Oldupai Gorge and Laetoli- Human History

What do you know about Human Evolution? Here are some research facts from Historians that were done at Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Tanzania), about the Evolution of Man-kind. You can add this Historic visit to your package and see how the hidden world existed millions of years ago.



The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) – where people and their early ancestors have co-existed with wildlife for nearly four million years. This World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve encompasses a spectacular mosaic of landscape that includes the breath-taking Ngorongoro Crater and the legendary Serengeti – the annual host of the World’s highest concentration and diversity of migratory animals numbering nearly two-million strong. As if this wasn’t enough, the NCA also contains two important and internationally-known fossil and archaeological sites: Laetoli and Olduvai Gorge. Both continue to contribute significantly to understanding of humankind’s physical, behavioral and technological evolution.

Over the last thirty years or so, it has become increasingly apparent that Africa is probably the “Cradle of Mankind”.  From Africa they spread out to populate the rest of Earth. Remains of the earliest humans were found in Oldupai Gorge.

Oldupai Gorge (originally misnamed Olduvai) is the most famous archaeological location in East Africa, and has become an essential visit for travelers to Ngorongoro or Serengeti.

At Laetoli, west of Ngorongoro Crater, hominid footprints are preserved in volcanic rock 3.6 millions years old and represent some of the earliest signs of mankind in the world. Three separate tracks of a small-brained upright walking early hominid. “Australopithecus afarensis”, a creature about 1.2 to 1.4 meters high, were found. Imprints of these are displayed in the Oldupai museum.

More advanced descendants of Laetoli’s hominids were found further north, buried in the layers of the 100 meters deep Oldupai Gorge. Excavations, mainly by the archaeologist Louis and Mary Leakey, yielded four different kinds of hominid, showing a gradual increase in brain size and in the complexity of their stone tools. The first skull of Zinjanthropus, commonly known as ‘Nutcracker Man’ who lived about 1.75 millions years ago, was found here. The most important finds include Home habilis, Zinjathropus and the Laetoli footprints.

The excavation sites have been preserved for public viewing and work continues during the dry seasons, coordinated by the Department of Antiquities. One may visit Oldupai at all times of the year. It is necessary to have an official guide to visit the excavations and there you can see and touch a huge cast of actual footprints made by our early human ancestors (hominins).  The Oldupai Gorge Museum and Visitors Center built at the top of the Gorge offer numerous educational exhibits, including fossils and artifacts of our human ancestors and skeletons of many extinct animals who shared their world. This sheltered area is used for informative lectures and talks, and all briefings about human origins when we were once all Africans.  The Local Maasai souvenirs are also available for you to purchase.

Thus, Oldupai and Laetoli makes the Ngorongoro Conservation Area an important place in the world for the study of human origins and human evolution.

On the way, there is an option to stop at the famous Oldupai Gorge, where Dr Louis and Mary Leakey made their discovery of the first man that walked the earth. After attending, a short lecture describing the archaeological digs and geology of the gorge, you’ll have time to visit the small museum.

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