, who in some cases do not look like normal human beings. In terms of colour; black, white and red seem to dominate in most of the paintings. According to our guide Mr. Maulidi Most of the paintings are 800 to 3500 years old. It is still believed that these paintings are the work of the ancestors of Sandawe and Hadzabe tribes.

It is still not known what kinds of materials were used to draw the paintings; however, it is believed that the material used could be the mixture of animal’s fat, soil and fig tree sap.

There were some initiatives to draw the same paintings using a mixture of different local plants sap, water, soil and even modern paints with the hope to conserve the existing paintings. However, the efforts were fruitless, because most of the pigment faded and disappeared within a short period.

What do the paintings mean? The paintings portray the earliest life of the ancestors of Kondoa and the animals shown may give us a clue of the existence of animals in the past that are not currently present due various reasons

Kondoa Rock Painting Men Fighting
Pictorial form of the famous painting at Kolo B1, four men fighting over a woman at the center, two men on the right wearing mask pulling the woman off while two unmask men holding her back.

In 2006 United national Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), declared kondoa-Irangi paintings as world Heritage Site because; the rock art sites at Kondoa are an exceptional testimony to the lives of hunter-gathers and agriculturalists who have lived in the area over several millennia, and reflect a unique variation of hunter-gather art from southern and central Africa and a unique form of agro-pastoralist paintings

Some of the rock art sites are still in active use by local communities for a variety of ritual activities such as rainmaking, divining and healing. These strong intangible relationships between the paintings and living practices reinforce the links with those societies that created the paintings, and demonstrate a crucial cultural continuum.

According to the site management, the sites receive more than 100,000 visitors annually; most of the visitors are students, researchers and a few foreign tourists.

Kondoa Rock Painting people hunting
Display of people in hunting

How to get to the rock paintings

In order to reach the sites, a four wheel (drive) car is required because most of the paintings are located more than about 9km from Kolo museum. Also one needs to be physically fit to reach the sites because they are located on the hills where some walking and hiking is required. Depending on the direction of the site, it’s best to visit the sites in the morning or late in the evening because low sunlight enhances the paintings and lends a rich orange cast to the rock, making it best for taking excellent photos

Currently visitors are required to take a guide from the Antiquity department office at kolo or a registered tour operator. Guides are very important to provide interpretations about the site.

In order to conserve the paintings for the benefit of both current and future generations, visitors to the site and the communities in general are reminded to adhere to the following principles set by the Antiquity department.

  • Do not touch, draw, and write, on the paintings or the rock face around them. Traces of oil, acid and sweat from your hands may destroy the paintings. Any form of physical contact damages paintings by dislodging loose flecks of paint, in turn accelerating damage from wind and rain. Traces of oil, acid and sweat from your hands may destroy the paintings.
  • Do not allow animals to destroy the paintings or to enter in the protected sites/ buildings in any away
  • Do not wet the paintings under any circumstance. This fades and dissolves the pigments and very quickly renders the paintings almost invisible, as has happened at a number of sites in the kondoa-Irangi Hills.
  • It is not advisable to establish any unsustainable development project near or in the protected site
  • Respect local communities and their beliefs. Many of Irangi’s sites are located in traditional areas. Sites may also have sacred or ritual importance to the local community]
Kondoa Irangi site scenery
Spectacular view from top of Mongomi hills, (kolo site B1)

Apart from visiting the rock paintings, there are very beautiful sceneries, hot water springs, Ntomoko waterfalls and kolo forest best for picnic and camping in kondoa.

The recommended things to carry when visiting kondoa Rock Paintings Outfits

There is no specific dress code. However, having the right clothing (and equipment) can make the all the difference, the following are outfit are recommended:

Safari outit
Some of the recommended outfits

There is no specific dress code. However, having the right clothing (and equipment) can make the all the difference, the following are outfit are recommended:

  • Walking stick – recommended for aged people. The ideal walking stick should offer Ergonomic grips, lightweight, an extra wide padded wrist strap and an anti shock feature in each poles helps make our hiking poles the most comfortable poles you can use.
  • Clothes – it advisable to avoid clothes with very bright/strong & dark colors. Dark/bright colors can attract flies and insects. Long light weigh shirt and trouser with Light/neutral color (not black or white) are recommended, since they can easily blend with landscape. Long outfits to cover the body can help to protect the body against the intrusive sting-less bees present in the area.
  • Sun cream/Sun lotion or Insect repellent – sun cream/lotion recommended in protecting the skin against sun rays especially in hot weather condition. Insect repellent will be useful protection against insects especially sting-less bees.
  • A hat and Sunglasses -The sun is fierce, and sunscreen is not always enough protection from the sun. So, it is important to have a hat with a brim/sun visor and sunglasses.
  • Digital camera – you do not want to miss a chance to take fine memory with you for future use and to share with your love one. Before buying the camera one should consider several factors such as battery life, weatherproof, weight and size, and cost,
  • A bottle of water – This is a trekking adventure, you don’t’ want your body get dehydrated. Having a bottle of water is ideal.
  • The daypack or backpack– A good daypack is ideal on any trip. It’s useful for carrying things such as snacks, water, tissues, hand sanitizer, sunblock and other needed items.
  •  

Accommodation options while visiting Kondoa Irangi Rock Painting

Camping : The nearby accommodation while in Kondoa Rock Painting is Amarula Campsite. Its located about 6km in Kolo village on the road to Pahi, this site has beautiful scenery with simple facilities such as toilet and solar electricity. It features a self-catering option as well as safari tents; the site has a beautiful picnic area.  

