The Kondoa Rock Paintings in Kolo are located about 260 kilometres to the south of Arusha town, a 4-hour drive on the Great North Road, and about 20 kilometres from the Kondoa District centre. This is a world class historical heritage site of ancient rock art, remarkable not just for their quantity but also quality. Human figures and animals (elephant, eland and giraffe) usually painted in dark red, and a few abstract designs, can be seen on the face of the rocks and caves. According to researchers these are the earlier rock paintings dated 5,000 to 10,000 years and are attributed to hunter-gatherer Bushmen, a click language tribe, who are said to be ancestors of the Sandawe tribe currently inhabiting the western part of Kondoa District. The languages of the Sandawe in Kondoa and the Hadzabe in Lake Eyasi though not ethnically related are connected to the Khosian languages spoken in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa that have click consonants. It is not surprising that similar rock paintings can also be viewed in some parts of southern Africa inhabited by the Bushmen.
More recent paintings whitish in colour can also be seen, dating probably 500 years ago, which are said to have been made by the Bantu speaking Warangi, the predominant agriculturist tribe in Kondoa District.
The site visit was prompted by increasing interest in the ancient rock art from potential visitors to Tanzania and the need to enrich the visitor itinerary in the northern Tanzania safari land. The Kolo Rock Paintings are located along the Maasai Escarpment bordering the Great Rift Valley hardly 160 kilometres from Tarangire National Park. The rock paintings can be visited in a day trip from the park or Maramboi and Lake Burungi areas in Tarangire, leaving in the morning with picnic lunch for a 2 to 3-hour tour of the sites at Kolo and neighbouring Pahi mountains and returning to Tarangire late in the afternoon. For those interested in spending more time to explore the intriguing prehistoric paintings scattered around the area, visitors can be accommodated in Kondoa town where basic but clean guest accommodation is available.
The Kolo Rock Paintings are a protected area and one of Tanzania’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. There are many sites of rock paintings scattered around the Kondoa district, but the paintings at Kolo and Pahi area are the most documented and visited.
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