Everything to know about Kondoa Irangi: One of the oldest examples of human artistic expression is found in the Tanzanian region of Kondoa Irangi, where there are several cave paintings. This location has one of the best collections of prehistoric rock art in the world, with an estimated 1600 unique cave paintings spread across almost 200 sites. The easiest location to access is the Irangi Hills, which are located north of Kondoa. Ancient paintings on the Kolo Rock can be found in the village of Kondoa, in the Irangi Dodoma region, which is situated between Singida and the Irangi Hills.

Although the oldest cave paintings in Kondoa Irangi are thought to be between 19,000 and 30,000 years old, the most recent are only a century or two old. The simple human figures in the cave paintings are depicted hunting, playing musical instruments, and crossing rivers, in addition to other creatures including elephants, giraffes, and antelopes. They represent the area’s original inhabitants, who were hunter-gatherers.

The fact that the Kondoa rock art sites are still actively involved in local rituals is one of their distinguishing features. For example, the locations are used for initiation, healing, and weather divination. In 2006, it became the newest World Heritage Site in Tanzania.


The discovery of cave paintings in the area was first noted in 1908, and further excavations were conducted during the 20th century. The Kondoa rock art region has never undergone a thorough investigation. The data from these earlier studies and research are dispersed among numerous organizations in various nations. The sites do not currently have an integrated documentation system. The Department of Antiquities must establish a central database containing all documentation, according to the management strategy.

The administration of the property carefully balances promoting the sites’ tangible cultural heritage qualities with supporting their physical maintenance. Currently, the administration has located locations where trees can be cultivated for firewood.


In Africa, there are many noteworthy locations for rock art. But only a handful of them actually stand out in terms of their cultural and archaeological relevance. The majority of those remarkably expressive and well-preserved ruins are found in the Sahara Desert, as well as in the south and east of the continent, in regions where Rocky Mountains or dry sands are predominant (which denote an environment that isn’t overly humid).

There are two such locations close to the Great Rift Valley in Eastern Africa: Kondoa in Tanzania and Chongoni in Malawi. They’re both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Kondoa is situated in the same region, close to the village of Kolo, in the country’s central region, which is also the location of Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania. On the A104 highway, you may locate it around halfway between Arusha and Dodoma.

The remarkable old artwork has been preserved on natural stone “balconies” with overhanging walls that may be found if you turn off the road and climb up to the rocky ledges. Individuals and other animals are frequently portrayed in fine-line red ochre carvings engaged in running, hunting, or other activities. The boldest guesses place the age of a few of these drawings at almost 20,000 years old!

African rock art is one of the earliest examples of human cognition on the planet, according to Kofi Annan, the well-known Ghanaian-born 7th Secretary General of the United Nations. The stories that arose from the earliest beginnings of human imagination are preserved in such primitive art. Adventurers who visit those amazing ancient rock-art sites have the chance to get a glimpse into the prehistoric world.


One of the Tanzanian locations where magnificent specimens of prehistoric rock art may be seen is the Masai escarpment. The Maasai tribes of warrior herders used to drive their cattle over the productive soil in the huge valley that is just next to it. Other people, besides the Maasai, also inhabited these kinds of areas. These primitive lives were portrayed on the rock walls by the prehistoric artists. We may see hunting scenes, rain-calling ceremonies, animals contentedly grazing in the savanna, and much more in those images.

Everything to know about Kondoa Irangi
Everything to know about Kondoa Irangi

The drawings are quite intriguing to look at, and when we gaze at those prehistoric artistic achievements, our mind is frequently grabbed by the nearly mystical images. We are able to identify common animals like giraffes, antelopes, and, less frequently, elephants and hippopotamuses fairly instantly from the outlines of strange creatures that appear to have been drawn by an untrained child’s hand. However, it becomes increasingly difficult to make out the intricacies and comprehend what is happening when more people are added to the sketches.

Three people are shown clutching what appears to be a long stick in the artwork above. What is it, then? Several enormous things are also perched above their heads. Perhaps the locals are carrying wicker baskets, which are still popular in rural areas and can even be seen in modern cities. Without specialized information, you might not even be able to discern what the characters in a picture are doing. What do their hands contain? They are doing what? Why do many of them have skulls that are excessively big? Are those just mop-like objects, or did the painters have other intentions and convey messages that had a deeper, more paranormal meaning?

 Even though it can be difficult to comprehend these designs, many of them can be made sense of by experts and have a logical explanation. For instance, the seven tall figures that are free-standing and carrying long sticks in their hands represent women holding pestles. These wooden pestles and mortars can be seen in a neighboring museum that has maintained a wide range of odd artifacts. Another intriguing and well-known painting, “The Abduction,” depicts a woman in the middle being dragged by the arms of two men on either side, two on the left and two on the right. The individuals to the right are covered up. It’s thought that they were guys from another tribe who came to take the girl. The two males on the left are attempting to obstruct her removal.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that any interpretation of works by ancient painters is still just that—an interpretation. A man with a stick standing close to an elephant may not always be engaged in hunting. It’s entirely feasible that he has another, calmer interaction with the animal. Additionally, the well-known abduction scene might have simply been a dance or a ritualistic exercise. Scientists who are familiar with the customs and beliefs of the people who once lived in these areas should be trusted with the precise interpretation of the paintings. There isn’t much that is known for sure, like the year when the rock drawings were made, the identities of the tribes the painters belonged to, or the rites they represented. A suitable time to consider what is certain to be known about the drawings at Kondoa is now. We may still appreciate the simple beauty and enchantment of those rock carvings that have survived the ages, despite the absence of detailed knowledge about them.


