Historical Background

Takwa ruins are the remains of a thriving 15th and 16th century Swahili trading town before it was abandoned in the seventeenth century. It is not only important because of its period of occupation but also because of its dense settlement and its relatively well preserved remains. The unique Friday Mosque with a large pillar a top the qibla wall is among the most notable features. This pillar is believed to symbolize the burial of a Sheikh be low the wall.

The position of the site at the narrowest location on the whole island, was most probably a strategy. Takwa’s position/location with shallow waters must have been of considerable importance especially during its peak, when many of the sails that came into view were likely to be hostile.Therefore access to the site must have been primarily from the shallow channel which could only admit vessels of shallow draft.

Takwa eventual abandonment in the 17th century was due to salination of the once fresh water and endless fighting between Takwa and Pate people. These ruins were gazetted as a National Monument in 1982 in Gazette notice No. 1514. At present, Takwa is open daily to the Public. It is a very pleasant place for a casual visit, which can be complimented by a picnic and overnight camping.

Geographical Location

The ruins of Takwa are located on the south eastern corner of Manda Island Lamu District in Coast province. A 30 minute boat ride from Lamu Town. Its geographical location on map is at Grid Reference 186 476, Sheet 180/4

Thimlich Ohinga

Historical Background

Thimlich Ohinga literally refers to a “frightening dense forest” in Dholuo language, a Nilotic group who occupy the region. The stone structure enclosure has walls ranging from 1.0 to 4.2 meters in height were built of loose stones and blocks without any dressing or mortar. Archaeological record of materials found within the site goes beyond 500 years ago. Since the present inhabitants of the area arrived probably some three centuries ago, it seems most likely that Bantus who initially occupied this region prior to the arrival of Luos first built the stone structures. Abundant rocks on the hilly areas provided them with building materials to meet their security requirements.

Subsequently communities that moved into this region in the period 15th to 19th centuries carried out repair work and modification on the structures. However, all these episodes of occupation and repair did not interfere with the architecture and preservation of the structures. During the first quarter of the twentieth century abandonment of Ohingnis started en mass. No more stone structures were constructed and consequently some stone structures were reduced to mere traces of circumferences or disappeared altogether. Thimlich Ohinga is one of the few stone structures that survived.

Records shows that the first written document on the site was done by Neville Chittick, former Director of

the British Institute of History and Archaeology in East Africa in the sixties while National Museums of Kenya researchers began working at this site in 1980. By then the site was referred to as ?Liare Valley? after the valley to the northeast of the hill. Continuing work led to the gazettement of the site as a National Monument in 1981 under its present name Thimlich Ohinga, since its previous name did not describe the exact location of the site. Thimlich strategic location forms a perfect stopover for those on their way to or from the nearby Ruma National Game Park, Gogo falls or the Macalder gold mines.

Geographical Location
Thimlich Ohinga a unique architectural stone structure situated in Nyanza province 181 km south of Kisumu in Migori district. The site lies on a gentle sloping hill some 46-km northwest of Migori town near Macalder?s Mines. Its exact geographical location on map is at grid reference 019 474 on sheet number 129/4.


Geographical Location and Historical Background

The site is situated in Nyando District, Nyanza Province. The site was gazzetted in 1982. It is 78 acres in area. It is a Miocene site dating back to about 19 million years ago. There were a large variety of animals living there. The fossil hominoids collected from this site range from small to bigger apes. Eight species of hominoids have been identified. There is enough evidence that the proconsul africanus also lived at this site.

The new survey (2000) that was carried out by the National Museums of Kenya altered the boundary of the site. Complaints have been put forward that the survey should be done again. On one side, we have lost our land while on the other hand; the locals have lost their land to us. The locals want to be compensated for the loss if another survey cannot be done.

Open Daily at 8:00am – 6:00pm.

Siyu Fort

Historical Background

Siyu is the only town that built a fort of its own, unlike Mombasa and Lamu where the forts were put up by foreigners. Oral tradition indicate that the fort was built by one of Siyu’s leaders, Bwana Mataka, whose full name was Mohammed Ishaq bin Mbarak bin Mohamed bin Oman Famau in the 19th century to safeguard Siyu residents from Omani Arabs domination. He also rebuilt much of the town including a fine stone mansion for himself, of which
the remains are still to be seen.

This fort constructed of coral with a small mosque within it, was gazetted in 1958 as a “National Monument”. Apart from the impressive fort, Siyu is host to the remains of magnificent tombs and mosques, while the present village is still known for its well-established leather craft, including sandals, belts and stools.

Museum Open Daily at 8:00am- 6:00pm.

Geographical Location

Siyu Fort is located in Lamu district, Coast province in Pate Island, at a point opposite Siyu town, across the tidal channel, which bisects the island at high water. It lies some 25 km to the North East of Lamu town and can be reached by boat from Lamu, up a long mangrove lined creek which is only navigable at high tide. It falls within Grid
Reference 289 681 on the Map 1:50,000 sheet 180E/1.


