Nyero Rock Paintings. Ancient rock art in Eastern Uganda.

Nyero Rock Paintings. Ancient rock art in Eastern Uganda.

Uganda offers everything from the breathtaking shores of Lake Victoria to the majestic peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains. But beyond its natural beauty, Uganda has hidden gems like the Nyero Rock Paintings.

Imagine traveling thousands of years back in time. That is exactly what you will be doing when you visit the Nyero Rock Paintings.

The Nyero Rock Paintings are ancient artworks on granite outcrops in Eastern Uganda that could be as old as 3,000 years. They were known to the local people living near the area long before being brought to the attention of the wider world by Europeans in the early 20th century.

These paintings are said to have been made by the Twa people, an indigenous group of hunter-gatherers who lived in the region before the arrival of the Nilote, Luo, and Bantu groups that live in the area currently.

What makes the Nyero Rock Paintings so captivating is their unique style. These aren’t just random doodles on rocks; they are complex geometric designs and abstract patterns created with natural pigments in red, white, and ochre.

The paintings are mainly concentric circles, zigzag patterns, and abstract human and animal figures. They are spread across 3 main rock shelters, each offering a unique glimpse into the culture of the indigenous inhabitants. They help us understand how these people lived and what they believed.

Nyero 1

Nyero 1 has the smallest rock shelter. It is made up of a low overhanging rock that is supported by three rocks.

On the outer edge, there are designs of concentric circles and paintings that look like acacia pods. These designs give a simple yet intriguing introduction to the site.

Nyero 2

Nyero 2 is the main shelter. It is also the largest shelter with a 10 m (32.8 ft) high vertical rock against the back wall and an overhang formed by the breaking away of an enormous boulder. This overhang protects the paintings from direct rain and sunshine.

Nyero 2 has huge paintings that include, canoes, animals, and concentric circles, all done in shades of red.

This site is also thought to have significant ritual importance. On the southeastern side of the shelter, there is a narrow passage between the boulders that leads to a small, dark shelter with a small cavity. This cavity is known as the ‘pocket’ where the early inhabitants used to offer gifts to their gods after receiving help from them.

Some members of the local community around the rocks still place money there either before or after receiving help from ancestral spirits to date.

Nyero 3

Nyero 3 is a smaller shelter at the far northern end of the Inselberg. It is mainly made up of a big boulder on top of supporting rocks. This shelter has no standing room and visitors have to crouch low down to reach the far end which has a wide view of the land below.

Nyero 3 is designed with different geometric patterns, including concentric circles and lines.

Visiting the Nyero Rock Paintings.

A visit to the Nyero Rock Paintings is a must for anyone interested in history, art, or culture.

In order to get to the Nyero Rock Paintings, you will have to take a short hike. This hike is amazing with many interesting things to see and learn along the way like the culture of the local people.

There is usually a local guide at the Nyero Rock Paintings ready to take you around and tell you more about the history of this place.

The top of the rocks is an amazing place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature as it offers amazing views of the surrounding areas.

Tips for the Hike

  • Footwear: Wear comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots with good grip, as the paths can be rocky in places.
  • Water: Carry sufficient water, especially if you’re visiting during the hotter parts of the day.
  • Sun Protection: Use sunscreen, wear a hat, and bring sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Camera: Don’t forget your camera or smartphone to capture the stunning rock art and beautiful surroundings.
  • Respect the Site: Follow the guidelines provided by your guide to help preserve this important cultural heritage site.