The earliest drawings are believed to be between 5,000 and 7,000 years old, according to the current most credible assessment. The local museum claims that they are at least 6,000 years old, which is the accepted estimate of their age. The images are at least two thousand years old, according to the UNESCO organization for education, science, and culture of the United Nations. Individual experts do, however, contend that the drawings are considerably older.

It is impossible to pinpoint the drawings’ actual age. But several prehistoric human settlements have been found in Kondoa. Archaeologists have discovered a wide range of items at those sites, including pottery, stone artifacts, and beads. A dating of several tens of thousands of years comes from radiocarbon study! There is no doubt that such locations have been occupied for untold millennia, even though the paintings may not necessarily be related to the discovered objects.

The fact that fresh drawings were continuously being created up until quite recently is an additional fascinating element about the rock art in Kondoa. In the 1970s, it was noted that representatives of the Sandave people painted fresh designs on the rocks. They did so for ritualistic reasons, such as to call for rain or healing, to represent an animal they planned to slaughter before going hunting, or to invoke the clan spirit, which was associated with a particular hill in the area. The region’s visual traditions have an astonishing longevity and continuity, according to scientists.

Even though many of the images are found in relatively open regions rather than caves, it is impressive that they are well maintained. Sun, wind, and rain are the rock art’s principal environmental adversaries. But because of their advantageous location, the cliffs are well protected from weathering because all of the stone “balconies” in the area face away from the local trade winds. The cliffs are shielded by trees from the sun and rain. Additionally, they retain groundwater, preventing it from flowing down the jagged stone slopes. Many of these boulders have survived in amazingly good shape despite having to withstand severe weather for thousands of years.

There is still only one, and he is the most active foe: man. As a result of tree cutting, rock paintings are no longer protected. There are documented instances of unlawful granite chip extraction close to painted rocks and even illegal rock excavations brought on by legends of German gold that was allegedly hidden there. Vandalism is also risky because the old paintings are changed or destroyed. Some tourists or perhaps residents who still perform rituals close to the drawings carry out this activity. In other instances, rituals to invoke rain involved pouring beer and pig fat on the pictures. On the other hand, it is intriguing that the rites still employ the same images as they did hundreds of years ago, demonstrating the extraordinary durability of the regional traditional culture.


Who posted the pictures? This question lacks a definite response. The most popular theory holds that the painters were the forerunners of the contemporary Sandawe people, who live in the Dodoma region. The paintings show that they were created by both the pastoralists who settled these territories later and the earlier hunter-gatherers. The older drawings were done with red and yellowish ochre, while the more recent ones were primarily painted with white kaolin-based paint and occasionally with black paint. This contrast in cultural traditions may be seen physically. Images of people and animals are a defining feature of the vintage red drawings. We frequently see numerous geometric figures in the white pictures, which seem to be more innovative.

If we are trying to be more precise in our description of the groups who created the rock art, it was probably the Batwa, who nearly vanished in Tanzania, and also the ancestors of the Sandawe and Hadzabe, who have historically inhabited this area. They were securely categorized as belonging to the extinct Khoisan group up until recently, but the most recent DNA studies have called this notion into question. However, the resemblance between the Khoisan language and the Sandave and Hadzabe languages suggests that these people from central Tanzania are related to the Khoisan people of South Africa.

The Kondoa rock art in central Tanzania and the drawings discovered in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa, where the Khoisan peoples lived in isolation, would be interesting to compare and contrast in terms of techniques and rituals. However, one of the difficulties is that not all of the rock shelters with drawings, even in Tanzania, have been researched. Additionally, many of the ones that have been located have insufficient records. Even the precise number of specific places containing drawings doesn’t seem to be well known. There are between 150 and 450 sites, but there may be more, according to different estimations. And only a select few are open to guests. About 1,500 sketches were found in total.

As Kofi Annan believed, the biggest threat to rock art is possibly neglect, as they remain susceptible in the absence of official interest and due to a lack of funding to study and safeguard these cultural heritage sites. Paleontologist Mary Leakey started researching the artwork in the 1950s, and this task must continue. Rock art in Tanzania is waiting for discovery. The previously listed locations, like Kolo 1, are waiting for visitors who will help make these locations more well-known and financially support them. These historic locations offer incredibly rare and exciting chances to go back in time and encounter some of the oldest works of human art and civilization.


You can visit Kolo alone or along with trips to Tarangire Lake Manyara National Park and Lake Manyara National Park, two of the most well-known rock-art sites. Kolo also has a small museum. Additionally, Arusha National Park is nearby. In 3.5 hours by automobile, you can go from Arusha to Kondoa. The tour lasts for around 1.5 hours. The stairs to the drawings themselves must be climbed, but they are not particularly steep.

“Don’t Only Dream it…………………Plan it…………&………..Do it……………………”

book a safari