Everything you need to know About Olduvai Gorge

Located in a lost corner of  East Africa. In the southeast of the Serengeti national park on the edge of the pristine region of Ngorongoro, this semi-arid gorge and depopulated forms a strange break in the landscape. 40 km long, 90 m deep on average, it suddenly breaks with the dreary of the arid steppes. 

Olduvai Gorge, a desolate canyon inspires respect and envy among archaeologists around the world.  Numerous fossils dating back more than 2 million years have been excavated in these rocky flanks. 

Over the years, the discoveries have been so important, so essential to history, that the site is considered by many to be one of the “cradles of mankind”.


History About Olduvai Gorge

Olduvai or Oldupai in the Maasai language, means “wild sisal place”.  It all started in 1911, by funny coincidence.  At that time, Tanzania which was called Tanganyika before the independence which was still under Germany colony. 

A German entomologist, Professor Kattwinkel, has ventured to find butterflies there.  Luckily, he discovered (by chance) fossilized bones.  Its discovery caused a lot of noise in Europe and attracted the attention of scientists. 

In 1913, an expedition led by Professor Hans Reck came to the region to search the bowels of the Olduvai canyon.  In the process, several other expeditions were carried out.


The Leakey, pioneers of Olduvai 

In 1931, Reck returned to Olduvai accompanied by two archaeologists, Louis Leakey (English archaeologist born in Kenya) and his future wife Mary.  The Leakey became attached to Olduvai.
They continued their excavations.  On July 17, 1959, while Louis Leakey was bedridden with a good flu, his wife Mary clearing the ground discovered 400 fragments of the skeleton of Australopithecus-Zinjanthropus boisei.
This distinguished individual lived in the region about 1.75 million years ago.  One of these fragments, a stuffed and compressed skull, is in the Dar es Salaam museum.  This discovery caused a lot of ink to flow and enabled the Leakey’s to obtain financial support from the American magazine National Geographic.
In 1960, the Leakey discovered the remains of a young Homo habilis.  In human evolution, Homo habilis is a biped which is located after Zinjanthropus boisei and before Homo erectus.  Ancestor of modern man, Homo habilis presents a skull of 600 cc, larger than that of its predecessor.  In terms of image, it looks quite like a primate with long hanging arms.  He would have used rudimentary stone tools.
Similar tools, but more sophisticated than those used by Homo habilis, were also unearthed: they would have been those of Homo erectus, an individual who lived 1.2 million years ago.  At Homo erectus, know that this is located in the evolution just before Homo sapiens (the current human being).
He has a cranial capacity of around 950 cc, and his forehead is more raised, his jaws are much less prominent. In addition, Homo erectus stands straighter than Homo habilis, hence its name: erectus, erect (standing tall).



Research continues.

Nothing is ever final in Olduvai, or in East Africa.  The results of a discovery can confirm or on the contrary contradict those of previous discoveries.  And so on.  There is even a certain emulation between the teams to discover new and mysterious fossils, even older, and thus be able to complete, while revising it, the history of the origins of humanity.
Exciting!  In 1979, in Laetoli (site near Olduvai), archaeologists have uncovered footprints of hominids dating back more than 3.5 million years.  And Wham!  We go back in time again.  Suddenly, this discovery pushes even further in the centuries the date of the probable appearance of the human race on earth.
In 1995, a team of American (New Jersey) and Tanzanian researchers exhumed a complete skeleton of Homo habilis from the ground.  A sacred discovery!  The quest for the archaeological Grail of Olduvai in Tanzania maybe is not over.
Far from there.  She keeps.  Something as fascinating as a passion for science fiction seems to animate the minds of researchers.  Richard Leakey, son of the famous Louis, underlined it well: context of one of our ancestors from 2 or 3 million years ago, we would share our environment with at least two or three hominized cousins, Australopithecus boisei, Australopithecus africanus and perhaps some surviving specimens of the late Ramapithecus. If a time machine put us back in the

Where is Olduvai Gorge and how to get there.

The Olduvai Gorge is 25 km as the crow flies from the Ngorongoro crater.  To get there, take a single track which crosses the protected area of ​​Ngorongoro while going towards the park of Serengeti.  The altitude between 1,000 and 1,200 m.
At approximately km 225, a 5 km track leads to the Olduvai site (museum and picnic hut), located away from the main track. Most safaris stop at Olduvai for a short time.  Time to picnic under one of the two huts (resting huts) built on the edge of a cliff overlooking the gorges (superb view), and to visit the small museum.  – Usually, the stopover in Olduvai does not last more than 2 hours.

Arrange your safari to Tanzania with a visit to Olduvai Gorge with Shizi Safaris

Shizi safaris is a local Tanzanian travel company that is committed to provide you with best safari experience while considering your value for money. Contact us today for a sample safari itinerary.

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