Kakapel National Monument is one of Kenya’s premier rock art sites, uniting a variety of styles and artistic traditions over a long period of time in one location. Most of the rock art at Kakapel consists of rock paintings, but also engravings including cupules and grooves can be found.
At Kakapel several styles of rock art representing different periods of can be seen. Many of the paintings on the main panel are superimposed on other older images, which is very common in rock art. The oldest rock art Kakapel possibly dates as far as 3000 years back whereas the most recent art dates until the recent times. The oldest style consists mainly of red and white geometric images made by Twa (Pygmy) hunter-gatherers. The second style of rock art consists of red and white stylized cattle paintings made by pastoralists. And the third style of painting consists of white geometric designs probably made during the last few hundred years by ancestors of the Iteso people, who habit the Kakapel today.
The site is a National Monument and the law provides fierce penalties for persons caught damaging the site. Photographs of the site may be taken, and visitors are welcome 8:00am to 5:00pm daily.
How to get there
The nearest major town is Bungoma. To reach Kakapel from Bungoma, take the Malaba road and drive west for 20km to a turnoff on the right (north) side of the road. Take this turnoff and drive north for 7km on an all-weather murram road. The route is well signposted.
Where to stay
The Kakapel Community Cultural Center offers camping nearby. You can also find accommodation in nearby towns of Malaba, Kakamega or Bungoma.
To showcase the Iteso heritage, the community has built a Community Cultural Centre, which offers a number of local attractions including ceremonies, rituals, storytelling, dances, worship, pottery making, and drama performances.
More attractions include the Kakamega Forest, the only tropical rain forest in Kenya, Mt. Elgon National Park, Malaba River Bridge and the Chelelemuk Hills which include massive granite outcrops and boulder ideal for climbing, hiking and exploring as well of impressive caves that are home to thousands of bats, a variety of bird species and the resident De Brazza monkey.
Kenya possesses an interesting variety of rock art offering an extraordinary connection through time. Visiting rock art sites will give you the opportunity to support local communities who benefit from their local rock art and the tourism that it attracts.