Hyrax Hill lies in the middle of Kenya’s Rift valley, about 4 km from Nakuru town. The site is close to the Nairobi-Nakuru highway. It is about 150 km away from Nairobi. From Lake Nakuru, the hill is about 4.5 km with its base about 100m above the Lake.
Archaeological research shows that the hill has been a seasonal settlement for prehistoric people for at least 3,000 years, as revealed by the numerous sites around the hill, that belong to different time periods. The earliest finds date to the Neolithic period.
There is evidence in the form of beach sands that a Lake once extended probably as fresh water right to the base of the hill; turning the hill into a peninsular or even an island. The mighty prehistoric lake is believed to have covered the valley from Nakuru to Lake Elementaita about 8,500 years ago. Traces of it have been found at Hyrax hill, the Wakumi Burial site, Gambles cave and other places.
The hill was given its name during the early part of the 20th century. It was prompted by the abundance of hyraxes (Procavia Capensis) which lived in the rock fissures.
As a region of archaeological interest, Hyrax Hill was first noted by the East African Archaeological Expedition of 1926, led by L.S.B. Leakey. In 1937, Mary Leakey undertook some archaeological surveys on the hill. Since then, research has been intermittent with major undertakings in 1965 by Ron Clarke.
The Hyrax hill was gazetted as a National Monument by the Kenya Government in 1943. The recognition followed 4 years after first archaeological excavation on the hill. Work was done by Dr. Mary Leakey between 1938 and 1939. Since then Hyrax hill has been a renowned archaeological research area and reference point for investigations of prehistory of East Africa.
The Hyrax hill museum is a former farmhouse ceded to the monument in 1965, by the Late Mr. A. Selfe. A small museum was opened here where artefacts from the Hyrax Hill site and other sites in the Central Rift Valley are displayed.
At Hyrax Hill, some sites have been excavated and left open for public exhibition. The site provides scenery of lifestyles and achievements of distant ancestors with its well-preserved and laid out exhibits.