Amarula Campsite
Amarula Campsite

Budget accommodations: Kondoa town, which is about 30 minutes, drives from the painting site offers budget accommodation. The price of these lodges range from 25 to 50 US$. Lodges in this town offers simple services such as hot shower, Mosquito net, Air condition, clean room and en-suite bathroom. Some of these lodges include Kondoa Climax Hotel, Golden apple Lodge and River Side Lodge.

Golden apple lodege
Golden apple Lodge
The Magical Rock Paintings of Kondoa Irangi 1
Golden Apple Outside View

High quality accommodations: For those who are looking for high quality accommodations facility, the nearby Dodoma city, the capital of Tanzania, which is about 3 to 4 hours from Kondoa Rock painting, offers typical 2 to 4 star hotels with splendid services. Some of the best lodges and hotels to consider when visiting kondoa rock paintings are, New Dodoma hotel, Morena hotel, St. Gasper Hotel and Royal Village Hotel.

St. Gasper Hotel:  A tranquil setting and contemporary elegance is located about 7 km off Dodoma-Morogoro Highway, in the area known as Kisasa.

The hotel has 73 beautifully appointed rooms including five Presidential suites, most with floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies, 47 Executive Bedrooms and 27 Twin Bedrooms. Dining Room with full service restaurant offering English breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Recreational Room, offering beverages, light snacks and recreational games. The center has 23,000 sq. ft. of state-of-the-art, conference Hall, with modern fitted equipment, fully air conditioned with en-suite WC.

The hotel coordinate extra activities in and around Dodoma region. The coordination package offers visitors to Cultural Tour to the nearby wagogo tribe village, Historical Tour to the Ancient rock paintings in Kondoa Irangi Kolo area and A weekend Wildlife Safari to Ruaha National Park.

St. Gasper Hotel:  A tranquil setting and contemporary elegance is located about 7 km off Dodoma-Morogoro Highway, in the area known as Kisasa.

The hotel has 73 beautifully appointed rooms including five Presidential suites, most with floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies, 47 Executive Bedrooms and 27 Twin Bedrooms. Dining Room with full service restaurant offering English breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Recreational Room, offering beverages, light snacks and recreational games. The center has 23,000 sq. ft. of state-of-the-art, conference Hall, with modern fitted equipment, fully air conditioned with en-suite WC.

The hotel coordinate extra activities in and around Dodoma region. The coordination package offers visitors to Cultural Tour to the nearby wagogo tribe village, Historical Tour to the Ancient rock paintings in Kondoa Irangi Kolo area and A weekend Wildlife Safari to Ruaha National Park.

St. Gasper Hotel
St. Gasper Hotel
St. Gasper Hotel

New Dodoma hotel: is a botanical oasis and conference center located centrally in the midst of Tanzania’s bustling capital city, just minutes from downtown Dodoma and 2km Parliament Buildings of Tanzania. It is 4 km from Dodoma Airport.

New Dodoma Hotel offers exclusive services and benefits for the comfort of its guests, whether travelling for business or leisure. The hotel has standard, deluxe, executive and suite rooms. Its offers personalized services, beautiful, clean rooms and a very good breakfast, Location within easy reach of city center, Shuttle Service, a fitness center, Free Wi-Fi connection, secure parking at all times.

dodoma_hotel_swimmingview
dodoma_hotel_roomview
dodoma_hotel_outsideview

Morena Hotel: The hotel is situated in the Centre of the country Dodoma Tanzania. It is the capital’s newest hotel – where hospitality extends to giving you the best deal on superior accommodation. It is strategically located about 2 km from town Centre.

It has 20 spacious city-view rooms, a stunning pool, and a great restaurant this stylish new property for a relaxing holiday or comfortable business trip.

Morena_hotel_reception
Morena_hotel_suite_room
Morena_hotel_swimming

Royal Village Hotel:  The hotel Located along Mlimwa Hills, Area D in Dodoma region, just about 15 minutes walk from town Centre. Royal Village is designed for complete leisure, romance and relaxation.

 It has a splendid view Mlimwa Hills and beautiful gardens; it offers free Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs, air-conditioning and private apartment verandas. Within the same premises, bars, a nightclub for nightlife while in Dodoma.

The place is also the best for family gatherings as it offers a swimming pools and kids play ground.

Royal-Village-Hotel_outside_view
Royal-Village-Hotel_food
Royal-Village-Hotel_outside_reception

If one wants to visit this site, I highly recommend using the best guide for maximum adventure. So far, Moshi Changai (Kondoa Irangi Cultural Tourism) is one of the best guides in the area. He is well equipped and experienced tour operator in the area. His company offers Tours package toiled in a modular way so that tourists can mix and match different types of tour activities, accommodation, transportation, and community projects. For more info visit https://tanzaniaculturaltours.com/all-tours-and-projects/

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