Historical Background

The site was first occupied in the early 14th century but the first mosque; the Great Mosque was not built until AD 1425. Enlargements were undertaken soon thereafter, followed by major reconstruction efforts later in the 15th century following the collapse of the earlier building.

Close to the first Mosque is a smaller mosque which, prior to its construction a much similar but smaller mosque existed at its location; the foundation of its Mihrab may still be seen east of the present Mihrab. The original mosque was built around 1475, while the later mosque in about 1500; this is evident by the presence of a Portuguese dish in the cistern thus indicating that the final alterations to the mosques were probably not completed before the 16th century. Mnarani was eventually destroyed by the Galla in the early 17th century and archaeological evidence seems to confirm this.

These ruins were first gazetted in March 1929 in Gazette Notice No.170 as “Ruins of Mnarani” and later confirmed as Monuments in Gazette Notice No.457. Subsequently, they were listed first on the 15th June 1935 in Gazette Notice No.445 and then again under cap.215 of 1962 Revised Subsidiary Legislation. Thus to date they are known as Ruins of an Old Mosque in Kilifi Map sheet 198/2.

Manarani is a scenic, peaceful spot well worth a visit and makes an excellent picnic site.

Geographical Location
Mnarani ruins is located in Kilifi District, Coast province. It overlooks Kilifi creek from the southern side, some 200 meters from the Mombasa – Malindi road. The ruins consisting of two Mosques and a group of tombs. It falls within Grid Reference 936 970 on Map Sheet 198/2.

Jumba La mtwana

Historical Background

The full name Jumba la Mtwana means in Swahili “the large house of the slave”. Within this area four mosques, a tomb and four houses have survived in recognizable condition. These houses include the House of the Cylinder, The House of the Kitchen, The House of the Many Pools, which had three phases, and the Great Mosque. The inhabitants of this town were mainly Muslims as evidence by a number of ruined mosques.

There are no written historical records of the town but ceramic evidence showed that the town had been built in the fourteenth century but abandoned early in the fifteenth century. The dating is based on the presence of a few shreds of early blue and white porcelain with lung-chuan celadon, and the absence of any later Chinese wares.

It is most likely the site’s strategic position was selected because of the presence of fresh water, exposure to the North East and South East breezes which would keep the people cool and its safe location from external attacks by sea since it had no harbor, thus larger vessels had to anchor along way offshore, or move probably in Mtwapa creek. One can only therefore guess reasons for its eventual desertion, namely trade interruption, hostile invasion or a failure in water supply. Though there is need to pursue further research on this.

Clearance and excavation of the ruins were first carried out in 1972 by James Kirkman with a view of dating the buildings, its period of occupation and consolidating buildings which were in danger of collapse. Ten years later in 1982, Jumba la Mtwana was gazetted as a National Monument. Thus Jumba is legally protected under Antiquities and Monuments Act Chapter 215 of the Laws of Kenya.

Geographical Location
Jumba la Mtwana a picturesque ruined village is situated in Kilifi district, Coast province. The site lies some 15 kilometers north of Mombasa on and above the beach some 1000 meters north of the mouth of Mtwapa creek; 4 kilometers from the Mombasa-Malindi road and extends along the shore for a distance of about 300 meters and 250 meters inland. Its geographical location on Map is at Grid Reference 855641 of Map sheet 198/4, Kenya Survey Map.

Koobi Fora

Historical Background

In the language of the Gabbra people who live near the site, the term Koobi Fora means a place of the commiphora and the source of myrrh, which is a common plant in this hot and arid area.

Research work on the site began in 1968. Hominid fossils from the Plio/Pleistocene of Eastern Africa have been recovered from seven localities of which the most extensive is that of East of Lake Turkana. This Koobi Fora site comprises approximately 700 square miles of fluvial and lacustine sediments representing a broadly continuous sequence of deposition from the Pliocene (5.0 million) to the Early Pleistocene (1.0 million) years old.

Since June 1968, more than 70 hominid fossils had been recovered. One hominid model; Australopithecus Sensu Lato, has been documented as a chrono species of over a period of 2 million years old. During this period according to researchers, there was little significant morphological change as evident in the element preserved both at Koobi Fora and elsewhere in East Africa.

Prior to 1960, most of the evidence for the evolution of man during the early Pleistocene was confined to Southern Africa. The greatest body of evidence for early hominid development has been obtained from the large site in Northern Kenya. Between 1968 and 1972, a total of 87 fossil hominid specimens were recovered. Stone artifacts have also been obtained in the site not forgetting that other animal plant fossils have also been discovered. For example several taxa of giraffines have
been yielded.

The first Australopithecus skull was found here by Dr. Richard Leakey a reknown paleontologist.

The Homo Habilis was also found there by Bernard Ngeves. Homo erectus, a 1.6 million years old fossil skull was also discovered here by a research assistant of Dr. Leakey, Mr. Kimeu Kimoya.

Upto 1994, about 200 separate hominid and numerous animal skulls had been found, more than the rest of the world?s fossil sites have produced in 60 years. There are Bandas for night accommodation, which go for Kshs.1000 per person per night.

