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UNWTO Secretary-General Awards Kenya Olergesailie Best Tourism Village

Olorgesailie, the inaugural winner of Kenya's Best Tourism Village award in 2021, has received recognition from the UNWTO Secretary General. During the 66th UNWTO Commission for Africa Meetings held in Mauritius last month, a certificate and plaque of recognition were presented to Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage. If you want to travel around Kenya, you will need a Kenyan visa.

UNWTO Secretary-General Awards Kenya Olergesailie Best Tourism Village

  • Congratulations from the UNWTO Secretary General

The Secretary General extended his congratulations to the winners of the Best Tourism Village award. He emphasised the importance of tourism that focuses on social, economic, and environmental sustainability. He particularly highlighted the role of rural communities like Olergesailie in contributing to these goals, acknowledging their significant contribution to the tourism industry.

About Olorgesailie - The Home of the Maasai

Olorgesailie, situated in Kenya's southern region within the East African Rift Valley, is not only a place of geological and archaeological significance but also holds cultural importance as the home of the Maasai community. 

This region is renowned for the Olorgesailie Prehistoric Site, where ancient artefacts dating back nearly a million years have been discovered, shedding light on early human history. 

Moreover, Olorgesailie offers visitors a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in Maasai culture, savour traditional foods, and experience the rich traditions of the Maasai people.

About Olorgesailie - The Home of the Maasai

  • The Olorgesailie Prehistoric Site

This site is of immense importance in the study of human history and prehistoric culture. It sits on the floor of the Great Rift Valley, nestled between two extinct volcanoes: Mt. Olorgesailie and Oldonyo Esakut. These geological features add to the site's uniqueness and provide a stunning backdrop to its historical significance.

  • Location in the Southern Region of Kenya

Olorgesailie is a picturesque village situated in the southern region of Kenya. Its geographical location places it within the East African Rift Valley, a region known for its geological and archaeological significance. 

  • Remarkable Collection of Hand Axes

One of the most significant aspects of the Olorgesailie Prehistoric Site is the discovery of a remarkable collection of hand axes. These hand axes are ancient tools made from stone, and some of them have been dated back to nearly one million years ago. This makes them some of the oldest tools ever discovered by archaeologists.

  • Acheulean Period

Acheulean period, a time in human prehistory characterised by the production of more advanced stone tools compared to earlier periods. Acheulean tools, including hand axes, are known for their distinctive bifacial (having two faces) shaping and the creation of sharp cutting edges. 

These tools were essential for various tasks, including cutting, hewing, and butchering, and they represented a significant advancement in technology for early humans.

  • Insights into Human History

The discovery of these ancient hand axes at Olorgesailie provides valuable insights into human history, particularly regarding the evolution of early humans and their tool-making abilities. 

The age and sophistication of these tools indicate the presence of early human populations in the region and shed light on their abilities to adapt to their environment, innovate, and develop technologies crucial for survival.

Significance of the Olorgesailie Prehistoric Site

The Olorgesailie Prehistoric Site holds immense significance as an archaeological treasure trove, offering insights into early human history, technological evolution, and prehistoric environments spanning over a million years.

Significance of the Olorgesailie Prehistoric Site

  • Extensive Excavation and Artefact Collection

These excavations have unearthed a diverse and extensive collection of artefacts, including stone tools, fossils, and other archaeological remains. This rich assemblage of artefacts spans a significant time frame, ranging from approximately 1.2 million years ago to 490,000 years ago.

  • Contribution to Archaeology

TIt has provided archaeologists with a treasure trove of information about the early technological advancements, behaviours, and lifestyles of our distant ancestors. The stone tools found at the site offer insights into the cognitive and physical abilities of early humans. 

  • Relevance to Paleontology

Fossil discoveries at the site include remains of prehistoric animals such as elephants, hippos, and large antelopes. The coexistence of ancient human artefacts and animal fossils provides a broader context for studying past ecosystems and the interactions between early humans and their environment.

