Olduvai Gorge

Arguably, the Olduvai gorge, also known as the Oldupai gorge is one of the most significant archaeological sites in the world. Renowned all of the world for holding evidence of the earliest of human ancestors. Technically situated, in the Ngorongoro Crater Area, Olduvai gorge is located half way from Serengheti & the Ngorongoro Crater. 

The name is a variation of the word Oldupai which is the Masai word for an indigenous plant that grows near the gorge. In this post, we dig deeper into the Gorge’s significance and why Archaeologists are so interested in the history of the Olduvai Gorge 

History of the Gorge

 A deeper study of the area by experts reveals that the gorge itself was created due to intense geological activity in the surrounding areas, most notably due to volcanic activity near what is now called the Ngorongoro Conservation area in Tanzania.

Olduvai Gorge came to public attention in 1959 when Dr Louis Leakey, a paleontologist by profession discovered what was a 1.8 million year old skull of the Homo Habilis…… readers who are not archaeology nerds, this means that it was kind of a big deal because this was the finding of the earliest of human beings… right around the time we completely evolved from being apes to being bipedal human beings.

Since then, researchers, archaeologists, anthropologists & good ‘ol science nerds have been flocking to the Olduvai Gorge in search for some more interesting finds…… and they succeeded. 

Multiple excavation teams lead by Dr Leakley & many other archaeologists have found fossilized remains near Ngorongoro & even towards the borders of Serengeti in what is called the Great Rift Valley of Tanzania making Dr Leakley’s find one of the most significant discovery for the advancement of human knowledge of their own ancestors. 

Technical Stuff & Facts ….

 Its time to get nerdy with some facts. 

  • The site is about 50 kms long & about 295 feet deep, not large enough to be called a canyon but it can be considered a respectable hill
  • One of the earliest skulls that were found in the Gorge is called Twiggy (OH 24). Scientists discovered that the fossils had a much smaller cranial capacity unlike the Homo Habilis & due to the age of Twiggy, scientists have intellectual disputes on how to classify the fossil remains
  • The periodic sediments of the ash from the volcanic eruptions played a huge role in preserving the fossils
  • Following discovery of the Proconsui primate dating back to almost 25 million years ago is considered the discovery of the oldest Ape fossil & brough Dr Louis to tremendous fame worldwide  

Can I Visit?

We have good news… the site is not only reserved for nerdy achaelogists worldwide, it is also extremely welcoming for tourists as, the site has a new smart museum that was opened in 2017 & overlooks the gorge where you can feast on some magnificent views. The museum is huge & has many sections, tourists typically spend 3-4 hours observing fossilized remains of their ancestors & the tools they used for hunting & survival. 

In fact, we even take tourists to the very spot where Dr Leakley & his wife first found the fossilized remains.

Since most of our customers visit both Serengeti & Ngorongoro Crater, we take a detour to the Olduvai gorge upon special requests. We also take keen tourists to the Laetoli which is a another important historical site nearby where the volcanic ash is dated older than that of Olduvai Gorge but still nowhere as important. 

That’s it folks, if you are interested in visiting this archaeological wonder, we recommend clubbing it with other safaris nearby for a wholesome Tanzanian Safari experience! 

Should you need any further details, please feel free to reach out to our journey designer who is eager to answer your queries in the chat window below! 


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