Museum Open Daliy at 8:00am- 6:00pm.

Geographical Location

This site is situated near Lake Turkana (East of the Lake) which is located in the Rift Valley province in Kenya. It lies (3° 56′ 52″N), (36° 11′ 14″E) in sheet NA – 37-1, datum is WGS84. UTM coordinates are 436883N 187621E Zone 37N. From Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya to Koobi Fora is about 746 km by road.

For more information contact
Koobi Fora Museum
P.O.Box 152, Lodwar.

Uhuru Gardens

Geographical Location
uhurugardens_0Located along Langata road, 15 minutes drive from the city center, is Uhuru Gardens, Kenya’s largest Memorial Park. Uhuru is a swahili word meaning freedom.

Historical Background

The gardens were officially declared a National Monument in 1966 because of their historical importance.

Of importance to note is that it is Kenya’s birthplace. This is where the first Kenyan flag was first raised and thus marking the very first year of independence on the 12th December 1963.



Within the garden are two monuments commemorating Kenya’s independence, and a Mugumo (fig) tree.

The Mugumo tree is symbolic as it was planted on the spot where the Union Jack (British flag) was brought down and Kenya’s national flag was first hoisted. The site was a diversity of native flora and fauna of savannah woodland.

In addition to the historical significance, Uhuru Gardens continues to attract various events as a recreational park. It is popular as a rest area for families and friends, a must visit for schools and in recent times has gained popularity as an events venue for corporate launches, concerts, weddings, film location just to name a few.



For those who are looking for a secure jogging spot, this is the perfect location for keeping fit.

Future plans will include improving the park to have a wider variety of leisure activities for all. The Mashujaa/ heroes Corner will also be adjacent to this beautiful park which will mark as a reminder to celebrate our Kenyan heroes.

So next time you pass by Langata Road, walk or drive in to enjoy our rich heritage that lives on through this park.

Open Daily at 8:00am – 6:00pm.

To make your bookings for an event you’d like to host in the park, please send us an email: publicrelations@museums.or.ke


Historical Background

Located along Magadi road, an hour’s drive and 70kms away from Nairobi,Olorgesailie pre-historic site is world renown as the “factory of stone tools” and the only place in the world with the largest number.

The prominence and accumulation of human tools represents actual camping places of early men and evidence that human species had a tropical origin. The site is in a lake basin that existed about 100,000 to 200’000 years ago.

Researchers, Dr. and Mrs. Leakey, started investigations on the site in 1942 where they found important evidence that concerns the habits and activities of early prehistoric peoples of the Acheuleus or “Hand axe” culture.

Olorgesailie has excellently preserved biological and cultural evidence about the evolution of man.

This was made possible by heavy falls of alkaline volcanic ash from the nearby Mt. Suswa and Mt. Longonot, which might have contributed much to the accumulated ash in the lake basin. There is evidence of humid climate during part of the middle Pleistocene that is given by temporary lakes and swamps that exist in the area today. The sediments left by the lake cover an area of 80 km2.

Things to do/ Attractions

  • Museum and site- the museum interprets the pre-historic site. One can then take a walk to see the actual site and the discoveries made here
  • Bird watching- the site is a bird watcher’s paradise citing the highest number of migratory bird species in Kenya.
  • Mountain climbing- Mt. Olorgesailie was named after a renown Maasai elder who used to meditate and hold meetings with village elders up the mountain. On average it takes 3 hours to ascend and the same to descend best climbed from 5:00 am.
  • Camp site- affordable camping facilities available.
    Picnic site
  • Baboon camp- congregation of baboons in the evening 1 km from the campsite.

Citizen Adult :   Ksh.300   Child   (below 16 years) :  Ksh.200
Residents & EA Adult: Ksh. 400 Child (below 16 years): Ksh.250
Non-Resident Adult: Ksh. 600 Child (below 16 years): Ksh. 300

Deluxe Bandas
Citizen Single: Ksh. 1,200 Double: Ksh. 1,500
Residents and EA Single: Ksh. 1,500 Double: Ksh. 1,800
Non-Resident Single: Ksh. 1,800 Double: Ksh.2,000

Standard Bandas
Citizen Single: Ksh 1,000 Double: Ksh. 1,200
Residents and EA Single: Ksh. 1,200 Double: Ksh. 1,500
Non-Resident Single: Ksh. 1,500 Double: Ksh. 1,800

Other Charges

Mountain Guide fees: Maximum 5pax per guide: Ksh.5,000

Baboon Camp Guide fee: Ksh. 500 per person

Picnic fees per person: Adult Ksh. 200, Child (below 16 years):Ksh. 100

Museum open Daily at 8:00am- 6:00pm.

Download Olorgesailie Brochure


Sign Post Mt. Olorgesailie Tour Guide Explains Site Inside the Banda
Sign Post Mt. Olorgesailie Tour Guide Explains Site Inside the Banda

Olorgesailie is located along Magadi Road, an hour’s drive and 70 kms away from Nairobi.