Gong Rock & Maasai Rock Painting Trip

Mysteries of Moru Kopje

The Kopjes are very scenic rock formations and very interesting from a geological point of view; they consist of a very old granite, called "Moru" in Maa language, the language spoken by the Maasai, meaning "old", they have been eroded over the millennia by atmospheric and biological agents; what we see a today are a number of large reddish boulders and the reason why they have this typical colour is due to the oxidation of the iron contained in them.

The Moru Kopjes lie Southwest of the Central Serengeti, where the River Mbalageti Valley begins; here there is plenty of water, shade and grass for grazing. The Kopjes are located in a transitional zone: looking Southward and Eastward lie low-grass pastures, that are green immediately after the rainy season and turn golden during the dry season; while looking Northward and Westward you can see the beginning of the wooded area of the Serengeti National Park.

The Moru Kopjes cover an area of several kilometres and they can be seen from a distance, emerging from the vast surrounding plain; erosion has rounded and partly disintegrated them over millions of years; many euphorbia candelabrum trees grow in the vicinity with their branches stretching towards the sky.

When the Great Migration transits in this area, along the ascent route to the Masai Mara in April and May, or during the descent to the fertile pastures of Southern Serengeti in November and December, these kopjes offer one of the finest and most exciting views of the entire Serengeti: all around you can see wildebeests and zebras, running or grazing.

The wild grunts of wildebeests or the giddy chortles of zebras vibrate echo through the air, as well as the pounding of hooves that raise red dust everywhere: two million animals who make an epic journey driven by the instinct of survival. May is also the month of the wildebeests mating; in this period is very common to spot male wildebeests madly dash about rounding up females and chasing off other males; male bulls establish frequent mobile territories and each one attempts to retain as many passing cows as possible.

Here at Moru Kopjes you can also visit the natural caves used by the Maasai up until 50 years ago as a shelter for their livestock; on the walls of these caves you can see the paintings left by the Maasai, we called it Maasai Rock Painting, a coloured shield, an elephant and people made using natural materials such as the white and yellow from clays, the black from the ash of wild caper, while the red is clay mixed with juice from the wild nightshades juice can be easily identified. It is thought that the artists were a band of young Maasai warriors, called Moran, who wandered for several years before settling down to their pastoral life.

A couple of hundred feet away from the paintings is the Gong Rock, which consists of a large rock with circular holes that may have been used as a communication device. It is the oldest instrument yet discovered and its many dents tell us a story of how early man invented music playing simple melodies on the metallic sounding rock. The pitted surface of the Gong Rock is testament to its use by the Maasai tribe to send sound messages across the vast distance of the African savannah since ancient times.

In this area live many herbivorous: elephants, giraffes, black rhinos, buffalos, impalas, waterbucks, Topi antelopes and warthogs; there are also many carnivores who live permanently here: lions, leopards, hyenas. Lake Magadi is also a great place to witness predation as lions use the bordering swamp grasses to hide and ambush animals as they come here to drink.

Lake Magadi, like Lake Ndutu and Lake Natron, attracts greater and lesser flamingos, which feed on the algae and brine shrimps flourishing in the alkaline waters. We can stop by when we are doing a safari in Serengeti National Park, spending a little time to enjoy nature and continuing doing our safari.