  • Geological Insights

Situated within the East African Rift Valley, the site offers unique opportunities for studying geological processes, such as the formation of rift valleys, volcanic activity, and sedimentary deposition. This geological setting provides crucial information for understanding the landscape changes that occurred during the site's occupation by early humans.

  • UNESCO's Recognition

The fact that Olorgesailie has been included in the Tentative Lists of States Parties published by the World Heritage Centre under UNESCO underscores its global significance. This recognition places the site among potential candidates for designation as a World Heritage Site, highlighting its importance as a place of outstanding universal value and a shared heritage of humanity.



Cultural Importance to the Maasai Community

Mt. Olorgesailie carries profound cultural importance for the Maasai community, serving as a historically sacred site for religious ceremonies and spiritual connections to their deity, Enkai.

  • Religious Significance to the Maasai Community

Mt. Olorgesailie has deep-rooted cultural and religious significance for the Maasai community, particularly the Ilkeekonyokie Maasai subgroup. Historically, the mountain was used as a sacred site for performing religious ceremonies and sacrifices to their God, Enkai. 

  • Cultural Hub in Olorgesailie

Beyond its archaeological and geological significance, the village of Olorgesailie serves as a cultural hub for the Maasai people. It provides visitors with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in Maasai culture and traditions. The village offers a glimpse into the daily life, customs, and heritage of the Maasai community.

  • Traditional Foods and Culinary Experiences

Visitors to Olorgesailie can savour traditional Maasai foods, which often include a combination of milk, meat, and grains. Engaging in these culinary experiences allows tourists to taste the flavours of Maasai cuisine and appreciate the significance of these dishes within the culture.

  • Cultural Exchange

Visitors can interact with local residents, learn about their history and traditions, and even participate in various cultural activities, such as dancing, beadwork, and storytelling. This exchange not only enriches the travel experience but also fosters cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

  • Living in Manyattas

For a more immersive cultural experience, tourists have the opportunity to stay in manyattas, which are traditional Maasai huts. It offers a unique chance to step back in time and understand the simplicity and resilience of Maasai culture.


What is the significance of the Best Tourism Village award presented to Olorgesailie by the UNWTO Secretary General?

The Best Tourism Village award presented to Olorgesailie by the UNWTO Secretary General signifies international recognition for Olergesailie's contributions to sustainable tourism. It acknowledges the village's efforts in promoting social, economic, and environmental sustainability through tourism.

Who received the award on behalf of Olorgesailie, and where was it presented?

The award was received by Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage, Peninah Malonza, on behalf of Olorgesailie. It was presented during the 66th UNWTO Commission for Africa Meetings in Mauritius.

What does the UNWTO Secretary General emphasise regarding the goal of tourism?

The UNWTO Secretary General, Zurab Pololikashvili, emphasises that the goal of tourism at every level, including rural communities like Olorgesailie, is to achieve social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

Where is Olorgesailie located, and what is it famous for?

Olorgesailie is a village situated in the Southern region of Kenya, close to the sedimentary basin within the East African Rift Valley. It is famous for its Olorgesailie Prehistoric Site, which is home to some of the oldest hand axes ever discovered, dating back nearly one million years.

What is the historical significance of the hand axes found at Olorgesailie?

The hand axes found at Olorgesailie are significant artefacts from the Acheulean period, used by early humans for cutting and sewing. They provide valuable insights into human history and the development of tools.

What is the age range of the unearthed objects at the Olorgesailie Prehistoric Site?

The unearthed objects found at the Olorgesailie Prehistoric Site date between 1.2 million and 490,000 years ago, making them of international significance for archaeology, palaeontology, and geology.

How is Mt. Olorgesailie culturally important to the Maasai community?

Mt. Olorgesailie holds cultural significance for the Maasai community, historically used for performing sacrifices to their God, Enkai. While this practice is no longer common, it remains an important part of the Maasai heritage.




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