Tanzania’s rock art

All around South East Africa there are old painting on rocks, some of them a few thousand years old (maybe going back to 7,000 years), some of them a few hundred years old. One of this places is Kolo (Tanzania), a very small village on the Babati – Kondoa road, about 80km away from Babati, where the only business available is the office that taxes people for visiting the UNESCO heritage site.

The easiest way to get to Kolo is from Kondoa, on one of the buses that go to Babati or further to Arusha. The area is nice, many hills, rocks, wide land around. I would have liked it more if it hadn’t been for the small misunderstanding with my guide after the tour which was, of course, related to money. In any case, the sites are not really walking distance from the office and the main road. The Kolo site is a few good kilometers away and the others (Pahi, Thawi..) even further. The  easiest way is going by motorbike, like I did, but then price related misunderstandings might appear. In places like this, they’re trying to get as much money as possible out of the tourists, especially if they’re foreigners.

I finally visited Kolo and Pahi and it was a good choice because the paintings are very different in the two sites. In Pahi it’s mostly the white ones, that are more recent and simple, while in Kolo it’s mainly the red ones, older and a bit more developed. Some of them were a bit faded. Still, impressive and cool to imagine people living in the small caves formed by the rocks thousands of years ago and painting people, plants, animals. There are many sites spread around more countries, so I hope I’ll get some comparison at some point.

I ended up staying over night in Kolo, there’s only one guesthouse that looked as if it hasn’t been used for a long time. They’re charging more than similar places would charge in Babati, but, then again, maybe it’s understandable considering it’s the only guesthouse in the village. I’ve seen a few Europeans who signed in the guestbook and we met three Italians on the way who tried to skip paying the entrance fee. But my guide was saying that most tourists are Tanzanian students who come with the school. There was also a group of students when I was visiting the Kolo site.

Overall, it was a good experience not only because of the rock art available, but also because of the opportunity of getting deeper into the country, seeing the village life and enjoying the landscape. So much land!

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